by VICTORIA HENLEY
Nestled within the magical, illusive cloud forests of the Alajuela Province San Roman, Lands in Love Resort is not only merely a lodging establishment, but also a one stop destination for world class, chef prepared Israeli cuisine, adrenaline pumping adventures and an opportunity for unparalleled, up close and personal encounters with the natural Costa Rican jungle habitat.
This tropical retreat is made even more special by the fact that all proceeds from the resort and all of its affiliated attractions support Animal Love Rescue, a nonprofit, no-kill organization founded by 15 lifelong friends (all vegan and animal lovers) who joined forces to create a refuge for over 1,200 animals of all species (many have been abused and neglected.)
The Animal Love Rescue Team works tirelessly around the clock to ensure all their animal residents receive the proper veterinary treatments, nutrition, and the personalized special care that they desperately need.
Tourism is a primary source of income for Costa Rica and largely fueled the funding Animal Love Rescue needed in order to meet the vast monthly expense required for their operation; however, the 2020 global pandemic had a tragic impact upon Land in Love’s revenue, leaving the founders scrambling for ideas to keep their beloved rescue afloat.
One of the founders, Assaf Shlosberg, who previously spearheaded the facilitation of travel and tour group recruitment for the resort and activities center, created a unique and innovative influencer program in order to attract influential figures in the mediums of arts and entertainment, fashion, television, music, lifestyle blogging, and more.
During late 2021, I was elated to receive an email from Shlosberg inviting me to be a part of this dynamic program; and shortly thereafter, I gladly accepted the invitation to fly to the heart of the lush Costa Rican ecosystem for the experience and adventure of a lifetime.
Accompanied by my photographer mom, Lynn, and my veterinarian father, Russ, as well as around 10 models from my fashion training, development, and production company, Magnifique, I headed from my previous booking in the “concrete jungle” of Las Vegas to the real life jungle of the Alajuela Province.
I expected to have a nice experience enjoying the area’s natural beauty and the sanctuary’s adorable animals. However, I did not expect to be so deeply, profoundly impacted and inspired by the intense passion with which the intrepid founders work to provide a better life for even the meekest of animals, while requesting so little for themselves.
LANDS IN LOVE RESORT
Nestled within a endless array of lush, tropical flora and fauna, The Lands in Love Resort offers 33 secluded and cozy rooms, each uniquely designed featuring hand painted artwork by many of the talented and artistic founders, and located only approximately 20 kilometers from a variety of magical trails on which you can savor the natural sights and sounds of the surrounding tropical rainforest.
Enjoy the sunrise from the two rocking chairs on the porch area of your room while sipping a cup of strong, aromatic Costa Rican coffee, and if you’re lucky, you might just see some toucans perched within the trees outside your room.
Each stay includes access to the beautiful, spacious outdoor pool, which is perfect for swimming laps or just relaxing in the balmy, comfortable, Costa Rican climate, complete with surrounding lounge chairs for carefree days relaxing in the sun. A pool table is available for guests to enjoy a competitive round in the relaxed, yet elegant, ambience of the hotel lobby (the hotel’s “office cat,” Renati, helped make our pool games much more challenging on numerous occasions by playfully swatting balls and blocking the holes as we shot) as well as a foosball table for more lighthearted family fun opportunities.
Several lounging areas are available throughout the resort as well as a deck for enjoying afternoon cocktails and a television grotto, complete with several card games to be enjoyed after a long day in nature.
Purchase some coins from a friendly up front representative to use on the slot machines at the Lands in Love “mini casino” (curated by one of visionary founders, Alon, who aimed to add an unconventional and unexpected attraction to the line up of onsite amenities) and take a stroll down the miniature “Orchid Trail” suspended bridge for breathtaking views and photo opportunities.
THE HOTEL RESTAURANT
Featuring artfully prepared Israeli and international cuisine by the onsite chef, Naama, The Hotel Restaurant is an experience in and of itself, boasting a stimulating and diverse food and beverage selection. Highlighting Vegan and Vegetarian meals within the genres of American, Italian, Asian, Mexican, and of course, Israeli (and much more), The Hotel Restaurant is the resort’s central gathering place, offering a haven for guests to gather around the tables with their family and friends, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
During our extensive stay at the Lands in Love Resort, we were very fortunate to enjoy three divine daily meals per day at the hotel restaurant, prepared to perfection by the hardworking Naama and her staff.
Some of our favorites were:
COFFEE: Many tourists flock from around the world just to experience authentic Costa Rican coffee in its natural setting, and the coffee at the Lands in Love Resort certainly lived up to all the hype. Bold, robust, and energizing, Costa Rican coffee provides the gold standard to which other blends must be measured.
WINES AND SPIRITS
Featuring a full bar and an extensive list of made-to-order cocktails, liquors and libations, the Lands in Love Hotel Restaurant offers an impressive array of domestic wines, imports and international selections sure to please even the most discerning palettes.
Some of our very favorites include:
Manischewitz: Also known as “Kiddush Wine,” available in both red and white, although red was our flavor of choice.
Prosecco: The restaurant’s very own take of the festive, fizzy Italian classic.
Moscato: Sweet, bubbly and refined.
House red wine: Dry with a bold, distinctive flavor.
House white wine: Featuring a unique bouquet and versatile enough to accompany a variety of food items.
Strong, delicious, and made with a special aesthetic flair, Naama’s martini and margarita (made to order) also cannot be missed.
All meats are soy based.
Pizza with toppings: A scrumptious blend of ham, meat, tomato, onion, hot pepper, mushrooms, olives, corn and pineapple.
Israeli: No trip to Lands in Love Resort is complete without ordering this dish. Featuring humus, tahini, falafel, four salads and pita bread.
Shawarma: Mediterranean grilled chopped meat -served on a plate with salad, tahini and fries.
Protein Dish: Mushroom and “beyond” meat hamburger, fried egg, red beans, sausage and a French salad.
Lava Wrap: Mediterranean grill, tahini, Israeli salad, eggplant and chili, wrapped together in a tortilla.
We also had the pleasure of enjoying many buffet meals, served with great care by the enthusiastic Lands in Love Restaurant staff, which offer up a seamless blend of menus, carefully paired and curated to compliment one another.
Our favorite breakfast selections included the following :
The Israeli: Comprised of Eggs, any style, chopped vegetable salad, oriental cheese, tahini.
Breakfast burritos: Featuring fresh avocados, tofu, beans and peppers, all flavorfully combined in a warm tortilla.
We also greatly enjoyed the vast array of breakfast buffet options, including traditional Costa Rican rice and bean blends, eggs, French toast and pancakes with syrup, yogurt and granola, all served with fresh fruit (watermelon, passion fruit, pineapple).
One particular menu item we especially looked forward to nightly were the out-of -this-world milkshakes, featuring a rich, creamy blend of flavors, perfect for an after dinner sweet treat. The menu offers an overwhelming variety of flavors, but our favorites were peanut butter and chocolate peanut butter, respectively.
LOVE EAT RESTAURANT
Located beside the Superman and rock climbing adventure course, offers the same variety of menu items you know and love from the Hotel Restaurant, with a convenient road-side location, perfect for passers by.
Non-soy options are available for guests with allergies or any special dietary needs
Zipline: Pioneered by biologist, Donald Perry, in the late 1970s to study the Costa Rican jungles from an unparalleled vantage point, ziplines have since become a “Bucket List” item for visitors who flock from around the globe to enjoy the natural beauty of the rainforest from new heights.
ZIPLINE COURSE DESCRIPTION
One of the most creatively constructed and adrenaline inducing ziplines I have ever experienced, the exciting, winding course offers many opportunities for thrills as you experience life of the forest from the top of the trees.
The canopy is a network of cables, towers and suspended platforms through the treetops of the cloud forest.
The tour starts at the highest point of the 500 acre cloud resort
Birds, monkeys, sloths and other small jungle animals might be your companions during your zipline adventure.
Fly like Superman on a 750 meter cable over the cloud forest, appreciate an incredible view from a different perspective and feel the adrenaline rush through your veins.
The adventure cables are located outside the forest giving a large panoramic view of the whole area. Six twin cables to share the experience with your partner for the glide and one more.
SPIDER-MAN ROCK CLIMBING
Featuring a towering Spider-Man themed wall (with action hero paintings by one of the talented founders, Ayelet) with small “rocks” placed in challenging positions, a strenuous and fun experience is offered on this attraction, which is encompassed by a blanket of climbable ropes.
Led by friendly, personable, and knowledgeable guides, Lynn, Russ, and I trekked down a trail deeper into the Costa Rica rainforest and onto a narrow bridge, where the floor opened beneath our feet, and we subsequently rappelled downward into an opening leading to a towering waterfall.
What to expect
A 10 minute hike to the 200 meter canopy cable will lead you to the first rappel from a tree platform, then a 65 meter hike to a hanging bridge and 50 meter hanging bridge to canyon waterfalls rappel, where four descents in total 60 meters will begin. Four waterfalls are located inside the canyon, offering plenty of opportunities to experience the glorious natural beauty and wonder of the canyon in a wildly unique manner.
Offered by the Costa Rica Descents Rafting Company in La Fortuna, there are numerous packages for personalized high octane rafting experiences along the Balsa and Saraquipi Rivers, Costa Rica Descents offers safe, action-packed adventures, which are sure to be a vacation highlight for the entire family.
Accompanied by Lynn, Russ, and two of my Magnifique Models, Lisa and Jaiden, we made our way down to the river, suited up in our life jackets and were excited to embark upon our rafting adventure led by our experienced, capable, and knowledgeable guide, George Polimenakos (Instagram @jungleygeorge).
Our entire group was new to the field of rafting; however, George walked us through each precise paddle movement needed to navigate the rough and unpredictable waters, while giving insight and facts about our natural surroundings. We were also delighted to spot two sloths, two iguanas (one orange and one neon green) as well as a poison dart frog during our challenging and exciting expedition.
We highly recommend Costa Rica Descents as the top company to select for your rainforest rafting adventure, and George was a highly professional and courteous tour guide.
Special thanks to Orlando and the Costa Rica Descents Team for our photos.
PHONE NUMBER: (506) 2479-9419
What’s App: (506) 6153-2386
Experience the ride of a lifetime through a winding trail exploring the Lands in Love property atop the backs of the Castleton Ranch rescue horses, each with its own unique spirit and personality.
Lynn’s horse, Lillie, had a genteel, calm, and quiet demeanor while Russ and I were assigned more spirited, albeit quite capable and experienced, steeds.
Once our horse, we took off on a two hour adventure through the lush greenery of the forest, complete with scenic waterfall views and an up close and personal experience with the area’s plentiful biodiversity. A calm, peaceful activity perfect for a wide variety of ages, horseback riding is a sublime way to take in the pristine surroundings of Costa Rica.
While onsite at the resort, be sure to connect with the Lands in Love staff members and Founders to request a walk through of the tremendous animal care facilities including the main office shelter area (which houses some of the special needs dogs and cats ); The Cat Park, a hideaway for cats to romp and play the days and nights away with all of their friends; The Bird Sanctuary (with a variety of geese, ducks, chickens and other fowl, brimming with both energy and personality, accompanied by rabbits, guinea pigs, and more); and The Dog Park (with well over 400 adorable canines).
My experience at Lands in Love truly proved to be the “Eat, Pray, Love” experience I didn’t event realize that I needed. If you would like to experience all of the aforementioned thrills, adventure and savory cuisine, you can experience everything I did for (nearly free)
It takes a lot to keep a place like Animal Love Rescue running. Therefore, if you would like to help, I’ve partnered with the founders to offer the same package I received. The winner will be announced this year, and all you have to do is donate for a chance to win.
Below is entry link, and the donations link is also in my Profile on IG @victoriahenley : https://animallove.cr/donations/vhe/
No donation is too big or small and all proceeds go to the animals’ veterinary care, housing, food and other essential needs.
The winning package Includes:
A Costa Rica tropical getaway: one double room for two people for five nights; three meals per day prepared by Israeli chef, Naama; canopy tour and Tarzan adventure cables; Superman; canyoning; horseback riding; rafting
Valid until 2027. You have a while to use it.
The flight is not included.
Special thanks to the entire Lands in Love Staff, the Animal Love Founders, the Magnifique Models and their families, Lynn and Russ Henley, and all others who helped make this trip a reality and a success.
LANDS IN LOVE:
PHONE NUMBER: (Costa Rica) (506) 2447-9331
(United States) (408) 215-1000
ANIMAL LOVE RESCUE:
Victoria Henley, a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” writes Backstage Pass for iHeart Radio and CTFashionMag.com.