Toro Blanco is hard to miss. The bright, almost neon-gold building glows high above the beachfront neighborhood of palm trees and seafood restaurants below in the northwestern beach town of Playas del Coco. Passers-by will notice the color scheme, but stroll down the hotel’s statue-lined entrance and a royal-blue pool glistening under strands of lights becomes the main attraction.
The pool is the centerpiece of this hotel that could be found on any beach in southern Spain, France or Italy, home of owners Leo and Federica Fiumi.
The Fiumis came to Playas del Coco from the northern Italian city of Bologna, where they held jobs in construction and medicine. They say it was the stress of work and life in Bologna and the peace of Costa Rica that convinced them to settle in Playas del Coco.
“We visited Costa Rica twice before deciding to open a hotel here,” Federica said. “Costa Rica has everything we were looking for.”
Although the Fiumis wanted to bring big change to their lives, they didn’t want to abandon their roots. They commissioned an Italian architect to design the Mediterranean-inspired, three-story Toro Blanco Resort, which opened in spring 2009.
Since then, the Fiumis say their new venture has enjoyed consistent success.
“It’s incredible. Once the high season arrives, the place stays full,” Federica said.
Guests may choose from five suite options: Gardenia, Gardenia Relax, Orchid, Marpesia or Buena Vista. Size differentiates the 20 rooms, with most units designed for couples or small families. The Marpesia suite comes with one double bed, two twin beds and a couch, ideal for larger families or groups. Two Buena Vista rooms are the only units on the third floor and are designed for couples who enjoy ocean views with their morning coffee.
“You can see the fishing boats from there,” Leo explained. “And in the afternoons you can see all the monkeys that come eat all of our papayas.”
All units have kitchens equipped with everything necessary to prepare meals to enjoy on each room’s poolside patio. Guests hoping to mingle with fellow travelers are welcome to dine in one of the hotel’s two outdoor dining rooms or grill out in the barbecue pit.
One of the Fiumis’ achievements at Toro Blanco is that they have created an oasis in an area many already consider to be paradise. When clouds fill the sky, guests are still surrounded by vivid colors. When the tide rises or the beach mosquitoes take over, guests may opt for laps or lounging by the pool.
The most important part of this oasis is the relaxed atmosphere contained inside. Not only are room rates reasonable, but also having kitchens in every room and a grocery store around the corner allows guests, especially families, to focus on having fun and not worry about budgeting restaurant expenses.
The Fiumis live on-site and are quick to introduce guests to their two friendly dogs that chase lizards by day and attentively guard the property by night. They also enjoy interacting with guests in conversations that often begin with “Buongiorno” and end with “¿Quieres un espresso?” The two are established in their new home and strive to help others enjoy it.
Toro Blanco Resort is 25 meters south of the church in Playas del Coco, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. From San José, take the Inter-American Highway northwest to Liberia. Take the road west toward Playas del Coco, Filadelfia and Santa Cruz, passing the Liberia airport on your right. Turn right toward Playas del Coco at the Shell station and follow signs to town.
Rates begin at $70 during low season, $80 during high season and $90 during winter holidays. Pets are allowed. For information and reservations, call 2670-1707 or 8950-6126 or visit www.toroblancoresort.com.