It’s 9:45 in the morning and I’m already starting to sweat. Maybe because the temperature is creeping towards 90 degrees and the humidity is approaching that same number. Or it could be that I’m staring at a small flag 178 yards away surrounded by 5 deep, sandy bunkers.
The par 5, fourth hole at Reserva Conchal Golf Club in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica has me thinking. 5 or 6 iron? A slight fade to avoid the tall, luscious, swaying trees should put my ball solidly on deck. Too much club could carry my new, logoed Top Flite right into the Pacific Ocean.
This moment ends up being the toughest decision of my five-day stay at Reserva Conchal, a 2300-acre planned community in the northern Pacific coast of this beautiful country. After all there is not much to think about when exploring parts of this Central American paradise, hiking through a wildlife refuge, or taking a cool dip in the blue, coastal water.
I was invited to the property by the marketing staff to check out the many opportunities to live in the land of Reserva Conchal. I jumped at the chance as my lifelong travels had never brought me to Costa Rica. I wanted to see if there was more to the tales I heard about the howler monkeys and the strong, flavorful coffee. (note: as my readers know I do not drink coffee so I took the word of my fellow traveling journos…it is good)
This private residential community is about an hour drive from the International airport in Liberia. The perfectly landscaped, guarded front gates open to winding roads that take off in many directions to unique properties where visitors come to play and others come to stay.
I unpack my bags in a three-bedroom condo overlooking the 3rd fairway of the sprawling golf course. The Bougainvillea Condominiums are spacious with a two-level dining and living room just off the fully appointed kitchen. A utility room with washer and dryer made me feel at home knowing I will put those to use with my swim and golf gear during my stay.
Though we stayed at these 3-story condos for just a few days you can’t rent them directly from the property management. They are owned by residents who use them or lease them out during the year. There are several units currently available for purchase.
This was just the first of the many living options I would see throughout Reserva Conchal. Just up the road was Roble Sabana, a more contemporary styled condo with ocean and golf views featuring 1- and 2-bedroom units. The living space was smaller than the condo I was staying in and reminded me a bit of apartment-style living. Certainly a potential place of ownership for couples and small families who would enjoy walking downstairs to their own picturesque pool and cabana.
Property owners here live around the world and most utilize their Reserva Conchal residence as a second – or even third – home.
Summers in Costa Rica can typically be toasty and keep some owners away until the cooler months. That may have been the reason for the quietness and relaxing, lazy feel of the area during my early June stay. Or maybe that’s the year-round vibe that drives people to live here full-time or partially.
Condo life is just a part of the eco-oriented property nestled in this hilly, oceanside development. A drive through more gated subdivisions had me yearning to jump out of the property’s air-conditioned, WiFi equipped shuttles to knock on front doors of the beautiful, custom-built homes for a tour.
We stopped at a privately-owned home that appears in some of the Reserva Conchal brochures. And rightly so. This 3-bedroom, 2-story modern wonder could be considered a dream home, much less a second dream home to the couple that built it a few years earlier. Airy in feel, the floor-to-ceiling windows offered a backyard view of the lot-sized pool with the meticulous, green golf course just behind that. Wood floors and a clean, modern kitchen seemingly await hosted happy hours with friends or breakfasts with the grandkids.
The home is in the Llama Del Bosque subdivision where lots start at $197,000 (US). For those wanting to an immediate move-in a few spec homes dot this secluded area with prices beginning at $799,000.
Throughout my stay I was reminded by the friendly staff that Reserva Conchal is more than just a residential community with resort-style amenities such as a beach club and spa. The developer makes it a point to be as eco-friendly as possible.
To prove that point we were given a tour of the off-site recycling post that resembled nothing less than a well-tuned factory. Dedicated employees oversee an operation that separates biodegradable products from waste to make sure everything at Reserva Conchal is carbon positive.
Sustainability is a way of life here. Ownership embraces this philosophy by focusing on three pillars that form the business plan: economic, social and environmental development.
Plastic wear is not found anywhere in the communal areas which explained the use of paper straws in the ice-cold drinks served at the bars and restaurants.
Towards the end of the week our guided tour continued to a construction site where the Aromo Townhomes are being completed. A hard hat walk-through of these self-contained, 2-story units offered a peek inside what will soon be contemporary 3- and 4-bedroom residences complete with their own pools. These start at $629,000 and should be finished by the end of summer.
Just above the townhomes is a groomed patch of dirt marked with stakes and construction tape. This will be an exclusive enclave of five ocean view home sites.
Maybe I was wrong about that golf shot being toughest decision of the week. I was now wondering where in this beautiful property I would build my dream home. Again, a fun dilemma that kept my mind off the real-world I was about to go home to at the end of the week.
Costa Rica is a popular place to both vacation and live due partly to its easy-to-reach location. It is a short 3-hour flight from my hometown of Houston and accessible from all parts of the world via non-stop flights from airport hubs nearby.
Reserva Conchal offers so many options of living styles it will probably take some time to decide which one is right for you. My suggestion would be to be visit and stay for a while at the all-inclusive Westin Golf Resort & Spa in the heart of the development. Guests have the use of the same golf course that challenged me along with its own pools and 10 restaurants and bars. Try the sushi and catch a few games on TV in the sports-themed Pura Vida bar.
Or perhaps go later this year after the grand opening of W Costa Rica. This hotel will surely be a world-class destination for vacationing jet setters with luxurious suites, grand lobbies and ultra-private beachfront units.
Between golf, hiking, or a relaxing day at the spa, the on-site staff will share all the options that Reserva Conchal offers for primary living or a perfect second home where Central American escapism will pervade your thoughts when not in Costa Rica.
Your biggest decision then will not be whether to use a 5 or 6 iron on that approach shot at the Robert Trent Jones II designed course, but rather whether to build on a lot, move into a spec home, or choose what subdivision within this massive planned community is right for you.
But if you are faced with my similar decision during your time here, go with the 6 iron and drop that ball softly on the right side of the green. Birdie.
For more information about Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf & Spa, please visit www.reservaconchal.com or call 855-851-5000.
-by Michael Garfield, as published in Prime Living Magazine