Mariana Estrada took a rainbow and slapped all its colors on the walls, tiles and furniture.
“It became an obsession with color,” said the Costa Rican art and architecture student who runs El Punto Hotel in Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste.
Glowing with lime greens, sea blues and mandarin oranges, hers is a stylish place to stay in a city that still has relatively limited lodging options, despite being the hub for travelers headed to Guanacaste’s popular beaches and burping volcanoes.
Estrada has taken an urban plot of land along the highway and injected it with modern art, blooming gardens and generous amounts of eye-catching color. A fan of Post-impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne, Estrada studied art in Florence, Italy, and hung up her own paintings with modern flavor upon the hotel’s walls.
“You should see the ‘before’ pictures,” she said, sitting in the hotel’s open-air lounge.
At 28, the Texas A&M University College of Architecture grad who launched the hotel four years ago with family capital is running her own show.
The hotel offers six rooms, each with two double beds and high ceilings with lofts, color-coordinated with deliberate mellow hues and spotless white walls. All rooms feature a private bathroom with hot water, air conditioning, a fan and a patio with hammock.
In the hotel’s courtyard, guanacaste and matapalo trees make you feel a bit hidden from the city and help block the noise from the highway that runs in front of the hotel.
The hotel’s convenient location is just a 15-minute cab ride from Daniel Oduber International Airport and is next door to the new Plaza Santa Rosa, which has everything from a massive new supermarket to camping and surf shops and dining options ranging from fine Italian cuisine to Burger King.
Estrada says El Punto is trying to catch guests coming in and going out of the Liberia airport to introduce them to Guanacaste’s thriving capital.
“The idea is to give travelers a place they want to come … a reason to be in Liberia,” she said.
The hotel offers a convenient shuttle service from the airport.Guests can enjoy a night on the town followed the hotel’s chic breakfast in the morning – perhaps the most pleasant part of a stay at El Punto.
Though drawn from simplicity, El Punto’s breakfast is stylishly elegant. An eggs, bread and fruit meal is turned into an experience, an artsy medley. The bread, for instance, is served with a selection of jellies, jams, peanut butter, real butter and dulce de leche (caramel) in a way that makes you feel like you’re eating off an artist’s palette.
The project started four years ago as a youth hostel and has since evolved into the more upscale El Punto Hotel, unveiled just over two years ago. Estrada is still working on expanding the garden, starting up yoga classes, adding a Jacuzzi to the spa facilities and eventually opening up a restaurant.
“It’s a work in progress, but we will be done by November,” she said.
Location, Rates, Info
El Punto Hotel is located in Liberia, 150 meters south of EMESA, next to Plaza Santa Rosa. Rooms are $96 a night, including taxes and an elegant breakfast. For information or reservations, see www.elpunto hotel.com, e-mail [email protected] or call 877-3949.