A couple admires one of Costa Rica’s many waterfalls.
Photo by Danieta Delimont/Alamy
One couple enjoys the honeymoon they’d always dreamed of but never got to take in Costa Rica, a country that celebrates the good life.
Every love story requires a suspension of disbelief and an outlaw spirit, a defiance of all laws of physics and reason. After all, staying in love may be the most radical thing a couple can do these days. These notions are especially true in my and my wife’s very busy lives, which include raising six children, ages 4 to 21 (hers, mine and our foster children); working as an in-demand postpartum doula (her) and a longtime freelance journalist putting the finishing touches on his first book (me); coaching two championship youth baseball teams (me); and running a Toluca Lake, Calif., yoga studio (us).
Our schedule is not for the faint of heart. Were it not for a five-hour flight to Hawaii — a 72-hour round-tripper in October 2008 — I’m not sure we would have found the time to get engaged. Good thing that I proposed on the airplane, there was a minister on board, and we were able to exchange vows right then and there, 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. For the record, we’ve been married twice more since — once in Las Vegas with our children present, and then with a Hawaiian-themed celebration that included our friends and extended family; by the end of this story, it’ll be four.
Still, exchanging nuptials is one thing. Honeymooning requires something else altogether — finding the free time, in our case. In the years my wife and I have spent together, we’d never before convinced the calendar to surrender more than two or three days to our private adventuring. Finally, we decided it was time. We settled on Costa Rica, a place we had dreamed of visiting in the first weeks of our relationship, with the goal of devouring the country in the short time we had. Leigh Ann Cloutier of Rico Tours, who’s been named one of Condé Nast Traveler
’s Top Travel Specialists every year since 2001, was more than happy to indulge our adventurous spirit, helping us plan an extraordinary trip that would allow us to taste the myriad flavors and rhythms of the country, from the rain forests to the Pacific coast, the cloud forests to the tiny beach towns. What better place to honeymoon, really, than a country that boasts of having been without an army since 1948? In Costa Rica, they make love, not war.
Though the entirety of costa rica boasts just under 5 million residents, a good many of them live in San José — a big, fairly industrialized city that sees its local businesses (dance halls, restaurants, yoga studios, mercados) interspersed with old churches and new enterprises from other nations (Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Amazon recently moved significant chunks of their customer-service businesses to San José).
After landing in the capital city, we made our way to the Hotel Grano de Oro. Though it’s located in the heart of town — just a short drive from the airport — Hotel Grano de Oro feels like it’s a million miles and 100 years from the city hustle. Converted from a tropical Victorian mansion, the 40-room hotel is lush, warm and comfortable, with charming touches such as Spanish-tile fountains, period photographs and original art. Our garden suite was enormous and elegant, with hardwood floors, a king-size bed, an oversize whirlpool tub and an intimate patio with a lovely garden.
The hotel’s open-air restaurant, under the guidance of chef Francis Canal, was superb, lit by candles and a canopy of lights. If you can’t make a selection from the surf-and-turf-heavy menu, simply have your waiter surprise you; there is nothing here that disappoints. We devoured our tender, flavorful and light corvina con macadamia before ending the night with a nightcap at the bar, which has an old-world feel and an extensive, eclectic selection of wines and specialty cocktails. The entire scene — exotic, nostalgic and almost dreamlike at once — provided the perfect context for me to speak, as I am wont to do, a line as cheesy as it was sincere. Raising my glass to my bride, I said, “To you, to me, to our love, now and ever and always. Thank you for choosing to walk this path with me.” She didn’t laugh — a quality I always appreciate in my wife, especially when I’m being romantic. Had this been a movie, the camera would’ve panned away at this point from smooching lovers to curtains billowing wantonly in the evening breeze.