Gorgeous, eco-friendly resorts with breezily luxurious suites, high-end chefs, and furnishings built of native wood? Not so hard to come by in Costa Rica I found out on my first trip there. El Mangroove, the latest addition to Papagayo Bay’s beachfront, has a few specific selling points that made it stand out from all the rest: it’s not just a resort, but a small resort with a stylish boutique hotel spin. It’s the closest property to any international airport in Costa Rica, meaning easy access in and out when you’re making a short escape to Central America, which I recently was.
As it’s name implies, El Mangroove is set on a lush swath of coastal mangrove on the Pacific side of Costa Rica— 17 acres of it — and instead of embracing a generic all-white resort aesthetic, the designers went for a look that merges contemporary simplicity and bohemian chic (hence the ‘groove’). The scale is relatively intimate for a Costa Rican resort: there are only 85 suites and a 3:1 ratio of staff members to guests. Not that you’ll necessarily be needing three guys to help you do yoga on the beach at sunset, much less read in the hammock on your private terrace. But the absence of throngs by the poolside is notable and noticeable.
El Mangroove features five categories of suites, all situated within three-story structures looking out over the lush mangrove and outfitted in natural wood and stone. Even the most basic of these, the Nesto suite, offers expansive indoor-outdoor space and appealing amenities from an outdoor shower to an iPad dock. The most lavish suite, the sprawling El Mangle, has its own plunge pool and direct access to the black sand beach.
Two dining venues, the elegant and visually arresting Makoko and the more casual thatched-roof Matiss, take advantage of the region’s fare: fresh seafood and tropical fruits figure heavily on both menus. Elsewhere on the property, there are custom-designed yoga decks, the relaxing outdoor Bearth Spa, and a house DJ spinning records by the famously long swimming pool (over 130 feet). The poolside lounge space is a great spot to order drinks and star-gaze after dark — there are private cabanas too, perfect for those who require an extra measure of exclusivity within this already luxe mini-resort.