With development running amok on the northern Pacific coast, deserted, pristine beaches are getting harder to find. But on the southern NicoyaPeninsula, a magnificent coastline harbors remote, sandy havens such as Playa Caletas and Playa Coyote.
Perched on a promontory, Casa Caletas Boutique Hotel overlooks the estuary of the Río Coyote and Playa Coyote’s wide expanse of sand, with the breaking surf beyond. This stunning view can be seen from everywhere at Casa Caletas, and will captivate you from sunrise to sunset as the tide rises and ebbs.
Located on a 1,100-hectare working cattle farm, this small hotel is built on the site where Austrian owner Sylvester Feichtinger’s typical ranch house once stood. Though he resides in the U.S. state of California, he makes frequent visits to Casa Caletas, which opened in 2004.
Surrounded by well-kept gardens, a large mango tree and flourishing palms line the shady entranceway to the reception area and comfortable lounge with dark rattan and bamboo furnishings. A rather imposing TV is particularly popular with the small fry.
Casa Caletas is a kid-friendly place; families are welcome and their needs are catered to.
Beautiful, locally grown teak used throughout the hotel embodies the essence of simple elegance and comfort. This is complemented by the limestone faux-coral floors and the hotel’s signature color, a Mediterranean pea green.
The centerpiece at Casa Caletas is the delightful infinity pool with its breathtaking view. You can soak away the hours in the lovely warm water, or relax on the deck in a comfortable lounge chair with a good book.
Overlooking the pool area, the open-sided dining room with a ceramic island bar in the middle offers Costa Rican and international cuisine. Breakfasts, included in the rates, are substantial, with three different types to choose from: continental, traditional Tico or American. The large fruit plate is particularly appealing, and an abundance of fresh coffee is always on hand.
Lunch offerings include sandwiches, hamburgers and salads as well as main dishes.
Kiddies have a special menu: delicious breaded fresh fish fingers or cheese sticks and French fries. Dinner choices include steak, chicken, fish and pasta prepared in a variety of ways. Freshly cooked, nicely presented, tasty meals are the order of the day, at prices ranging from $7 to $16.
The hotel offers three room options to choose from. The rates, as in many boutique hotels, are pricey, starting at $191.40. The eight accommodations have French doors opening onto a small terrace or balcony with an ocean or river view. All rooms have air conditioning, ceiling fans, cable TV, tiled bathrooms with hot showers and roomy closets. The decor is simple: teak furniture, a cream and white color scheme and bedside tables with reading lamps.
The three double rooms have comfortable queen-size beds, but, though called deluxe, they are on the small side. Ideal for families, four rooms have a queen-size bed and a second-level mezzanine with two single beds. The Junior Suite has a king-size bed, estuary view and balcony with its own private Jacuzzi.
The Master Suite, a separate oceanview villa, has two bedrooms, king-size beds, a comfortably furnished living room and a fully equipped kitchen, plus a Jacuzzi and private terrace with a small pool.
Hotel manager Luis Alfaro also manages the cattle ranch. He is from the area, as are the friendly hotel employees, who give excellent service and will make your stay a memorable experience.
“Mr. Feichtinger is totally committed to using only local staff and is dedicated to the betterment of the community,” Alfaro said.
This could account for what appeared to be a lack of English-language skills, but on a recent visit the majority of the clientele were Costa Rican, anyway.
“This is very common during the low season,” Alfaro commented. “However, during the high season we get many visitors from North America and Europe.”
A good source of information about the area, Alfaro recommends various tours and places to visit. You can go horseback riding through cattle pastures, Jet Ski, fish, kayak or take a leisurely boat ride through the mangroves, where a variety of trees, known for their copious development of interlacing, aboveground roots, make for an amazing sight. The river and estuary are frequented by many waterbirds, including herons, kingfishers and sandpipers.
An absolute must-do is to rent one of the hotel’s golf carts – there isn’t a golf course in sight – and take the jungle trail to Playa Coyote, the nearest beach and a surfer’s paradise.
You can hike along the vast expanse of sand or take a dip in the shallow ocean at low tide. Beware of stingrays! They hang out in shallow water, so shuffle your feet and watch your step.
The totally deserted Playa Caletas, with its strange formation of sandstone running along the shore, is a wonderful place to watch the sunset, as is the hotel’s mirador.
Casa Caletas offers wedding packages, and marriage ceremonies often take place here with the sunset as a backdrop.
Feichtinger is the sole owner of the hotel and a partner in two others managed by Tico Resorts: Fuego del Sol in Playa Hermosa, on the central Pacific coast, and Lake Coter Eco-Lodge, near Arenal Volcano in north-central Costa Rica. The latter and Casa Caletas make a varied and interesting combination package.
Getting There, Rates, Info
From San José, take theInter-American Highway
to Puntarenas (two hours), then the Playa Naranjo ferry (one-hour crossing). Call 2661-1069 to check departure times, normally scheduled for 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. From Playa Naranjo, follow the signs to Jicaral (one hour) and then the dirt road to San Francisco de Coyote, (1.5 hours). The hotel is four kilometers south of the town and is well signposted. Driving times can vary according to road and weather conditions.
Nature Air (2299-6000, www.natureair.com) and Sansa (2290-4100, www.flysansa.com) fly to Punta Islita from the TobíasBolañosAirport in the western San José district of Pavas. Casa Caletas will arrange transport from the airport to the hotel.
High-season room rates, including taxes and breakfast, are $191.40 for double deluxe rooms, $220.40 triple or $249 quad for rooms with mezzanines, $232 for the Junior Suite and $600 for the Master Suite. Children under 10 sharing a parent’s room stay for free. For low-season rates, deduct $20.
For information or reservations, visit www.casacaletas.com or call 2655-1271; from the United States and Canada, call 1-800-850-4592 toll-free.