The vibe: Comfortable, family-friendly rain forest retreat
Location: Costado Sureste del aeropuerto, Aeropuerto Oeste, Puntarenas Province, Puerto Jiménez, 60702, Costa Rica | View on Google Maps
The AFAR take
The Botánika Osa Peninsula is a nature-filled addition to Hilton’s Curio Collection in one of the most biodiverse corners of Costa Rica: the Osa Peninsula. The resort embraces its rain forest location with landscaping that incorporates local plants in abundance and a design that includes various outdoor spaces that allow guests to immerse themselves in the area’s nature—it’s not unusual to spot macaws and toucans right from the guest rooms. Befitting its location, the hotel is home to a Costa Rican environmental nonprofit, BioSur, which works to preserve this ecologically significant zone.
Who’s it for?
The resort is a comfortable, family-friendly base for nature lovers of all ages, thanks to a large, kid-friendly pool area, multi-bedroom suites with kitchens, and excursions like horseback riding, hiking, and nature walks. It caters especially well to anglers (thanks to its partnership with long-running tour operator, Crocodile Bay Fishing and Expeditions). It’s less rustic than other accommodations in the area, and ideal for those who want adventure and creature comforts like air-conditioning.
Even by Costa Rican standards, the Osa Peninsula, located on the southern Pacific Coast, is incredibly biodiverse both on land and in the ocean. It’s home to an estimated 250,000 different species of plants and wildlife, including hundreds found nowhere else. Off the coast is a gulf called Golfo Dulce, which has the largest of three tropical fjords on Earth, an ideal habitat for whales, sharks, sea turtles, and other large tropical fish. On land, wildlife you’re likely to spot include sloths, tapiers, four monkey species (spider, howler, capuchin, and squirrel), dart frogs, and a wide array of insects and butterflies.
The hotel itself is less than a quarter mile from the Pacific Coast and a two-minute drive from the Puerto Jiménez (PJM) airport, and it is easy to access via a 40-minute flight from the capital, San Jose (SJO). One of the peninsula’s major attractions, Corcovado National Park (Costa Rica’s largest national park), is about a 1.5-hour drive or boat ride (one-way) and not an excursion you’ll want to miss.
Among the 114 rooms, guests can choose from a studio or a suite with one, two, or three bedrooms—the largest of which can sleep up to 10 people. Suites come with a balcony or patio, living room, and full kitchen. All of the rooms are fully air-conditioned, and electricity is powered by solar panels. Unlike a lot of other hotels in the area, these rooms do not feature an open air design, which may be a pro or a con, depending on your travel style. Botánika has amenities you’d expect from any Hilton worldwide, like reliable Wi-Fi and comfortable beds, but also its own unique design, which incorporates landscaping inspired by the area’s nature, that gives it a distinctly Costa Rican feel.
Even by Costa Rican standards, the Osa Peninsula is incredibly biodiverse, and home to many species found nowhere else.
The food and drink
Botánika has two restaurants: Tierra a la Mesa and Driza. Tierra a la Mesa hosts a daily breakfast buffet featuring a mix of Western and Costa Rican dishes (like gallo pinto, aka rice and beans). At night, it becomes a lively spot for guests and locals from in and around the nearby town of Puerto Jimenez. If you were lucky enough to have snagged a fish while out on the water, the kitchen will clean and cook your catch for you. If not, crowd favorites include the octopus and T-bone steak.
The resort’s more casual poolside bar and restaurant, Driza, is open for lunch and dinner. It’s ideal for saddling up to the bar, ordering a cocktail, like its bell-pepper flavored Refreshing Pepper, and swapping fishing stories with fellow guests. Prefer an ale? Be sure to try its selection of local craft beers.
Amenities and property
The large, plant-filled pool area next to Driza is a highlight of the hotel and includes three cabanas (available first come first serve) and two hot tubs. Other amenities include a gym, spa, and an excursions desk.
Staff and service
Many of the staff have worked at both Botánika and the hotel it replaced, Crocodile Bay Resort, and bring with them a wealth of knowledge about the area, outstanding hospitality, and a welcoming sense of community that is extended to guests.
There are elevators in every building and two ADA rooms. There is also an on-site “tuk-tuk” that will drive guests and their luggage from reception to their building.
Commitment to conservation
The property uses solar panels for electricity and LEED lights. While some guests were disappointed at the lack of ocean views, the location of the resort was a conscious decision meant to conserve the nearby mangroves and coastal ecosystems during construction. Additionally, its partners at BioSur work with the local community to educate kids on environmental best practices and get them involved in conservation efforts, while founder Jim Cordoba, an entomologist by training, is doing critical research and documentation of Costa Rica’s insects.