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Saturday, 01 July 2006

Panacea de Montana: A Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

Written by Cheryl Paul
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viewPanacea de Montana, a yoga retreat in the northwest of Costa Rica on the Pacific coast, was a fabulous place to forget about the Boston winter. My husband and I felt like we were staying with friends at a luxurious outdoor camp. Three gloriously gentle and aware individuals run it, each bringing something different to our visit. Debbie, Mary, and Peter have created a no-fuss, no-pressure yoga retreat in a restful rural setting and are great at accommodating guest requests.  I was so relaxed by the end of this retreat that just breathing felt like deep meditation.

A flight on either of the local airlines into the Tamarindo airport is the easiest route in, since the local roads resemble a video game. You can also take flights into Liberia airport which is only an hour from Panacea. The airport is rural; the cows are kept off the runway by a cursory fence. It’s a short drive to the resort, and the Montana staff will help arrange transportation if you plan ahead.

After an impromptu car rental, we arrived on the mountain tired, hot and dusty (as it is during the dry season) only to find that our Three Amigos had waited to eat lunch in anticipation of our arrival. They made us feel like we belonged there from the moment we arrived. We ate the first of what would be many simple but delicious meals.

The main building is the gathering area, housing the kitchen and a dining area that overlooks the pool (where they teach afternoon water aerobics every day) and the mountains in the near distance. The building is completely open on one side (a new experience to those of us from the frozen north).

roomThe trek up to the cabinas (guest bungalows) qualifies as your aerobic exercise for the day, keep this in mind when packing, (especially shoes). Each charming cabina is outfitted with a front porch (including a hammock), outdoor shower, full bath, comfortable mattresses, fabulously simple and luxurious linens and window screens: a Costa Rican necessity. They are all situated with care to become part of the natural environment and have maximum privacy. The cabinas take advantage of the spectacular view overlooking the Pacific Ocean -- perfect for sunset meditation.

I felt like I was outdoors the entire time we were at Panacea. We became part of the simple beauty of the natural flora and were thrilled to see spotting monkeys, fabulous birds and the occasional giant iguana. Even the insects (large by anyone’s scale) were a point of interest.



Yoga class is held every morning in the Rancho. yogaThis spectacular open-air venue is has a high, conical ceiling and dark wood floors. If you’re lucky, the wild monkeys may stop by and watch you practice. Mary teaches her classes with grace and accommodates all abilities. This retreat was my husband’s first yoga class, whereas I am a yoga teacher, but we both were able to enjoy her flexible teaching style.

The daily schedule is unrushed, with guests setting their own pace.  Early in the mornings, one of the Panacea elves makes a pot of coffee and sets out small breakfast noshes for those who need a before-yoga jolt. Yoga class follows (or not, depending on how you feel) and soon thereafter, a full breakfast is served. Most meals are vegetarian, with a little local fish offered when it’s fresh off the boat; special diets are also accommodated.

For the rest of the day, guests are free to loll by the pool, walk on the beach, hike to the top of the mountain, walk the stone circle, or do nothing at all. They’ll even pack a lunch if you plan on being out for the day. Dinner is soon after sunset and is a nice time to socialize.

They also offer a myriad of spa services provided by local practitioners in a special small cabina on the mountain. My husband and I both had wonderful massages, and I tried a Reflexology treatment for the first time (provided by Peter), it was remarkable! Other guests raved about their facials provided by Debbie.  Mary provides a “Take Home A Peace” life plan for those seeking to take Panacea de la Montana beyond their visit.

Panacea also can accommodate groups and has special events throughout the year. The prices are reasonable and they offer a substantial discount for cash payment. There are bank machines in the town of Tamarindo if you don’t want to carry too much cash.

Details: Website:

All prices depend on time of year and occupancy:

3-Night Package: $470-$285 per person

4-Night Package: $615-$375 per person

7-Night Package: $1025-$625 per person

"Stay for the Night" Rates: $165-$90 per night

"In the Neighborhood" Day Spa: General day spa rate is $75/day, with additional costs per treatment/services.

©Cheryl Paul

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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