Welcome to Heaven
Opened in March 2015, The Retreat at Altos del Monte is named after its location, in Altos del Monte de Atenas, “altos del monte” translated as “the top of the mountain.”
This secluded 8-acre estate features 11 inviting, well-appointed, luxury rooms, a Retreat Sanctuary Spa, fitness center, yoga house studio, teaching kitchen, outdoor saline pool with a waterfall and comfortable bench seat underneath and hot tub, an al fresco dining room, and a 1,400 square foot outdoor terrace with a gas fire pit.
Everywhere you look the attention to detail is impressive; the décor infused with the natural subtropical elements and themes surrounding the property, coupled with eco-friendly materials and practices throughout.
For example, all bath amenities and spa products are hand-crafted by Raw Botanicals, a locally-made organic and biodynamic skincare line, and all of the rooms have mosquito-free, pillow-top mattresses with eco-friendly linens.
The primary focus is on restorative health and wellness which appeals to a wide variety of travelers visiting from primarily, to date, North and Central America, Latin America, Europe, and further afield, who are free to take part in as many, or as few, of the wellness activities here including daily nature walks, yoga, meditation, spa treatments and cooking demonstrations.
No matter what month you visit, there is no need for air conditioning, as the weather only reaches about 80 degrees most days with very low humidity, and into the high 60’s at night, necessitating only a pashmina or short sleeve shirt to cover your shoulders. This allows guests to just use the ceiling fan and, nearly 24/7.
Gazing beyond the main house and pool you can to take in the incredible views of the surrounding mountainous landscape, and glimpses of the Pacific Ocean approximately 50 miles away in the distance.
The resort’s boutique size guarantees that individuals, couples, and small family reunions and groups will experience an intimate ambiance for pure relaxation.
Oh, and by the way, Ladies: Leave your bras, spanks, make-up, jewelry and anything more than a pair of tennis shoes and flip flops at home. Gents: Drop your machismo pretenses and preconceived notions of a “girlie place.”
Your visit here will be the first step toward the best, rest of your life.
The focus here is on restorative health and wellness—mind, body and spirit—built around gradually leaning into more natural, clean eating through a primarily vegan/raw vegan diet.
Yet even the staunch meat eaters are surprised at the wealth of flavors and dishes that appeal to a broad spectrum of dietary needs and desires. In fact, it nobody told you me that about 95 percent of the meals here are primarily raw vegan, you probably would not have known.
The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change
The one who gently tugs all of these elements to center here is Diana Stobo.
Looking at this natural beauty at 5’ 10” tall with long dark hair, a body resembling that of a model, and a radiant face and smile that lights up a room, you would never know that not too long ago she weighed 100 pounds more than she does now, and ingested a mountain of prescription drugs for a variety of ailments on a daily basis.
One day she looked in the mirror and asked, “Who am I?” This question turned out to be the catalyst for what eventually became not just her life’s work, but her passion: to inspire others to take control of their bodies by changing their minds about the food they eat, which would in turn brings optimum health to our minds and spirit.
Today, Diana is an internationally renowned health and wellness expert and speaker, a culinary artist, a raw foods advocate, an award-winning author, and the owner-operator of
The Retreat at Altos del Monte.
“At the retreat we show people how weight and size are not just about exercise, but primarily about what you put in your body,” she explains. “People have come here with all kinds of mental, physical, and dietary issues and experienced profound transformations, whether or not they adopted a vegan or raw vegan lifestyle. Our goal is to teach people how they think about food, life and nurturing themselves, despite our everyday stresses, and how they can live simply with elegance and grace. There is no better place to experience this than in Costa Rica which embodies living a “Pura Vida” (pure life) lifestyle.”
Guests at the Retreat typically stay for three, five, seven or 10 days, experiencing a short relaxation with a desire to stay longer, an extended time to “get into the groove,” noticing a shift taking place, and a deep desire to fully integrate these lifestyle practices home, respectively. According to Diana, “Everything here is perfectly imperfect, allowing whatever comes about to be deeply personal for one’s own self-care.”
No Meat, Dairy or Gluten – Oh My!
Among the absolutely delicious meals served here are a sprouted quinoa moussaka with goat and sheep’s cheese, eggplant, tomatoes, and a yogurt Bechamel sauce, a savory cassava soup with kale croutons and rosemary lentil soup, and fresh mixed greens with papaya or balsamic dressing – as if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite.
And then there are the crispy mini rice cakes with mango chutney and olive tapenade, and Italian “pizzas” with avocado, olives and fresh herbs appetizers. For dessert - a crème brûlée made with made with all raw ingredients including turmeric and macadamia nuts that tastes just like a smooth custard made with milk.
Even their fresh juices, smoothies and signature cocktails were created using ingredients cultivated via renewable resources from a self-sustaining ecosystem, and prepared in such a way as to maintain their enzymatic properties for complete body nourishment.
A fairly large amount of these ingredients are sourced from their onsite gardens, including cucumber, celery, cilantro, limes, coconuts, bananas, wheatgrass, mango, honey, chili peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, just to name a few.
At each meal—served buffet style for breakfast and lunch, and as a three-course plated meal at dinner—guest are gently educated on the properties of each of these elements, such as weight loss, digestion, strengthening bones, adding natural antioxidants, balancing levels in the stomach, pancreas, and brain, boosting serotonin levels, and so forth.
“Our body systems have been conditioned through our eating, life, stress, etc. to accept things that are not good for us, so when you make a major change in your eating, you are allowing your body to tell you what it needs,” says Diana. “If our life is like a wheel, at the center is food, and the spokes are relationships, career, finances, and love. The one thing we can control is our food, which feeds into everything. It’s the catalyst for change, and integrative. Then the law of attraction really takes root. Once you feel it, your body never forgets.”
The dishes are creative, flavorful and nutritious. And for those who still desire to eat meat, fish, poultry or seafood, Stobo and her staff encourage you to look for natural/grass fed animals, because the care taken during its raising will come through with great benefits for the body.
Working in tandem with these incredible meals were the variety of wellness activities including daily nature walks, yoga, meditation, community circles, breath work sessions and spa treatments.
Together, they create an incredible experience that leaves an impression, not just on your body and your mind, but also on your heart. And that is what “Pura Vida” is all about.