Name Canopy Retreats Location Miriana and Fortaleza, Costa Rica Average price for an overnight room $250 for two (minimum of three guests) Price to include services and everything, including check-in (minimum of three guests) Nutritionist, masseuse, trainers, yoga classes, surfing, golf, hiking
I was once on holiday with my parents when I got over-stimulated by a blanket massage at the spa. That’s how badly I wanted this place. The silken robe, the light, comforting smell of cinnamon, the fact that I was being cocooned inside the forest. It was like being at home.
Many of us prefer an active holiday to a nametag-wearing one and Canopy Retreats is perfectly positioned for them. It’s right in the middle of Costa Rica’s varied rainforest, making it just a short walk from pristine waterfalls, breathtaking views, protected forest and pink-flower-filled fields, as well as the world’s first National Centre for Oral and Facial Care.
Miriana stands in a string of turquoise-tinged lakes, where the earth begins to weep with mineral-rich waters. I realised I was more nervous about the invasiveness of the air conditioning in the bungalow than the outdoor jets of water full of bird songs. Our B&B, the Casa de Canopy, was a mesmerising citadel of purple wooden buildings and spiralling thin cables of light.
A rainy room at Casa de Canopy … Canopy provides physiotherapy and wellness services. Photograph: Bela Hebert/Canopy Retreats
Imagine a forest home with all the conveniences of a high-end hotel, with aromatherapy and wind tunnels and a masseuse in the corner, a stream curling between the rustic structures in the yard and the palm fronds strewed over the sandalwood and tumeric baths. We didn’t have to leave to have our breakfast buffets, an early-morning lie-in and to run into the waves of the lagoon.
We had laid off the cocktails, half-cut the bacon and margaritas were icy cold and lived in pleasant silence. You don’t feel like you’re being pampered, though. You feel like you’re in the hands of experts and it’s almost as if they know you will flourish there. We probably would have stayed longer but it was too difficult to sort through the holiday packages, I needed a yoga class, and as a south Londoner at the end of the week, I wasn’t yet spoiled for choice.
My partner took a yoga class to relax and find peace. He loves sunsets and sitting around at night.
I was only 16 when my mother gave me my first gym membership, but later embraced a plate of chicken meatballs for dinner (yes, I scoffed them, twice) and one of those weirdly interesting foams (warm grape juice and amla, South Indian, with Indian herbs and flavouring) for breakfast. I left the hotel without those goodies, but enjoyed the patchwork of cocktails you can’t get anywhere else.
The food is awful, but fine enough
The food was the only disappointing part of my stay, because you can get even better in the places that do it well. I spent half the time browsing e-retailers for workout clothes and the other half either browsing or eating. I was full of hints to spend my budget and free wifi and time to look for good sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, tacos, all tapas. I should have headed for the Canopy rooms instead of the basic bungalows – a spotless stilted wooden structure with a table at the front and a decent shower, from which to smoke a pipe, which is what we would have done. But I could have stayed up late on the beach and under the stars, putting all I wasn’t feeling into that weedy, free-flowing crystal-clear soup.