By Jane Finn, Photography by David Finn
¡Pura Vida! ¡Pura Vida! In Costa Rica, whether you’re traversing a mountain trail, hiking in the jungle, relaxing by the water or ordering shi-frijo for lunch, you’re bound to be the recipient of this distinctive Tico greeting. Two simple words that translate as “Good Life,” but how do you define it?
Is it catching the perfect wave, thundering across a deserted beach on horseback or playing a round of golf beneath a jungle canopy? Is it meeting new people, savouring the local cuisine, volunteering or a combination of all or some of these pursuits?
For me, ¡Pura Vida! means doing more of what you love to do. Walking your happy path, wherever it may lead, and on this trip, it led us to the magical, majestic Pacific Coast.
I have to admit as I touch down in Costa Rica, I am not too impressed with San Jose. It’s boisterous, crowded and sprawling. Where is the peace and serenity, the nourishment I crave to feed my soul? However, within minutes of leaving the city, I get the answer to my question. Zipping along the highway en route to Jaco, the buildings that lined the narrow city streets soon give way to green, verdant rainforests, and the rallying cries of scarlet macaws replace honking horns, welcoming me to a piece of paradise on earth.
As published in the April 2021 Issue of Planet Golf Review
I have listened to hundreds of TED Talks and paid big bucks to hear motivational speakers, but it has been a long time since I have been as inspired as I was after having lunch at the 18th & Greene with José Quesada.
José is a natural redhead, a spitfire, a bundle of energy, and a force to be reckoned with, who happens to be the PGA Director of Golf for Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort whose commitment and contribution to the game far exceeds his position. When José is not dreaming up innovative events or making improvements to an already exceptional course, he finds ways to make golf accessible to anyone who wants to play.
as published in the November 2018 issue of Planet Golf Review.
San Josè del Cabo Mexico – It’s just after eight on Saturday morning. The hotel is quiet at this time of day with only a few people on the beach catching some early rays. With cafe in hand, I thought this would be a great spot to sit and quietly make notes, but I no sooner got settled into my lounger when I spotted a whale spout and then another and another. It was game on as they arched and breached and cavorted along the ocean’s surface before making a deep dive that signalled they were moving on to entertain another group of onlookers. What an awesome way to start my morning! I figure it was nature’s way of reminding me that you’ve got to do more than just sip the coffee, you’ve also got to savour the moment, wherever you are.
Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with one of the most gracious chefs I have ever met and a man with a vision. Twenty two years ago Enrique Silva decided to move from “the front of the house” to the kitchen when he opened the Tequila Restaurant in the historical district of San José del Cabo, and despite the challenges, he’s never looked back.
Before becoming a restaurateur, Chef Enrique was an agricultural engineer which perhaps is the reason he gives “farm-to-table” a whole new meaning. In 2003, he bought a 17-acre farm on the edge of town where he grows organic produce to supply not only his restaurant and others in town but also his outdoor café and cooking school Los Tamarindos.
By Jane Finn as published in the Summer 2018 Issue of Travel Life Magazine
¡Pura Vida! ¡Pura Vida! In Costa Rica, whether you’re traversing a mountain range, hiking in the jungle, relaxing by the water or ordering shi-frijo for lunch, you’re bound to be the recipient of this distinctive Tico greeting. Two simple words that translate as “Good Life” but how do you define it?
Is it dangling on the precipice of a volcano, zipping above the treetops, hearing the roar of a waterfall or playing a round and spotting an animal in their native habitat? Is it meeting new people, savouring the flavours of a region, volunteering or a combination of all or some of these pursuits?
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a twosome, ‘fore-some’ or family, in Costa Rica you can immerse yourself in nature, get grounded and rediscover the essence of who you are.
For me, ¡Pura Vida! means doing more of what you love to do. Walking your happy path, wherever it may lead. For now; we’ll focus on the magical, mystical Pacific Coast.
by Jane Finn
I’ve listened to hundreds of TED talks and paid big bucks to listen to motivational speakers, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been as inspired as I was today after having lunch at the 18th with José Quesada.
José is a natural redhead, a spitfire, a bundle of energy, and a force to be reckoned with, who just happens to be the PGA Director of Golf for Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort. When José is not dreaming up innovative destination events or making improvements to an already exceptional course, he’s giving back to the community and that is the focus of this post.
Golf is an amazing game and a challenging sport for those of us who are able bodied. Just imagine how much more challenging it would be if you were blind, had autism or Down’s syndrome, were missing a limb, or were completely paralyzed.
Twelve years ago, after a close friend became disabled after an accident, José set out, with the support of his employer, on a mission to help people with physical or mental disabilities find hope to overcome their difficulties to not only survive but thrive.
By Tim Cotroneo
The Central American country of Costa Rica has an unusual way of helping golfers get over first hole jitters. At the Guanacaste region’s plush Westin Golf Resort and Spa, golfers at the Reserva Conchal Golf Course are often greeted by the startling treetop growl of howler monkeys either before, during, or after your backswing.
Monkeys aren’t the only back-to-nature ambassadors greeting golfers at the Westin’s serene Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed course. Iguanas, crocodiles, Coati-Mundi, and white throated Magpie all make spontaneous appearances during the course of 18 spectacular Reserva Conchal golf holes.
If you’re not star-struck by the wild kingdom aspect of Reserva Conchal’s 7,000-yards of jungle splendor, the sheer environmental radiance of your golf round can take your breath away.
As we make our way across the tarmac, I can hear my stomach rumbling. I had passed on the nondescript airplane lunch knowing that within minutes of clearing Mexican Customs I’d be seated at El Cuchupetas, ready to tuck into some of the best seafood you’ve ever tasted. Located in the small town of Villa Union, this 300-seat restaurant is far from fancy, but it’s always packed because the service is friendly, the prices more than reasonable, and the food is fantastic! Try the shrimps wrapped in bacon or the robalo – a whitefish – seasoned and grilled to perfection, but make sure you order the scallops. They may be the biggest and tastiest anywhere. Welcome to Mazatlán and your first taste of Sinaloa.
Another short ride and we arrive at the Las Villas Hotel at Estrella del Mar, a tranquil resort perched along 3.5 miles of pristine shoreline only 10 minutes from the airport. From here we were about 22 minutes from Mazatlán’s historic district and her vibrant Zone Dorado – Golden Zone. You’re close enough to enjoy the culture, cuisine, and party atmosphere, but far enough away to relax and escape some of the stress of big city living and play some excellent golf.
Boquete Panama – You know that expression “Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away?” When we stepped onto the deck of our tree house at the Lucero Golf and Country Club (tel: 877-727-2476; lucerocountryclub.com; US$395 per night, double occupancy, during high season), I literally experienced the latter. Standing 40 metres above the floor of the Caldera Valley, protected by the rainforest canopy and the Jaramillo Mountains, I felt a profound sense of peace. It was at least an hour before I tore myself away from the views to explore our very private, very romantic getaway.
Luxuriously appointed, our treehouse included a walk-in rain shower, cozy sitting area with kitchenette and deliciously comfy bed where we could see not only the stars, but the twinkling lights of David in the distance.
Nestled next to the tee off blocks at the third hole of Lucero’s mountain golf course, we were steps away from the clubhouse and Season’s, the community’s farm-to-table restaurant. Last year alone, the staff planted over 500 tropical fruit trees, 320,000 coffee plants and an extensive vegetable garden.
by Tim Cotroneo
Scotland’s Old Tom Morris would love the ocean views, the plunging pot bunkers, and the balmy weather at The Abaco Club at Winding Bay. Old Tom would be proud to see how his rolling Scottish links thumbprint found its way to a Bahamian setting of palm trees, parrots, and pristine paspalum fairways.
In 2004, Golf Architect Tom MacKenzie brought Old Tom’s coastal sand dune legacy to the 90-mile long Great Abaco Island. When most golfers think links, thoughts revert to gray skies, brown-hued fairways, and donning layers to combat the elements. At the Abaco Club, links-style undulations enter a whole new world. Golfers thrive amidst exquisite fairways, perfect island temperatures, and ocean views worthy of a swimsuit magazine cover.
If that’s not enough, recharging your spirit between rounds is spent in beachfront and golf course accommodations that house a wealth of island amenities. The Abaco Club would have Old Tom believing he was born 150 years too soon.
by Tim Cotroneo
Rees Jones is listening. The man known internationally as “The U.S. Open Doctor” paid homage to golf industry pushback by designing a Baja peninsula masterpiece that he considers one of his finest creations. Jones sees his dance in the desert design to be a rare best-of-both-worlds golf communion.
The 7,400-yard Danzante Bay Golf Course in Loreto not only honors the scratch golfer, but also welcomes the occasional player seeking a one-of-a-kind golf experience. Jones’ latest creation features awesome elevation changes and dramatic mountains-meet-the sea-visuals.
At the November 2016 grand opening of Danzante Bay, Jones told his audience that it’s time to acknowledge what passionate golfers, occasional golfers, and industry experts have been saying for years. That is, a course doesn’t have to be too long or too punishing to exceed golf destination expectations.