Amri and I met when the girls were just a few months old and celebrate a birthday just one week apart. Their birthday’s have become not only a celebration of the incredible little ladies that they are becoming, but of us and our friendship. This year, with lucky number 7 on the horizon, Amri and I knew we wanted to do something extra special to celebrate their big days. We thought of a joint birthday party (meh), a super slumber party (yikes) and then landed on a birthday trip that would blow their minds (yaaaas). As working mamas, quality time that builds lifelong memories is the holy grail and we were committed to making this trip the best birthday present ever. Costa Rica had always been high on our list of places to explore, so after some digging, we found Tulemar (bingo!).
The Tulemar is located on 33 acres of preserved land that looks like the real life version of the movie Avatar. After getting lost in the incredible photo tour of the property, (they have sloths!) we were pretty sold but truthfully we were most excited because it was just rated #2 Hotel in the World on TripAdvisor for 2018.
To get to Costa Rica, we took a direct flight 5 hour flight from NYC to SJO airport, and then jumped in a private taxi organized by the resort. The taxi ride was more of an experience than we had expected, with the kind and eager driver offering to take us to see crocodiles at a famous bridge, and then to his favorite lunch spot looking over the water. The crocodiles were bigger than anything we’d ever seen, and I was grateful to be so far away from them, but the lunch, was phenomenal. It was perched on this little bridge that we realized we were going to love Costa Rica.
Amri and I found the entire process of booking with Tulemar completely seamless. We were immediately matched with a concierge named Ashley who reached out to help us with our itinerary and arrange our accommodations in the stunning Villa Cielito room. I was going to do a little research on TripAdvisor, but Ashley pro-actively sent us all the top-rated tours and activities we could do, along with spa appointments for Amri and I. A bonus of traveling with a friend is that you can switch on and off with watching the kids so the other can indulge in a massage!
Our room had breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean, and a hot tub that the kids loved and we could hang in if it was raining. The room also had a cozy nook to watch TV, outdoor stone showers that were awe inspiring, and given that it sleeps up to 8 people, had plenty of space for a family to come and stay together. Daily cleaning service was such a nice touch, as was the happy hour special you could take back to your room. Did someone say 2 for 1 Sauvignon Blanc? There was also a car to pick you up and take you anywhere you wanted to go on the property.
While packing, we thought about our favorite comfy and cool kids clothes and settled on a healthy dose of Appaman for our adventurous little kiddos. We knew they were going to live in bathing suits, cute hats and hiking shoes (and bonus that so many of them were on sale!). For Amri and I, we packed some boho flowing dresses, big hats and denim shorts to take us from lounging at the resort to exploring the jungle.
Our favorite activities for the kids was by far the horseback riding to the waterfall. We rode through the jungle to a natural pool completely with rock slide that we all loved. It was an incredible activity for our 7 year olds as we each got our own horse which made them feel totally grown up but it was still safe, yet felt completely adventurous.
Another favorite was the Wildlife Refuge Jungle Night Tour, where we met with a very patient tour guide who took us into the safari with flashlights to spot some fun nighttime creatures. Warning, if your kid is easily scared of the jungle at night (ie: most kids!), it might be best to sit it out. We had one of our girls love it and the other begging to go home!
No surprise here, but swimming in the pool and going to the beach were on the agenda each day and the kids loved splashing around endlessly. A big bonus is that Tulemar has kayaks and beach toys, along with beachside food and drink service so you don’t ever have to leave.
With so much beauty surrounding us we couldn’t let it go to waste! We wanted to capture all that we could of our special trip so we booked a photoshoot with Flytographer. It was so fun to have a local photographer meet us at the beach one afternoon so we could all get in the shots and not have to worry about setting up a timer on our iPhone (a skill I have still yet to master!). We’re so grateful to have not only the memories of this birthday adventure, but proof that it actually happened. I mean, if it’s not on the ‘gram did it actually happen?
We couldn’t have chosen a better hotel for our getaway with the girls. From the minute we arrived we could feel the stresses melt away. The kids could swim and explore and us mamas could indulge in the spa and steal away some quiet time with a book surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Each night we had dinner with the most amazing fresh ingredients (fish straight from the ocean!) with the most spectacular views of the ocean. The entire experience felt relaxed and was fun for everyone and beyond memorable.
Lastly, what you can’t capture in words or in pictures, is the people of Costa Rica who made everything so much more pleasant and enjoyable. From gently encouraging the girls to speak Spanish, to their warmth and positivity, island life is pretty amazing. You’ll leave your trip feeling relaxed, invigorated and like you found a home away from home.
Special Perk! To dress your kids in style this summer, head to Appaman and enter heymama20 for 20% off!
Photos by Flytographer.