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THE MOUNTAINOUS AND FLAT LANDSCAPE OF MANUEL ANTONIO
More than any other area of Costa Rica, the design of the Manuel Antonio region lends itself to misunderstanding by foreign travellers who are unfamiliar with the area. Some people say that the region is mountainous (i.e., that it offers cliff-side accommodations and overarching Pacific Ocean views) and others claim that it is flat (i.e., that the town is situated a few quick and easy steps from the beach). In actuality, both statements are correct.
As we explain in the What To Know About Manuel Antonio Hotels section of our related blog post Choosing A Costa Rica Hotel: Are You A Knowledgeable Traveller Or An Informed One?, the name “Manuel Antonio” technically refers to the name of the site’s National Park and beach, although the term is frequently used throughout Costa Rica travel discourse to refer to the region surrounding the park and beach where many hotels, tour operator offices, restaurants, grocery stores, souvenir stores, and other sites of interest can be found. In addition, to help first-time visitors envision the area, our blog post identifies the closest town as Quepos, which is an approximate ten-minute drive northwest of the Manuel Antonio National Park and beach. Both the town of Quepos and the National Park/beach are situated on beach level, however the main road that connects the two is curvy and mountainous (this stretch of road comprises the area commonly referred to as “Manuel Antonio”), which is why two very different definitions of the area exist.
SI COMO NO RESORT: HOTEL LOCATION
The Si Como No Resort, Spa, and Wildlife Refuge in Manuel Antonio is located halfway between the town of Quepos and the Manuel Antonio National Park/beach. Conveniently, this means that guests of the hotel stay within a five-minute drive to staple amenities in Quepos, such as banks and pharmacies, as well as public beaches and the area’s two namesake attractions. For travellers who plan to visit without a rental car, local buses and taxis service the route. In addition, the Si Como No Resort offers hotel guests complimentary shuttle services to and from their property and the beach.
According to our explanation above of the “Manuel Antonio” area, the hotel’s location also signifies that the property is situated along the mountainside and not on beach level. Guarded as one of the region’s best kept secrets, we love that the Si Como No Resort–specifically, its stunning multi-tiered land design and magnificent naturescape–is hardly visible from the main road that runs between the town of Quepos and the Manuel Antonio beach; only a roadside “Si Como No” sign marks its small entrance, which resembles the front porch of a Costa Rican casa (“house”) complete with a welcome mat. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that whenever we arrive at the Si Como No Resort’s entrance we feel half at home and half like we’re entering an elite rainforest resort club that hides wondrous secrets at the end of its narrow corridor. Without recognition of its location and awareness of its appeal, one might drive past the hotel unknowingly and miss out on its offerings completely.
SI COMO NO RESORT: HUMBLE FEEL AND PRISTINE PACIFIC OCEAN VIEWS
Through the corridor at the Si Como No Resort’s entrance, visitors are welcomed to a lobby soaked in stained glass that features kaleidoscopic rays of tropical sunshine. Relaxed hotel guests occupy comfortable rocking chairs and sofas with books. Beyond the hotel’s reception desk is an open-air platform that extends out over the property’s sloped forest and mountain hills below. Specks of sailboats in open water can be seen in the distance, such as those we toured the Manuel Antonio coastline with, an experience we document in our related blog post Superb Sailing, Snorkeling, And Dolphin Watching In Manuel Antonio.
Arguably the best feature of the Si Como No Resort is its modest feel. Although a resort-quality accommodation, the hotel serves up luxury of a new kind, trading all things plush and modern for features that better appeal to what most travellers prioritize when they choose Costa Rica as their preferred vacation destination: lush forest surroundings and panoramic ocean views. Unlike some of our visits to other hotels where we may have been distracted (albeit, thrilled) by decor, design, and diva-esque indulgences, at the Si Como No Resort it is the calmness around the property that sold us on the hotel. This, we confess, came as a pleasant surprise given that the resort is situated in the heart of one of Costa Rica’s most famed tourism destinations and popular beach towns.
At the Si Como No Resort, all is quiet. We strolled around the hotel’s property, explored its flora on display, and relaxed by the pool–uninterruptedly. As per usual, Ricky took up birdwatching as I raced to record on paper my thoughts about the hotel as quickly as they came. Perhaps it was the hotel’s multi-level, hillside construction that aided in the feeling of solitude, as we never felt we were competing with other guests for staff attention, privacy, or space. Or, maybe it was the property’s abundance of greenery that caused us to feel like we had chosen an accommodation that was immersed in nature, not merely a hotel that had been erected on top of it. Either way, the resort’s feel–defined as its developed, yet humble, means of operation–did not go unnoticed. In fact, we admired it (and still do) greatly.
Alongside the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean that can be captured from the lobby’s open-air platform, the hotel’s onsite restaurants, and the property’s poolside patio, the views offered by our deluxe room–both from our bed and our private balcony–were equally spectacular. While our room accommodations were not over the top, they were sufficiently comfortable and encouraged us to relax and enjoy paradise, which is what we search for most often throughout our travels–fun and fruitful experiences, not fancy faucets and flatscreens. Our room came complete with staple hotel amenities, including air conditioning, a private bathroom, a security box, and a mini-bar. In consideration of less obvious perks, we appreciated the use of rustic rattan furniture, the painting of cement bars to resemble bamboo, continuity of the Si Como No Resort’s signature stained glass, and a lack of television, the latter of which was a blessing; we caught plenty more sunrises, sunsets, and other breathtaking scenes in between because we weren’t presented with an excuse to miss them, and we stand by any parent’s decision to squeeze a lesson out of the Si Como No Resort in an attempt to teach their vacationing child the same.
SI COMO NO RESORT: ACCESSIBILITY
Although we would not hesitate to recommend the Si Como No Resort to most travellers, our advice would not be complete (or entirely honest) without a note about accessibility. Given the property’s design as a multi-tiered construction, travel up and down steps is required to get just about anywhere. Although the steps are not impossible to climb by most individuals’ standards, we feel it is important for members of particular groups to be cognizant of them in advance. These groups include senior travellers, families with young children, and travellers with mobility impairments (possibly individuals who have had recent surgery, individuals with particular medical conditions, and/or individuals who are pregnant), assuming that the members of these groups have been advised not to walk or climb uphill or downhill, or that they would prefer not to do so.
SI COMO NO RESORT: DINING, SWIMMING, TOURS, ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, AND MORE!
Dining at the Si Como No Resort
To foodies’ delight, the Si Como No Resort offers two full-service restaurants onsite: the Rico Tico restaurant, which features casual dining, and the Claro Que Si grill, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant option known for its seafood selections. Ricky and I opted for dinner at the former; we enjoyed our meal at sunset, and couldn’t resist taking in the restaurant’s famed banana flambé show after dark. The following morning, we were treated to a whopping breakfast buffet of gallo pinto, plantain, fruit, toast, pancakes, french toast, an omelette station, and an assortment of pastries including homemade banana bread and pan de azucar (“sweet bread”). For travellers who wish to drink at the hotel, Si Como No Resort offers an onsite bar (with swim-up access) that services the adult pool, jacuzzi, and poolside patio.
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Swimming, butterfly garden visits, and more things to do at the Si Como No Resort
As a family-friendly hotel, the Si Como No Resort’s onsite pools cater to guests of all ages. Offering a children’s pool and an adult pool, a waterslide and a jacuzzi, ample lounge chairs and patio space, and a swim-up bar where both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are served, the hotel has something for everyone.
If you’re not the lay-around-the-pool-all-day type, shop at the Si Como No Resort’s onsite souvenir store (the Regalame Art Gallery and Gift Shop) or check out the hotel’s onsite cinema. For a quick trip away from the resort, consider visiting the Greentique Wildlife Refuge’s Butterfly Atrium; not only is the butterfly garden conveniently located across the street from the Si Como No Resort (within walking distance), but its entrance fee is waived for hotel guests. If you would prefer a guided tour, reserve the Greentique Wildlife Refuge’s Butterfly Atrium, Amphibian Gardens, and Crocodile Lagoon Day Tour, or, for a unique opportunity to explore the forest’s sights and sounds after dark, opt for the Greentique Wildlife Refuge’s Jungle Night Tour. For a more adventurous day rich in Costa Rican culture and rural landscape complete with fishing for tilapia, a sugar mill visit, tree planting, waterfall swimming, and an authentic campesino (“peasant”) lunch, consider the Si Como No Resort’s own Santa Juana Rural Mountain Adventure Tour.
Environmental sustainability and community support practiced by the Si Como No Resort
The Si Como No Resort is part of the Greentique Hotel group–a collaboration of four hotels which carryout one of the most expansive and noble environmental sustainability programs that we are familiar with in Costa Rica. From aiming to reduce their carbon footprint to supporting the communities in which the hotels operate, the Greentique Hotel group is doing right by being green. Here’s a taste of what the group is practicing at hotels such as the Si Como No Resort (paraphrased from the Greentique Hotel group directly):
- The group uses its own wells to irrigate hotel gardens in the summer and practices indigenous landscaping to reduce water demand throughout the dry season.
- All glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum is recycled; fruit and vegetable waste is used as compost to fertilize hotel gardens; meat, fish, and poultry waste is collected daily for farm animals, reducing demands on local waste disposal facilities.
- Hotel bathrooms do not have plastic shampoo bottles, offer limited soap bars (with recyclable wrappers), and utilize water-saving showerheads and faucets; elsewhere throughout the group’s hotels, certified biodegradable products are used for cleaning and laundry services, and banana paper is used for printed material.
- The group runs a Greentique Conservation program that raises funds for the protection of Greentique reserves, the Mono Titi Alliance in Manuel Antonio, and other research initiatives in the country; if you are asked to make a $2.00/night donation upon your stay at a Greentique Hotel such as the Si Como No Resort, know that the hotel will match your donation, and that the $4.00 gift will help sustain the Costa Rican rainforest and support its wildlife inhabitants.
- Locally, the group is involved with a number of philanthropic projects, including programs that help ensure that students have access to scholarship funds, and that teachers are equipped with the supplies they need to bring about change in their classrooms.
- On a larger scale, Greentique Hotels are members of Pack for a Purpose, an organization that encourages travellers to bring with them on vacation supplies from home to donate to worthy causes. For more information about the Si Como No Resort’s Pack for a Purpose initiative, please see: https://www.packforapurpose.org/destinations/central-america/costa-rica/si-como-no-resort-spa-wildlife-refuge/
MAP OF THE SI COMO NO RESORT, SPA, AND WILDLIFE REFUGE
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you stayed at the Si Como No Resort, Spa, and Wildlife Refuge? What did you think of your visit?