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Under the Costa Rican Sun

by Sandra Ramani


When architect Ronald Zürcher was a child, he would spend family holidays collecting seeds and cones along the lush peninsula bordering Costa Rica’s Gulf of Papagayo and Culebra Bay. Years later, when Zürcher was asked to design the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort—located in that same area—it was only fitting that he paid homage to the region’s natural treasures. Opened in late 2013, the 153-room resort is dotted with domed pavilions meant to evoke those found seeds, while volcanic stone, local trees, bamboo and art from a women’s collective decorate the spaces. Local is big in the Onda Spa, too: With a focus on natural and locally sourced products, the spa employs organic Costa Rican line Biosfera for some treatments, while custom-made bamboo tubes are used in several massages. Signature services like the excellent 90-minute Onda Cambio scrub/wrap/massage combo begin at the mixology bar, where clients choose from ingredients like purple corn, sugar cane, beach sand, seawater and volcanic clay for their scrubs and masks. (A popular pick is gallo pinto, an exfoliating mix of finely ground rice and beans created as a nod to a Costa Rican staple dish.) Along with its nine sea view treatment suites (including three open-air ones), the spa sets itself apart with its warm and passionate staff. Future plans include incorporating sugar cane oil or big tree seeds in massages and creating wellness programs, which make a good case for repeat visits. papagayo.andaz.hyatt.com

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