On a cloudy afternoon in the summer rainy season, it’s a slow climb through the jungle, even with four-wheel drive. The winding route between two volcanoes promises a worthwhile destination in the northern rainforest of Costa Rica. If the country’s plethora of eco-theme parks are for kids, Origins Lodge (originslodge.com) is the opposite: a prime stop on a circuit of essential luxury stays, especially since new wellness programming was added, including a customizable, four-night restorative reset (from $4,500 per couple, spa services included).
French owner Thierry Le Goascoz carved out a personal piece of paradise when he built his three-bedroom Villa Vertigo, cantilevered over 111 acres of mountainside rainforest. He recognized the opportunity for a sophisticated, sustainable boutique hotel and added six circular, safari-style huts, each with one bedroom and inspired by pre-Columbian architecture with living roofs and firewood-heated outdoor tubs. The intimate, immersive experience is perfect for 2 or 12 guests looking to reconnect with nature and binge on self-care.
Mornings at Origins begin with open-air yoga and meditation surrounded by greenery, sky, sun, and a soundtrack of birdsong. The sustainability efforts earned a Villegiature Award in France: Each year the team plants 500 native double- or triple-purpose trees and uses wood from fallen trees to build furniture and repair floors and ceilings.
El Salto restaurant serves three meals daily. Salads include organic greens, herbs, and edible flowers from the garden, making for a healthy, relaxed lunch while drinking in the soft air and watching brightly colored birds gather at the feeders. Overlooking the infinity pool, dining room views stretch across the emerald valley to Lake Nicaragua. The superfood-rich menus overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jean Luc L’Hourre fuse dishes with elements from his upbringing in Brittany combined with the spirit of the region. L’Hourre sources produce from 30 local providers and fish from villagers in Puntarenas, 90 miles from the property.
And then there’s what he grows and raises on the property: Natural lagoons supply fish; chickens and quail lay fresh eggs; precious honey comes from 15 hives of sting-less Melipona bees; the organic garden features 150 species of plants, herbs, and flowers; indigenous fruits like l’aranza are used in jam and juice; and the barn houses the cow Margaret, who provides 3.5 gallons of milk per day for the house-made cheese.
After breakfast, a hike through the rainforest with a naturalist guide is an education in biodiversity, with special appearances by indigenous inhabitants such as howler monkeys, venomous snakes, and an occasional sloth hiding in the canopy. Reaching the end of the trail earns a dip in the Oro Waterfall. For the return journey to the lodge, saddled horses are brought to you for a leisure ride with sweeping vistas.
The afternoon brings an internal trip during one of the healing therapies at the spa. You could add on something à la carte such as the new Tii Cacao wrap: as the sun sets, the 90-minute treatment begins with a drink of ceremonial hot cacao, traditionally considered a sacred food. A scrub-down with cacao and organic coffee grounds releases toxins and is followed by a shower to prep for a slathering of nutrient-rich volcanic clay and the body is wrapped like a burrito in anisillo leaves to cook. After slipping into a short cacao coma, the clay is removed and a buttery massage leaves everything shiny and fragrant. You could be lucky to cross paths with visiting practitioners who set up a magical, mystical performance with voice and instruments, a healing sound therapy session that resonates between body and soul.
After sundown, walks by flashlight hold the thrill of a jungle adventure. Through the back gardens, the hunt may yield a special sighting clinging to a knife-like leaf: one of the most popular celebrities of the jungle—the neon, thumb-sized green tree frog with orange feet and red eyes. The reward is a pre-dinner class: learning to whip up mojitos and mules with juice and sugar from the small sugar-cane plantation for garden-to-glass cocktails in the Sky View lounge. Drink in hand, enjoying dinner, tiny geckos are known to join you on the salt and pepper shakers to discover which organic delights feature in the four-course meal. Sharing is optional; giving thanks is not.