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October 06, 2008

Costa Rica: El Silencio Lodge & Spa

El Silencio Cabana
A camouflage cabana at El Silencio.
Photo:Elsilenciolodge.com

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

In the country that practically invented ecotourism, El Silencio sets a new standard for responsible luxury. The 16 khaki-colored cottages are built of environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo tiles, with lamp bases and towel racks fashioned from logs and twigs. (There are also plans to begin education programs for the community.) The identical one-room cottages--each with a king-size bed, two plush sofas that can double as extra sleeping nooks, and a gas fireplace to cut the morning chill--are plenty roomy,but the biggest draw is beyond the sliding glass doors: As you watch the late-afternoon mist slide over the lushly forested mountains from your cottage's rail-less porch, you'll know why this is called the cloud forest. The largely local staff are ever present and eager to please, whether you're up for a guided walk through the adjacent 500-acre reserve to several waterfalls--some gushers and others trickles--or yoga practice on the open-air platform at the spa. Chef Marco González's Costa Rican-fusion food is among the best in the country, sourced from the resort's own organic garden and nearby purveyors of produce and naturally raised chicken and fish.

Address: Bajos del Toro, Central Valley, Costa Rica
Tel: 866 446 4053

When to go: January through March is the cloud forest's dry season.
Which room to book: No. 12 is highest on the hillside.

Further reading:
* El Silencio Web site
* Hot List 2008
* The Costa Rica guide
* Hot List on the DT

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