Arenas Del Mar Review

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.

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Gluten Free Paradise

Arenas Del Mar- Celiac Week, Fall 2014

Beachfront and Rainforest Resort

I love to travel and find new and exotic places.  I feel that it’s important to share the places that I find that are gluten-free friendly.  Recently, Arenas Del Mar (based in Costa Rica) approached me to assist them in their mission in transforming their resort into a luxury gluten-free vacation destination.

The program director has a daughter recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. Since her diagnosis, traveling has became a challenge for her.  As a result, her father embarked on a journey to show people that a luxury vacation in an exotic country can be made safe and enjoyable for anyone with a dietary restriction.  He wishes to transform his resort to accommodate anyone living on a gluten free diet.

Avoiding consuming gluten when traveling can be very challenging.  To suffice for the lack of gluten-free food, it’s common to spend a lot of money on granola bars, trail mix and other items that can be eaten when gluten-free food is unattainable.  It’s hard when you want to go on a vacation to relax, but you find yourself constantly worrying about what is safe to eat and drink.

Arenas Del Mar has decided to host a few special weeks at the resort that will be entirely gluten-free.  In order to accommodate this, the resort will ensure all food and beverages and even the soaps and cosmetics provided in the rooms, bathrooms and spa

contain no traces of gluten.  They have invited guests that share the commonality of living with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivity issues to visit the resort during these week.  This time will undoubtedly serve as a wonderful place to share experiences and learn from each other.

In May, I will be traveling down to the resort to write a full review about Arenas Del Mar.  Iwill spend time examining the kitchen and advising the staff of the obvious and not-so-obvious means in which gluten appears in the kitchen.  I will be charged with the responsibility to help the staff prepare a kitchen that is sanitized sufficiently and contains no contamination.

Arenas Del Mar is situated in paradise on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.  It is a boutique, luxurious, and lush 38-room hotel that is awe inspiring.  See it for yourself at:  www.ArenasDelMar.com.

  • The readers of Travel and Leisure magazine voted it the top family hotel in Central and South America in 2013.
  • The wedding planning website TheKnot.com listed it as one of the 50 most exotic honeymoon resorts in the world in 2013.
  • The Government of Costa Rica has annually awarded it 5 Stars for luxury and 5 Leaves for sustainability, the only hotel to win both awards.
  • The hotel has just been certified as being Carbon Neutral.

Situated in Manuel Antonio, it’s at the other end of a gorgeous tropical beach just minutes from Costa Rica’s most famous national park.  Wildlife abounds on the property, birds (157 species have been counted so far!), sloths, monkeys, frogs, iguanas….the list goes on!  I am counting down the seconds before I encounter the massages in the spa and margaritas under a palm tree on our own private beach.

Arenas del Mar is a bi-level hotel.  Half of the property is located on a 150-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean while the other half is on a private beach. Views to the Northwest remind you of Big Sur and views to the Southeast are overlook a beautiful, curved, and long tropical beach that is ideal for walking.  The views, along with a cocktail at sunset, are listed in the famous book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

A Week for the Celiac Community

In support of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), Arenas Del Mar will host two weeks for the Celiac Community this year.  Both restaurants at Arenas Del Mar will go 100% gluten-free for their guests’ safety and comfort.

The first week, beginning September 13th 2014, will feature guest chef Monica Glass, who herself has celiac disease, accompanied by Chef Nicole Petrongolo. Monica has worked as a pastry chef at the acclaimed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City, 10 Arts in Philadelphia and now Clio in Boston.

The second week, beginning November 8th 2014, will feature Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook, the owners and chefs of the highly rated Zahav in Philadelphia. This restaurant was named best restaurant in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine.

All the kitchen staff at Arenas Del Mar will also have completed the NFCA’s Great Kitchens training program which is accredited by the American Culinary Foundation.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the NFCA.

For further details please contact: www.ArenasDelMar.com

or

Jeremy Allen, Program Director and hotel Partner by e-mail at AllenAllen@aol.com  or phone 610-407-9371.

If you plan to book, please let them know you found them from my blog to get the best rates.  Stay tuned for my full review in May!

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