Diana Stobo, owner of the Retreat in Costa Rica, sees her property as an alternative to the typical Costa Rica vacation.
"There's adventure travel, then there's the experience. And this is an experience," said Stobo, a raw-foods advocate and author of the book "Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down."
Stobo said she first got the idea for a wellness-focused property during a visit to Thailand 12 years ago but found her "slice of heaven" in a residential neighborhood outside of Atenas, about 30 miles west of San Jose. The property opened in April.
Given Stobo's culinary background, it's not surprising that the Retreat emphasizes healthy eating. Overlooking the mountainside under a covered terrace, the on-property restaurant takes traditional Costa Rican recipes and transforms them into vegan or all-raw choices, enabling guests to embrace local food culture in what Stobo has dubbed "tico fresh," tico being a nickname for Costa Ricans.
Guests can learn how to take this culinary lifestyle home through cooking lessons in the teaching kitchen, where instructors touch on topics like how to grow your own garden and how to heal your body with homemade herbal remedies.
Other activities include morning nature walks, yoga classes at the multipurpose studio or afternoon aqua Pilates in the waterfall pool: "nothing super hard-core," Stobo said, although she did note that a gym was available for those seeking a more strenuous workout, via free weights or treadmills.
In fact, Stobo emphasized that the resort strives to give guests options: "People ask, 'Do you have alcohol?' Yes, we have alcohol. 'Do you have a gym?' It's a different mentality."
But she said that over the course of a couple of nights, guests frequently "find themselves not drinking as much, not wanting to work out in that capacity but more doing the yoga and the stretches. So it's kind of in spite of yourself you end up feeling great."
Nightly rates begin at $175 in low season (April to mid-December) and $200 in high season. One-week packages begin at $1,251.25 in low season ($1,365 in high season) and include all meals; use of the pool, gym and steam room; and classes in cooking, gardening and medicine-making. See www.theretreatcostarica.com.