By Maria Russo
Once, I had my very own botanical garden in Costa Rica. Let me rephrase, I once stayed at Xandari , a luxury hotel in Alajuela located just 20 minutes from the San Jose International Airport, and felt like I had my own tropical paradise with all the fixings of a botanical garden, secluded spa (offering exquisite views at night of the city from individual thatched treatment rooms) an infinity pool with more incredible views, long hiking trails, waterfalls and an organic garden (with goats and chickens!). Yes, it seemed as if it was all mine (and sometimes I shared with my husband) as few other guests passed by throughout our two-night stay. The 40-acre plantation, overlooking the Central Valley of Costa Rica, is perched at an elevation of 3,900 feet and enjoys a near–perfect temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit all year. The property is owned by artist-architect couple Charlene and Sherrill Broudy who transformed a coffee plantation into a haven for indigenous species of trees and plants, which over time, restored the natural ecosystem attracting a multitude of bird and butterfly species. A number of coffee plants remain on the property and guests can learn more about harvesting and production through the hotel’s complimentary guided tour. The hotel also produces a limited amount of its coffee for guests to both imbibe and enjoy in the form of a sumptuous scrub at the spa. Villas are spacious and adorned with Charlene’s art. The view from our room was spectacular — an almost perfect vista of the Central Valley. There was also plenty of room to practice yoga, enjoy a cocktail or read a book while enjoying the bird songs and admiring the way the light hits the various species of flora at different times of the days. Food at the onsite restaurant (more spectacular views) was excellent. Coffee was brewed perfectly and the traditional Costa Rican fare — try the fish casado– exuded that kind of freshness that only a picked-that-day advantage can provide. The hotel makes for the perfect peaceful stopover, before heading deeper into the country.