What do Gisele, Mel Gibson and I’ve in widespread? All of us look good in a kilt, sure. But additionally all of us discovered our completely satisfied place on the southernmost tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula – within the misnomered, and actually quite magical, Malpaís. In my case, at Ocio Villas: new contender for Greatest Place Ever.
Coming from capital metropolis San Jose, you could have two major choices if you wish to get to Ocio – and belief me, you actually do.
One: by air. The last word technique to make an entrance, swooping over the Pacific coast’s jungle-backed seashores, previous surf city Santa Teresa, and straight onto the property’s very personal helipad with out a lot as opening a gate.
Alternatively, much less flash, extra splash: by sea, heading west by way of the Puntarenas-Pacuare ferry.
That is the place Mr Smith and I start our Ocio journey, turning winter white shoulders purple whereas sipping a beer on the ferry deck (spot the Brits) as we glide by the Nicoya Gulf. It’s a spectacular technique to begin the journey – and, remarkably, it’s all uphill from right here.
Firstly, bodily uphill; coasting up the dust highway from Malpaís till we’re greeted by the charming Ocio group and a welcome coconut. Disappearing into the property with walkie talkies, they go away us to discover – by which I imply run round saying ‘Oh my god!’ for 3 hours.
We’re staying in Villa Numu. The ‘smaller’ of two villas, it’s virtually 4,000 sq. toes, however sleeps 4 quite than total retreats like Villa Nimbu, off within the distance.
A sprawling indoor-outdoor house – all Aesop-style aesthetics (achingly tasteful in lots of shades of brown), white flowing curtains, engraved wooden and water options hugging an enormous infinity pool amidst acres of lightly-manicured non-public jungle – Numu is a research in locations to sit down, lie, lounge and stare on the sea in slack-jawed surprise.
You might begin on the breakfast bar, overlooking the new tub, overlooking the pool, overlooking the ocean. Transfer to the outside eating or sitting rooms. The double hammock upstairs. The big bathtub, blinds open to the jungle. Lounge poolside. Within the pool’s chill-out house. Or, when you wished (which we did), lie on the helipad’s garden, jutting out into the jungle.
All of this anchored round these panoramic Pacific views – and all of it, hilariously, ours.
There’s a Geller household custom known as a ‘magic second’: a sacred, completely curated scenario, the place all the things’s aligned for the very best time. I now see this may occasionally have been my mum’s ploy to sanctify a much-needed timeout with a beer, a sunny nook and a few peace, however the thought has stayed in our household rhetoric.
The hour we spend drifting between the pool and sizzling tub, drinks in hand, because the solar sinks into the ocean and the sky turns orange, purple, pinky-purple, then inky blue-black – feeling as if it’s been placed on only for us – is the definitive magic second.
Then, because the jungle launches into the nightfall refrain, the home eases into night mode: the pool lights come on, the jacuzzi fires up, the sunshine dies over the ocean, and we toast underneath the celebs as fireflies flit previous. Magic second: the prolonged director’s lower.
With jet lag creeping, we crawl down the hill for a pizza, then crawl into our colossal cover mattress.
We wake with the jungle, throwing open the wraparound doorways to look at the sky lighten over the ocean from mattress because the birds chatter. To not sound hyperbolic or something, nevertheless it’s absolute heaven.
And it’s not simply me: shortly afterwards Mr Smith, not liable to gushing, seems to be up from his espresso, his mango and his coconut throughout the horizon and says: ‘I’m sorry, however have a look at this. Might life be any higher?’ It couldn’t.
Leaning into the euphoria, we make Ocio our personal. We loaf, we lounge, we do laps of the pool, we have a look at issues, we marvel, we exclaim. We watch child howler monkeys be taught to tightrope the treetops and eagles surf the breeze. We are saying ‘unbelievable’ so typically it ceases to carry that means.
We break for breakfast by good in-villa chef Christian – who magically seems on the rumble of a abdomen and magically vanishes having performed the washing up – devouring conventional gallo pinto with eggs and tortilla, native fruit, jam, juice and low.
Then we’re again to the lounging, loafing and looking out, staring down cheeky capuchins and prehistoric iguanas.
Below the circumstances, leaving the property is onerous, however we’re in a very blessed a part of the world – beloved by nature-lovers and A-listers alike.
Beneath us is Malpaís, its smattering of eating places, Cabo Blanco nationwide park and pin-up seashores, and simply north is Santa Teresa. Belief me once I say that everybody you’re jealous of spent NYE in Santa Teresa. It’s arguably probably the most ‘scene’ a part of the nation, suppose Shoreditch-on-sand, however there’s a dusty, salty from surf, lo-fi vibe – and the fantastic thing about Ocio is that you would be able to dip out and in at will.
So we dip in: dip our toes within the ocean, nip into bikini boutiques, to aptly named Tipsy for a crateload of wine – then, having spent an hour on the town and contemplating ourselves spent, dip straight again out once more and as much as our sanctuary Ocio.
Cue extra lounging, loafing and laughing on the obscene fantastic thing about all of it, till one other sundown spectacular rolls round and mates come up for dinner.
Nothing makes you are feeling extra at dwelling than internet hosting. Displaying them round our manor, serving straight-off-the-boat ceviche and chef-cooked fish risotto, it abruptly stops being an excellent vacation and begins being nice fortune that we stay right here.
And that’s the story of how Mr Smith and I acquired arrested for squatting in a luxurious villa…
Or, various ending: the story of how we had an outrageously particular time, took a gallery’s price of sundown selfies, and left slightly little bit of our hearts within the good piece of paradise that’s Ocio. Mel, Gisele; we’ll be again.
Options editor at The Guardian, author for the likes of Nationwide Geographic and Condé Nast Traveller, and eager collector of resort stationery, Cassia’s travels have introduced her to pencils from Balinese seashore retreats, personalised paper from the Marrakech Medina, pens from deep within the Costa Rican jungle, and a beautiful little notepad from the Grand Canal in Venice. She is happiest between a breakfast buffet and a physique of water.