The Best Resort Hotels in Central America in 2016

Nayara Springs Costa Rica
Photo: Courtesy of Nayara Springs

For years, Central America (the narrow chain of countries like Panama and Costa Rica between the Pacific and the Caribbean) has been a prime tropical destination for travelers from all over the world — especially those in search of undisturbed nature and a sense of complete seclusion. Every year, our readers tell us about their favorite resorts and inns around the globe for our World’s Best Awards. They evaluate their experiences based on service, cuisine, location, the rooms and facilities, and overall value—among other things. It’s really no surprise that Nayara Springs and Nayara Hotel, Spa, & Gardens secured the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the Central American list this year. Both luxury properties are located in Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica — a country that attracts travelers with its dramatic landscapes and adventurous activities. World’s Best voters agreed that these two resorts charm guests with everything from an outstanding and attentive waitstaff to bedrooms that overlook infinity pools and wild jungle surroundings. The top five hotels on our 2016 list also include Matachica Resort & Spa in Belize, where our readers could see the barrier reef from their thatched-roof casitas or the private hot tub outside their villas. One T+L voter noted that here, the Wi-Fi is limited, which actually wasn’t a bad thing. Instead, it allowed guests to completely disengage from day-to-day life. “Be prepared to relax ... the most challenging decision we made each day was whether to nap by the pool or nap on the beach.” If you want to recharge and unplug, these Central American resort hotels won’t disappoint.

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No. 5: Turtle Inn, Placencia, Belize

Turtle Inn Belize
Courtesy of Turtle Inn

Score: 92.79

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No. 3 (Tie): Casa Palopó, Atitlán, Guatemala

Casa Palopo Guatemala
Al Argueta

Score: 93.78

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No. 3 (Tie): Matachica Resort & Spa, Ambergris Cay, Belize

Matachica Resort Spa Belize
Courtesy of Matachica Resort and Spa

Score: 93.78

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No. 2: Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Nayara Hotel Costa Rica
Courtesy of Nayara Hotel, Spa and Gardens

Score: 95.91

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No. 1: Nayara Springs, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Nayara Springs Costa Rica
Courtesy of Nayara Springs

Score: 96.36

Several voters described Nayara Springs as what they imagine paradise must look like. “Heaven on earth with a private plunge pool,” said one voter. From the infinity pools fronting each private villa to the personalized service, it’s no wonder travelers enjoyed their stay at the intimate jungle retreat. When your wake-up call is a toucan outside your door and going to work means an hour on a yoga mat, you’ll feel worlds away from whatever real life is.

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