When you stay at a five-star hotel or luxury resort you expect a certain level of comfort, services and amenities to be available, such as in-room dining or room service and spa facilities or at the very least in-room massages.

We never expected a holiday rental property to offer such a level of service so we were delighted to discover in Manuel Antonio* that Susan, our villa concierge, could arrange for therapists from Holis Spa and Wellness Centre to come and pamper us at Casa Elsa.

Naturally, we were happy to test their services out – all in the name of ‘research’ of course! We’re working hard for you here.

Terence opted for a massage to address the back problems he’s been developing during these last five years we’ve been on the road, sitting at hotel chairs and desks that have been far from ergonomically sound. As I haven’t been very attentive to my skin this year, I decided to have a soothing facial.

Two charming therapists from Holis Spa – Dilana, a local from Quepos, and Lorraine a Caribbean-born Canadian – arrived and quickly and quietly set up their massage table, treatments, scented candles, and the like on our balcony overlooking the jungle while I showered and Terence took some photos. (See how hard we’re working here?). His turn came later.

Dilana applied the Spa’s own Essenthya products, made from all natural ingredients from Costa Rica, to my face. The various fruit-based concoctions virtually made my heavenly treatment a facial and aromatherapy session in one as I inhaled the fresh natural fragrances of mango and papaya. The facial included a neck, scalp and foot massage, so by the end my body was as relaxed as my face was rejuvenated and invigorated.

Terence was up next, with a one-hour massage by Lorraine, while I snapped a few pics for posterity. (I’m telling you guys, we never stop working here – I should have been soaking in the jacuzzi.) Terence claims this was the best massage he has ever had. That’s saying something coming from a man who had massages almost every day for a month when I dragged him around Thailand while I updated the Dorling Kindersley guide to the country a few years ago. As part of that commission I also had to write a new section on spas, so my research involved daily treatments. Now that was a tough job.

So how did our home-delivered pampering compare to those we’ve experienced at luxury hotel and resort spas?

Well, while we might have missed the soothing herbal teas they often provide at spas to relax you before a treatment and the zingy ginger tea you generally give you to wake you up at the end, we certainly didn’t miss the dreadful New Age music that’s often piped through spas.

We loved that we could continue to enjoy the sounds of the jungle coming from our own backyard, but best of all we relished not having to go anywhere afterwards and not have to traipse through the hotel to our room. Instead, we simply said thank-you and goodbye to the lovely Lorraine and Dilana and went upstairs to soak in our infinity pool. And then we got back to work…

Holis Spa & Wellness Centre
2777 0939 (although if you’re staying at Casa Elsa, Susan will book your treatments for you)
Holis Spa offers a range of massages (from Thai to Swedish and everything in between), facials, body treatments (scrubs, wraps, polishes etc), manicures, pedicures, pilates, and yoga. With 48 hours notice they can also arrange spa parties.

* The property we stayed at a few months ago in Bali also organizes in-villa massages, treatments and mani-pedis, and we did actually take advantage of this and enjoy a couple of treatments by the beautiful villa pool. Why didn’t we write a post about it? It was a tad hard to get pics when Terence and I were both being pummelled pampered on the massage tables.

End of Article


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