As promised, I am ready to give a full review of Arenas Del Mar. As I explained in a past post, this wonderful resort in Costa Rica is making a tremendous effort to offer a wonderful gluten free vacation destination. They will be offering two special weeks this fall geared to cater a very special gluten free menu with celebrity chefs. In general, the resort is very gluten free knowledgeable and can adjust the normal menu at any time. I was asked to go down to the resort and help consult with the staff. I just returned from a week at the resort and I am excited to share my experience.
Costa Rica is a wonderful country with tons of activities, amazing people, rich history, outstanding biodiversity and beautiful beaches. This resort is located on the pacific coast near Manuel Antonio national park. The resort is placed on the side of a cliff offering outrageous ocean views, access to both a private beach and public beach while having the privacy of the rainforest and all the wildlife it has to offer. The staff will go out of the way to make sure you have everything you want and that you are happy. They will bring you lunch to your beach chair, arrange any activity such as taking you on a tour through the rainforest . Everyone will know your name within 24 hours which was helpful and the entire staff was aware of my gluten issues.
The resort itself is a blast with two beaches, two pools, two bars, two restaurants and much more. The spa has a large selection of treatment and only uses gluten free lotions and cosmetics. The staff will gladly shuttle you around with electric golf carts and take your anywhere you want to go. Free wi-fi and free international phone calls. The rooms are very special and with many options to choose. Our room had two rooms, two bathrooms, large porch with jacuzzi, tv and mini bar. Most impressively, the resort is unbelievably green and ecofriendly as evidenced by their use of solar power and extensive water management/conservation system (I had the treat of doing a bootcamp style workout at 6am with the staff on the roof of the water ionization tank).
Finally, the food!!!! This was officially the first week-long vacation I have been on without getting sick. They are very aware of cross contamination and gluten free foods. Breakfast is included in your nightly rate and is very special. Every morning breakfast included an exotic fruit tray, various fresh squeezed juice, Costa Rican coffee which we loved over ice and finally an entrée of your choice. From gluten free pancakes, gluten free oatmeal, traditional Costa Rican items or common items like omelets and yogurt with fruit. Lunch is served beach side with a fun menu. Appetizers range from ceviche, chips and guacamole to tropical salads. Then they have great wraps and sandwiches that they can prepare gluten free on corn tortillas. The best was the gluten free fish sticks and calamari. Yes, fried calamari!!! They have gluten free bread crumbs on hand and fry every thing separate in a pan with fresh oil. Dinner is very special. Everything is elegant, plated like your at a five star restaurant and filled with local fresh ingredients. The dinner menu is a wonderful combination of Costa Rican dishes along with American items all with flare. Appetizers included grilled octopus, tuna, ceviche and wonderful vegetarian options that all blew me away like watermelon gazpacho and grilled zucchini rolls stuffed with white sweet potato. Entrees are equally as fabulous including tuna steak over lentils, mahi mahi on top of a plantain and papaya salads, creole style seafood, other Costa Rican dishes like “Casado” and “Arroz Con Pollo” and “Chicharonnes” with other more traditional Continental vegetarian alternatives risotto or potato gratin. Many items are naturally gluten free. Fresh made gluten free bread served at the start of every meal. Dessert was different every night and all amazing. My favorite dessert was the gluten free cheese cake but I also enjoyed the flourless lava cake, coffee creme brûlée and gluten free crepes. Finally the drinks. As a wino, I was very happy with the extensive bottle list but the cocktail menu is something unique. I love my liquor but I don’t favor sugary cocktails. Every drink on the cocktail menu is extremely creative and made with real fruit and fresh ingredients. My piña colada made with fresh chunks of pineapple or margaritas with cilantro, ginger, mango, blackberry and thyme. My favorite drink on the resort is the ginger lemonaid made with fresh grated ginger, lime and local rum.
Traveling gluten free continues to be a challenge but finding resorts like Arenas del Mar that go out of the way to make a safe and enjoyable experience are worth it all. A resort great for everyone from families to lovers looking for a getaway, the adventure or someone looking to just relax in paradise. They have it all and more. If you interested in booking a vacation for one of the celiac weeks, please act fast as they are filling up quickly. Mention that you found the resort in my blog and they will give you the best available rate.