Never have I rented a property that so completely and proactively addressed our every need, desire, and want as Discovery House. As a group of graduating medical students, we had no expectations and simply wanted to relax in paradise. What followed can only be described as the most pleasant of surprises.
First, the house itself is a mixture of modernity and Swiss Family Robinson tree house adventure. We had WiFi access, television (which we rarely watched), stoves, microwave, dishwasher, laundry services, air conditioning, locked safe, gated entrance with security, and all the working gadgets “needed” for traditional comforts. The bedrooms and living areas were spacious and decorated with polished wood and monkeys ornaments; pictures of the owners’ previous orangutan friendships adorned the upper wall. The master bedroom resembled a luxurious 18th century English guest room, the shower and bathtub large enough to fit 4 or 5 people. Looking outside, the entire house was surrounded by carefully manicured yet explosive foliage of the rain forest, complete with signs depicting plant species names. A step into the backyard led from Jacuzzi to infinity pool, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with accompanying color lighted Moai of Eastern Island. Their presence is appropriate as metaphor to the remarkable feeling of incredulity one is overwhelmed with as you step directly into the sand and ocean surrounded by monkeys, lizards, hermit crabs, and sloths. No other rental properties we could find provided such proximity and ease of beach access in Manuel Antonio, certainly not at the price provided for this gem of a house.
The house was only one aspect of this variegated mosaic vacation palace. More important were the people, that is, the staff and service. The housekeeper and security guard “Roberto” consistently engaged us in an unfailingly gracious and friendly manner, attending to any issues if they arose. As an example, he witnessed us return time after time from a terribly frustrating yet energetic romp into the beach in search of easily accessible coconuts for milk and meat. One afternoon, without any discussion with Roberto on the matter, we returned home and found a long staff with a curved saw fashioned to the end for purpose of coconut retrieval.
The “maids” were equally excellent, putting up with a group our size and bravely laundering, dish washing, and floor wiping daily. It was as if we were staying at a highly personalized hotel in place of rental property. Again, we were surprised with delightful little physical anecdotes. One afternoon we found on our freshly folded beds some towels arranged to resemble a chocolate cake, with the phrase “congratulations med school grads” written in stickers along the side. One morning we decided to do an ATV adventure, and returned to a Ken doll placed on towels resembling an ATV. Pure and utter amazement at every turn. Magic, comfort, and necessity fulfilled.
Sabrina, our concierge, was a sharp and friendly hostess. When we wanted to do an adventure tour, she set it up. When we wanted a dinner reservation, she gave the best recommendations. Every aspect that you sit at home wondering about, pouring over reviews and websites, could be deliciously solved with a simple phone call to Sabrina, even travel to and from the airport.
At this point, dear reader, you must be wondering if this is an exaggeration of what experience you could expect to find. It is not. Read the other reviews if it compels you. I have traveled to Manuel Antonio four times, and this was by far the best. My only regret was that I did not get to know David and Evelyn better, as it seems they are some of the more ecologically passionate and interesting people you could meet.
This house is a starting point for adventure. It is the soft pillow you lay your weary head and bones at the end of a long day of sun, rappelling, surfing, or hiking. It does not limit spontaneity or immersion with Tico culture, it fans it knowingly and beautifully. My advice: book it now while you still can.
By Alex B., Louisville, Kentucky. Reviewed June 8, 2013 for a stay in June 2013