"It's hard for me to put into words the joy you have brought to me. I've always been content with things and with doing everything for everyone else in mind and always put myself last (like most wives/mothers). While I've never been afraid of an adventure, I don't actively pursue them. Thank you for introducing me to a new chapter in my life! I look forward to pursuing my next adventure now!
Thank you for showing me what "Pura Vida" truly means. I can see why you love Costa Rica so much. Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone and honestly making it easy! I thought for sure with my personality that I would stress over the logistics of my trip. But I had no stress at all! None! You made that happen so easily. I never had any doubt in your confidence because of your amazing attitude and conscious effort to make sure we all new what was going on at all times. When I look back on the week I can see all the logistics it took for this week to flow. If there were any slip ups it definitely was not noticeable to us. The week progressed as you said it would and was truly magical.
I have made connections with new friends that I never would have met before. Nature has a new meaning to me. In fact, everything has a new meaning to me. I think you are doing something amazing for ladies and will be praying for your continued success as you bring healing and peace to women that truly embrace this trip as I did. I'm sure it will bring different things to different people but pure happiness is what it brought to me. Pura Vida!
Ann is an amazing host! Her attention to detail and everyone's individual personalities is such an amazing gift. You couldn't find a better host with such beautiful intentions!
My absolutely favorite part of the trip was climbing the 300+ year old tree and jumping out and swinging through the trees! That will always bring a smile to my face. Of course all the other adventures are right up there too! All the guides were so attentive and fun on each adventure we took but I think Andy was my favorite. Fun, entertaining, smart and educational. I loved learning about everything as we walked through the jungle.
Casa Marmaris was totally not what I expected, it was BETTER! It was comforting, clean, beautiful and homey. I felt comfortable there from the moment we arrived. The food was absolutely amazing and Desiree and Sianne were as sweet as can be. They made us feel so welcome and just like they were having friends over for every meal. Their cooking was unbelievably good. Again, not what I expected, BETTER! And Costa Rican coffee is fantastic!
This trip was filled with MANY first for me. Yoga, hiking, climbing a 70' tree, repelling a waterfall, surfing, kayaking, eating a coconut off the tree, walking through a jungle alone (and not afraid at all), monkeys in my backyard, sloths, toucans, macaws and many other animals. But I loved that we moved at a relaxed pace and that no one ever felt rushed or expected to do anything. If the activity was too extreme, they were still made part of it by attending but not expected to participate and everyone had fun that way.
Lastly, I have to say the funnest and most memorable part of the week was when Ann surprised Kim with her birthday party and we had a father/son band at the casa. The laughter, dancing, singing and smiles that night are unforgettable. The personal touches put on the week for Kim's birthday were awesome! We all got to enjoy Kim's birthday! And the homemade Tres Leche cake from Desiree was AMAZING! "
I have been referring friends to this trip since I got back and I WILL attend this trip again someday. :)
Marie Snyder, Women's Wellness Retreat 2017
"I would go on any trip organized by Ann Lara! This was the trip of a lifetime--amazing adventures, with a perfect balance of exhilaration and relaxation!"
Written by: Heidi Bloch
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat 2016
“It was so much more of EVERYTHING than I expected. More new friends, more time alone, more physical challenge, more relaxing … It was rewarding on every level, and the experience lingers on. Months later I’m still more awake, more healthy, and more grateful.
Loved the casa, loved the food and Desiree! Eddie and the other guides were great, and the activities were amazing. I think of that last night on the beach every time I look at the stars. I find Orion’s belt and remember Eddie’s friend, Carlos telling us how to see the constellations.
The trip rocked and so do you!
THANK YOU Ann for making it possible!"
Written by: Kara McGregor
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat 2016
How can words describe such an adventure-driven, soul-enriching experience? How can words describe that "fill-you-up-to-the-brim-and-overflowing" kind of emotion? That thrilling, heart-expanding, "life-has-changed" kind of feeling?
I had the utmost privilege of spending a week in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica on Ann Lara's Women's Wellness Adventures Retreat this January. Ann's attention to detail and contagious passion for this magical place made this trip a truly unforgettable experience. Through each daily adventure, in a setting where the rainforest meets the ocean, and the teeming wildlife far outnumbers humans, Ann empowered us to face our fears and open our hearts to living "out of bounds."
If you are a thrill-seeker and a nature-lover, you need to go with Ann.
If you love breathtaking sunrises, strong coffee, and exotic wildlife, you need to go with Ann.
If you love incredible hospitality, delicious food, heart-centering yoga, and rejuvenating massage, you need to go with Ann.
If you love hiking through the jungle, climbing giant trees, rappelling down waterfalls, kayaking at sunset, surfing, salsa dancing, star-gazing, and bonfires on the beach, you need to go with Ann.
Don't know yet if you love those things? Perfect. Go with Ann.
I cannot recommend this trip enough. Ann provides an indescribable "Pura Vida" experience, and I am a richer human being because of it.
Written by: Liz Baker 2/15/15
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat 2015
A Truly One-of-a-Kind Trip to the Costa Rican Jungle – Thanks to Ann Lara
I knew my recent vacation to Costa Rica was going to be something special from the very beginning. After all, I was going to a place off-the-grid. A place all of the people I know who’ve been to Costa Rica had never seen — the Osa Peninsula.
My unique adventure to this exotic locale was courtesy of Ann Lara’s new Wellness Adventures Retreats — a retreat on which she took care of every detail for her adventuresses, from our delicious local cuisine to our private tours of the jungle to my own private sunrise massage (given by Ann) as the waves crashed on our private beach. While basking in the there-are-no-words natural beauty, remote exoticness, and exhilarating adventure-packed six days “in the jungle,” I was reminded daily in so many ways of my grand adventure — monkeys swinging over my head, birds and butterflies of every color flying by, and locals living pura vida (the sweet life). But it was only after I returned home and processed what I had just experienced that it hit me — that was a truly awesome and rare vacation! “I want to do that again!” I thought, then realized that I could not. At least, not without Ann.
Without Ann, I would not have stayed in such a beautiful casa smack between the waters of Sweetwater Bay and the jungle. Or hiked up rivers in the protected old-growth jungle with the local guide and medicine man of sorts Eddie, who educated us along our route about every plant, tree, and wild animal. Or splashed around in not one, but three waterfall pools. Or climbed 70 feet up a tree and swung from it like one of the monkeys living there. Or rappelled down a 110-foot waterfall with our reassuring experienced guide, Andy. Or kayaked in mangroves at sunset. Or ate what the locals eat thanks to our own private chef, Desiree. And that’s not even everything!
Alas, I can never again have the same incredible, out-of-this-world experience — unless I take part in another one of Ann’s Wellness Adventures Retreats. I already envy the lucky people who will be on her future trips. On second thought, you may just see me again in the jungle with Ann!
Written by: Karen Jonson 2/12/15
Participated: Women’s Wellness Retreat January 2015
After climbing “Tree Beard” barefoot:
“How do you put into words one of the most beautiful, massive, and awe-inspiring sights that you have ever seen. The tree was taken over by a strangler fig, and it is one of the largest in the world. The energy that comes from this 500 hundred yr old vine is tremendous!
You are at the bottom of the tree, heart racing, adrenaline pumping, and I just thought “Wow, I feel like a 10 yr old kid again, climbing barefoot all the way to 70ft, and then to top it all off with the Tarzan swing through the jungle. You’re just not going to get this experience anywhere else in the world.” It was so liberating….and empowering! I immediately went up to Ann, put my hand on her shoulder and told her….”Girl…you DO NOT disappoint!!” 5STARS *****
Ann – Thanks so much for organizing a fabulous trip. You thought of every detail from the delicious food to daily activities. You rock!!! Loved every minute.”
Written by: Daphne Smith 3/15/15
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat January 2015
Amazing! Ann was calm, collected, confident, strong, encouraging, fun, relatable, non intimidating, friendly, welcoming, patient, assertive, generous- basically a rockstar!
-Even a week after our trip, I am still having trouble putting the experience in words- I immediately think “amazing” but that doesn’t seem to give it justice. It was self empowering- allowing yourself to believe that you could climb the tree, surf, kayak, repel down the waterfall, etc. It was laid back in the sense of having free time to relax on the deck or go for a run. The tours ran smoothly- always felt safe with the tour guide.
- tree climbing was my personal favorite- definitely suggest keeping that on the lineup… I think it will provide different emotions/feelings with each climb no matter how many times you climb it! Not only the tree climbing, but keeping the waterfall repelling back to back right after was an amazing adrenaline rush. The tree climb definitely got the adrenaline going and we could have easily called it a day afterward but immediately climbing up further to the waterfall was completely stepping out of your comfort zone- constantly asking yourself, “is this really happening right now?” (heart pumping) “Yes, I’m doing this. Yes, I can do this.” Back to back high adrenaline tours/adventures was incredible- icing on the cake!
Written By: Melissa Bass 2/14/15
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat 2015
Mel B has a special place in my heart for sharing her passion for yoga with us during our wellness adventures retreat in Costa Rica! Going into the trip, I knew that yoga was going to be a component of our experience there, but I was generally pretty indifferent about it. I had tried yoga a few years ago and it just didn't really stick for me. First of all, what a difference it makes to practice yoga in such a beautiful outdoor setting as we did on the deck overlooking the water with the sights and sounds of nature all around you compared to a small, stale fitness room! Then, add Mel B's passion for yoga, as she guided us all (who had varying levels of yoga experience) through the movements, and it was truly a highlight of my experience in Costa Rica. She is such a beautiful and positive person on the inside and out, and I am so thankful that she got me started on my own journey with yoga. Since returning from Costa Rica, I made a mindful intention to bring that part of my experience back into my regular life at home, and I have made weekly yoga sessions a priority in my schedule. Being on my yoga mat has brought a sense of calmness to my life, even if only for that hour, and Mel B inspired me to find that peace for myself, especially after hearing her own journey to yoga. What a gift she has given me!
Written By: Dr. Melissa M. Mohlman 8/14/15
Participated: Women's Wellness Retreat 2015
About the area: The Osa Peninsula is a very special place. It is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. The wildlife is so abundant that you will never want to put your camera down. Casa Marmaris' property is situated in the rain forest on the beach filled with wildlife including, 4 different types of monkeys, macaws, toucans, hawks, 3 toed sloths, butterflies, anteaters, coati, armadillos, 100's of species of birds, iguanas, “Jesus Christ” lizards, colorful frogs, just to name some of the wildlife you will stumble upon ALL WITHIN YOUR FRONT YARD!
"Cabo Matapalo is the perfect place to soak in the true culture of Costa Rica and recharge your mind, body and spirit. From the pristine beaches to the wonderment of a jungle just outside the doorstep, we were able to reconnect to a simpler, slower life yet still have an amazing adventure!"
Written by: Kippi Griffith
"The Osa is a wild place. That wild side of Costa Rica is exactly what I'm here to experience." Travel and Leisure
" I think by this point it’s safe to say that everyone has heard all of the great things about Costa Rica: the people, the nature, and the experiences. Personally, I think that all three are exaggerated in the Osa Peninsula to a degree that I’ve only seen on the Discovery Channel.
When Ann and I started going to Costa Rica, I would always come back and see Dr. Brady Barr on the Discovery Channel, exploring some place “new”. While most of those shows went to places I’ve never seen, some were shot on the exact same roads I traveled. Now, these are roads are not for the faint at heart, but that was the lure. And also the payoff. When I describe my trips and the Osa, I always refer to the Discovery Channel.
The other part I consider is the peace and calm you get from the wildlife you encounter while there. And encounter you do, not just see. The best memories I have, I’ve been to the Osa three times, is sitting on the front steps of my “house” watching the wildlife. From the arguing Macaws in the almond trees, to the four types of monkey troops, to the random hawk or colony of leaf cutter ants, there is nothing better.
OK, so the hikes to the nearby waterfalls, surfing , fishing, kayak tours with dolphins are all great as well. I think in the end, the people you meet will be awesome, the nature will be indescribable, and the experiences are what myths are made of. ~Mark Lara
'Are you truly ready for an adventure? Not just a vacation, but an experience of a lifetime? There is a reason why I am taking you to a completely remote area in the jungle. Oftentimes, I struggle wih the fact that I don't think people are really "getting it" when I tell them about the Osa. What I have realized is that it is indescribable and that you just have to see it for yourself. It's a magical place that you will be talking about for years to come! How many places out of the country do you love so much that you have been back to 6 times....and counting! We will be staying in Cabo Matapalo which is a beautiful area where the wildlife is on steroids!! I have personally seen 4 types of monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, hummingbirds(6 varieties), hawks including Osprey and Caracara, more birds than I can even remember, butterflies including the rare Blue Morpho butterfly, leaf-cutting ants, Iguanas, Jesus-Christ lizards, “Jurassic park” looking lizards, crocodiles, coatis, sloths, poison dart frogs, bull frog, sea turtles, dolphins, armadillo, cool crabs, snails, Owls, agouti, vampire bat, huge moths, preying mantis, blue crayfish, etc, etc…and most of these from the front porch! Not to mention that you are engulfed by the abundant flora and fauna and pacific ocean boasting gorgeous blue, aqua, green carribbean looking ocean water with killer waves!. This is where the jungle meets the ocean so there will be several occasions when you are surfing, kayaking, or hanging out on the beach and you will hear and see the howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, hawks, and so on...well you get the point! It is so rich with life that you can’t help but feel ALIVE!~Ann Lara