Costa Rica is the teacher's pet of the ecotourism class, and this small Central American nation regularly gets straight A's on issues green. A cast of thousands of eco-lodges and projects fly the green flag and a staggering 25 per cent of the country is set aside in National parks - the highest percentage of any nation on the planet. Call us cynical, but while some destinations pedal repackaged product as eco-friendly in order to the move with the times, Costa Rica has been walking the walk for years. Responsible tourism is embedded as the fundamental principle of the country's tourism mantra - even the Tourist Board's strapline is 'No Articificial Ingredients'. Now that makes for a truly original luxury holiday.
Impressive, we see you nod, but only to be expected from a country that abolished its own armed forces in 1948 preferring (in the aftermath of a bloody civil war) to spend millions on improving the day-to-day lot of its citizens rather than rearming to the teeth in the face of an improbable invasion from the pacifist Panamanian neighbours.
In fact, the only cross-border incursions in recent years have been those by hordes of Hawaiian-shirt-wearing American tourists. That in turn may mean the cuisine on offer rarely soars to heights much beyond super-sized burgers and shakes (although there are exceptions), but gringos from States demand - and receive - a level of service that Europeans holidaying in their own continent can often only dream of. That Ticos (as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) make such naturally warm hosts only makes the experience of a luxury holiday here all the more pleasurable.
So what to expect from a luxury Costa Rica holiday? As mentioned, this is a pocket rocket of a country, and for all but the most backpacker-budgeted travellers, access to the furthest-flung corners is by light aircraft, which offers a wonderful perspective on the varying and distinct ecosystems that make this such a fascinating destination. The wetlands of Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast give way to the jungle, interspersed with the massive banana plantations that provide so much of the country's income. Next come the volcanoes and cloud forests of the interior and Central Valley, and then it's down to the tropical rainforest reserves and surf beaches of the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas of the Pacific coastline, all within an hour's flight.
The team at Original Travel are passionate about Central America, and Costa Rica is the icing on this very special cake. We revisit on a regular basis to check out the best new ecolodges and surf the best breaks, and we are here to talk you through what is an incredibly special luxury holiday destination.