Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Experiencing a Day at Arenas del Mar

Walking by the natural reserve at Arenas del Mar, we found this wonderful bird called Green Kingfisher.  We saw him at the side of the creek, trying to catch a little fish.

This beautiful insect, a Stink bug, has spectaculars colors that it uses to keep the predator as far away as possible, but if that tactic doesn´t work...they have a really bad "stinky" urine to protect them!

The praying mantis above has a diet of small insects such as butterflies, moths, ants, small vertebrates, grasshoppers and spiders. They have a very good camouflage because they need to be hidden to survive and be safe of their predators.

This mantis was found by Omar, Eduardo, Cesar and Ruben, staff members at the hotel. They work in the maintenance and garden departments.

Get up early to enjoy our birdwatching tour at 6 am at Arenas del Mar and you will probably find this "funny" bird...Why we say funny...because this bird believes it is a hummingbird and in fact they fly like a hummingbird!

And finally enjoy the spectacular view at the main swimming pool located near our Bar El Mirador while you are drinking a cool drink at happy hour....uhmmm sounds delicious!

Pura vida....

A beachfront and rainforest resort, Arenas del Mar offers vacations, activities and tours for families and couples alike.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Blue Flag Awarded to Arenas del Mar Beaches

Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, Quepos hosted the raising of its new Blue Flag for coast management. The Blue Flag program of Costa Rica is inspired by the International Blue Flag program, yet it has been remodeled to adapt to the realities and urgencies of Costa Rica. It has several subprograms, such as: The White Flag (awarded to public spaces that adhere to strict sanitation regulations), The Green Flag (awarded to protected areas, private or state owned, that adhere to strict environmental regulations), and several Blue Flags like Coastal Management (the one awarded to Arenas del Mar, it is awarded to the beach and committee that regulates the beach for its adherence to strict sanitation and environmental practices and regulations), among many others.

A great contribution to Costa Rican welfare can be attributed to voluntary association to the different Blue Flag programs.  It promotes communal organization and the involvement of the committees in social and environmental issues. It also encourages cooperation between different committees throughout the communities and regions and so it has helped create a web of enthusiastic, proactive people all over the country.

For this event, our sustainability director and director of the Blue Flag Comittee as well, Piero Manavella was master of ceremony, with several members of the Blue Flag committee helping with the ceremony and with our honored guests. The guests were the children from two local schools, the first one has a history with Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, it's a very small local private school that operates with voluntary teachers from the U.S.A and gives scholarships to local children to aid their families. This school is known as “El Puente de Colinas”.  They are the sweet kids in regular clothes since they don't wear a uniform to attend school.

The other school is a public school, much larger and older, that has its own Blue Flag Program (another category that awards Educational Centers for their commitment to environmental, social and educational standards). This school is known as “Escuela de Atencion Prioritaria La Inmaculada”.  The two schools are neighbors yet they had never shared an activity before and the shared experiences were great for both institutions, and of course, their children. After the brief introduction, and singing of the national anthem, we enjoyed cultural activities performed and prepared by the children guided by their professors. 

We enjoyed a 2nd grade chorus that sang beautifully a song named “somos los estudiantes” (we are the students), followed by a mixed grade folkloric dance, typical of Northwestern Costa Rica, a dance known as “El Punto Guanacasteco”. Finally, a group of 6th graders gave a more modern version of some folkloric songs in the form of a dance. Afterwards, when the rain was threatening to shower our celebration, we took the party indoors to eat and share thoughts and pictures.  The kids had a great time and they enjoyed the beach and the hotel.  These kind of activities reinforce our ties of friendship to the community.

Arenas del Mar is a luxury Beachfront hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Not to be missed" Culinary Retreats at Arenas del Mar

The very best of two culinary worlds.  Two world class chefs on the culinary “rich coast” in Costa Rica.
Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica invites you to go on a culinary journey to explore the “rich coast” of Costa Rica.  Learn about tropical ingredients to prepare typical Costa Rican dishes and let our world class chefs tempt you to discover combinations of new flavors.   Chef Carrie Bogar from the Caribbean Island of Anguilla (September) and chef Chip Roman from Philladelphia (Oct) will be visiting our resort this fall. 

The food is often one of the highlights of every trip.   This five night experience is all about food and beverages.  You will have the opportunity to partake in cooking lessons with our local Tico chefs, as well as our guest chef.  You will also learn about organic Costa Rican coffee and visit a rainforest vanilla farm.  During the late afternoons, you will partake in tastings of organically produced South American Wines and experience a sampling of some of Central America’s most prestigious dark rums. 

Our featured guest chef will create three fusion dinner menus inspired by the abundance of local ingredients such as freshly caught seafood, grass fed beef and a large variety of tropical fruits and vegetables.  We will visit a local fishing cooperative to learn about responsibly caught fish and fishing practices and also have the chance to learn about corn tortilla making and local favorite foods. 

In case this is not enough for you and you have some spare energy, we are happy to offer you additional excursions to Manuel Antonio National Park, white water rafting adventures, deep sea sport fishing and rainforest adventures on hanging bridges and waterfalls.

Chef Carrie Bogar from Veya Restaurant on the Caribbean Island of Anguila
From Monday September 10th through Saturday September 15th, 2012
Chef Carrie Bogar is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Chef Carrie Bogar and partner/husband, Jerry Bogar opened Empire Restaurant in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1994.  In 2006, Carrie and Jerry sold their 12 year restaurant “Empire” and made the big move to a tiny island in the Caribbean.  Their restaurant, Veya, on the island of Anguilla quickly garnered rave reviews from The NY Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and The London Times.  Frommer’s wrote that “on an island blessed with top-caliber chefs and the Caribbean’s best dining scene, this Sandy Ground “tree house” is one of the best-and it’s only been around since 2007.  The Pennsylvania chef/owners call their food the “cuisine of the sun”. 

Chef Chip Roman from Mica, ELA and Blackfish Restaurants in Philadelphia
From Sunday October 21st through Friday October 26th, 2012
Chef Chip Roman is the owner and executive chef at Mica. He is also the owner and executive chef of Blackfish a gracious BYOB in Conshohocken that was named “Best Restaurant” in Philadelphia magazine’s 2011 “50 Best Restaurants” issue, and co-owner of ELA in Philadelphia’s Queen’s Village neighborhood. In a glowing review, Philadelphia magazine praised Chef Roman’s work at Mica: “It takes a sure hand to make small details stand out so vividly (Mica is ) more about refinement than swagger.” And The Philadelphia Inquirer has called his cooking “deft and original ( he ) embellishes bistro inspirations with pristine techniques, great ingredients, and personal flourishes that are often surprising.” In addition to his three restaurants, Chef Roman is the owner and proprietor of Charles Roman Catering.  

The Arenas del Mar Guest Chef Package includes five nights of lodging in single or double occupancy in Superior Rooms or Premium Suites, local Quepos Airport Transfers, two cooking classes including ingredients, three special dinners prepared by our guest chef, coffee, rum and organic wine tasting sessions with local experts, a guided wildlife tour to Manuel Antonio National Park as well as a visit to the local fishing cooperative combined with a crocodile river tour. 

Single Occupancy:  Superior room:  $1,545 – Premium Suite:  $2,225
Double Occupancy:  Superior room:  $1,970 – Premium Suite:  $2,650

A boutique hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas del Mar is Costa Rica's first resort to be awarded with the “Five Sustainability Leaf Award” and “Five Star Award".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Making Tortillas at Arenas del Mar

This week, Yosh and his wife Sachi went on the hotel's activity of ¨Making Tortillas¨.

This is a really nice tour where we share with them the Costa Rican experience of learning about the customs and traditions of our country, then we go to the cafeteria of the staff to share with Doña Carmen.  She is the teacher who explains to us how to make the Tortillas, like our grandparents did. 

Here Yosh and Sachi made their own tortilla and then enjoyed it with a delicious cup of organic coffee. They were also able to interact with the hotel workers who were off that day or on break.  It's a great experience to get "behind the scenes¨ here at the hotel and have a more personal experience with our team.

We invite you to ask for this tour during your stay at Arenas Del Mar, and learn more about the traditions of our country but the nicest part is just to enjoy a Costa Rican experience with our staff!

A beachfront and rainforest resort, Arenas del Mar offers vacations, activities and tours for families and couples alike.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kayaking the Mangroves Near Arenas del Mar

One of our interns perspective on Kayaking...

Kayaking is one of the most relaxing and exciting activities I have partaken in. Kayaking is something I have dabbled in previously on family vacations and just for fun. This is an activity that is easy for children and adults alike to do. We got breakfast from the hotel to go, and were on our way. The ride went by with gusto and when we arrived at the location, we got ready to go! Getting on the kayak there are only a few rules, number one being, don’t lean to the side, or you’ll fall in. Our group had experienced the breaking of this rule, and although refreshing, not exactly ideal. Paddling in and out of the mangrove trees was so breath taking. Crabs, birds, and white faced monkeys surround you. It is truly an amazing experience. Sometimes you get to cut tight corners, weaving through the various species of mangroves. A little challenge makes it interesting! The weather was perfect and I learned so much along the way. The Mangroves are one of the most important ecosystems in the world, yes, the world. Each twist and turn provided some new and interesting views.

Really getting a chance to connect with nature and experience the Mangrove was a phenomenal experience.  Here is a video of the tour I got the chance to take while at Arenas del Mar

Arenas del Mar is a luxury Beachfront hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Arenas del Mar Guests Attend La Gallina Criolla Festival

We set out towards the small rural town of El Silencio at 8:30 am from Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio.  The idea was to visit the annual Fair called La Gallina Criolla, where the townsfolk gather to enjoy typical food and recreational activities organized by this unique community.

Our guests at Arenas del Mar, three ladies and three generations of Donelly’s, grandma Bonnie, mother Caroline and daughter Rachel, came to this community and cultural activity. With them, Piero, the guide for this activity (in brown uniform), and the Sustainability Director for us and Bryan a receptionist at the hotel (in black shorts), also Juan Carlos from the community (white shirt).

The community houses an agricultural cooperative, in which all members work and receive salaries according to their work: they produce several vegetables, receive tourists, operate markets to sell their goods and work in a wildlife rescue center. They have their own coin, the UDIS (Spanish acronym for Solidary Exchange Unit) designed by the government of the Netherlands, the idea is that half the salaries are paid in this coin, this way they ensure that at least half the income is used within the community, reinforcing their local economy.
The five of us arrived early in the morning as the fair was being set up, and so we went to a lodge for a tropical fruit juice. We were received by the host and manager of the touristic branch of the cooperative, Juan Carlos, who explained to us the ways of the town and cooperative while we enjoyed the Tamarindo and Guanabana juices (delicious by the way!!).

Afterwards, we were invited to see the wildlife rescue center, a short walk from the lodge, down the slopes of a beautiful secondary forest. At a distance we could hear the welcoming sounds of Scarlet Macaws, parrots and monkeys. Juan Carlos explained to us that the idea was to rescue and then reinsert the animals in the wild.  The Center had released all of the animals recently and the ones that were currently in the refuge were  the ones that they could not be released. Some animals cannot be reintroduced back into the forest because they were raised as pets and they were not adapted to the wild anymore. Keeping wildlife as pets is illegal in the country and that’s why the environment ministry confiscates the animals and send them to rescue centers such as these.

We were greeted by a very uncommon pair of hosts, a lazy Spider monkey laying on his back comfortably, who was being pampered by a Capuchin or white faced monkey, who searched the fur for flees and other insects. They seemed very excited to see us, or at least Juan Carlos, who claimed to be part of the group.
We saw a couple of Scarlet Macaws, a pair of White Faced Monkeys or Capuchins and about 9 spider monkeys. Also, not shown on the pictures, were a red lored parrot and a white collared peccary. Wild monkeys were there as well and it was interesting to see the interactions between the wild and the domesticated ones. One Capuchin, a male, named Coquito, was very playful and came to us, he even climbed on top of grandma Bonnie.

After a while playing with Coquito and hearing a wildlife explanation from Juan Carlos, we decided it was about time to walk through town, towards the fair, because we were getting hungry!

Walking the streets of this peaceful, mountain community is an experience in itself.  Along the way we stopped to get a local ice-cream, called “Apretado” to calm the heat.  People are so friendly they even introduced us to their newest family member.

Finally, we arrived at the fair.  It lasted three days and this was the last one.  They offered a great variety of activities, from clowns to ATV's and mountain bike competitions and many children oriented activities. We, however, were interested in the food!  We got an assortment of typical food from the local vendors: Chorreadas (a kind of pancake made from corn), sweet tamale and pork tamale (a kind of cake made with corn flour wrapped in banana leaves), pejiballes (the cooked fruit of a palm), vigoron (a banana leafcone that contains a special salad and pork meat prepared in a special way), mango sele (green mango strips with salt, lemon, hot pepper and lizano sauce) and fruit punch, all while talking and sharing with the locals who happily shared their table and stories with anyone willing to lend an ear.

A boutique hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas del Mar is Costa Rica's first resort to be awarded with the “Five Sustainability Leaf Award” and “Five Star Award".

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Manuel Antonio: A National Treasure Near Arenas del Mar

Adventure is a big part of Arenas del Mar. My first adventure was through Manuel Antonio National Park. This is a MUST DO at Arenas del Mar. From the moment of arrival you are whisked away into the Jungle atmosphere of your venture down to one of the most BEAUTIFUL views of the Pacific Ocean. You can see squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, two and three toed sloths, a variety of crabs, birds, butterflies, and much much more. The guides have an eye that can only come from experience and knowledge of these animals. Knowing where to look and what kind of animal they are is truly a skill that I am always impressed with.

The hike was easy and not too long. Once you get to the beach… I wish I could describe in words. This is my favorite place in Costa Rica. Without a doubt, I cant imagine going to Costa Rica and not taking the hike through Manuel Antonio National Park in Manuel Antonio/Quepos area. The only word I can use to describe this view is breathless.

I don’t know one person who doesn’t get excited, no matter what age or gender, to see a monkey. I have seen monkeys many times in my adventures to Costa Rica and I still get excited! This has always been, and always will be, a must do for me while traveling in Costa Rica.

A beachfront and rainforest resort, Arenas del Mar offers vacations, activities and tours for families and couples alike.