I was thrilled with my choice of Villa Le Mas in Escazu, Costa Rica, for 12 days of recovery from a facial cosmetic procedure by the brilliant surgeon Dr. Miguel Alfaro. I cannot imagine anything that Petra, the manager, and her world class team could possibly have done to make me feel more special or to better expedite my recovery. In the most magnificent, peaceful setting, they provided individualized, totally professional care, and you know what? they REALLY CARE. If there is anything that a medical patient has ever lacked at Villa Le Mas (and I just reread all previous reviews posted on the Web), it’s probably because he/she neglected to ask for it.
Any critique like this should probably be prefaced with a few, basic assumptions: 1) you are seeking a quiet place to lay low, to heal in private -- even in anonymity; 2) you understand that Costa Rica is different, with its own infrastructure, climate, foods, culture, and traditions -- all worthy of respect (a poor country compared to the U.S. but superior in many other ways); and 3) you are interested in maximizing the value received for your money. If, on the other hand, you require excitement, a full bar, pro football on giant flat screen TV, 5 course gourmet meals, a full-time nurse, and money is no object, why not just stay home in Beverly Hills or wherever for your plastic surgery?
And if you are coming to Costa Rica for a medical or dental procedure, here is why I would argue that even based on value for money alone,Villa Le Mas cannot be beat:
Management. Clear communication always exists, starting with the first contact by email or phone call to Petra Van Roosmalen, the General Manager. This well-traveled, intelligent, attractive, efficient, energetic, and witty young woman is a fully qualified nurse in her own right, and available on the premises 24 hours a day. She and her husband are multilingual, capable of speaking to you in fluent English, German, Dutch, and Spanish, among other languages.
Petra or her staff pick you up and drop you off at the San Jose International Airport, always on time. She takes responsibility for ferrying you on time by car to and from your doctor’s appointments – most of which are included in the daily room rate. In my case that included about four trips to the CIMA Hospital. She even waited there an extra half hour to help me get through the registration process. Petra arranges and prepays any guided tours. She is very well organized, remembered my smallest needs in detail, and never dropped the ball. She can also be very persuasive, and somehow got me an appointment on short notice with the best dermatologist in the city -- a very busy man. I was astounded at all the extra services she volunteered for. When I took a 3 day side trip in Costa Rica, Petra offered to store my excess luggage, dropped me at the regional airport, then picked me up there with the luggage and took me to the International Airport ON CHRISTMAS DAY. (Lucky she did, since I’d forgotten all my house and car keys left in the room.). You cannot put a price on service like this!!
Petra is one of those born to be a caregiver -- this is genuine. You know that when you learn of her adopting the stray Golden Retriever, Sasha, that had been severely abused and giving her a good home. You know that when she always stops to give rides to the local servant class, and her preference for hiring the minority Nicaraguans. By treating her workers as equal members of her team, Petra shows great management skill, and is rewarded by a very loyal, honest, and hard working staff. Petra is a humanitarian, an absolute gem, and it is easy to care for her as your own family member, the same way she treats her guests. I doubt if there are many hotels that could supply this kind of emotional support during convalescence.
Rooms and facilities: Villa Le Mas is a walled 10 acre compound at 5000 feet elevation in Escazu, the nicest suburb of San Jose, in its southwestern foothills. (Plan on dressing for temperatures about 9 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than San Jose.) Every room contains a safe for valuables. The grounds are lush with tropical trees and plants, affording privacy from neighboring villas, yet most rooms have a great view of the valley 1000 feet below. There are nice places for exercising with a nature hike and plenty of birds (including some resident Montezuma birds), butterflies, and animals (eg. sloths) can be found both inside and outside the compound walls. I got in the habit of a daily walk outside the walls on a half-mile loop accompanied by the dog, Sasha. Inside the compound you could go for weeks without meeting another guest if you so desired, or you could choose to be sociable. Fresh air and the stillness are part of the healing and renewal of the place. Daily maid service by Justina and Rosa including fresh linens, sweeping, and mopping with disinfectant keep the rooms hospital clean.
Meals: Three meals per day are brought to your room on a fixed schedule. There is considerable variety and everything is fresh and nutritionally balanced. Breakfast is often eggs prepared in various ways with toast, butter, and jelly, or could be pancakes, or could be cereal, but always served with tons of fresh fruits of every variety you can imagine. Lunch is often a delicious soup or sandwich together with plenty of salads of all types. Dinner contains adequate portions of meat, chicken, or fish together with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, pasta, or other mixed vegetables plus some kind of dessert. Coffee, tea, orange juice, and bottled water are always available. If you have special needs, such as my not eating fish, this was no problem and was cheerfully accommodated. Also, I found that although I am not extra big, six feet, 210 lbs, my caloric requirements were somewhat larger, so I asked Petra if she could get me some extra food like bread, butter, cheese, jam, and milk. No problem. Next time she went to the market, Petra delivered everything to me at cost, and I restocked whenever I needed something. Anyway, upon my arrival the refrigerator had been stocked with Coca Cola, candy bars and snacks available for the taking at cost. There is no way one could get hungry at Villa Le Mas.
Medical care: Every day I had a visit after breakfast from the visiting nurse, Johanna. A very gentle, cheerful person, she recorded my vital signs and inspected my wounds, sometimes with some cleaning. Her English is excellent and she did a good job answering all my questions. One afternoon I got a massage from the physical therapist, Ania. I never had a more relaxing, deep massage. All this is included in the cost of the room.
Unlimited phone calls to almost every part of the U.S., absolutely free.
WiFi was fast enough. I can’t live without it. Not all competing facilities have it.
Cable TV with about 50 channels, enough in English, eg. CNN, NBC.
DVD player, including dozens of top flight American films on DVD which I never had time to watch, plenty of books and magazines.
Free laundry service. Everything washed, dried, and folded within hours. You can go home with all clean clothes.
Summary: I had a great experience at Villa Le Mas being catered to and nurtured by Petra, her wonderful facilities and staff. For anybody needing a place for medical recovery in Costa Rica, I give it my highest recommendation without any hesitation.
firstname.lastname@example.org 73 year old male Boston, MA Dec. 30, 2011
- Also Known As:
- Villa Le Mas Vacation Rentals Costa Rica/Escazu