At every glorious turn, Costa Rica’s Reserva Conchal delivers a version of paradise.
By Taska Campbell
BEFORE TEMPERATURES dip below your uncomfortable range, why not head somewhere where “whitecaps” describe ocean waves and not snow-peaked mountains, where navigating the terrain requires clubs and balls rather than skis and poles. That place is Reserva Conchal Beach Resort Golf and Spa, a luxury resort situated between white sand beaches and a “dry” tropical forest in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica’s sparkling north-western Pacific coast.
Within the resort’s vast 2,300 acres lies the five-star all-inclusive Westin Golf Resort & Spa, featuring 60,000-square-foot Reserva Conchal Beach Club and highlighted by an extensive swimming pavilion, modern work-out facilities, fine dining, an exquisite spa and access to watersports. But the crown jewel of Reserva Conchal is its championship golf course.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones II— whose Colorado gems include Arrowhead, Crested Butte and Keystone Ranch—the par-71 Reserva Conchal layout stretches to more than 7,000 yards. The architect smartly routed the course between the azure Pacific waters and lush greens of the neighboring tropical forest. The returning nines feature amazing ocean vistas with unforgettable holes meandering through tropical lakes, rugged ravines and ample elevation changes.
Notable golfers such as Jesper Parnevik and Hale Irwin have notched rounds here, as has the legendary instructor David Leadbetter. The list of accomplished players grew substantially in May when Reserva Conchal hosted the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Essential Costa Rica Classic. The inaugural tournament—sponsored by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute—was the country’s first PGA TOUR event in more than 30 years, and the field consisted of 144 professional golfers from more than 25 countries. Guatemala’s José Toledo won with an 18-under-par, two shots ahead of Australian Ryan Ruffels.
Consistently ranked among the top 30 layouts in the Caribbean and Mexico, Reserva Conchal was the first golf course in Costa Rica bestowed certification by Audubon International. The course also boasts a world-class practice facility and learning center offers four green complexes, bunkers, chipping and approach areas, and an expansive practice tee. It offers single- and multi-day golf clinics, as well as PGA TOUR Academy featuring certified instructors from famed TPC Sawgrass.
Golf reigns supreme at Reserva Conchal, but other outdoor activities rank a close second. With one of the top beaches in Central America, relaxing by the ocean is a must, and there’s no better place to soak in the rays than at the resort’s beach club, from which you can launch a kayak or watch humpback whales frolic in the ocean.
Explore the property’s extensive trail network and Reserva Conchal’s lush, 96-acre wildlife refuge, which is home to myriad species of colorful birds and butterflies, 12 species of mammals (among them coatis, capuchins and howler monkeys), reptiles such as iguanas, as well as multihued amphibians and copious native trees, plants and flowers.
The all-inclusive Westin Golf Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal sits on a pristine stretch of white sand and provides the ultimate in elegance—with personal concierge services at the Royal Beach Club and sumptuous amenities standard of the Westin brand. Additional five-star touches include 10 on-site bars and restaurants—including the exquisite Catalinas, Faisanela and Las Candelas—and the aptly named Heavenly Spa.
Adding even more luxury, in late 2018 the W Costa Rica, Reserva Conchal will open and place this part of Costa Rica among the elite in world-class destinations. The W will offer 151 guestrooms, and con-temporary luxury touches and amenities such as a W Living Room lifestyle lounge, specialty restaurants, meeting space, a destination bar and lounge, an infinity edge pool and spa.
For larger groups or those looking to stay in paradise a while, Reserva Conchal has premium one-, two- and three-bedroom private residences, and a four-bedroom penthouse that overlooks the Pacific. The fall and winter are the best times to visit Reserva Conchal. Vacation packages at the Westin start as low as $249 per night via its Par-5 Golf Package. For those seeking a longer stay in paradise, there’s the Experience Golf Package, which includes seven-night, all-inclusive accommodations.
And why Costa Rica versus other tropical locales? Per a recent Happy Planet Index (yes, there is such a thing), Costa Rica was named the “happiest country on Earth” based on global data on life expectancy, experienced wellbeing and ecological footprint.
Costa Rica is also one of the safest countries in the world for Americans. Costa Ricans, known colloquially as ticos, are extremely welcoming and enjoy interacting and helping tourists. The nearest airport, Liberia, is modern, and clean, and you can usually be off the plane and on your way in less than 15 minutes. Major carriers fly into Liberia from Denver with only one stop, and then it’s a scenic one-hour drive to Reserva Conchal.
This article appears in the Winter 2017 Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.