Costa Rica Cushy
Our kids were barefoot, their hair tangled when we arrived at the secluded spread a 1½-hour’s drive north of Playa Negra on the Gulf of Papagayo, where children in polo shirts played Xbox in an air-conditioned teen center. (Luckily, we’d all packed some "Four Seasons" clothes to wear to dinner that night.) The design of the buildings, influenced by native fauna, is amazing—the shingled roofs evoke an armadillo’s scaly shell. Our room had a terrace overlooking the gulf, a deep marble soaking tub, and hand-carved cedar beds with 600-thread-count sheets (I checked immediately: no ants!). We ran down to find our friends at the S-shaped pool, where attendants instantly appeared with cucumber slices for our eyes. Yes, thanks, we’d love a chilled, lemon-scented towel, too. We’d entered a world of paddleboat rides, touch football on the lawn, serious golf, and aprés-sun facials—bliss.
Still, we had found our own groove, and back at the surf resort our kids promptly rejoined their roving band. One afternoon was devoted to digging in the tide pools for hermit crabs and piling them into plastic beer cups. Another day the manager’s eight-year-old daughter had all the children stringing bead-and-shell necklaces to sell on the beach—the local version of a lemonade stand. When some older boys knocked coconuts out of the trees, a cook cut them open with a machete and stuck in straws so everyone could sample the sweet milk. Like everything else about our stay, it was both simple and sublime.
Ursula and Richard Fousler own The Small Dark Room, a photo lab in New York City.