Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit: On Vacation at The Retreat Costa Rica


Attention to detail doesn’t mean much if that attention is directed at things you don’t care for. That’s why it matters to choose a getaway that fits who you are and what you find rejuvenating.

Case in point: The Retreat Costa Rica‘s focus is fixed on what I identified during my time there as three key areas: Physical health, Mental health and Spiritual health. It’s a credit to Diana Stobo, the woman whose dream The Retreat has become that she focuses individually on each of these areas—leave one out and your healing is lopsided. By the second day, the three parts of health come together to make you feel healthy and whole again. Which suited me exactly.



Starting with Physical Health, The Retreat’s focus on meals was truly impressive. Providing mostly raw and vegan options every meal was cleansing and filling, with the bulk of the food grown or made locally (as close as the kitchen garden). It was, of course, delicious. But Stobo, who has been through a healing journey with food herself, knows it’s not about dogma, but about what feels right to your body. She offered local cheese one evening (see below) and fish caught in the ocean below on another night.



The views from the dining patio were as nourishing as the food, a kitchen garden in the foreground, and gorgeous mountains in the background. The location of The Retreat is in a part of Costa Rica, Atenas, which is supposed to have some of the best weather on the planet—it certainly felt that way during my visit.



A typical lunch at The Retreat gave plenty of options, including a simple, flavorful chili, plenty of fresh veggies, and several prepared, whole-foods dishes. And there was always a fresh-fruit smoothie and/or nutmilk smoothie on offer, as well and lots of filtered water.


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Chef Pedro Vargas was often in the garden, picking veggies for the next meal.


Diana Stobo, who has literally written the book on raw vegan food (actually several!), held several classes where we learned to prepare nut milks (I’m still making my own to this day!) dips, and sauces. Stobo has so much knowledge to share!



As mentioned, wellness isn’t just about food. In addition to first-thing short “burst” hikes before breakfast, there were yoga, pilates, and movement classes, in the gorgeous yoga room, above. This lovely space opened up onto a patio with incredible views of the ocean below.


A video posted by Starre Vartan (@starrevartan) on

Check out Part 1 of my video tour of The Retreat above!


A video posted by Starre Vartan (@starrevartan) on

Part 2 of my video tour give you a good idea of the size of The Retreat—it’s intimate in the pool and dining area, but accommodations are spread over the property, so you get some community and plenty of privacy.

All activities at The Retreat are optional. So if you want to sleep in, read on your room’s patio or by the pool, or take a walk to a pretty spot to journal, those are options too. And there are so many beautiful things to see around the Retreat, which is respectful of the local environment (Stobo ensured that native plants were used in the landscaping, so butterflies were constantly fluttering around, sipping nectar!)



The pool is the centerpiece of The Retreat, and the gorgeous waterfall is a delight to sit under solo—or with friends!

Naturally, there is a spa at this gorgeous hillside retreat. Me, on my way to spa….
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This incredible healer, Zaida, worked on my tired body for two (!!) hours with all-natural, organic body products. Banana-mint hair mask with scalp massage; almond-mandarin body scrub; papaya facial mask, coconut oil and hot stone massage; chocolate foot treatment with foot massage….I was absolutely blown away!

An incredible teacher, Heather Hands was in charge of meals: Here she brings us a raw, vegan chocolate dessert. She also taught us about wild local plants and their nutritious qualities.

Ground cherries and local cheese.

To compliment the cheese, there was a lovely wine-tasting event (or perhaps the cheese was to go with the wine?). For those of us who didn’t want to do a complete detox, it was a nice break in the clean eating.



Our rooms were simple, clean, and comfortable, always stocked with lots of fresh, filtered, flavored water—I thought the table setup next to my bed was just so pretty I had to take a picture.



Bathrooms are extra-large—you can’t even see the giant walk-in, stone-floored shower here, but you can see the local, organic, naturally scented bulk body products on the sink. I practically drowned my hair several times a day in the banana-mint conditioner!



Large, comfortable beds with supersoft linens and plenty of pillow options meant that I slept beautifully every night.

I left The Retreat happy, relaxed, cleansed, and about 10 times more mellow than when I arrived, which is exactly the kind of retreat I needed. If you need to get away, get warm, connect with nature, eat healthfully and sleep deeply, check out The Retreat Costa Rica.



My visit to The Retreat was complimentary, but all opinions and impressions are my own.

All images and video by Starre Vartan. 

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.