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Pousada do Sandi

A 300-year old colonial mansion, sitting at the heart of Paraty, Pousada do Sandi has been the town’s most famous small hotel for more than 30 years. Extensively renovated in 2020, historic charm pairs beautifully with modern comforts. There are 28 stunning, colourful, characterful rooms, suites and apartments.

Finca Rosa Blanca

This pioneering sustainable property is a world away from bustling San Jose and is just 30 minutes from the airport. Nestled up in the hills of Heredia with beautiful views, the fertile volcanic soil here allows for abundant coffee crops which thrive in the tree-shaded 30 acre plantation. Amongst tropical trees and bushes are collection of small buildings with white washed walls and terracotta roofs, and within each house Finca Rosa Blanca’s eclectic range of 14 spacious, artistic, colourful rooms.

Pura Vida Leader

Distinctive’s founder Steve Hyde is never one to sit still – even during a national lockdown! Instead he turned those lemons to lemonade and has just returned from a 10-day fact finding mission to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is our bestselling destination and its borders recently re-opened to UK tourists, so it was the obvious choice for Steve to experience travel’s “new normal” first-hand. The fact that it’s a warm, tropical country with a wealth of luxury lodges and fantastic beaches was just an added bonus!

A nation which prides itself on its commitment to health and education, the Costa Rican government has been praised for its handling of Covid-19. Confidence in its robust health protocols means that visitors are no longer required to take a PCR test prior to arrival. They just need to complete the online “Health Pass” form 24hrs prior to arrival and purchase specific insurance to cover any Covid-related medical or accommodation costs. Over 15,000 tourists (including Steve!) have entered the country since, without any cases being reported.

Steve praised the country’s efforts:
“I travelled extensively in Costa Rica and was extremely impressed by the various public health protocols in place, such as hand & luggage sanitising, temperature testing and mandatory masks for all hotel/shop staff, transfer drivers and tour guides. Local people are also very committed to the protocols and wear masks and observe social distancing throughout the country. Speaking to other visitors it was very clear that they too felt reassured and confident in the measures that had been put in place to protect both tourists and locals”.

Costa Rica is ideal for visitors who literally want to get away from it all post-Covid. It is very much an outdoor destination offering stunning scenery, incredible biodiversity and thrilling soft adventure activities . Many of its hotels and lodges are small locally run establishments in remote locations, and private tours and transfers are easy to arrange. So visitors can enjoy the country’s famous “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) in safety and comfort.

Giant Otters at Check-in

Napo wildlife centre

by Hilary

The sounds of the Ecuadorian Amazon and gentle rock of the canoe during the paddle upstream was lulling me to a dreamy sleep; so much so I grabbed a paddle to help Juan and Carlitos with what was actually quite a tiring task! The ‘wind storm’ approaching turned out to be Howler Monkeys (we were becoming accustomed to Juan’s sense of humour). And so engrossed we were watching them run through the treetops, we barely noticed the canoe glide out of the creek and on to the lake.

What a magical way to arrive at Napo Wildlife Centre. The three of us in the boat had of course all seen the pictures, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for such a tranquil and serene scene.

Juan’s radio suddenly came to life – his comrades at the lodge letting us know that Giant River Otters were there. We paddled as quickly as we could to try to catch a rare glimpse of this endangered species. We neared and slowed in time to hear the otters calling to each other as they disappeared and reappeared from the calm water. The munching noise was them gobbling their catch whole. Their teeth were indeed extremely large! It was amazing to see, and we couldn’t believe how lucky we had been to share the experience.

So, imagine my amazement when the family returned almost as soon as we got to our room. The most gorgeous sounds of splashing and playing. Becoming more vocal as they back-tracked in search of one of the three cubs who was hiding in the reeds. He bobbed out, and off they swam together, calling and diving and happy. This was proving to be a very special night in the jungle.

Arawi Hotel

Set in the Miraflores district, this luxury modern hotel puts you close to many of the city’s main attractions and minutes from the beach. Its 30 guestrooms boast modern Peruvian themed décor and air-conditioning. The restaurant serves Peruvian specialities as well as international fare, while the bar serves cocktails.

Michaela Walker

Qualified film-maker Michaela, is the newest member of the team and uses her creative eye when working on sales, marketing, operations and social media for Distinctive.

Hacienda La Danesa

Midway between the Andes and the coast, just over an hour from Guayaquil. Accommodation at Hacienda La Danesa provides a unique experience; situated on a 500 hectare cacao farm, surrounded by fruit plantations, owed to its year-round tropical climate. This comfortable and sustainable 6 bed guesthouse offers guests an idealistic rural retreat. La Dansa has an onsite bar, lounge and restaurant serving high quality, locally sourced offerings.

Reserva do Ibitipoca

Just 3.5 hours from Rio de Janeiro, Ibitipoca Reserve is an inspiring, ambitious 4,000 hectare private conservation and sustainability initiative. The centrepiece is Fazenda do Engenho, one of Brazil’s finest small hotels. Dating from 1715, the traditional farmhouse was rebuilt in 2006 and has eight sumptuous guest rooms, restaurant, Spa, sauna and hydro-massage pool. The stable has Mangalarga and Anglo-Arabian horses and guests set off on horse, foot or 4 x 4 vehicle to explore the extraordinary natural surroundings.