On a hillside overlooking the jungle in the Central Pacific’s famed Manuel Antonio area, Spa Uno and its adjacent Spa Villa offer the ultimate place to stay and be pampered amid the glory of nature.
U.S. natives Adam and Molly McBride opened Spa Uno in 1999 as the first day spa in Manuel Antonio – a relatively new concept at the time, says Spa Uno director and consultant Liz Galloway. But as more wellness programs emerged, “people began embracing healthy lifestyles and the positive effect of spas,” Galloway says.
The stress fades away the moment you step into the serene atmosphere of Spa Uno. The decor features ocean-blue tile floors offset with warmer hues of red and yellow. The two-story, open-air structure encourages guests to leave behind their cares from the outside world and relax and rejuvenate against a jungle backdrop.
The spa’s seven rooms offer a full array of facials, massage therapies, body treatments, pedicures and manicures. On the observation deck among the treetops, three massage rooms, including one for couples’ massages, fully immerse guests in the jungle experience. The spa also offers yoga class daily at 9 a.m. on the deck.
All spa treatments are performed using Raw Botanicals, an exclusive line of organic products launched by Molly McBride in 2002. With a background in essential oils and aromatherapies, she developed the products using Costa Rican ingredients. Luxuriant organic products like the Papaya Facial Renewing Polish, Citrus Sea Mask and Chocolate Mint Mineral Soak take Spa Uno’s treatments up a notch.
For the full relaxation experience, guests can opt to stay at the adjoining Spa Villa, a two-story, three-bedroom house overlooking the jungle canopy that accommodates up to eight guests. Formerly the McBrides’ residence, the villa opened about six years ago as a rental property. Galloway says guests range from families with young kids to couples traveling together to groups of friends.
Featuring a design scheme similar to that of Spa Uno, Spa Villa has a beach feel with accents of bamboo and seashells. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living and dining area provide plenty of light and the ideal vantage point from which to watch troops of monkeys swinging from the trees and exotic birds flying by. During The Tico Times’ visit, a sloth in a tree behind the villa was not hard to spot, moving only occasionally to scratch its stomach or munch on a leaf.
The villa is fully furnished with kitchen, washer and drier, wireless Internet and cable TV. Pool access is available at nearby hotels. Fresh fruit and a sample of Raw Botanicals products await each new guest, and every night’s stay at the villa comes with a $50 gift certificate at the spa.
Although the villa feels enchantingly secluded, it is only one block from the main road through Manuel Antonio and a short walk from several restaurants. Activities such as zip-line and canopy tours, parasailing, rafting and horseback riding abound in the area, and the public beach and renowned Manuel Antonio National Park are a short drive or taxi ride away.
Spa Uno recently began expanding into spa management services as well, and currently manages the spa at Manuel Antonio’s luxury Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa.
“We provide all the staffing, training, products and protocol to make everything exactly the same as Spa Uno,” Galloway says. “We take care of their space within their five-star hotel as an outside management company. It’s easier to have someone with expertise in the area come in and take care of it.”
Spa Uno also has added an adjunct service to www.weddingsmanuelantonio.com, a wedding planning company founded by the McBrides.
“The spa was already prepping for the weddings, so now we offer the bridal group a private party at the spa,” Galloway says.
Expert wellness treatments and convenient, deluxe accommodations make Spa Uno and Spa Villa a truly delicious place to get pampered in Manuel Antonio.n
From Quepos, take the road toward Manuel Antonio National Park for three kilometers. After Hotel Villas El Parque on the right, look for the Spa Uno sign and turn right onto the road just after the hotel parking lot. Follow the road for 200 meters and Spa Uno will be on the left.
Sample spa prices: 50-minute massage, $75-$115; facials, $65-$120; manicure and pedicure, $80; spa packages, $120-$295. Yoga classes are $15 ($10 for students); yoga packages are available. Raw Botanicals products can be purchased at the spa or through www.rawbotanicals.com.