For the first three nights of my trip in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I stayed at The Peace Retreat near Playa Negra. Online, I was drawn in by the frequent yoga classes and rural location that’s within walking distance of the beach.
The retreat center is scenic and beautiful, even during the end of the dry season when everything is brown. The building has Mediterranean stylings and breezy walkways. The pool is small but colorful and refreshing. I also enjoyed the shade of the fruit trees that are speckled throughout the property–and of course the beautiful birds and playful monkeys!
I rented the Samadhi suite, a cozy 3rd floor flat with an en suite bathroom, full kitchen, and rooftop deck. It feels very private and offers lovely views of the property and surrounding jungle.
My favorite feature was the rooftop deck. It’s advertised with an “ocean view.” It’s barely a sliver of blue above the tree line. The views of the foothills were impressive enough. The sun rose right behind them. I’d watch the sun rise on the roof while sipping coffee. Once, I watched the sun set while sipping wine. I was just trying to be cute. It was too damn hot for that.
The kitchen was my second favorite feature. The gas range functions regardless of the weather and brown-outs (more on that later). There is a full-sized fridge, deep sinks, and most of the cookware and cutlery that you’d need. This was a great option that allowed me to make meals and snacks in the room. And God bless the ice maker!
The Peace Retreat hosts friendly, solid yoga teachers. The yoga studio is spacious and shaded with lots of ceiling fans, plenty of props, and foliage that makes it feel like you’re practicing in the jungle.
The Peace Retreat is very, very basic.
The Samadhi suite has two ceiling fans but no AC. The temperatures exceeded 95 degrees during the day and exceeded 85 degrees at night all 3 days. It was always humid. This isn’t a place for those who want to be comfortable and dry.
The electricity went out twice. The Peace Retreat DOES NOT have a backup generator. It’s hot and if you rely on anything electronic or rechargeable for your health, you could die. Just sayin’.
Bugs. During the day, I barely noticed any. At night, there were all sorts of insects in the least logical places: the toilet, the curtains, the bevels of the wooden door. The top of the building is lined with screened windows for natural ventilation. Some screens don’t shut well. Queue the arrival of the pests.
The window screens don’t lock, either. If you leave the retreat center, you’ll have to close up the glass windows. The room will be an oven upon your return. If you leave the glass open, anyone can get into the room. The room’s safe was jammed. The site staff didn’t seem concerned with fixing it. One staff person offered to let me use a safe in her room but that would mean scheduling arrivals and departures around her schedule, or vice versa. Keep that in mind.
There isn’t a coffee maker or microwave in the room.
Don’t rely on the onsite cafe for meals or snacks unless you are traveling with a large retreat group. Otherwise, the cafe runs out of items and doesn’t restock. There were offers to buys some items but I was told they did not plan to make the full menu available to me. Disappointing. The nearest restaurants are a long, bumpy walk which feels longer on hot days. Yet another reason to have a car and and full kitchen.
The yoga classes were “all levels” classes but there weren’t many cues given for advanced options. If you’re looking to play your edge and learn new asanas, you might not have that opportunity. The website says that the classes are donation-based with a “recommended donation of $10 UDS.” But the staff doesn’t make it feel like a $10 “donation.” If $10 is the price of the class, it’s more straightforward to simply state that. It’s a reasonable price for decent classes!
It’s a beautiful center that offers a get away from your normal routine and comforts. If that’s what you’re looking for, enjoy! As a former Peace Corp volunteer, I tolerated the lack of niceties just fine and managed to have a pleasant stay.