THE scene: Prospero’s Pacific Guesthouse at Puerto Coyote, northwestern Guanacaste province.
The characters: Prospero and Kundy Seeger, owners of this exquisite, remote vacation lodge – and we, the spoiled visitors.
The story: Traveling extensively all over the globe, the two former Zurich advertisers discovered Costa Rica as the country they had been longing for as a place to retire.
In the early 1990s, the Seegers designed a successful advertisement campaign for Chiquita Brand International. The couple’s first visit to Central America came as a gift from the company. They bought land at Puerto Coyote (on the Pacific coast’s NicoyaPeninsula) immediately.
“The autumn of our lives, we wanted to spend at a pristine beach area in a warm climate,” Prospero said. “As soon as I saw the recession coming in Switzerland, we decided to watch the blue ocean instead of red business numbers.”
Back home, the couple sold everything “except David and Alban, our two adult sons,” Prospero said.
In 1996, Prospero and Kundy started building their retirement heaven in Guanacaste. The beautifully landscaped four-acre grounds overlook the untouched beaches of San Miguel and Coyote. They extend over three platforms, featuring the comfortable guesthouse with its two apartments, the pool and the white-and-apricot-colored main house on top.
“OUR construction workers were unfamiliar with amenities such as air-conditioning, Kundy’s bathtub and the kitchen ventilator,” Prospero recalled. “But they mastered everything to our great contentment.”
At first, the guesthouse was used as stylish headquarters to supervise the high-quality construction and was then frequented by family and friends. In 2003, the Seegers started renting to visitors, all of whom book well in advance.
Always brimming with creative ideas, both share a passion for fine arts, opera and gourmet cuisine. Prospero is a talented professional in the kitchen while Kundy is the family’s architect and interior decorator.
Kundy’s sophisticated handwriting is evident in the aesthetics and the functional design of the houses, as well as in the gardens. Landscaping is dominated by bougainvilleas, hibiscus and a large palm tree collection. (From the turtle-shaped pool, at least ten different varieties were spotted, majestic King Palms amongst them.)
Our days at the lodge began with a hearty breakfast, consisting of fruit, homemade bread, marmalades and fresh eggs – directly from the hen house – and fragrant coffee, which we brewed in the fully equipped kitchen of our 65-square-meters (700-square-foot) studio apartment.
The kitchen’s refrigerator keeps all ingredients ready, as well as milk, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The smaller 35-square-meter apartment sleeps two, equally stressing modern design and comfort, such as fans, roomy closets and a bathroom with hot water.
BOTH apartments open onto a large patio, well suited for private meals and relaxing naps in the hammocks or deck chairs. And they share a splendid view over the Pacific Ocean that is present from all vantage points.
Room rates oscillate from $50 to $80 for the big studio (breakfast and daily maid included) depending on how long guests want to stay.
I eagerly anticipated the climax of a Guanacaste summer day: The sunset. While swimming in the turquoise-colored pool, Vivaldi’s flute concertos filled the air and the changing colors of the sky and sea surpassed my highest expectations: The vanishing sun seemed to set the world on fire.
AT nightfall, the Seegers served an unforgettable can dlelight dinner, which was a veritable feast for our eyes and palates. Prospero’s forktender oxtail ragout was cooked to perfection, as well as the turbot with shrimp in a creamy Champagne sauce that we enjoyed the second night.
Our farewell dinner consisted of a tiny, flower-shaped sandwich with grilled bell peppers, followed by milk-fed lamb from the oven, served with a succulent sauerkraut-potato gratin. Excellent, homemade desserts included fruit pies, ice creams and custards.
DINNER has to be requested. Prices are commensurate, ranging from $15 to $20, without wine.
The location of the lodge allows for trips to nearby beaches and local dining. A dip in the luring surf of CoyoteBeach is just a 20-minute stroll away. The JabillaMangroveRiver nearby provides more silent waters for swimming and floating.
A popular lunch choice is Tanga’s on the same beach, where fisherman Carlos serves the best Red Snapper in town.
In the afternoon, a visit at nearby Playa Caletas makes a picturesque walk and gives opportunities for collecting miraculously shaped stones and sea shells. Three more beautiful beaches are a half-hour drive away, as a well as the world-renowned Hotel Punta Islita.
The lodge also is a base to explore the beaches south of Punta Coyote, a widely unknown part of the NicoyaPeninsula. Dry season, low tides and a cooperative 4×4 are ingredients which allow adventurous trips to Mal País and Montezuma.
Multilingual Prospero, who knows the area well, also helps to organize boating and horseback riding.
Prospero used a French proverb which was fitting for our farewell: “Partir, c’est mourir un peu.” (To leave is to die a little.)
For more info or reservations, call 380-4874 or e-mail [email protected] or visit the lodge online at www.geocities.com/pacific_guesthouseGetting There: Take ferry from Puntarenas to Playa Naranjo (call 661-1069/661-3834 for departure time). Travel to Jicaral, where you turn left at the church to San Franciso de Coyote. Call the lodge for exact directions.