Alberto Esquivel had intended to build a family home in the foothills of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains, a modest country abode where his children could ride Andalusian horses among grazing cattle. Five years after breaking ground, the Costa Rican native has instead created Hacienda AltaGracia, Central America’s most exciting and authentic new luxury resort. Opened last June—and operated since July by Auberge Resorts—the 860-acre property offers a true taste of Costa Rica with morning hikes to see sloths and toucans, afternoon trail rides through the mountains (the resort houses 46 purebred horses in pristine stables), and evening swims in the spa’s stunning hilltop pool. For a bird’s-eye glimpse of Esquivel’s passion project and the surrounding farmland and forest, take to the skies in AltaGracia’s ultralight plane, gliding low and slow over tiered coffee plantations and 100-foot waterfalls.
WHAT: A homegrown Costa Rican retreat featuring 50 elegant casitas, a spa, and three restaurants.
WHERE: Set on 860 private acres at the foot of the Talamanca range in southern Costa Rica’s Pérez Zeledón canton.
WHY: Costa Rica’s most authentic luxury experience, blissfully removed from the country’s well-worn tourist trail.
Hacienda AltaGracia, an Auberge Resort, aubergeresorts.com ($350–$1,500)