A dense, remote jungle may seem an unlikely place for a luxury resort—even if its beaches are splendid and the 360-degree ocean views sublime. But the new Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo on the country's northwest coast has, with the help of Arnold Palmer, carved from the forest a retreat that defies imagination. Its three swimming pools, two beaches, three restaurants and 16,000-square-foot spa could almost make those less partial to the links overlook the splendid golf course that, as Palmer says, "respects and preserves the existing terrain."
And what terrain it is. Perched atop a slim, steep-sided finger of rock high above the Gulf of Papagayo, Palmer's 6,788-yard jewel boasts exhilarating elevation changes and fourteen holes with ocean views. The tee at the third offers a panoramic view of the coastline. The 446-yard par-four sixth, which drops two hundred feet from the back tees to the fairway, is soundtracked by the clamor of howler monkeys foraging through the trees. Landing areas on the spongy, paspalum fairways are generous, and the heavily contoured greens provide rollicking thrills. With the course built atop eight inches of volcanic sand, it is playable even after the isolated downpours that typify the region's "green season" from May to November.
Après round, golfers can retire to the elegance of the resort's 153 rooms or stand-alone suites, with indigenous wood and lava-rock details and sliding louvered doors built to invite ocean breezes. Should such luxury induce you to never want to leave, nearby lots are for sale from $500,000.
RESERVATIONS: 800-332-3442. GREENS FEE: $180 (resort guests only). TEE TIMES: 011-50/6696-0000 or visit fourseasons.com.