Monteverde Lodge & Gardens
This rustic eco-lodge in the lush, misty Tilarán Mountains set the standard for environmentally sustainable properties here when it opened in 1990. It’s owned by Costa Rica Expeditions, one of the country’s best adventure-tour operators and an ethical-tourism pioneer since 1978. All electrical and water systems are heated by solar power, and the attentive, helpful staffers and guides are largely local hires. Creature comforts include a bar and restaurant with a huge fireplace—just the thing for chilly mountain nights—and a vast (solar-heated) hot tub. The lodge’s 28 rooms, outfitted in polished endemic hardwoods, have utilitarian furnishings; wraparound windows overlook the gardens, where ferns, flowering bromeliads, waterfalls, and streams attract birds and other wildlife. Expert naturalist guides lead tours of the neighboring Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home to some 400 bird species and 1,500 native plant species.
Room to Book: Corner rooms benefit from views in two directions; standard (rather than garden) rooms are larger and brighter.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.