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12 The Magazine
Nov/dec 2011
is what it’s like to be truly “away.”
“Pura Vida.” That’s what Costa Ricans
call it – literally, “pure life.” What it really
means is living life to the fullest, every day
and in every way. And nowhere is this more
possible – no matter what kind of nature lovers
your meeting and incentive participants might
be – than in a country that bills itself as having
“no artifcial ingredients.”
Small Yet Diverse
Costa Rica, only slightly larger than
Switzerland, is also one of the most
diverse countries in the world for its size
– 3,800-meter/12,000-foot peaks; 2,300
km/1,430 miles of coastline on both the
Caribbean and Pacifc; vast expanses of
rainforest in the south and grassy fatlands in
the northwest. Although it comprises less than
one tenth of one percent of the world’s land
mass, Costa Rica is home to an astonishing
fve percent of the world’s biodiversity,
including more than 800 species of ferns,
1,000 of orchids, 2,000 kinds of trees and
200 species of mammals.
Even in such a small country, the three
regions we visit during our week-long tour
– the Pacifc coast south of San Jose around
Manuel Antonio National Park; Guanacaste
and the Papagayo Gulf in the northwest; and
the more densely-populated Central Valley
– each have their own unique ecosystem
and corresponding array of attractions and
The southern part of Costa Rica tends
to be wetter and more tropical, and this is
where most visitors spend their time hiking the
rainforest, going
on photo safaris,
riding aerial trams,
zip-lining through
the canopy,
surfng, kayaking
and snorkeling in
pristine hidden
coves. Further
north, in Costa
Rica’s Guanacaste
region, spend some
time experiencing
the country’s
old-style cattle
ranches and cane
plantations. At
nearby Palo Verde
National Park,
you can arrange
a riverboat tour
that showcases the
area’s abundance
of tropical birds,
lizards, monkeys,
crocodiles and other native wildlife.
A Unique View
Getting from Guanacaste back to San Jose in
the Central Valley involves an early morning
fight courtesy of Nature Air, which bills
itself as “The World’s First Carbon-Neutral
Airline.” The 30-minute trip offers a unique
aerial view of Costa Rica’s diverse geography,
as grasslands change to mountains and
countryside to urban sprawl. Once back in the
city we hit the road again, this time to visit the
Poas Volcano, located just 50 km/30 miles
north of San Jose.
One of our
last activities – and
one of the best – is
a tour of the Doka
Estate in Alajuela,
home to the Doka
Coffee Plantation
and a fascinating
tutorial of coffee
cultivation and
processing. The
tour begins with
the seedbeds,
where we observe
the development
process of the
plant and hear
about cultivation
techniques. This is
followed by a visit
the Estate’s historic
coffee processing
plant, declared
an Architectural
Heritage for
Humanity site by the Costa Rican government.
Receivers, grinders, fermentation tanks; then
it’s on to the Guardiola – the huge outdoor
patio where the coffee is dried under the
sun before being stored in the warehouse.
After that it’s peeled and exported, or
roasted at Doka or elsewhere in the country.
Experiencing this meticulous and complicated
process gives you a whole new perspective
on, and respect for, your morning cup of
Seeking Shelter
Massive golf resorts. Remote coastal
hideaways. Boutique properties. Glittering
high rises. You name it, Costa Rica has it. To
be fair, we were only able to get to seven of
the hundreds of hotels clustered largely on the
coasts and in the city of San Jose, but those
we did see provided an impressive cross-
section of styles, surroundings, price points
and amenities.
We started in San Jose, checking into
the open-air Ramada Plaza Herradura when
we arrived before heading out the next day
for the Parador Resort & Spa in Quepos, near
Manuel Antonio. We spent the third night at
the Marriott Los Sueños in Playa Herradura on
the Pacifc coast, followed by a night at the
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort, two nights
at Paradisus Playa Conchal outside Brasilito,
and a fnal night back in San Jose at the Real
Of course, the property you choose
depends largely on the personality and
preferences of your attendees. But no matter
where you stay, nature is all around you in
the form of pristine beaches, outdoor spas,
breathtaking balcony views, pools of every
description, fora, fauna ...
Pura Vida indeed.
continued from the cover
The Power of ‘Pura Vida’

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