Rainforest Retreat | Three Sixty Boutique Hotel, Costa Rica – Out and about!

In recent years our trips have gradually become more active and wildlife focused so where better to take it to a new level than Costa Rica with its abundance of wildlife.  Catch our video here with all our encounters.

Staying at Hotel Three Sixty meant we had Playa Tortuga on our doorstep, Marina Ballena National Park close by and a local horse-riding tour only 10 minutes away – this was the perfect place to explore! Check out our Hotel Three Sixty blog here.

Lined with mangrove trees the mile-long Playa Tortuga is a remote beach and only a short 5-minute detour (by foot) across Route 34 from a circular walk direct from our hotel.

You can enjoy some amazing wildlife encounters and one of the most wild and natural beaches you’ll ever experience.

On our first walk down to Playa Tortuga we had the most amazing encounters with a troop of White-Faced Capuchin monkeys who were performing some aerial acrobatics directly above us and on our last visit we managed to catch a small flock of macaws.

We found it best to visit Playa Tortuga a couple of hours before low tide as it allowed you to paddle across the inlet easier (watching for crocs of course  – another reasons for those walking poles!) and give you enough to time reach the other end and spend time exploring the beach and caves.

Watch out for the less than friendly crocodiles as you approach the end of the track and the inlet to the lagoon.  Also, don’t swim or paddle in the lagoon to the left of the beach entrance as crocodiles have been known to frequent there accordingly to the locals.  Final piece of advice at the height of the day the sand became incredibly hot – so keep those sandals handy!

Marina Ballena National Marine Park is located just offshore along the Central Pacific coast in South Puntarenas and protects more than 13,000 acres of ocean and 9 miles of coastline.

Comprised of mangrove forests, coral reefs and untouched beaches, the national park was only a 25-minute taxi ride from Hotel Three Sixty, so a must visit for us.

We arrived an hour or so before low tide so we could enjoy the famous Whale’s tail.   Rocky formations surface about 1 kilometre from the shore and along with an open and vast sandy beach create the impression of an enormous Whales tail.

Worth a visit, and we spent a few hours exploring the beach returning via a jungle trek through the mangroves, where we had a few more wildlife encounters including a friendly spider monkey.

We also managed to explore the Ojachal hills and local waterfall during our stay with an exhilarating trip on horseback courtesy of Lalo tours.   

Only 10 minutes by car from the hotel, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.

These are just a few things we got up to – with still so much more to do on our next visit !

Other Information: This was a sponsored / discounted visit; however the review / article is an independent, honest and true reflection of our experience.  Thank you to Hotel Three Sixty for allowing us to use some of their images in this blog.

Rainforest Retreat | Three Sixty Boutique Hotel, Costa Rica

It’s late February and we’ve just booked a low-key week long break to the Canary isles in March – but less than 24 hours later there’s been a change of plan and we’re instead heading off on a bucket list trip to Costa Rica! 

We had left our usual winter trip plans a little late this year; it’s amazing how things come good when all elements of a trip line up.  British Airways released some business class reward flights at the very last minute and we found possibly THE most incredible place we have ever stayed on our travels so far.  

Step up Three Sixty Boutique Hotel, Ojachal, Costa Rica.  Located on the South West coast of Costa Rica with breath taking views of the South Pacific and quite simply the most extraordinary sunsets you will ever see. Three Sixty provided a complete transformation from our usual trips.

Just over a year old Three Sixty is built on a 58-acre trail lined rainforest reserve, with 12 individual villas and the main building taking up less than 8% of the total area. Floating at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet the views of the fractal rainforest canopy and its flora and fauna, palm-lined beaches, distant islands and the endless Pacific Ocean are simply incredible, transporting you to another world.  The 300 km coastline view encompasses panoramas from Manuel Antonio to the Osa Peninsula, the migratory route of many species of whales and dolphins. 

We arrived around 9pm and were greeted with a warm smile by Rebecca who offered us a refreshing fruit cocktail.   There weren’t many guests around and as the place was so peaceful and quiet, we thought we were the only people staying.  

Our 24-hour door to door journey from Scotland had taken its toll, with the final 3 ½ hour leg from San Jose Airport well and truly putting us into the exhausted territory.  We checked in and headed to our villa to unpack and settle down for the night.

Despite being tired the first impression of our villa was impressive with a large open plan living area and bathroom with separate rain shower cubicle.  Furnished with luxury Indonesian furniture, a king size bed and Egyptian cotton towels and linens – we immediately had a sense of luxury and something special. 

The villa had the usual amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel, but it was nice to see a Nespresso machine, mini refrigerator, impressive Wi-Fi and importantly a first-class modern remote-controlled air conditioning system.   WiFi speed was pretty good at around 7mbps and coverage was excellent throughout complex – so good in fact we had to remind ourselves we were indeed at the top of a rainforest!

We had a sneaky glimpse through the floor to ceiling windows, but it was pitch black outside, so we had to wait until the morning to see whether we had a ‘good’ view.  As first nights go, we had a great sleep, but we were both excited with what the morning would bring so keen for dawn to break.

Wow! – I don’t think we will ever experience a more exhilarating first morning.   

Waking early to enchanting jungle sounds we drew back the curtains, the views were simply breath taking with butterflies, toucans and parrots to name a few in the trees providing a natural background soundtrack.  See for yourself here.

We had caught a glimpse of the main building the night before, but as we made the thirty second walk to breakfast in the Kua Kua Restaurant the beauty of the main building became apparent. 

It was simply stunning, made from traditional and modern materials it has open and airy architecture, natural floral walls and vaulted ceilings.  

In the centre an enormous fountain fed by natural rainwater reminds you that you are in the middle of a rainforest.

We were greeted by Christina who immediately made us welcome with her incredibly warm and engaging smile. Keeping with the ‘three sixty’ theme, the restaurant offers the concept of a full rotation of cuisine through the seasons – for the time being though we had our sights set on the Banana Bread French toast with maple syrup!

Breakfast was always special with fresh coffee, baked breads / pastries, fruit juice smoothies and some impressive dishes to choose from, including scrumptious avocado toast and freshly made waffles with fried chicken and syrup!  

Yes, that’s what we said.  Fried chicken and syrup.  See for yourself – a great start to the day. Don’t forget the pancakes too!

The hotel was quiet and peaceful during our stay and when we weren’t out exploring, we simply chilled out by the infinity pool.  

The views from the sumptuous padded sun loungers were incredible, and you easily lost yourself in your thoughts as you watched the array of birds soaring above you and looked over the rainforest canopy towards the Pacific Ocean.  

The team knew exactly when to bring us an ice bucket with a chilled water bottle, a sneaky afternoon cocktail or a beer served up by Eddy.  Even better, was when we harnessed just enough energy to lift our head off the sun lounger, we had to walk no more than 10 steps to reach the Kua Kua for an afternoon snack.

You can choose from the bar Bocas menu or an afternoon lunch menu.  We pretty much worked our way through the Bocas menu during our stay.  The menus were very reasonable in terms of cost and perfectly sized portions kept us going until early evening dinner.

Don’t forget the desserts!

A gin and tonic cost around $10, a very enjoyable bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was $26, and bottle of Corona beer was $7.   Bocas ranged from $11 for fish tempura to $15 for a homemade burger.  All very reasonable and tasty too!

In recent years our trips have gradually become more active and wildlife focused so where better to take it to a new level than Costa Rica with its abundance of wildlife.  Look out for our other blog on this soon and a short video here!

With Playa Tortuga on our doorstep, Marina Ballena National Park close by and a local horse-riding tour this was the perfect place to explore.

We had had mixed information before we arrived at the hotel over how easy it was to explore the area on foot direct from the hotel.  Some reviews said you could, and others were clear that it was impossible to walk anywhere, and you needed a car.

The hotel team were a little  surprised at our exploits, indeed possibly thinking we were a little crazy, however, provided you’re relatively fit, avoid the hottest part of the day, take a water bottle and don’t mind a few more challenging inclines there is a 5km / 1hr 15mins circular route direct from the hotel front door.  

Halfway round there is a great pit stop at Restaurante Citrus where you’ll find a cool beer (or two) the perfect thirst quencher, ever!

We were a little apprehensive at first setting out to explore an unknown area, but we felt safe and comfortable exploring on our own on foot. You’ll experience some amazing vistas as you descend the tracks as well as some interesting bird life.

The locals had been performing rain dances during our stay as they were going through a very dry spell for the time of year.   It meant that the dirt tracks up from the main Route 34 to the hotel were very dry and dusty; top tip is to take walking poles to help you keep a sure footing.

If you’re up for the challenge the last 100 metre climb to the front of the hotel is one to burn off some of the banana bread french toast calories – alternatively a golf buggy is normally on hand if you’ve ran out of energy!

Special mention to Jose from guest services, who was always on hand to offer us his personal insight into potential trips and wildlife in the area.  A very guest focused individual who had a very natural way of engaging and making guests feel at ease – a real credit to the Three Sixty team.

Our villa was one of the best placed to enjoy the sunsets with the terrace offering an outstanding level of privacy and a feeling of being the only couple for miles around.  Whether we had chosen a lazy day by the pool or had been out exploring the Costa Rican wildlife we always found ourselves on our terrace enjoying the mesmerising and ever-changing sunsets. Have a look here to see what we mean.  

This was a real special part of our trip as we relaxed with music playing. Not too loud though that it drowned out the jungle noise but just enough to create a chilled feeling as we watched the sun gradually disappear over the horizon.  Even when the sun had disappeared it was amazing how the sky kept cycling through its kaleidoscope of colours and the jungle sounds began to change as night set in.

Before we forget, depending on where your villa faces, make sure you manage at least one early rise to catch the dawn from the main building – we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise sipping a Nespresso in the main building – a perfect start to the day.

Evenings at Three Sixty were very relaxed with a very intriguing dining menu to choose from including shrimp ceviche, octopus toast, a fresh fish main course, yellow curry and beef tenderloin.    

Chef Nelson Spichiger sources his fresh ingredients locally, visiting local produce markets and fishermen each morning.  The result is some very fresh and vibrant dishes.

All dishes were exceptional and served with a real attention to detail complemented by first-class table service from the waiting staff.  A special mention to Fauricio who was so passionate and enthusiastic about what he did; he and Erica were so attentive and genuinely made our dining experiences more enjoyable.

Again, dishes were very reasonable with starters ranging between $12 and $18 and main courses around $21 to $25.

If you’re lucky to be there for as long as we were Chef Nelson may offer to rustle up some specials for you.  Don’t forget if you’ve had an active day and want a lazy night you can always order in room service from the Bocas menu to enjoy on your secluded terrace.

We really can’t thank Amalia and her team enough; from our contact before we arrived to the experience during our stay Amalia and her team made us very welcome and genuinely provided us with a very personal, intimate and relaxing stay complemented by a very high-class level of service.   We would have to say that the entire team at Hotel Three Sixty has set the level of service benchmark for others to aspire to.

Costa Rica was on our bucket list before now and with so much to see and do it is certainly high up on our list for a second visit very soon – hopefully capturing a glimpse of the elusive Perezoso (or Sloth) next time round.

Hotel Three Sixty was an incredibly ambitious and innovative concept.  A special mention to the team behind it who have created an architectural masterpiece uniquely and sympathetically nestled into the Costa Rican landscape. 

More than likely Hotel Three Sixty will feature on our itinerary when we return as we’re looking forward to seeing the next stage of their eco-village plan fall into place.

Pura Vida as they say in Costa Rica.

Other Information: This was a sponsored / discounted visit; however the review / article is an independent, honest and true reflection of our experience.  Thank you to Hotel Three Sixty for allowing us to use some of their images in this blog.

The Bahía Del Duque, Costa Adeje, Tenerife – Luxury Guaranteed

Bahía del Duque is a Leading Hotel of the World (LHW) and it easily lives up to that status.

It is situated in the most exclusive end of Costa Adeje and is a laid out as a mock 19th century Spanish / Canarian village with direct access onto Playa Del Duque. The ‘village’ has five pools, streets, squares, church towers and stunning architecture filled with a mix of palms, dragon trees, flame trees, jacarandas, fruit trees and cactus.

Bahía del Duque is located on a large estate of approximately 100,000sqm. This project by renowned architect Andrés Piñeiro, recreates a Villa, with nineteen low-rise independent houses.

What makes Bahía del Duque stand out is that it really doesn’t feel like a large hotel, but more of a homely Spanish village all on its own and in some areas, has scenes straight out of a fairy tale.

Our check in was seamless, a little automated to be honest, but efficient and speedy – it did what it said on the tin as they say! The staff, in their traditional dress, were excellent throughout the hotel and across all departments – nothing was ever a problem and they put you at ease from the moment you arrived.

One of the very few criticisms we did have of the hotel was the reception area which was very hot; it would have been nice to have an air-conditioned area for guests to relax and ‘chill’. Perhaps something to think of in the future, especially for guests waiting to be picked up for their journey home.

We were in a Deluxe Seaview room, on a half board basis, and we managed to land one with a sun terrace and decent views of the sea through the ‘village’ rooftops.

Since our last stay in 2012 the rooms have undergone refurbishment and they have more of a modern feel about them than before.

A nice touch was the bottle of fizz chilling for our arrival – needless to say it disappeared very quickly along with the chocolate dipped strawberries.

Having the sun on our terrace from mid-afternoon meant we could retire to our room, enjoy a bite to eat from the room service menu and then relax with a large gin on the incredibly comfortable sun loungers.

Bahia del Duque stood out for us during our last trip for its gastronomic dining experience and this is what we came back for.  This is where Las Aguas stepped up to the plate – pun intended! Worth noting that across all restaurants (except Sensu Kazan) guests on half board could choose ‘inclusive’ dishes, but for some dishes there were supplements to pay.

Las Aguas is the flagship restaurant of Bahía del Duque. Located within the area of Las Villas, in a unique and exclusive setting, it was created by the interior designer Pascua Ortega. Las Aguas serves traditional Canarian cuisine using the most avant-garde techniques developed by its chef Braulio Simancas.

Fresh fish, local meats, market produce and the chef’s own market garden provided a menu full of flavours and textures. Las Aguas is one of our favourites restaurants, so on our first night we chose the 13-course tasting menu.

Celebrating traditional, Canarian tradition and culture it was simply outstanding. From start to finish the dishes were fresh, intense and exciting and the experience was very well priced. The entire evening felt special and exclusive with the most attentive staff we have had for a long time.  Overall Las Aguas provided a first class start to our stay and set the bar for others restaurants to follow.

A special mention for the dessert of white chocolate soup, passion fruit, mint and cardamom – this dessert is delicious and remains one of our firm favourites; highly recommended and worth visiting Lad Aguas for that alone!

We dined again here on our final evening and chose the traditional a la carte menu as the tasting menu on offer was the same as our earlier visit.  Although, another enjoyable evening, it didn’t quite live up to our first night and it would have been nice to have an alternative tasting menu or wider selection of a la carte dishes for guests visiting the restaurant more than once during their stay. That said, the larger portion of white chocolate soup went down a treat.

With a beautiful view over the Hotel’s swimming pool and central plaza La Brasserie offered us a refined menu by prestigious Belgian chef Pierre Résimont. Developed further by chef Yoseba Llarena local and seasonal products made up an impressive menu of Gallic cuisine. We kept it simple and started with a Beef carpaccio cooked at low temperature, with tuna froth and then shared a lovely and simple Chateaubriand with Béarnaise sauce on the side. Sometimes simplicity and quality food is all you need for a special evening.

We were excited by the new offering since our last visit. Sensu Kazan, a partner restaurant for Bahia Del Duque, offered a menu of Japanese haute cuisine dishes, a Sushi Bar and a Robatayaki Grill.

We visited on our third night and although the food was excellent, fresh and authentic, we would have to say they really missed a trick in creating an atmosphere, capturing our senses and making it a memorable evening. Other than Sushi Bars, we haven’t eaten in many Japanese restaurants and it would have been nice to have been guided through what seemed to be an impressive menu.  Thankfully, the trusty Iphone was on hand to offer suitable translations. If they can get the customer engagement / experience right and to the same standards as the main hotel Sensu Kazan will become a worthy addition to the gourmet offering at the hotel. Not being part of the half board basis, they could perhaps consider the price point, as being very similar to Las Aguas, it certainly didn’t offer the same value for money.

Another new restaurant since our last visit, Sea, which means fire in Euskera (the Basque language), offered another gastronomic experience.

With expert chefs hard at work in an open kitchen they worked their magic with smoky aromas helping us on a journey into Basque cuisine.

We also dined in La Trattoria, which serves Italian cuisine, La Hacienda a mexican and Alisios Market Food.  All of them provided different atmospheres and options depending on your preferences each evening and importantly impressive menus and choices.

A buffet breakfast is served in El Bernegal restaurant with an excellent selection of cold, hot dishes and Nespresso coffee. When we chose to eat in the morning, led to a very different experience with the ‘family’ side of the resort clearing showing through during busier peak times. We ate here every morning just after 10am and it was very nice, but we did miss having the option of the more relaxing a la carte breakfast experience we have enjoyed at other hotels recently. A la carte breakfasts were available for guests staying in Casas Ducales and Las Villas accommodation, but that’s another level of luxury, sadly out of our price range!

El Bernegal offers themed buffets and show cooking in the evening where you could taste the best international cuisine.  We tried here one evening as we were dining early and were pleasantly surprised with the quality and presentation of dishes. Buffets tends to be more functional than a real dining experience and are not our preferred option however El Bernegal certainly provided a quality option for those guests with young children, or those perhaps looking for a less formal experience.

The Thalassotherapy circuit / spa is well worth a visit where a two-metre waterfall invites to enjoy hydromassage jets, bubble beds and the therapeutic benefits of sea water which is apparently taken directly from the Atlantic Ocean. We spent an entire day here during our second week and had one of our most relaxing experiences for a long time. This area is complemented by a hammam, saunas, a cold water pool and an outdoor solarium with shaded relaxation areas. The cold water pool certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!

This was our third time at Bahia Del Duque and our first since venturing into the food and travel world. This resort covers all the bases in terms of what we look for in a break, relaxation, luxury and a gourmet / gastronomic experience up there with the best!

The Bahia Del Duque, at this time of year anyway (August), didn’t give us the full couple’s experience we’ve enjoyed in the past, but it will also be a special place for us as it was probably the hotel that got us hooked on luxury and gourmet travel. No doubt we will be back in the future!