Sun, moon and stars are the guiding theme at Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast. Located on the tranquil outskirts of the coffee town of Atenas, west of San José, the bed-and-breakfast is comfortably nestled between heaven and earth on the eastern side of a steep mountain overlooking the Central Valley. During the day, Poás, Barva and Irazú volcanoes appear close at hand. At night, Orion, Venus and Sirius compete with the lights below.
The hotel’s six rooms, two cabins and villa are all named after celestial constellations and stars. The hotel’s logo, a crescent moon embracing the sun and kissing it good night, adorns the property’s iron-gated entrance, and is also featured on orange-and-white road signs directing guests to the hotel.
“Choosing celestial constellations seemed obvious to me,” says Belgian owner Vera Fouriau, 52, who acquired the property five years ago. “The night sky is so amazing here, just beautiful.”
Guests might stay in the Pleiades room with its breathtaking valley views, enjoy a healthy breakfast served in the Sol y Luna (Sun and Moon) dining area, or lounge on the Mars terrace around the pool.
All the hotel’s renovated rooms are tastefully furnished, displaying Fouriau’s dedication to detail and her preference for vivid colors. The rooms are equipped with comfortable beds, ceiling fan, safe, mini-fridge and private bathroom with solar-heated water. Featuring a private garden setting, the two cabins and the villa provide all the comforts of home, with fully equipped kitchens and private terraces. The hotel also offers free wireless Internet access.
Fouriau, a former language teacher, is accustomed to welcoming guests from all over the world. She keeps a map at hand to pinpoint where her international clientele comes from.
“I like to meet people,” she says. “My goal is to disconnect them from the busy world, offering a quiet, peaceful, close-to-nature ambience.”
Committed to the responsible use of natural resources, Fouriau recently expanded her property by buying the adjoining lot to protect it from development. This secondary forest is now accessible by trails, inviting birders and hikers for a stroll. The hotel has its own well, and the water is piped using solar energy. Not surprisingly, Fouriau is in the process of applying for the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism.
Vista Atenas makes an ideal base for touring the country, and its multilingual staff are happy to assist guests however they can. Trips to Poás and Arenal volcanoes, Carara National Park, the Pacific beaches and the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden in nearby Sarchí are popular, as are hiking, horseback riding and touring the charming town of Atenas in a carriage, Fouriau says. And with the town center a short taxi drive away, guests have access to an array of restaurants.
“Our clients love Atenas. It has such a human size,” Fouriau says. “They are delighted by the friendliness of the local people and enjoy being recognized when they come back the following year.”
Fouriau, a mother of two, says Vista Atenas is the realization of a dream for her and husband Jean, a lawyer still doing business in Belgium. Jean had originally thought of retiring in southern France, where he wanted to run a small B-and-B. Then, Fouriau visited Costa Rica in 2005. From the moment she stepped off the plane, she knew she liked the country.
“It was déjà vu, as if I had been here before,” she recalls.
Some happy coincidences later, she found Atenas and stayed at the B-and-B, where she met former owner José Vens, also from Belgium. As soon as she heard the hotel was for sale, Fouriau knew she had found the place her husband was dreaming of.
Jean is presently taking evening classes at a French culinary school in Belgium, with the goal of reopening the hotel’s restaurant in the near future, Fourier says.
Offering comfortable accommodations, an ideal location and warm hospitality, Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast is a sanctuary in a busy world. An entry in the hotel’s guest book perhaps says it best: “Your place is a little piece of heaven. Thank you for sharing it with us!”
From Juan Santamaría International Airport, take the Inter-American Highway west toward San Ramón. After 14 km, turn off at the Atenas-Jacó-Manuel Antonio exit. Drive on Highway 3 for 14.4 km to Atenas. After the gas station, continue another 3 km, turn left at the Vista Atenas residential community and follow the signs to Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast.
Double room rates including breakfast and taxes are $59 during “green” season (May to November) and $75 during high season (December to April). Cabins are $70 per night; the villa is $100. Weekly and monthly rates are available.
For reservations and information, call 2446-4272 or visit www.vistaatenas.com.