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A Relaxing Costa Rica Retreat

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Villa Manzu

Costa Rica has a long history of being sought after as a romantic retreat and after visiting for the first time, it’s easy to see why. A lush jungle setting, gorgeous coastal views, friendly locals, exotic wildlife and adventurous activities are all the makings of a loving paradise.

Costa Rica cemented itself on the couples short list of must-visits ages ago, but it’s still improving year by year. If you’re looking to say “I do” in this iconic Central American country, let us suggest an alternative to resort nuptials. Villa Manzu is located on five-acres of stunning oceanfront property and is designed to be your own private sanctuary — all 30,000 square-feet of it.

Privately owned, Villa Manzu was just made available for rent to the public in 2013 and the eight-suite home is ideal for large destination wedding groups. Calling it a “home” is no mistake, because despite its massive size and unparalleled luxury, that’s exactly what Villa Manzu is – a home. And, for the bargain price of $15,000 a night for up to 14 guests, you can be the “master” of the house. There’s a three-night minimum and the villa can comfortably accommodate eight couples, with a max occupancy of 22 guests. Each additional guest beyond the first 14 is $500 per night. Host your ceremony out on the point overlooking the Gulf of Papagayo and your reception on the villa’s sweeping terrace. There’s privacy to spare here, so no worries about noise or dancing late into the night. Your home-away-from-home can accommodate up to 60 guests for your wedding, with overflow guests staying at the nearby Four Seasons

Renting this architectural wonder comes with a full staff, two golf carts, surf boards, paddle boards and access to a private beach club. Perhaps what makes Villa Manzu feel as cozy as it does is the warm and exceptionally-trained staff. Enjoy your own private chefs, butlers, maid service and concierge, each at your beck-and-call. Executive Chef Kevin Ketron can cook whatever you would like, but seafood is his specialty and you’re smart to leave this talented chef to his own devices. Come back from a day of zip-lining to a fresh lunch like ocean water poached sea bass with vierge, hearts of palm, microgreens and black olives.

Spending your wedding budget on this spacious retreat is no doubt a sound investment, as the owner himself spent a budget upwards of $150,000 in each room alone. Allow yourself an afternoon to simply wander the house – taking in the antique doors collected from all over the world, textured wallpapers, patterned ceilings, two pools and a spa located between walls of falling water. Each suite is impeccably furnished and comes with a full interactive media panel where you can control everything from satellite radio to the temperature of your bedroom.

Ideal months for weddings in this region of Costa Rica are November through April and Villa Manzu is a quick 40-minute drive from Liberia airport. The villa’s staff will meet you and your guests and whisk you away to your own piece of Costa Rican paradise. The villa has no shortage of interested guests, so be sure to book a year in advance. Choose carefully who you bring with you, because you’ll be offering them the opportunity of a lifetime.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2014 issue. You can order a copy here.

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