Nayara Tented Camp is one of Costa Rica’s newest, and most luxurious, hotel openings, bringing a dose of safari-chic to the Arenal Volcano National Park.
The Tented Camp is actually an addition to Nayara Springs and Nayara Gardens, two luxurious resorts long-considered as one of the best places to stay in all of Central America. While the three hotels are ostensibly all in the same place, connected by a network of walkways, they do have their own identities, with Gardens geared more towards families, Springs for fun-loving couples, and Tented Camp catering for those who prize nature, peace, and quiet above all else. The resort is set in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations with hiking trails and Insta-worthy landscapes aplenty. With slightly cooler temperatures than the sweltering Pacific and Caribbean costs, the area is undoubtedly the place to come to get away from it all – and Nayara Tented Camp is now the place to stay.
The Packing Edit
Set back on a hill above the rest of the resort, the Tented Camp is far removed from the bustle of activity below. It’s the lushest area too, covered in dense forest and foliage, adding to the feeling of privacy and a connection with nature. The Tented Camp is inspired by the luxe safari camps that are well established in Africa but have so far been missing from Costa Rica’s hotel scene, despite the country being famed for its wildlife. The hotel has a small reception hut but no other communal area, meaning the area is given over entirely to 21 tented villas raised up on stilts and nestled into the natural surroundings. Within 10 minutes of arriving, we spotted a sloth and its newly-born baby in a nearby tree – having scoured the national parks across Costa Rica, only to be left squinting through binoculars at sloths over a hundred metres away, it was amazing to see one so close. Nayara Tented Camp really does put you right in the middle of the action.
Each villa has a tented roof made of a canvas material – but if you have an aversion to camping of any kind, you’ll be glad to know that any similarities with a tent really end there. The rooms are all-out luxury, featuring a huge four poster bed, two day bed sofas, a walk-in wardrobe, and bathroom with freestanding tub, double indoor shower, and a double outdoor shower. The colour scheme is all classy neutral tones, with the odd flash of gold in a bathroom or light fixture and a splash of green from the shower room tiles and the bed’s tropical leaf-patterned headboard. Glass sliding doors frame a picture-perfect view of the Arenal volcano and lead out to an outdoor deck featuring a stunning plunge pool fed by hot natural spring water, plus a hammock, day bed, and dining area.
The Little Extras
As you’d expect from a luxury resort, service is slick. The mini bar of snacks and drinks in each room is complimentary, and the nightly turndown service team whizz in when they know you’re out at dinner, getting the room ready for sleep, and leaving a couple of homemade sweet treats by the side of the bed. Laundry is also included (handy if you’ve already been travelling for a couple of weeks as we had) as well as certain activities such as the daily yoga session.
The Food + Drink
Nayara Tented Camp doesn’t have its own dedicated restaurants which, depending on your point of view, is either a blessing or a curse. We loved it, as it kept the Tented Camp quiet and secluded but if you’d rather be closer to the amenities, then staying in one of the Nayara Springs villas might be preferable. From Tented Camp it’s only a five-minute walk down to one of the many restaurants at Springs or Gardens – or if you’re feeling lazy you can call for a golf cart to whisk you down there. It’s definitely worth having breakfast in the room one morning – having your eggs, fresh juice, and coffee (from the hotel’s own roastery) on the outdoor deck of the room, gazing out at the rainforest and Arenal Volcano is certainly a special way to start the day. In the evenings there’s everything from the Nostalgia wine bar to the Amor Loco fine dining restaurant to choose from. A particular highlight, however, is the Asian-Peruvian Asia Luna restaurant, serving up truly excellent fresh ceviche and sushi from a bright blue and red open-air terrace.
The To-Do List
There is a bewildering choice of activities, tours, and adventures to choose from in this part of Costa Rica. Fortunately, Nayara has its own dedicated concierge team and tour programme led by their team of guides and naturalists. From early morning bird watching to late-night rainforest excursions there are tons of opportunities to get up close with the area’s local residents. For true adventurous types there’s zip lines, white water rafting, waterfalls, and hanging bridges to discover too.
If you prefer to do your own thing, there’s plenty to do without the tour guides – even within the Nayara grounds itself there are a couple of nice walking trails. A visit to the Arenal Volcano Park is an absolute must however. Just a 15-minute drive from Nayara, there are beautiful hiking trails, ancient laver fields, and stunning viewpoints of the volcano itself. You’re near enough guaranteed to see lots of beautiful colourful birds and cute coatis (a small fury critter related to the racoon) too.
Of course, when you’re staying at somewhere like Nayara Tented Camp, you could also quite easily do not very much at all and just spend all day relaxing in the room, enjoying the views and sounds of the rainforest in between dips in that epic plunge pool.