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The Awesome Forces of Tabacón
by Darcy Rhyno | October 2022
Join Darcy Rhyno on the last leg of their 10-week Costa Rican adventure, and slip into the soothing waters at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort – a five-star retreat that harnesses a network of naturally flowing thermal mineral springs. Set in the heart of the jungle, this one-of-a-kind escape blends seclusion and romance, immersing guests in the natural beauty of the dense rainforest.
I step into the mineral waters heated by Arenal, the volcano looming over us, and take a seat on the underwater bench beside my wife. Relaxing into the gentle current, I let out a long sigh, the soothing waters slipping over my skin. We’re alone in one of the many secluded pools, surrounded by verdant jungle in the heart of Costa Rica’s first and finest hot springs retreat: the five-star Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort.
For 10 weeks, we’ve been exploring Costa Rica, one unique ecosystem at a time. These are our last days in the Central American country, and as it turns out, we may have saved the best experience for last.
We start the day with a hike across the volcanic scree that covers the face of mighty Arenal. The active, perfectly conical mountain still smokes, rumbles, and leaks glowing molten rock. Its slopes are littered with hardened lava, cooled perhaps decades ago. Among the chunks of rock, rare slipper orchids somehow thrive beneath the tropical sun. As we climb up another side of the volcano, the air is noticeably cooler and thicker. The moss, bromeliads, and orchids that hang from the trees weigh the limbs down close to the ground, which the monkeys and birds don’t seem to mind.
After such exciting adventures, we head back to recuperate in thermal waters. I believe this is precisely what Jaime Mikowski envisioned. He’s the Costa Rican architect who first saw the potential for the mineral-enriched Tabacón River. In the 1980s, his dream was realized with a resort on the incredible 350-hectare property near La Fortuna, the only village that survived the last major eruption about 50 years ago. Mikowski was the first to design a spa that put wild surroundings and the natural therapeutic properties of the thermal mineral waters together, to use for healing and wellness.
While Tabacón is popular with young adventurers and those in search of indulgence, some find their way here to treat various ailments. Tabacón launched “The ESCAPE Route,” a program created in partnership between the resort and Harvard’s Dr. Natalie Dattilo. ESCAPE pairs traditional wellness techniques with science-backed therapies to promote a return to health after crisis and upheaval. Ultimately, it serves as the fulfillment of Mikowski’s mission to take full advantage of the Tabacón’s healing potential.
The program includes additions like a cooking class, a tree planting ceremony, balneotherapy, and complimentary access to the adults-only corner of the hot springs, Shangri-La Gardens.
On our last day, my wife and I decide to close our Costa Rican winter in style with the ultimate experience—a couple’s massage in the jungle. After swapping our clothing for puffy robes, we’re offered nutritious smoothies and led to a palapa furnished with two massage tables. What follows is one of the most relaxing experiences of our lives. Eyes closed, I find myself sinking into the sensations of soft aromatherapy, heat treatments, warmed oils, and deep muscle massages.
Finally, the masseuse takes my hand, joins it with my wife’s, and recites a poem to renew our bonds of love with the force of the volcano, and the warm caress of the Tabacón River. Our two expert attendants retreat, leaving us to slip into a billowing jacuzzi with a bottle of bubbly and a bowl of fresh, tropical fruits. From this earthly paradise, we toast our 10 glorious weeks, its heavenly conclusion, and the renewed energy with which we will re-enter our lives at home.
All Photos Courtesy of Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort
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