By Marika Flatt


Costa Rica has become a trendy spot for international travel, especially now that folks are opting for other beaches besides Mexico. Submerge yourself in local culture and cuisine while recharging your batteries.  After all, isn’t that the recipe for the best vacay?  Here, we highlight two totally different destinations within a destination.



On the northwest coast of the region of Guanacaste, Recreo is a six-casa mountainous estate. The tranquil atmosphere is ideal for getting lost in a great novel, sitting in or near your private plunge pool or chilling at the nearby beach. But the sweetest pea at this place is booking your own private cook. For a reasonable fee (especially if you’re splitting among several couples), you have top-of-the-line Costa Rican service all day.


The cook makes the grocery list based on the meals she will make, a variety of local dishes. Lots of fruits and vegetables, homemade salsas and guacamole will fill your plate. The cook arrives in the morning and makes your three meals per day based on the times that you would like.


Ahead of your stay, you email the onsite manager a list of what alcoholic beverages you would like stocked. You arrive and oila!   


Las Catalinas

Back in 2010, an Atlanta businessman had the idea to create a town on the beach of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and Las Catalinas was born. This no-car town has walkable streets and is built in the style of a Mediterranean seaside village.


You can cook for yourself — shopping either at the brand new market, Copper & Stone or pre-ordering groceries via villa services, as locals do. Copper & Stone has a lot of pantry and speciality items (green juice, kelp noodles, coconut ice cream, kombucha, bread, pasta, fresh veggies, charcuterie and a nice selection of beer and wine, too).


But there are also a handful of options for eating out in town: Limonada, The Beach Club at Las Catalinas (breakfast and lunch only), Sentido Norte at Casa Chameleon and Ponciana (the restaurant at the Santarena Hotel).


But here’s the ultimate reason to visit Las Catalinas: your own house mama. The house mama brings her own groceries for breakfast (including coffee/tea) and afternoon guacamole. There’s typically plenty of fresh fruit in the villas, too (we were there in February when watermelon, pineapple, and mango were in season). She fixes breakfast (typically ready around 8:30) and then cleans up. In a word, bliss.


When you’re ready for some activity, visit Puro Vida Ride, the local outfitter and enjoy mountain biking, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.



Visit Las Catalinas and here is the link to a few of the villas. Also, at the brand new Santarena Hotel, rates start at USD $425 per night based on double occupancy.


Read more about Guanacaste in Texas Lifestyle Magazine’s 19 Places to go in 2019.


Marika Flatt is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine and the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on the statewide NPR show, Texas Standard. You can find her travels chronicled on or

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