Why would I want to spend the week at Hacienda Pinilla?
After having lived in Costa Rica for more than two decades, and having founded both a travel agency that I later sold, and of course operating a luxury real estate agency for the majority of that span, I have what I would consider to be a keen ability to understand and recognize the strenths and weaknesses of each of the varied markets and destinations in Costa Rica. This, as it regards both to real estate and tourism due to my background…. Early in my arrival to Costa Rica, there was much chatter about a place called Hacienda Pinilla, a historic cattle ranch that happened to boast over 3 miles of coastline in between Tamarindo and Playa Avellanes. I visited the development early in its inception and saw a sprawling 18 hole golf course, tennis facilities, and what would soon be the site of the now, impressive JW Marriott Hotel & Resort. Over the coming years, scattered luxury homes began to pop up along the golf course and throughout this 4500 acre property catering both to the golf, beach and nature enthusiast either as retirement, vacation or investment homes. However, being honest with myself and those indulging my thoughts, I never really got it. I always pondered how or why in such a massive development, people would see short, medium or long term value or that the development would reach a level of maturity that could warrant a sizeable investment, either buying land to build, purchasing a turn key condo or a private luxury home. Furthermore, I thought to myself, while impressive in size and setting, with no ocean views, who could be drawn to this?
Peeling away the stubborn layers from my brain, and in an attempt to revisit the property after my last visit for an amateur golf tournament that I was invited/forced to play in (note: calling me an amateur has about as much merit as calling me an amateur doctor), I made plans just before the holidays this year to rent a vacation home in Hacienda Pinilla, Guanacaste for a few days to test the waters. The goal was to, of course, enjoy some down time with my wife and kids, be a tourist, experience the resort, and of course, evaluate from a business perspective the real estate market, and investment properties availalbe today, and in the future.
Of course, finding a 4 bedroom rental home the week before Christmas seemed like an amateur move on my behalf, as occupancies throughout Costa Rica are at all time highs and can be difficult, if not impossible to find. This alone made me start to re-think my preconceived notions about Hacienda Pinilla in my search as I was not able to find much available. Finally, through a colleague who happened to have a cancellation, I was able to reserve a home, and we were off. Upon arriving after a 4 hour drive from San Jose (of course tourists can fly into Liberia airport cutting this travel time by 75%, or fly from San Jose directly into Tamarindo, located just 10 minutes to the north), we entered the gates of Hacienda Pinilla. It is a unique entrance that seems to transport you back in time and the authenticity of the original ranch combines with the resort infrastructure in a subdued, yet elegant manner so as not to destroy the essence of the destination. As you drive from the gates towards the clusters of sub communities in Hacienda Pinilla, you will see signs for the Clinic, the horse stables, beach club, mini market, tennis facilities, golf course or hotel, however, these signs take on an old school feel as if they had been there for centuries.
As made our way to the community of Las Brisas, we were anxious to see not only the home, but the setting of the community. After passing through the gates of this community, we came to the home, and was pleasantly to surprised to see the numbers of luxury homes that were built, and occupied in what now truly resembled a community, and a sense of neighborhood. While this neighborhood is not offer beachfront or golf front homes, the homes are well designed, and seamlessly fit into the backdrop and while most boast a mediterranean, or colonial feel, some of the newer homes, including where we stayed, are leaning more tropical contemporary with abundant glass, high ceilings, and a sleek combination of hardwoods and stones. This home was set on just over one half of an acre with 371 m2 of construction, including 4 bedrooms, living, dining room and kitchen, as well as a courtyard pool and covered deck all laid out on a one story floor plan, ideal for families. This home is currently on the market at a price fo $769,000 which I found very affordable considering the location within the resort community, quality of construction and finishes, and size. The home is surrounded by the park designated by the community, with abundant trees and shade, something that my apparently weakened memory did not recall about Pinilla, and was pleasantly surprised.
Since the home, however, was not located beachfront, once the family was settled, we decided it was time head out to the beach and experience the lifestyle.
We drove from our villa down to the beach, passing two other gated communities within Hacienda Pinilla along the way, as well as the golf course, and tennis facilities, until we made our way to the beach, or better yet, the Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club. For a lot of investors or tourists, like myself, being on the beach is fantastic, but without any services, how long can you really last….well, we found out through experience that with the beach club and the amenities offered, we were in no hurry to leave. Once we parked and walked into the club, you are welcomed at the reception and oriented to the variety of services including the most obvious, beachfront, infinity edge pool that is surrounding by greenery on one side, pool deck and chairs encompassing the entire pool and the colonial style buildings just to the north where you will find a full service restaurant, gym and spa. Along the sand just in front of the pool and before making it to the beach, you will find the full service bar, and of course, the typical poolside servers enticing you with cool, tropical drinks and anything to fulfill your appetite from fresh ceviche, to a custom Costa Rican style margarita. We sat down for a casual lunch in the restaurants while the kids hit the pool, and were able to start to take in the beach setting, and my blood pressure and stress levels started to noticeably drop. The food and the service was fantastic, but most of all, the combination of what had once seemed so isolated, so massive, and frankly unappealing, was a breath of fresh air. There were no condo towers in sight, no cranes blocking our views, but rather the sounds of the pool, the blender at the bar, a cool tropical breeze, a view that magically combined the beachfront vegetation, sand, rolling entrance to the beach and impressive coastline at Playa Avellanas.
After lunch we made our way down to the beach, no beach chairs, no vending services, just raw beauty….There are plenty of trees and we perched our towels and gear under one for shade, and ended up spending the next 6 hours between watching the world class surf in Playa Avellanes, walking the coastline and perceiving the perfect combination of isolation, with luxury service that we had at our doorstep. We needed nothing more, and wanted nothing less. The next few days were like Groundhogs Day, cooking breakfast in our villa, the entire day spent between the pool, beach club, and beach, witnessing magical sunsets along the coast, and heading into Tamarindo every other night to enjoy one of the spectacular restaurants and streetside shops (my wife and daughters :)…..
Needless to say, I was not ready to head back to San Jose. The trip to Pinilla changed my mind about Hacienda Pinilla, and it became ever so clear of the draw and appeal to live or vacation in a community that feels a world apart from everything, while offering the finest in luxury and amenities. The need to see the ocean and be on the beachfront became less important, as I now understand what the lifestyle at Pinilla was really all about. We did not to go the stables to ride horses, or play tennis, or take in a round of golf, a massage or any of the number of the things offered at Pinilla, but that was only because we did not have enough time in Hacienda Pinilla….so until next time and for more information about properties in Hacienda Pinilla, or nearby Tamarindo, let us know.