The first time the owner of Villa Avellana came to Costa Rica, he was a barefoot surf bum traveling the country on a shoestring budget. Many years—and at least $15 million—later, he’s helping other American travelers experience the “Rich Coast.” But this time, there’s no camping on the beach or crashing in hostels.
His new custom-built luxury rental—named for the hazelnut ice cream he treated himself to when he was broke and riding barrels in Santa Teresa—is a three-acre, 10-bedroom beachfront retreat in the heart of Costa Rica’s answer to the Hamptons. Neighbors include the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo, the Andaz Costa Rica Resort, and other private abodes too elite to list on AirBnB. This is where the Carters (as in Jay-Z, not Jimmy) and the Kardashians stay when they’re in town.
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Of course, you don’t need to have celeb status to book the buyout-only Villa Avellana. You just need to have at least $22,000, the starting nightly rate during the low season. If you plan on visiting over the holidays, you’ll need at least $40,000. Oh, and there’s a five-night minimum. But general manager Thomas Frietag says most guests stay for seven to 10 days.
“One week is the minimum number of days to enjoy Villa Avellana’s magic,” said Frietag. “It’s enough time to take advantage of our in-house adventures, check off a bucket list item and take in the culture and nature without feeling rushed.”
Although Villa Avellana opened in August, it’s already racking up the accolades. It even took home the 2022-2023 International Property Award for Best Residential Interior Private Residence for The Americas.
“This expansive home has been the largest and most complex project we have delivered to date,” said Roderick Anderson, CEO & Design Director, SARCO Architects Costa Rica.
One of the biggest challenges? Maintaining the integrity of the environment. Despite offering 33,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space, Villa Avellana blends seamlessly into the surrounding forest. In fact, it can’t even be seen from the water, something Captain Carlos Barrera, a.k.a. “Capi,” will be sure to point out when you’re on the property’s 42-foot luxury yacht.
That’s right. When you’re not taking advantage of your private pool, Jacuzzi, wellness studio, and yoga deck, you can go for a sunset cruise in Culebra Bay or catch your own dinner. But don’t worry. You don’t have to cook it. Not only is Villa Avellana’s chef David Moya a talented saxophonist (he has played for a crowd of 22,000 in Mexico City), but he’s also the person you’ll want to prepare your last meal if you ever find yourself on death row.
Whether he’s whipping up fresh tuna ceviche or putting the finishing touches on a seafood tower worthy of its own architectural award, he’s always in Michelin-star mode. Not a fan of fish? No problem. Villa Avellana has a unique partnership with the country’s premier Wagyu beef producer. “Our steak comes from cows with Japanese genes raised here in Costa Rica,” explained Moya over a recent feast of perfectly seared flat iron.
Of course, Moya is just one of a team of 20 staff servicing Villa Avellana’s guests. The property sleeps up to 18 adults and five kids in its 10 bedrooms, all equipped with en suites and projectors in lieu of tacky TVs. While there’s plenty to do on site—Villa Avellana’s “gear garage” even boasts e-foils—lead concierge Sergio Jean can arrange for almost any experience in the country, as long as it’s legal. A former standout at the Four Seasons, Jean is just one of just 4,000 “golden key” concierges in the world recognized by the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or.
Villa Avellana guests also enjoy exclusive access to everything Peninsula Papagayo has to offer. The neighboring Four Seasons’s beach club and fitness center is a five-minute walk up the beach, and Frietag has no problem getting last-minute tee times at the adjacent Arnold Palmer Ocean Course, ranked one of Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Courses Outside the U.S.” The peninsula, 70 percent of which is protected land and national parks, also has more than 14 miles of walking trails and 21 different beaches to explore.
Eat it up like a cup of hazelnut ice cream.
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