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Hot List 2008

El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Bajos del Toro, San José + Central Valley 

Bajos del Toro, Alajuela
Costa Rica

Tel: 506 2761 0301

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.

When to go: January through March is the cloud forest's dry season.
Which room to book: No. 12 is highest on the hillside.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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