Top Travel Destinations for 2015: Family Travel

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Casa Praia’s pool.

Costa Rica

Guanacaste: Hang Ten with the Cool Kids.

Villa Manzu on Peninsula Papagayo.
Popular dive and snorkel site, Monkey Head Rock.

By Aaron Gulley
Even Costa Rica, one of the planet’s best-known eco-travel destinations, has its hideaways. In the northwest corner of the country, not far from the Nicaragua border, a small spit of land called the Papagayo Peninsula is emerging as the country’s high-end family destination.
Stay: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
 put the region on the tourism map, with 154 rooms on 45 lush acres, an 18-hole Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, and water sports ranging from sea kayaking and sailing to snorkeling, diving, and a surf school. Villas
 of Distinction has two properties on the peninsula: Five-bedroom Casa Praia, with an enviable oceanfront setting, was one of the first homes built here, while eight-bedroom Villa Manzu is prime for large family gatherings, with two pools, a spa, and a private theater.
Head for the Hills: “It’s more than just Papagayo,” says Virtuoso advisor Marisa Stephens of Dallas. “The entire state of Guanacaste is relatively untapped.”
In the mountains east of the coast, Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park has a number of volcano hikes, and several resorts offer thermal baths. The best part? It’s all within an hour or two of Liberia’s international airport, with direct flights to the U.S.

Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2015:
  1. Europe for Less: The Balkans
  2. Honeymoons: French Polynesia or Maldives
  3. Culture: Milan
  4. Safari: South Africa
  5. The Emerging Destination: Myanmar
  6. City Escape: Paris
  7. Supernatural Nature: The Galapgos
  8. Family Travel: Costa Rica (You are here!)
  9. Close to Home: Napa Valley
  10. Adventure Travel: New Zealand
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, January 2015.

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The pool at the Four Seasons Papagayo.