Tabacon is Magic – Resort & Spa Review – Hotel Review
“He led us on a well-traveled path through the rainforest and then into a clearing. Before me was a series of hot springs, the steam rose and made a low cloud over the clearing. The volcano and its red lava were still visible. We spent the sunset hours in our own private hot spring watching mother nature give birth.” – an entry from my travel journal – August 1997.
It’s true what they say… Costa Rica will put a spell on you, and you’ll develop an addiction to a certain level of connectedness that you never knew existed. Costa Rica is the place to go to connect to nature, your life companion, and yourself. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a way to return time and time again to quench the inescapable longing.
I visited Tabacon this past summer for the second time. Déjà vu is a pretty powerful thing, but truthfully, I can’t remember what part of the hotel was constructed when I visited in 1997. I believe it officially opened sometime that year. After returning this summer, I can’t even tell you if it was Tabacon hot springs that I soaked in while watching Arenal Volcano erupt – all those years ago. That’s what I had jotted down in my dog-eared, rain-splattered travel journal, but Tabacon looked so very different than how I found it back then. This was partly due to the fact that Arenal is no longer erupting – she quieted down in 2010.
Whether my memories were accurate or not, my recent stay at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa surpassed all my expectations! In 1997 I traveled around Central America with a band of fellow wanderlusters, gypsy souls in search of new experiences. For this trip, I traveled to Costa Rica with 3 of my friends from high school.
dining // As with any trip, culinary experiences are always paramount to total trip satisfaction. Tabacon did not disappoint. The hotel has 2 full-service restaurants and 4 bars, 3 of which serve food. Our favorite dining experience was Bosque Bar located adjacent to Tucanes Restaurant.
This was the perfect spot to reenter society after a long day of soaking in the hot springs, alternating from quiet meditation to the jovial laughter that happens when 4 lifelong friends get together. The bar was not crowded as most guests were queued up nearby for their dinner reservations at the restaurant.
Bosque Bar’s talented mixologist kept us entertained with cocktails that were as beautiful as they were delicious. The Canela y Miel was my favorite – Grey Goose vodka, ginger puree, hibiscus, cinnamon and honey syrup, lemon juice, club soda, and a cinnamon stick.
We ordered everything on the menu and especially loved the Costa Rican gallitos – handmade tacos, the shrimps served on warm toasted brioche, and the incredibly creative chocolate stone dessert.
what to do // Tabacon is the perfect place to do everything you’ve ever wanted to in a rainforest or do absolutely nothing at all. Make sure you plan to spend at least one day, ALL day, at the hot springs. You’ll get lost at least once making your way through the maze of garden paths that encircle all the pools. Some are natural soaking pools with black silt lava and others are traditional swimming pool style tiled in various shades of cerulean and turquoise. All are welcoming and so tempting that many times when we packed up our belongings and started heading back to our hotel rooms, we’d end up finding another pool we simply had to soak in. Want to learn more about Costa Rica? Click here!
This is what dreams are made of. My dreams, at least. Warm, healing thermal springs ensconced in thick tropical gardens. The hot springs at Tabacon range from 72 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, so there is one that is comfortable for everyone. There are signs near every pool that state the temperature. There are trees and palapas with hooks for hanging your robe or bag on while you soak. The tropical rainforest is wet. It drips almost constantly so don’t plan on bringing anything you absolutely must keep dry.
La Fortuna, the town closest to the Arenal Volcano, has plenty to do. In fact, people refer to the Arenal area of Costa Rica as the main eco-adventure activity hub for the entire country. You’ll want to leave Tabacon and explore, check out the hanging bridges, hike to a waterfall, zip-line through the clouds. Take my advice and make sure you save enough time to relax at Tabacon where even the main pool is thermal water and another cool place to chill out when not at the hot springs.
rooms //I didn’t spend much time in my room at Tabacon other than to sleep. The outdoor spaces were too alluring, but I will say I slept like a baby – better than I had in months. The bed was very comfortable, but I can’t say if I would have noticed if it wasn’t. By the time the bedtime hour rolled around, I was as limp as a noodle and every muscle in my body had loosened to the point of no return. The rooms are very comfortable, convenient, and many come with to-die-for views (on a clear day) of Arenal Volcano. They range in size from standard hotel rooms to more luxurious suites. Want more info about Tabacon Resort? Click here!
The room rate comes with daily breakfast, and it is not to be missed. You’ll appreciate having fueled up before heading off on an activity or sweating the day away in the hot springs. The menu offers a mix of buffet items and a la carte favorites too. I suggest eating like a local and ordering Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s national dish. I like mine served with a side of scrambled eggs, fried sweet plantains, fresh cream, sour cheese, and an assortment of tropical fruit. pro tip // Take note of the appropriate attire for Tabacon. Waterproof hiking sandals, rain ponchos, and fluffy warm robes are perfectly acceptable.
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spa // No hotel in Costa Rica would be complete without a wellness center. The spa at Tabacon was exactly what I would expect a rainforest spa to be, yet it thoroughly impressed me with its ability to transport me far away from my reality. From the intimate design of the co-ed waiting area to the jungle cabanas where services are provided, you’ll feel like you entered another world.
I had an 80-minute relaxing massage, and it was some of the best 80 minutes of my life. My massage took place in a thatched-roof, open-air cabana with two beds. I kept thinking how this would be a total dream experience for couples celebrating a romantic getaway or a honeymoon in Costa Rica. The rain softly fell on the roof, and steps from the cabana, a stream of thermal water cascading down the lava rocks lulled me into a deeper state of relaxation. The spa at Tabacon in their own words:
I saved the best for last in my hotel review of Tabacon Resort… Shangri-La. This is the name of the adults-only oasis sectioned off solely for hotel guests, and it is heaven on earth. By definition, Shangri-La means “a remote, beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection” However, this place is very real. My Costa Rica highlight on Instagram has some fun views of Shangri-La.
It is important to note that Tabacon does allow outside guests to spend time at the hot springs with a day pass, and I’ve heard that it can feel crowded at certain times of the year. It was not crowded when I visited as they were monitoring the number of guests due to C19. The way to avoid any crowds is to go early and set up camp by one of the pools, and hopefully, you’ll have your own private area to relax for at least a few hours. The hot springs are open for hotel guests before outside guests. One thing worth noting too is that it was never noisy. Even in areas where the most people seemed to be congregating, the insulation of the rainforest allows for peace & quiet.
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P E R K S ::
When you book Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa with Caribbean Journey, you have access to these exclusive perks:
:: $100 resort credit
:: complimentary breakfast for two
:: early check-in and late check-out if available
:: room upgrade at check-in if availalbe
If you are looking for an eco-friendly vacation at what is undoubtedly Costa Rica’s most iconic hotel, Tabacon would be a perfect fit for you!
P I N T H I S F O R L A T E R ::
T A B A C O N F A S T F A C T S ::
Where is Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa?
Tabacon is located in north-central Costa Rica, at the base of Arenal Volcano.
How far is Tabacon from the airport?
Costa Rica is served by two international airports. Tabacon is 2 hours and 40 mins from the San Jose Airport and 2 hours and 20 mins from the Liberia Airport.
Is Tabacon all-inclusive?
No, Tabacon is not all-inclusive.
Is Tabacon adults only?
No, the hotel welcomes kids, but there is an adults-only area of the springs called Shangri-la that is for the exclusive use of hotel guests 18 and older.
C H E C K O U T T H E S E O T H E R B L O G P O S T S :