Enticing Eco Glam In Pura Vida Costa Rica

Hang out with Mister Iggy at Finca Rosa Blanca

By Si Si Penaloza

The citizens of Costa Rica are known as some of the happiest, most content people in the world, much of this due to their relative national stability and “pura vida” (pure life) lifestyle. Generally speaking, the locals are very friendly and open, in fact, many are accustomed to opening their doors to travelers and new friends. They are also very responsible when it comes to animal welfare. Since 2003, the Central American country does not allow euthanasia as a form of animal control, instead relying on sterilization programs.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

We recently fell in love with a hotel that we had to share with fellow dog lovers. As the experiential hotel trend grows, Finca Rosa Blanca answers the call in a most authentic way. This hotel is embedded in a working coffee plantation. Tea drinkers need not apply. This spirited hotel an hour outside of San José is pretty much a temple to coffee, and coffee alone. Set on a sustainable, bird friendly, tree-shaded plantation, the hotel incorporates the beloved bean throughout design elements and spa treatments. Succumb to a coffee ground scrub in the spa, get buzzed during a tour and tasting, or dive into coffee-rubbed chicken at the excellent restaurant, which has delicious views of the Costa Rican capital.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

You may not be able to bring your dog to Finca Rosa Blanca as it’s a bustling plantation, but visiting Mister Iggy, a lumbering gentle giant of a Newfoundland dog more than makes up for it. He loves long walks and getting wet. This kindly dog is good-natured with guests, especially children, though they should be as well-behaved as he is. A very sociable plantation dog, he craves companionship and enjoys meeting new people. Generally speaking, Newfoundlands don’t do well when left alone. Good-natured Iggy has been a hit with guests who marvel at his broad paws and massive head.

Photo: @fincarosablanca 

You’ll also be happy to learn that the hotel is resolutely green: Rosa Blanca is a champion of sustainability, both as an organic coffee plantation and a hotel. Built from recycled materials wherever possible, drawing on solar water-heating systems, devotedly growing its own food and composting, the hotel is the original poster child for ecotourism in Costa Rica.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

Start your stay with coffee, of course, via a tour of Finca Rosa Blanca’s plantation. Learn about the process, from seed to brew, then taste different roasts at a post-tour cupping. Book between October and January can see the harvest as it happens. The hotel also runs sustainability tours, and has hiking trails ideal for spotting birds and butterflies.

Photo: @fincarosablanca 

Small and intimate, El Targua spa has excellent treatments, including a hot-stone massage and a full-body scrub using coffee. Treatments often incorporate local crops, including avocados, almonds and chocolate. Laze the afternoon away by a quaint spring-fed infinity pool is set on the hillside, with a cooling waterfall tumbling into it. Be sure to get directions to the hot tub in a pergola, romantically fringed with a tangle of flowering vines.

Risa, the street dog that adopted Finca Rosa Balnca 10 years ago | Photo: @fincarosablanca 

After you’ve had a coffee scrub in the spa, head out to explore Costa Rica’s natural wonderland. From bubbling volcanoes to rushing rapids, the country is packed with adventure. A short drive north of the city, Braulio Carrillo National Park is a spectacular cloud forest packed with hiking trails, swimming holes and waterfalls. The massive park spans from sea level up to volcanoes and includes an aerial tram for bird’s-eye views.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

A hint of magnolia blossom scents the night air as we dine on the creative gastronomy of El Tigre Vestido, the hotel’s stunning signature restaurant. Service is quirky and not the quickest, but the menu delivers on its promises. The kitchen incorporates local ingredients – including organic produce grown on the grounds – into savory dishes like grilled chicken with tamarind-coffee sauce. The dining room features cool art and a cozy wood-burning fireplace. Set inside the restaurant, Bar Buho serves fruit driven cocktails with a kick, including a passion fruit daiquiri and the the gingery Rosa Blanca mango margarita.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

As we dined, we marveled at how did this wonderland took route. It began with an American family. Sylvia Jampol fell in love with Costa Rica in the mid-1980s, way before the waves of tourism. She was so taken with the island she wanted to build a home here for her family. She bought eight acres of muddy motocross terrain. The family later acquired an old 35-acre coffee plantation across the road. Today the property has two villas and 13 rooms and it is still the highest-ranking member of the world-renowned Sustainable Tourism Certification program.

Photo: Finca Rosa Blanca

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort is the dream project of three generations of the Jampol Family. Sylvia Jampol along with her son Glenn and his wife Teri started the dream in 1985. More than three decades later, Teri and Glenn live next door to the hotel in the organic coffee plantation which allows them to oversee the guests’ every need. Their two daughters Lily and Olivia, grew up on the grounds of Finca Rosa Blanca along with countless dogs, cats and horses. The 100% local staff have grown with the family through the years.

Photo: @fincarosablanca 

Today, the property is a jungle oasis, every tree and bush planted by Sylvia to create a special family home. You’ll spot a lot of sweet random dogs ambling around the property (be careful to assess before petting), but Mister Iggy is the only one who belongs to the family. He is calm, cool and dignified; a beacon of the AKC Standard description of his breed’s characteristics. “Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland,” goes the reputation.

Photo: @fincarosablanca 

For the most indulgent stay, splurge on the two story Rosa Blanca Suite. Set in the circular turret of the main house, this is the most romantic suite by far, with two private patios, panoramic views from the wrought-iron canopy bed, and a turquoise-tiled tub for two. Junior Suite Las Aves has perky checkerboard floors, beautiful murals and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Bring binoculars to spot the birds and butterflies zipping through the gardens; pack trek-sturdy shoes and long-sleeve shirts for jungle walks. The jungle awaits!