Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Travel :

Costa Rican Luxury on a Fixed Income
By Kat Sunlove
As retired expats living in Costa Rica for the last three years, my husband Layne and I have fallen head over heels for this friendly country. We love the weather... marvel at the lush flora and fauna... appreciate the excellent and affordable health care... and have made many new friends of both Tico (as Costa Ricans call themselves) and Gringo persuasion.
Our two Social Security incomes and modest savings are more than enough to live a comfortable, even occasionally luxurious, lifestyle. We host dinner parties in our North American-style home, travel to other parts of Costa Rica on holiday and still have money to visit family and friends back in the States.
As lovely as all that is... for some of us, retirement is not so appetizing without a sprinkling of golf. And unfortunately, most Ticos have yet to discover the joys of the game. (Or perhaps they have enough sense to avoid the inevitable humiliation that goes with the sport...) At any rate, golf courses in Costa Rica are few and far between. There is a handful of fine golf resorts with pricey green fees mostly in the northwest province of Guanacaste or in popular seaside areas: fine for splurging vacationers or wealthy expats but hardly affordable for retirees like us living on Social Security.
The good news is there are a few affordable golf courses to be found in Costa Rica if you look for them. For example, one day a week, at the beautiful Valle de Sol course in Santa Ana, members of the Central Valley Golf Association have negotiated an organizational rate for reduced green fees. Layne played Valle de Sol recently and gave the course high marks.
On a recent beach excursion we happened upon San Buenas Golf Resort, a hidden jewel in the Southern Pacific Zone. That area of Costa Rica is much less developed but well worth exploring, with miles of pristine beaches and quaint villages. We were visiting Dominical, a charming surfer village with bohemian overtones, as a getaway for Layne's birthday. When we learned there was a golf course open to the public just a 40-minute drive away, we had to check it out.
Nestled in a luxuriant green valley in dense jungle foothills, San Buenas offers the hungry golfer a plateful of pleasure.
Only the first nine holes are in place as part of a planned condominium and residential community still in the early stages of development; the second nine are scheduled to open in 2014 to complete the 7,100-yard course. With green fees for a nine-hole round of only $25 for legal residents like us or $45 for tourists, this course is a great bargain.
With but one par-3 on the presently configured nine-hole course, Layne and I soon learned this was no executive round but rather a full-fledged championship course. The scenery is spectacular with tropical forest all around and misty mountain vistas in the near distance.
With a new asphalt road completed from Quepos, and this top-notch golf course, the Southern Zone is turning into a great retirement destination.

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