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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Las Catalinas’ Santarena Hotel Unveils New Look

Costa Rica’s Car-free Seaside Town Debuts Refresh of Boutique Hotel with New Bar, Creative Mixology and Cooking Classes, New Menu and more

Referred to as one of the most important and beautiful new towns in the world by renowned Notre Dame School of Architecture Professor Douglas Duany, Las Catalinas debuts a refresh of the town’s boutique Santarena Hotel with a lively new look and design along with new additions and offerings. Located in the pristine and exotic Guanacaste peninsula with its unparalleled wildlife and geographic wonders, Las Catalinas is a compact, walk-able beach town – an inclusive community without gates using design and architecture to increase pedestrian traffic and encourage community engagement.

Located in the heart of Las Catalinas, Santarena Hotel is a tropically elegant oasis inspired by a palette of people and places. Stylish accommodations and inviting public spaces are seamlessly intertwined with gracious hospitality to make this the ideal urban seaside getaway. All forty-five guest rooms (including three suites) feature crisp, linear design, and contemporary sleek-but-mellow touches throughout, providing the perfect place to rest, recover and recharge between active sunny days and sophisticated social evenings.

Earlier this year, the hotel underwent an extensive refurbishment of its lounge area and recently introduced the Ponciana Bar. The general concept of the redesign was to keep similar vibes and references that were originally in place in the materials and built-ins designed by the hotel architect Ricardo Arosemena in collaboration with interior designer Andrina Fonseca. The refurbishment focused on the deep green and glass wine cellar located in the center of the room as the focal point while redesigning the space to add a front bar for the lounge area. Doubling the cellar structure to give it more presence in the room, the addition of the front bar features a high-top quartz counter ideal for people to gather for conversations or enjoy a refreshing drink in beautiful space accentuated with eye-catching pendant fixtures and ambient lighting.

With indoor and outdoor seating, Ponciana Bar offers a delectable menu with bites and small plates perfect for sharing. The Mediterranean-inspired menu features unique Costa Rican dishes with ingredients found in the ocean, mountains and farms and also offers gluten-free and vegetarian items. Highlighting the freshest ingredients, some menu specialties include: Fritto di aguacate (fried avocado with balsamic aioli), Tuna bruschetta (fresh tuna tartare, roasted peppers, onions, olives, herbs, balsamic glace), Charcuterie board (prosciutto di parma, mortadella, salumi, toasted focaccia, caramelized onion, and cheese dip), Spanish croquetas (roasted granny smith & jalapeño salsa) and more.

Gourmands can sharpen their mixology and culinary skills and take one of Ponciana Bar’s monthly mixology and cooking classes. Available for guests and residents at Las Catalinas, these hands-on classes are ideal for those who want to learn how to make Ponciana’s signature cocktails and dishes from the hotel’s mixologist, sommelier, and chef. Pairing three cocktails with three dishes, mixologist Eliecer Rodriguez uses only natural and tropical ingredients based on the seasons. All of the cocktail recipes are artisanal, focusing on local ingredients. Guests may learn how to make signature cocktails including Ponciana Old Fashioned (bourbon, old fashioned syrup, aromatic bitters, Mandarin cinnamon sticks, all spice beans), Wild Berries Margarita (white tequila, Cointreau, wild berries puree, fresh lime juice, black berries salt, fresh berries) and other libations. Each cocktail or glass of wine is paired with a specific dish created by the chef. With only twelve seats for each class, guests and residents can sign up for the $35USD mixology and cooking class by emailing

About Las Catalinas,

The conscious town of Las Catalinas is Costa Rica’s newest desirable beach town, currently with 142 homes complete and 150 full-time residents. Inspired by New Urbanist philosophy, the car-free, highly walkable town will include several inns and intimate hotels, shops, restaurants, retail, day spas, pedestrian streets, parks, plazas, and recreational facilities, all located between two of Costa Rica’s lovelies Pacific beaches and nearly 1,000 acres of protected tropical dry forest, which are interlaced with extensive hiking and biking trails. Within the town, the walkable public spaces are interwoven with nature, and the architecture emphasizes indoor-outdoor living and scenic views. Cars are refreshingly absent. Founder Charles Brewer’s core values and beliefs include environmental stewardship, connection to one another and to the rhythms of nature, promotion of wellness, and an emphatic preference for quality of life over quantity of material possessions, understanding that the “good life” is not about material possessions but about human connections, good health, and ecological sustainability.


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