Remember the fasting programs and fitness boot camps we delighted in subjecting ourselves to pre-pandemic? And don’t they now seem a little… quaint? As we attempt to find balance in the shifting sands of ever-changing circumstances, wellness travel has moved on. Now, we want relaxation. We want the ability to have a drink or a steak without feeling judged. And most of all, we want to feel like we’ve really, truly left the world behind. Hacienda AltaGracia, a luxury Auberge Collection resort perched in the rolling mountains of Pérez Zeledon in southern Costa Rica, fits the bill—and then some. Since its much-buzzed-about opening in November, the property, with its serene holistic wellness center created by New York’s THE WELL, has proven to be a magnet for adventurous types seeking a new kind of reboot: one that combines the trifecta of active outdoor thrills with mindful inner journeys and (healthy) culinary indulgences.
Hacienda AltaGracia has the almost mystically remote appeal of Amangiri in Utah—only instead of crossing a desert to reach your oasis, you are conveyed from the San José airport via a private (and muy pequeño) propeller plane over a jaw-dropping expanse of plunging mountains. It also has the home-like (if your home was very, very fancy) appeal of a place like Blackberry Farm: Each of the 50 casitas is stocked with snacks and board games, and equipped with both a fireplace and a plunge pool. The setting could not be more picturesque: picture 180 acres of forest, a coffee plantation, onsite healing herb garden, and lushly planted, flower-dense hiking trails, all aflutter with brightly colored birds and butterflies. The centerpiece is Casa de Agua, the beating heart of THE WELL at Hacienda AltaGracia, and—like THE WELL’s Manhattan HQ and offshoot at Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection in Connecticut—it is beautifully, and thoughtfully, designed. The indoor pool is surrounded by glass and greenery, creating the effect that you’re swimming in a greenhouse, and the natural crystal and marble elements throughout the space feel both grounding and elevated.
A wide array of activities is included in the inclusive price (as well as all food and most non-alcoholic drinks; should you wish to pony up for a $47 glass of wine, it’s sure to be a good one), from morning yoga and meditation to wildlife hikes, but every experience is completely bespoke. Visits are curated pre-arrival with the help of a “wellness counselor,” who quizzes guests on sleep habits, stress levels, and both physical and mental goals before designing personalized programs. Your itinerary might include equine therapy with the gentle horses at the property’s stables, horseback riding to a neighboring farm, tree-climbing, and a selection of spa treatments carefully created to incorporate Costa Rican ingredients and traditions. Think: a detoxifying body wrap with local herbs and flowers followed by a massage; or a riverside coffee scrub washed away with a swim in a fire-heated freshwater pool followed by a 90-minute massage on a table set up in the forest, with nothing but the sound of rustling trees and the stream roaring past to lull you into a trance-like state of utter bliss.
Much has been made of the Costa Rican idea of “pura vida,” or pure life, and what Hacienda AltaGracia offers is perhaps its most elevated incarnation. The goal here is “well-being,” something strategically a bit different from the overly commodified notion of wellness. This means taking time to reflect, moving at a pace that feels good, drinking as much coffee as you like (this is Costa Rica, after all) and—hopefully—finding a positive path you can continue to follow back home.
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