Editors note: COVID-19 has imposed travel restrictions of varying types in almost every country. This article was written Pre-Covid and gives us a chance to dream of new adventures when the world is open again.
If Kim Kardashian decided to become a bird watcher and live off the grid she might create a lodge-like Costa Rica’s Finca 360. With sleek architectural lines, the four-bedroom structure soars above the rainforest, appearing to touch the sky with its angled roof. Most rooms offer floor to ceiling views of the Congo, Van Frances, and Poas volcanoes, the last one still active.
Owner Rosibel Herrera Woodward grew up in nearby Venecia, a community known for its pineapple crops and chicken farms. Rosie met and married a US Peace Corps worker and moved to Texas to start a family. On a trip back to Costa Rica she convinced her husband to buy a parcel of land near her hometown hoping one day to build a house. “We can’t build a house here!” said her ever-practical husband.
“We will just build some trails,” countered Woodward. “But when the trails were done and he saw the land he said ‘we have to build a house here’”.
That was all the encouragement Rosie needed to design her house with large windows framing 360-degree views of Costa Rican greenery and plenty of common areas for gathering. She wanted a comfortable place for her children and grandchildren to visit, and to host other travellers.
In the midst of construction, tragedy struck and Woodward reacted in an unexpected way. “My father died while the house was being built and I couldn’t sit around. I decided to paint my town,” she recalled of those sad days.
She convinced artists to paint six giant murals and several benches in Venecia’s town center, hoping to attract more tourists with Instagram-friendly spaces.
Within months the murals and house were done. Now the house produces its own electricity from solar panels on the roof and a small hydroelectricity plant on a stream on the property. Barrels catch rainwater and meals contain plenty of local foods. Living off the grid doesn’t usually come with movie star glamour but Finca 360 blends sustainability and comfort seamlessly.
Woodward connects her lodge to the surrounding community at every opportunity making good use of her extroverted nature (at her Texas home she hosts an open house every evening in October inviting everyone from her belly-dancing classmates to the person bagging her groceries).
A masseuse will come to the lodge if you want an in-room massage; the open spaces between rooms are perfect for morning yoga (if you’re not ensconced on one of the balconies with a cup of Costa Rican organic coffee). Like horseback riding? Woodward has an uncle with championship-winning horses. Want to shop? Woodward invites artists to showcase their creations in the dining room. There are three kilometres of forest trails and if you need help identifying the birds, Woodward will find you a bird-watching guide.
The lodge is two hours from the San Jose airport and a ninety-minute drive to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano area, one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations with plenty of outdoor adventure. The relatively affordable rate of $550 Canadian for the whole house (at the time of writing) includes breakfast; if you don’t want to cook, other meals can be arranged. Each bedroom includes a king and single bed and ensuite bathroom.
To start your own glamorous off-grid adventures go to www.viajescolibricr.com