We joined six presidents representing Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama at the 5-star Real InterContinental San Jose Costa Rica this summer. The hacienda-style hotel is well experienced at hosting international congresses and meetings. Plus, it’s quickly accessible to some amazing rainforest experiences.
Situated in the upscale Escazu neighborhood surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, this lively 372-room hotel has 13 meeting rooms and the largest urban spa in Central America. A 7,500-sf exhibit space with state-of-the-art A/V equipment offers a lot of flexibility for events up to 1,800 pax, reception-style.
InterContinental’s diverse menu options provide a great in-house dinearound. Alfredo Trattoria, one of the hotel’s four restaurants, serves gourmet Italian cuisine with light and flavorful handmade pasta under a brick grotto ceiling. The orange and gold glow surrounding the Nau Lounge sets the stage for the exquisitely garnished sushi and sashimi offered there. Exiting out of a glass-enclosed kitchen, The Factory serves succulent lobster and the finest steak cuts, two highlights not to be missed. And my favorite, The Market is the hotel’s latest innovation.
“It’s pretty cool to have a 24-hour gourmet restaurant to pop into,” says Luis Manuel Velarde, executive assistant manager of marketing/sales. “It has a casual and refreshing atmosphere— locals and hotel guests love it.”
THE THINGS I DO FOR COFFEE
The Market’s fabulous breakfast bar is supplied with mangos, papayas and guavas. Grab a bowl and fill it with your salad favorites, and then the salad mixer will toss it all together. Don’t forget to add hearts of palm, a hearty Costa Rican staple. The venue also offers fun “build your own” sandwich, burger and pizza options.
In Executive Chef Marcial Canas’ kitchens, menus catering to the health of the guests and the planet are kept in mind. There’s a priority on reducing salt, sugars and saturated fats, a “no endangered species served” rule, and fresh local ingredients. This reflects InterContinental’s aggressive sustainability mission, monitored by IHG Green Engage.
The Central Valley’s ideal climate and location set the stage for my morning ritual, a delectable treat at The Market before heading out with our outstanding guide Fabian from Swiss Costa Rica DMC. His narratives on the history of the country and people fascinated us on our daily jaunts.
First stop: zip lining, which we’re told was invented in Costa Rica. I soared over trees and canyons through the treetop canopy in the tropical jungle around Hacienda Pozo Azul, a 2,000-acre working ranch. Standing 90 feet high on one of the 17 platforms was literally breathtaking.
We also climbed aboard a 14-foot long raft and cascaded through adventurous Class II and III rapids on the Sarapiqui River.
“Sit in the front of the raft for the wettest and best adventure,” instructed James, our affable guide. We got soaked and it was fabulous. It really is the ultimate icebreaker in Costa Rica.
The cloud forest on the drive to Poas Volcano extended right up the rim. I was elated when for a brief moment the clouds cleared to reveal the fumarole at the crater.
As we headed down the mountain from Poas, we stopped into the Doka Estate coffee plantation, home to the oldest coffee factory in the country. From seedbed to sipping a cup of the freshest brewed hot-roasted coffee, we learned and enjoyed the coffee bean’s magnificent journey.
After spending the day traveling through nature, the luxurious InterContinental Hotel greeted me with the most comfortable bed I’d ever slept in. As they say here, it was a pura vida moment.