At luxury retreat Kasiiya Papagayo, on Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula, a shaman does the spa treatments, the birds make the music and the tented suites tread gently on the jungle. Say goodbye to civilisation: there may be resorts and big-name hotels on this stretch of Pacific coastline, but you'll need to drive for half an hour along a dusty dirt track before you reach this private paradise. All 123 acres of tropical forest add to the seclusion, with empty beaches all yours for the taking. Take lunch and dinner on the sands of Laguna Beach, borrow watersports kit and hit up the Beach Cabana’s honesty bar before slipping off to the Sunset Lounge for cocktails, canapés and communal suppers.
Get this when you book through us:
One sunset paddleboard lesson, movement session or spa treatment a booking; GoldSmiths staying five nights or more can choose between this and a free boat transfer
Double rooms from £983.68 ($1,237), including tax at 13 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, lunch and dinner, afternoon snacks and one guided activity (such as snorkelling or hiking) a day. Guests staying four nights or longer will also get free return transfers.
If the word ‘gym’ usually sends you running in the opposite elliptical-avoiding direction, you’ll love this one: it’s on a wooden platform at the beach, with Bruno, a resident ‘movement specialist’, guiding guests in exercises like ‘the monkey’, ‘the crab’ and ‘the lizard crawl’. Much more fun than planking.
The hotel will be closed during 10th May - 30th June, and 1st September - 6th November 2021.
At the hotel
Free snorkels, kayaks and paddleboards to borrow, fire pit, gym, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: eco-friendly coolbox with free drinks and snacks,; the Kasiiya Kit: a walkie-talkie, flashlight and insect repellent; beach bags; tea and coffee kit; and Raw Botanicals bath products.
Our favourite rooms
There are only five tents, so you’re not going to be contending with crowds, but you can really get away from it all in Laughing Whale 1, the hotel’s most remote, which hugs the top of a cliff and has its own path and full-circle views of the Pacific. Lazy Turtle 3 is honeymooner-ready, with an outdoor shower and copper bath tub to stargaze from, and a path that leads down to the beach, where two sunloungers await. If that didn’t sound dreamy enough, you’ll also have the gently lapping waves of the sea lulling you to sleep.
There’s no pool – but who needs one when you’ve got three Pacific-edge beaches to choose from? Consider yourself lucky, because those not staying here can only reach the nearest sands along this craggy coast by boat – so the chances are you’ll have them mostly to yourselves.
The spa tent in the forest is where to head for birdsong-soundtracked treatments, the ingredients for which are all organic and handmade by local artisans. Choose from Thai massages, chakra balancing and reiki, or book in with Yamuna, the resident shaman who can add ‘healing A-list celebrities’ to his CV.
This is a remote, jungle setting with pathways through the forest connecting the restaurants, suites and beaches – bring clothes that you can get sandy and suncream-slathered.
There are ramps throughout and one of the Lazy Turtle suites is suitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but due to the remote setting, the hotel is best suited to kids aged 10 and up.
More than half of the hotel’s suppliers are based in local towns, and much of the produce Kasiiya uses is organic. There’s no single-use plastic (the straws are bamboo), the tents were made using sustainable materials (and can be dismantled leaving no trace), plus there’s a waste-water-treatment plant onsite. The golf buggies are electric, too.
Join the fun at the communal table in the Sunset Lounge, or request a private Pacific-facing table for two.
Easy, breezy linens – with shoes always optional.
There are two main dining areas: breakfast and lunch are at the Beach Cabana, and dinner is in the Sunset Lounge. All of the food is locally sourced and mostly organic, with simple but delicious dishes like octopus salad, steak with pesto, mushroom risotto and dulce de leche-filled crêpes. The Sunset Lounge can be reached by buggy or a hike along one of the trails. Those of us who like to breakfast like kings will rate the four-course feast on offer every morning here: a platter of fresh local fruit, followed by artisan breads and house-made marmalade, some protein (avocado on toast with poached eggs, croissants with prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, fried eggs with tortilla), and (if you’ve got room left) granola parfait.
There’s an honesty bar at the Beach Cabana, where you can crack a cooling beer or pour some wine. Make sure you’ve made it up to the Sunset Lounge for showtime – choose one of the day-beds or wicker chairs on the terrace to enjoy nightly cocktails and canapés.
You’ll find Kasiiya Papagayo on Laguna Beach in Costa Rica, at the edge of the Gulf of Papagayo along the country’s Pacific north-west coast.
Liberia International Airport is the main hub for incoming sun-seekers heading to Costa Rica’s Pacific shores. It’s about a 45-minute drive away from Kasiiya Papagayo; hotel transfers are US$150 each way for up to four guests (free for four-night reservations or longer).
Liberia is the nearest city, an hour away by car. There’s free valet parking when you arrive at the hotel. If you’re up for some Pacific-coast cruising, hire a wagon (consider making it a 4WD, depending on your route); flying and flopping is also perfectly acceptable.
It’s also possible to arrive by boat from Playas del Coco directly to the hotel’s private beach; the trip will take around 20 minutes. And the hotel can help to arrange helicopter transfers from both Liberia and San José airports.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s lots to keep you busy at the hotel, including shaman-conducted spa treatments (yes, really). A buggy will drop you at the jungle-shrouded spa tent, where you’ll cross a swing bridge to meet Yumana, who’ll likely be hanging up burning herbs in the forest. Call us crazy, but his intuition and healing powers are apparently quite something (we won’t name names, but ask the A-list actor who sought Yamuna for solace after his divorce…).There's a resident biologists, who’ll take you out on nature hikes and snorkelling trips to Punta Gorda (one of the best submarine spots in Costa Rica); and the hotel can arrange trips to nearby rainforests, volcanoes and mangroves, along with fishing, diving, yoga, cooking classes and surfing. There are snorkels, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards – and you can burn off that four-course breakfast with a movement session on the beach with Bruno. The Sunset Lounge has a library with books and board games for rainy days.
The hotel includes breakfast, lunch and dinner (along with late-afternoon canapés), so you won’t go hungry – or out looking for food.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in Costa Rica and unpacked their surfboards and sarongs, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kasiiya Papagayo…
If you really want to get away from it all, the Papagayo Peninsula, on the north-west Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is the off-grid destination for you. In fact, Kasiiya Papagayo is so off-grid, its luxurious tented suites can be taken apart and you’d never even know they’d been there. You’ll find the five canvas casas down a dusty dirt track with no other properties for miles and miles (hello, beautiful deserted beaches). The owner is a big safari fan and he’s added a little touch of Africa to the handful of hideaways; even the name Kasiiya is a Swahili word (meaning ‘find your pace’). Guests are gently woken each morning by birdsong and the waves lapping on the beach (disclaimer: there’s a slight chance of alarm-clock monkeys squabbling in the trees, too). You’ll be fully immersed in nature under this jungle canopy: mind you don’t step on an iguana as you walk along the paths, and keep watch for those speedy capuchins. The helpfully named Sunset Lounge directs you to exactly where you need to be at the end of each day – 360-degree views of the ocean, cocktails and canapés await. We’ve taken Kasiiya to heart and found our pace – and we’re not speeding up for anyone.