Family. Traditions. Snorkeling.

Staying at lovely Reserva Conchal in the lush Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, I had a chance to use my high school Spanish. “Muchas Gracias,” I enthused, when the smiling bell hop helped me out of the airport car. “Mucho Gusto,” he replied. Wait, what happened to “De nada?” I think his reply roughly translated to, “with much pleasure…my pleasure!” And, as I spent the next few days getting to know the rolling and verdant hills of the 2,300-acre beach-side resort, I learned that for my hosts, showing me a little slice of their country was indeed their pleasure. And, providing me with never-ending heart-felt hospitality was also their pleasure, not just their employer’s mission. 

Set within the resort are six communities of 200 luxury condominiums and villas that may start as vacation homes but often become primary residences for Americans, South Americans, Brits and Europeans who come to explore the eco-aware region and fall in love with Costa Rica’s warmth–the warmth from the people who lovingly protect their land and heritage, and from the unspoiled beaches that ring the region.

A scenic 40-minute drive from Liberia International Airport (served by non-stop flights from Atlanta), the all-inclusive Westin Golf Resort & Spa features vacation homes and the 60,000-square-foot Reserva Conchal Beach Club. Highlights of the resort include an extensive swimming pavilion, modern workout facilities, ten restaurants, a delightful spa and a Robert Trent Jones II-designed championship golf course. It was on the 18th hole that I met a 3-foot long bearded dragon who made it clear with that I was NOT to play through. Patience. Pura Vida. I was lucky enough to play a few holes with the pro, xxx who offered me ice cold slices of watermelon mid-course from a friendly server patrolling the back nine.

Earlier this year, Reserva Conchal unveiled Aromo, a community of six exclusive modern town homes offering Pacific and golf course views. Starting at $629,000, Aromo boasts three- and four-bedroom residences with spacious 2,500-square-foot floor plans including traditional terrazas celebrating nature, a two-car covered driveway and a private pool with panoramic ocean views. 

Reserva Conchal is close to exemplary schools, supermarkets, hospitals and endless outdoor activities. The famed beach towns of Guanacaste (epic sunset happy hours) – Tamarindo and Flamingo – are an easy 20-minute drive.

Residents of Reserva Conchal can be as busy or carefree as they desire. A handful of young families have already made their home in gorgeous villas among the ancient Guanacaste trees attesting to the conveniences available and the quality of life there.

This month, the W Costa Rica, Reserva Conchal welcomed its first guests, and offer 150 guestrooms, casitas and luxurious amenities. The suites I toured during construction last year featured wrap around balconies with hot tubs and infinity pools.

The holidays at Reserva Conchal are jammed with parties, events and special services for guests and homeowners.  “We decorate the Beach Club and celebrate the tree lighting with Christmas carols, cookie decorating for kids and a special Christmas menu for dinner. We also offer packages of prepared Christmas food for owners to take to take and eat at their homes,” says the charming guest services manager, Maria Cascante (who, by the way thought my Spanish was very good!).

Reserva Conchal takes its role as employer and steward of the land and its people very seriously. Last month, their annual golf tournament and silent auction raised funds for school uniforms for kids from Guanacaste living in poverty. “Our employees organize Christmas parties for children in the community of Brasilito, with food and presents,” says Maria.

Sitting under a palm tree waiting for the stars to come is a perfect way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Spending time at the magical Reserva Conchal should be on your list for anytime you want to experience Pura Vida in 2019.