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TLT-Adventure with a Side of Luxury, Please

Forget what you thought you knew about Costa Rica. A stay at The Palms Private Residence Club will open up your eyes.


I am not the outdoorsy type. In fact, my idea of the outdoors can be summed up like this: it’s absolutely OK as long as a nice patio and cool cocktail are involved. So when an opportunity to visit the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica came up, I was a little conflicted. Sure, who wouldn’t want to spend a few days on a sandy beach having tropical drinks accessorized with frilly umbrellas? But Costa Rica, I knew, was famous for something else—plenty of action and adventure. Could I really handle that?

From Phoenix, it’s a quick five-hour flight to Costa Rica, the lush Central American country that’s quickly becoming a hot destination for American travelers. And really, it’s easy to see why: aside from plenty of Latin American culture, fantastic seafood, beautiful beaches and outdoor excursions, the people there are quite lovely and the country is safe to travel through. Lucky for me, a stay at The Palms Private Residence Club proved to be the perfect place to call home for my three-day stay offering the two worlds that I was craving—a bit of adventure with a side of luxury.

The Palms Private Residence Club is an experience in itself; it’s the only property in Costa Rica on Playa Flamingo, a highly desirable beach because, well, it’s gorgeous. The member-owned residence club has 32 two-bedroom luxury villas that can comfortably sleep six. And by comfortable, I mean 2,300 square feet of living space, Viking appliances, marble flooring and bamboo hardwood floors in the two master bedrooms. The large kitchen is perfect for gathering together or entertaining and there’s an expansive patio on both the first floor and the master suite. In short, when it comes to comfort and décor, no luxury is spared.

At The Palms, your villa is literally steps away from the ocean (I could hear the waves crashing up on the sand through my window each night). But perhaps what’s most appealing, other than the scenery, is the private villa atmosphere combined with resortlike amenities. The concierge will happily stock your villa with your requested grocery list prior to arrival. Need a massage? No worries, they’ll come to your suite. Though if the weather is nice, I’d recommend having the masseuse meet you right on the beach.

A business center, fitness room and daily housekeeping are a few of the other amenities included, but the infinity pool and private dining options are two that must be taken advantage of. That tropical drink with the frilly umbrella I fantasized about? It was served up poolside after a day spent traversing the treetops on a zip-line canopy tour.


Yes, that means even I can enjoy the outdoors. And not just on a patio with a cocktail in hand. From zip-line tours to hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding and surfing, there are more than enough activities available to keep the entire family entertained. The concierge at The Palms will arrange the activities for you, and if you feel like staying behind and relaxing by the beach, that’s always an option too.

For the avid golfer, you’ll enjoy complimentary access to the 7,300-yard Mike Young-designed golf course as an owner at The Palms. There are also several other professional 18-hole courses to explore nearby.

Take advantage of the private chef available at the villas who makes a mean mojito, tasty ceviche featuring fresh seafood and other food items made to order at your request. He’ll even come to your villa to prepare a meal for you and your guests.

For off-site dining around Costa Rica, the bilingual staff at The Palms is more than happy to suggest local spots. Two to try: The Langosta Beach Club, a lush tropical paradise which offers beachside dining, private cabanas and a private pool where you can easily spend the day lounging away. For a more intimate affair, try the fresh catch of the day at Papaya, a smaller, secluded spot at the charming Conchal Hotel. For dinner, be sure to make reservations in advance as the restaurant can accommodate about 40 guests per evening. For thrill-seekers or for those who get a thrill from umbrella-laden drinks, Costa Rica and its The Palms Private Residence Club offers the best of both worlds: adventure and luxury.

The Palms Private Residence Club
Villas at The Palms Private Residence Club are available for both fractional and full ownership. Whole ownerships start at $1.2 million while fractional ownerships start at $129,000.



AZ Giving: Steps to Self-Confidence

In a world of airbrushing and Photoshop, it’s near impossible for young girls to grow up with positive self-images, but one organization is helping girls gain self-confidence one mile at a time.


Girls on the Run, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young girls gain self-respect and make healthy life choices, opened its Maricopa County council in 2004 (as well as a chapter in Pinal County this year) and has been encouraging young girls ever since. Meagan Kukowski, executive director of Girls on the Run of Maricopa County, says one of the most rewarding aspects of the program is “seeing the impact not only on the lives of the girls we serve, but also on their families and on the hundreds of volunteers who make our mission possible.”

The Girls on the Run program centers around girls from third to eighth grade training together in an interactive curriculum and running program that addresses the girls’ physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. The girls are provided with tools during the 24-course program to make positive decisions and to avoid risky adolescent behaviors, all while training to run a 5K group race.

Kukowski has seen the positive impact the program has on girls of all ages, from the participants to the volunteers, but there is one little girl who stands out in her mind. “I first got involved with Girls on the Run as a volunteer coach. In my first season, there was a girl on my team who was clearly not a member of the popular crowd,” Kukowski says. “[Megan] was self-conscious, oftentimes sat by herself, said and did awkward things. She was a character.”

Working through the program in teams and practicing the importance of giving back to the community gave Megan the confidence to give her all in the final 5K run with her peers. “I ran with Megan as her Running Buddy. Her entire family came to see her complete this race, and her nerves were clear. As a pair, we quickly fell to the back of the pack. When Megan got tired, we skipped or sang, and when we passed people cheering on the sidelines, Megan glowed,” Kukowski says. As the two listened to cheers and posed for pictures after finishing, Megan whispered something to Kukowski that she won’t soon forget: “I am like a bolt of lightning.”

Kukowski says she’s heard positive feedback from mothers who now implement healthier diets in their households, grandparents who are proud of how comfortable and self-assured the girls became and volunteers who wish the program was around during their own adolescence. Sticking to their mission to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, Kukowski says Girls on the Run “[hopes] that girls leave [the] program with a lifelong self-confidence and the tools to make positive decisions, empowered to boldly pursue their dreams.”

Girls on the Run of Maricopa County



Enter the Triathlon Prep Program at Sanctuary on Camelback

Fine-tune your stroke and your stride at this staycation that’ll put you through the paces.


SWIM. BIKE. RUN. Sounds simple, so why do triathlons seem so darn daunting? Well, doing three back-toback disciplines is tough, not to mention the grueling training schedule which can be downright lonely. Enter the Triathlon Prep Program at Sanctuary on Camelback, a three-day affair that pairs you with world-class coaches and trainers who’ll do a heck of a lot more than tweak your training.

To say you’re in good hands is an understatement. Your swim coach is none other than Misty Hyman—yes, the same gal who took gold in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Now a full-time coach and speaker, Hyman has an uncanny ability to break your stroke down into easily digestible bites. Then you’ve got Frank Sole, a seasoned triathlon coach who’s trained everyone from beginners to Kona qualifiers. And the best part: you have them all to yourself. During your personalized one-on-one sessions, they’ll analyze your form, correct mistakes and have you swimming, biking and running more efficiently.

As well as sport-specific training, you’ll also work on body alignment, address muscle imbalances and condition your core (a must for triathletes), all under the guidance of Sanctuary’s wellness experts. They’ll help get you into top form for race day and keep you from being sidelined with an injury. Highlights include an assisted stretch that’ll introduce you to muscles you didn’t even know you had and a personalized Pilates session that’ll work your stomach in ways you didn’t think possible. Put together, the army of experts will answer all of your questions (some you didn’t even know you had) and fire you up for race day.

Each day kicks off with a power breakfast of organic cage-free eggs with roasted potatoes and freshly squeezed lemonade or a yogurt parfait and whole wheat English muffin with turkey sausage. The key is having lean protein with complex carbs to sustain energy. You’ll also have ample time to take advantage of the resort’s other fitness perks: hike Camelback, take the property’s mountain bikes out for a spin, work out in the state-of-the-art fitness center and take one of the more than 45 movement studio classes (think yoga, spin, Zumba). Each day ends on a high note with a muscle-melting treatment at Sanctuary’s oh-la-la spa, including a 60-minute Sports Massage, a 60-minute reflexology session and a 90-minute Table Thai Massage. Of course, there’s always the spa Jacuzzi, the outdoor hot tub or your room’s tub, which comes complete with detoxifying bath salts and tea lights, for even more TLC.

And you can’t forget the setting. You are at Sanctuary, after all. The service is top-notch, the rooms are to-die-for, the infinity pool is one of the best in the Valley and the scenery is spectacular. In other words, instant vacation state-of-mind. You’ll walk away rested, relaxed and raring to go.

Triathlon Prep Program at Sanctuary on Camelback

The three-day package starts at $1,788 for single occupancy. www.sanctuaryaz.com.


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