Pura Vita in Costa Rica

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In Costa Rica, life among the lush rainforests and stoic volcanoes is paired with metropolitan European glamour and casual Spanish colonial influences in the cities. The Tico—aka the locals—like to say Pura Vita, a phrase meaning “pure life” that typifies Costa Rica’s smart balance of nature and community.

With over 25% of tropical terrain protected as national park and wildlife refuges inside multiple micro climates, planners have boatloads of options for adventurous group experiences.

For example, the DMC Exploradores Outdoors will yank you out of your comfort zone to experience the limits of this destination. Skilled guides operating up to 30 whitewater rafts holding six people each handily navigate the raging Rio Pacuare, one of the world’s signature whitewater routes. And when you have time to look, the rapids are rimmed with cascading waterfalls, dense jungle and volcanic black sand riverbanks home to monkeys and hundreds of colorful macaws and toucans.

This is my first raft experience. The first few seconds in the rapids are pure panic. Then excitement, euphoria and genuine awe take over as the river gathers strength, creating a level of exuberance among the group I’m not sure can be topped. We thoroughly enjoyed this day that combined such gripping escapades with serene contentment when the water was tranquil.

Meanwhile, Rain Forest Aerial Trams’ innovative Tranopy tour combines a scenic aerial gondola ride to the top of the rainforest with an exhilarating series of ziplines running down the volcano slope to a helicon flower gallery and serpentarium. For me, it’s an adrenaline-charged adventure in such a remarkable setting that it pushes aside my fear of heights as I leap into the air to soar spine-tingling fast through the tropical canopy.

Also check out Manuel Antonio National Park, famous for its stunning white sand beaches amid an evergreen tropical forest shimmering with placid lagoons and exploding florals. Nearby, Carara National Park is home to one of the largest populations of Scarlet Macaw in the world.

Our group decamped at the 309-room Marriott San Jose, Costa Rica Hotel, reminiscent of a 16th century colonial hacienda. This welcome respite from the bustling city sits on a 30-acre coffee plantation 20 minutes from Juan Santamaria Int’l Airport. Everything about the decor is fresh, vibrant and new unless it’s beautifully preserved and antique. Very easy to forget you’re near a thriving metropolis. Modern meeting space totals 11,000 sf, and the Kuö Spa offers coffee-infused treatments.

“The happiness of our people, their love for the country and nature, their pride in work and everything Costa Rica offers is what differentiates us most,” says Alexandre Esmeraldo, GM.

One hour west on the Pacific, the 212-room Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is the perfect complement to San Jose. With Spanish colonial motifs, luxuriant flora and fauna, six restaurants, an 18-hole Ted Robinson golf course, a Stellaris Casino and the nature-inspired Sibö Rainforest Spa & Retreat, Los Suenos is an ideal incentive destination resort. Plus, the 12,000 sf of flexible function space and endless outdoor spaces will enliven any business agenda.

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