New Airlift to Costa Rica Opens up Options for Travelers


New airlift from the U.S. beginning this fall will raise the profile of Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province. The northwestern region of the country is a gateway to some of its most famous beaches, bays and peninsulas. The capital of the province, Liberia, is home to the country’s second international airport, Daniel Oduber Quiros International (LIR).

New service to LIR will include flights from Boston on JetBlue; seasonal flights from Denver via United and Apple Vacations charters from St. Louis.  

Located 40 minutes from the airport is Peninsula Papagayo, home to the Four Seasons Resort and the nearby Villa Manzu


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Cari Gray, founder of Gray & Company, says the area is a client favorite.

“People love the Villa Manzu and its suites. It’s very close to the Four Seasons and has unbelievable service. What a lot of people don’t know is that Papagayo is only a 1.5-hour drive from Mukul in Nicaragua. It’s a fun combination to do Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and drive across the border,” Gray tells Travel Agent.

JW Marriott Resort & Spa

JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Guanacaste is located farther down Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, approximately 30 miles southwest of LIR.  

“We’ve always been popular with Americans loyal to the JW Marriott brand. But the new flights to Liberia will make it a lot more convenient than flying in to (the capital) San Jose,” general manager Jesus Gonzalez tells Travel Agent.

The Guanacaste province, like most of Costa Rica, is known for its biodiversity.

“Our guests come for bird watching and all the activities you can do on a beautiful beach. For example, the snorkeling, boating, fishing and surfing are incredible. We are near Tamarindo, which is internationally known for surfing,” said Gonzalez.  

There’s also a Kid’s Club on property, reflecting the make-up of much of the clientele during the summer and holidays. Most families come for outdoor adventure, though. Options include canopy tours, horseback riding and white water rafting. Tours to nearby parks and volcanoes are popular. A day trip to Palo Verde National Park offers zip lining, among other activities.

“People don’t tend to be as educated about Central and South America as they are about other regions. Costa Rica in particular is a great place where you can have fun with rafting and other soft adventures. If you have kids along, it’s a way to let them use up some energy and be educated about the environment and conservation at the same time,” Collette Vacations director of strategic product Jaclyn Leibl-Cote tells Travel Agent.

In addition to families with children, Gonzalez is keen to reach the destination weddings and  meetings markets. The JW Marriott spa was voted one of the top in Latin America by Spa Magazine. And an 18-hole championship golf course alongside the resort provides panoramic Pacific Ocean views. 

“The Pacific northern coast of Costa Rica has so much to offer. We’re a biodiverse zone that has everything you’ll find in other regions. And we have the most beautiful beaches as well,” said Gonzalez.  

In Costa Rica’s southern central region, there’s news on the luxury hotel front.

Auberge Resorts Collection has announced plans to manage Hacienda AltaGracia. The property opened in June 2015 in the mountains of San Isidro del General, known locally as Perez Zeledon.

Developed as a family retreat and coffee farm, the resort is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. It’s being rebranded as Hacienda AltaGracia, an Auberge Resort.  

AltaGracia’s 50 hacienda-style casitas feature views of the San Isidro Valley and surrounding mountains. Guests can enjoy spa treatments in outdoor palapas. An extensive equestrian program offers breeds for different skill levels, an enclosed riding ring and customized trail rides.

Additional activities include excursions to coffee plantations and wildlife refuges. For the super-adventurous, the resort can arrange ultralight flight tours above the Nauyaca waterfalls and Marino Ballena National Park, among other sites. Flights utilize the resort’s private landing strip. 

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