Published on May 18th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
The Top 3 Thermal Resorts in Arenal, Costa Rica
|Healing Waters: The Springs Resort and Spa is one of Costa Rica’s top thermal resorts.|
BY MELISSA RUTTANAI
Fuchsia orchids perfume the air. Steam rises from thermal pools, the water clouded with minerals. A crisp breeze sweeps through what seems to be the Garden of Eden or perhaps a lush desert oasis. Miles below Arenal Volcano, molten magma gurgles away. Just above this fiery furnace, the Tabacon River flows through underground crevasses, soaking up precious minerals and reaching temperatures over 38 degrees C (100 F). As a result, rejuvenating hot springs break through the surface, and lucky visitors reap the benefits at some of the best thermal resorts in Costa Rica.
|Natural Wonders: Tabacon Grand Spa is a premiere destination for outdoor enthusiasts.|
Tabacon Grand Spa
Located beside Arenal Lake and Arenal Volcano, Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort is a premiere destination for outdoor enthusiasts and unwinding vacationers. Easily reached from Monterrey, Puntarenas, and San Jose, Tabacon is a modern hotel and hot spring spa, set beside the town of La Fortuna. When visiting from Liberia, take the ferry across Lake Arenal. Workers aboard these boats are great sources of information on local events and diverse restaurants.
Split between the hotel property and the spa gardens, Tabacon offers neatly appointed accommodations with fresh fruit and landscape views from balconies. Only years before, the volcano was active, erupting in the night to jolt guests from their slumber. Now dormant, the volcano is a mammoth sight that continues to supply beneficial minerals and heated waters for the property.
From the main lobby, guests can follow the flower-hedged walkway down to the thermal pools. Once inside, a large pool and covered verandas allow guests to sunbathe and read at leisure. Several pools dot the sprawling gardens. There are intimate coldwater ponds, little lagoons fed by hot streams, and tiled pools reminiscent of miniature Roman baths. On the map, each pool is marked with its temperature, ranging from 25 to 38 degrees C (77 to 102 F). If you want to feel how the inside of a hotpot feels, head to the waterfalls. A steaming hot curtain, the waters cascade overhead, working out the knots and kinks in your shoulders. Once the temperature begins to scold, wade downsteam where the tide collects in cooler, calmer waters.
Hot-Spring day passes are available for those residing off-property. Hotel rates include access to the spa gardens. Tabacon guests enjoy early admission as well as late hours for quiet strolls through the foliage. At night, when only hotel guests remain, floodlights illuminate the paths and the grounds are serene. However during the day, the gardens can be busy.
Baldi Resort and Spa
A 5-minute cab ride from La Fortuna, Baldi Resort and Spa offers high- to moderately priced accommodations in San Carlos. With mountain and volcano views, this resort plays up its lush surroundings. The grounds are meticulously cared for, while pools allow visitors to leapfrog from hot to cold to tepid waters. With manmade waterfalls and tiled flooring, the thermal baths can feel less than natural at times. Unique to Baldi Resort and Spa, three waterslides are the main attractions for the adventurous and young-at-heart.
The Springs Resort and Spa
A mega-resort, the Springs Resort and Spa could be a flagship establishment on the Vegas Strip. Sitting on the northern lowlands, the property offers an arsenal of amenities, including four restaurants, game rooms, gym, and casino. Some say that while providing for every imaginable need, the hotel toes a line between luxury and commercialism. Faux stone cliffs seem painstakingly molded, and the grounds too expansive for individual attention. Nevertheless, American producers of ABC’s The Bachelor made these hot springs famous by hosting its 2011 season here.
In Arenal, visitors have both the rigor of the outdoors and the relaxation of thermal pools. They can hike, bird and zipline or sunbathe, shop, and restaurant-hop. If strong enough to wrestle away from the spa treats, travelers can hire a cabbie to visit local sights and interesting landmarks. But most will agree: the thermal spas here are some of the best in the world.