When Swedish couple Jonas Thorrel and Johanna Johansson decided to launch a boutique hotel in Santa Teresa, the laid-back Costa Rican beach town they now call home, they knew there was no point in competing with the landscape. With gleaming sands, lush jungles, and world-class surf, Santa Teresa has all the hallmarks of a tropical paradise remotely tucked away near the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula.
So, the couple turned to award-winning Costa Rican architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, who brought his expertise in blending contemporary design with tropical landscapes to the newly opened Mint Santa Teresa.
Housed in a series of whitewashed pavilions stepping down a steep hillside, the four-room hotel melds modern and traditional design, taking inspiration from sun-kissed Greek architecture, minimalist Scandinavian design, and Costa Rican craftsmanship.
Yet for Jonas and Johanna, the owners and operators of Mint, the adults-only boutique hotel needed to be more than just a well-designed nature retreat. The four-year residents of Santa Teresa wanted guests to feel "a part of a little community, with other travelers and locals."
And with just four rooms available, curating that level of care and intimacy has been a defining feature at Mint.
"Hotels traditionally became vast objects in the landscape that bear no relation to their surroundings and are devoid of genuine human interaction," says Benjamin Garcia Saxe of Studio Saxe.
"At Mint, we endeavored to create a contextual design that adapts to its landscape and offers a new type of experience for a breed of traveler seeking authenticity. We worked hard on creating spaces that combine an appreciation of natural beauty with a rich array of possibilities for social and cultural interaction. The result is a completely unique way of thinking about hospitality and wellness."
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The hotel design clearly favors outdoor living—from the fully glazed folding doors that bring seamless ocean views into the bedroom, to the private rooftop terrace, complete with greenery and a sail shade, that tops each suite.
The interiors are dressed in a neutral palette of subdued whites and grays imbued with warmth from locally sourced timber and "caña brava" grasses woven by local Sarchí craftsmen into custom furnishings and fishbone-patterned ceilings.
To draw guests together, Saxe has added an irresistible communal lounge with an infinity pool and sunset bar. Open on all sides except for a green wall by the entrance, the lounge is the heart of the hotel where guests, owners, and locals are invited to mingle together over the breakfast buffet in the morning or during drinks at night.
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