A new Ritz-Carlton Reserve is set to open in Costa Rica — and we got an exclusive first look.
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One of Costa Rica's most luxurious and sought-after resort communities is about to receive its first ultra-luxe hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Peninsula Papagayo plan to open Nekajui, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Nekajui, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residence in 2024.

Located in the northwestern region of Guanacaste, the 1,400-acre private gated community is already a posh playground with luxury villas, an incredible beach club, world-class hotels and dining, and an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. Nekajui plans to further cement the region's exclusivity and status by adding 107 magnificent guest rooms, suites, and residences featuring canopied outdoor terraces, private plunge pools, spa-like bathrooms, and spectacular views overlooking Pochote Bay and its surrounding islands. 

La Casona, the Communal Space-Reception at NEKAJUI, Ritz-Carton Reserve - Peninsula Papagayo
Credit: Courtesy of Binyan Studios

The new Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort, which intends to immerse its visitors in Costa Rican architecture and culture, will be divided into three distinct zones, each with its own building style, design references, and curated elements from local artisans.

These include a "classic zone," where modern interpretations of traditional, hacienda-style architecture will blanket an arrival area as well as guest rooms and suites; a "transitional zone," which will be bathed in light and showcase typical architecture found in the local Guanacaste region across guest rooms, suites, and branded residences; and an "organic zone," with tree house-style architecture inspired by the natural environment in guest rooms as well as the beach club and spa. 

The Beach House at NEKAJUI, Ritz-Carton Reserve - Peninsula Papagayo
Credit: Courtesy of Binyan Studios

The resort's name, Nekajui (pronounced nek-ah-wee), aptly means garden in Chorotegan — the language of an indigenous nation that once populated the area. The resort and its cascading infinity pool will sit above and within a verdant hillside, protected by a lush, natural garden. A nearby hanging bridge will lure guests to the mesmerizing on-site spa, while a custom funicular railway will transport visitors down to a natural amphitheater where the beach club sits, mere steps from sea caves, tide pools, and white, sandy beaches ideal for catching some rays. 

While Peninsula Papagayo is already celebrated for its exceptional and unspoiled beaches, land and water activities, adventurous pursuits, and pura vida spirit, Nekajui's setting promises to be even more private. Located on a quieter beach revered for its bioluminescence — a magnificent sight to behold by moonlight — its bay also possesses some of the calmest, most protected waters around. The uncompromised location also lacks development with extremely low light pollution, meaning visitors can experience tranquility both day and night. 

Spa Villas at NEKAJUI, Ritz-Carton Reserve - Peninsula Papagayo
Credit: Courtesy of Binyan Studios

Of course, the service is also bound to be exceptional. In fact, Nekajui will join a small roster of upper tier Ritz-Carlton properties in the Reserve portfolio. The other five resorts are currently scattered in some of the most breathtaking locations around the world, including Bali, Indonesia; Krabi, Thailand; Niseko, Japan; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico.

"Service will be highly personalized," says Simon Cooper, former president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and lead advisor of Miami-based Gencom, the developer and co-owner of Peninsula Papagayo. "With more staff and relatively fewer rooms, Nekajui has the privilege and uncommon opportunity to personally host guests, one to one."  

Private residence Pochote Bay at NEKAJUI, Ritz-Carton Reserve - Peninsula Papagayo
Credit: Courtesy of Binyan Studios

Certified local experts will help both hotel guests and residence owners craft hyper-individualized itineraries that provide once-in-a-lifetime adventures, romantic escapes, and cultural exploration. Eco-adventure travelers will also be able to partake in immersive experiences, including Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment, which offers rare access to 570 square miles of protected wildland.

Near the hotel, 36 ultra-luxe villas and estate homes that range in price from more than $3 million to more than $13 million will be available for reservations starting November 2021. 

Donald McGregor of Gencom tells us these residences were "designed for collectors of trophy homes in [faraway] corners of the world." The spacious, fully furnished two-to five-bedroom homes will carry over design elements like canopied terraces and private plunge pools, as well as include alluring details that similarly promise to honor Tico traditions.