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Arenas del Mar, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Our rating: First Class

Arenas del Mar is a small, stylish beach hotel set in an 11 acre private forest reserve close to the Manuel Antonio National Park, and the only hotel in the area with direct beach access.

All of the 38 rooms, suites and apartments offer luxurious, contemporary accommodation with views of the rainforest and the Pacific ocean. The superior rooms are on the small-side but very comfortable. There is a casual beach front snack bar, two swimming pools, a small spa and an intimate gourmet restaurant which makes use of fresh local ingredients to create international dishes with a Costa Rican influence.

As well as focussing on high levels of comfort and service, the Arenas del Mar has a strong commitment to sustainability; the buildings were designed to fit around existing trees, water is heated by solar panels and recycling is encouraged, whilst nature trails wind their way through the reserve where colourful birds, iguanas, sloth, snakes and monkeys are commonly spotted.

There is also easy access from the hotel to two beautiful sandy beaches; Espadilla and Playitas. Espadilla is reached by a long walking trail or by golf cart and is a lovely 2km stretch of sand, perfect for walking all the way to the National Park, swimming and surfing. Playitas is right in front of one of the hotel's pools and the snack bar and is a lovely place to relax.

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