Tempted by the notion of “glamping,” but nervous to give it a try? The idea — camping in exotic locations with the luxury and services of a 5-star hotel — is catching fire not only with adventure travelers but also with families. If you also like the idea of being ahead of the curve, the Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano National Park, set to open Dec. 20, will be one of the first luxury camps in Central America.
Not only will the experience blend luxury and camping, but Nayara Tented Camp was designed with families in mind. For example, 14 of the tents will offer the option of connecting two tents via a passageway, accommodating either two couples or a larger family with children. The remaining 11 tents will be stand-alone units, offering a more private option for either a couple or a family of four. The set up allows even extended families, including grandparents, parents and children to connect via several different tents. In addition, the main building will offer family-style tables so families can all sit together or interact with other guests.
As to activities, families can wander along a trail into the rainforest to see sloths, which, thanks to Nayara’s reforestation of the area, will expand the sloth sanctuary to more than 1,000 Cecropia tress — the sloth’s main food source — from the current 300 trees that currently serve as a home to more than 15 sloths. Families can also join in excursions with Sloth Concierge and Nayara’s expert nature guide Juan Pablo, who also leads early morning bird-watching walks.
The property is also creating an area of seven interconnecting, private hot springs filled by mineral hot springs naturally warmed by the nearby volcano and located at the top of the mountain that can be enjoyed by six to 15 nature lovers throughout the two acres of rainforest. Each family can relax in its own little pond or — for guests who prefer a tamer water experience — they can splash around in their private plunge pool, connected to each tent.
The company is replacing the usual butler service with a dedicated naturalist who will act as a personal host as well as a tour guide.
On property, children are welcome at both Nayara Tented Camp and nearby sister property Nayara Gardens and can make use of its facilities, which include multiple restaurants, a swimming pool and additional hot springs. Guests can also relax with daily yoga and meditation suspended above the trees.
Guest feedback reinforced that parents who stayed at Nayara properties are increasingly interested in teaching their children about sustainability and nature. With that in mind, the Nayara Tented Camp will offer an easy home base for families looking to take part in eco-excursions off property. For example, parents and kids can go hiking, horseback riding, looking for wildlife and exploring rivers. Because Costa Rica is a small country with microclimates, Nayara guests can hang at the beach then venture into forests, along rivers and get close to an active volcano — all in the same day.
Nayara’s nature guides can take families off property to explore the surrounding Arenal region. Beginning with a hike through the Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, guides will lead guests through the rainforest. A surprise picnic with personalized lunch is then set up atop a hillside with postcard views of the volcano for a midday break, before more adventures such as trekking over the dried lava fields of the volcano, soaking in the thermal waters of the EcoTermales or visiting the nearby mom-and-pop coffee farm where Nayara sources their beans.
When it opens in December, the camp will feature 29 air-conditioned accommodations, generously sized at 1,496 square feet, all built at a high altitude on the hillside to provide unobstructed views of the volcano.
Nayara Tented Camp will be one of the first luxury camps in Central America. Located in the Arenal Volcano National Park, the year-round camp is the brainchild of owner Leo Ghitis, inspired by the luxury canvas lodges of Africa and Asia. The low-impact, high-yield design that immerses guests in the surrounding rainforest was developed by Luxury Frontiers, an experiential lodging expert with a global portfolio of design projects that extends from Mexico and Tuscany to Botswana.
The indoor/outdoor design of the camp blends contemporary, so-called “barefoot-luxe” touches and unique-to-location design features, including a master suite that blends traditional African safari-style tents with Costa Rican elements. Canopy beds feature a botanical headboard mural, private plunge pools are fed by natural mineral hot springs and double-head outdoor showers add to the outdoorsy experience.
With the addition of the Camp, Nayara will consist of three properties, including Nayara Springs and Nayara Gardens, all connected by footbridges. Rates start at $1,200 per night.
Huntsville, Alabama, is one of those destinations helping define the family-friendly vacation. Home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the city is lovingly nicknamed Rocket City thanks to its history of always reaching for the stars. This is where you’ll find Space Camp, where kids and families can take part in various programs at the world’s largest space museum, U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
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