Guest: Paolo: "BEST Luxury Surf Camp"
“Kalon Surf: A fantastic surf week"
We have just returned from a week-long stay (Nov 9 to Nov 15) at Kalon Resort and had an absolutely wonderful time. We travelled as a group of six friends (each looking to learn or, in one case, improve our surfing abilities) and had reserved all six mansion rooms for the week. We understand that the resort can host up to ten guests at a time but any more than six means folks would be sharing a room.Paolo
From the minute we were picked up at the airport by their staff in San Jose, the staff and entire team at Kalon demonstrated a real commitment to service and guest satisfaction. They were always very polite, professional and run an extremely punctual operation. Kalon is about a 2.5 hour drive from San Jose.
Once we arrived to the road just outside of Dominical, we were a little surprised by the climb up the hill from the main road up to the resort. It is quite a steep climb up a rough road and it becomes quickly apparent that leaving the resort would be difficult to do without a 4x4. It is a good 2 mile climb through the jungle up the mountain to the house. It is not a problem, but certainly something to keep in mind for folks that envision coming and going to and from the resort as often and easily as they would like. The security at the premises is also top notch with a gate, 24 hour security guards and even guard dogs (in pens for the duration of our stay). Security here is more about protecting the Kalon franchise and reputation from any issue than any concerns about the area. There is also a short, but nice hiking trail down into the hillside rain forest within the perimeter of the property which offers an opportunity to explore the diverse and very dense Costa Rican vegetation.
Once you cross the gate and enter the grounds you appreciate very quickly that Kalon is a true luxury resort. Kalons two main resort houses look and feel very new, they are well appointed, clean and all-around really nice. One houses the kitchen, dining room, main living area and deck out to the infinity pool, as well as three bedrooms on the second floor. The second house has only three rooms up on a second floor. All of the rooms share the same breathtaking view of the mountain, the hillside and the ocean. The rooms are clean, sparsely but tastefully decorated, and the bathrooms are also very clean and spacious. Each of us was greeted by an in-room sign with some personalised details for the week ahead. In the main room there were also two giant surfboard/chalkboards that in one case, tells you the tide times for surfing as well as wave size and the schedule for the week, while the other board sets out the menu for the day. The management team also checked in with us regularly to answer any questions, to assist us in organizing a few offsite excursions and to make sure we were pleased with everything.
The food at Kalon was excellent and in some cases exceptionally so. Prepared on site, in front of your eyes; whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or after surfing snacks and we did not have a bad meal all week and, other than breakfast (from which you could choose), we never ate the same meal more than once. Fresh ingredients, sometimes from their own organic garden (which you can visit), combined with local flavours and cuisine, all carefully prepared and nicely presented - it was an impressive display and I cannot imagine people eating any better at any other surf resort in Costa Rica. They were also well organized and accommodating, having emailed us weeks in advance with questions about food preferences and allergies, all of which was kept in mind when the prepared our meals. Most meals were also accompanied by delicious freshly made juices. As advertised, there is also unlimited soft drinks, beer and wine. With a focus on safety, the staff kindly asked us to avoid alcohol at any time before surfing. Snacks and fresh fruit were also available anytime.
As a surfing school, Kalon Surf focus is clear and should come as no surprise: it is SURFING. Every day (except the one mid-week rest day) is scheduled tightly around the tides. Each meal and other activity is scheduled accordingly to ensure that guests can maximize their time in or, ideally, on the waves. Three of our five surfing sessions were scheduled in the afternoon while the other two were very early starts, 6:00am and 7:00am, respectively. I emphasise the schedule piece so people understand that while you can, of course, choose to participate in any or all of the scheduled activities, if you have paid the money to learn to surf, it is really worth your while to stick to the schedule and as mentioned, everything always happened exactly. on. time. The beach was gorgeous and almost entirely deserted; I believe with one exception, the Sunday afternoon, we were the only people on the entire beach or in the surf line-up!
The coaches are simply fantastic and the lessons and post-surfing video analysis was incredibly helpful. Every day the coaches would pick us up in the Kalon trucks - smiles and high-fives all around - drive us down the hill to the beach, lay out all the gear and run us through some warm-up exercises. Over the course of each four or five-hour lesson, the coaches spent plenty of time with each of us and really helped us improve over the course of the week. Although five of the six of us were true beginners, each of us were able to tackle some sizeable green waves by the end of the week. For six desk-ridden forty-year olds this seems like pretty amazing progress. This result is directly attributable to the hard work, dedication and patience of the amazing surfing coaches that Kalon offers. [Hat tip here to Roberto, Andres and Henry, who worked tirelessly all week.] Each day is also photographed and/or recorded on video by Diego the photographer which on the one hand, makes the video analysis and related skills improvement possible, and on the other, allowed us to capture some great moments for posterity.
The one additional point we note about the week of surfing is that we, as a group, perhaps under-estimated the physical fitness factor for the week. Surfing, particularly as a beginner, is pretty hard work. There is lots of swimming and falling. Swimming in the ocean and battling waves for four or five hours at a time took a real toll on us and anything folks can do to better prepare themselves would be wise indeed. Instead of late night parties by the infinity pool, we often found ourselves in bed before 9:00pm desperate to give our bodies some badly needed rest.
Although we opted to skip the pilates classes on the rest day in order to do some exploring around Costa Rica (which was very easy to schedule on the fly with input and booking assistance from the Kalon staff), we did thoroughly enjoy our in-room massages which were included as part of our stay.
As we were at the tail end of the rainy season we were lucky and had only a day or two of rain at the start of our week but the weather really improved with gorgeous, hot and sunny days, usually ending with a late afternoon or evening shower. Because the ocean water was so warm (among the warmest ocean waters we&rsquo;ve ever experienced) the fact it rained a little one day during our lesson made absolutely no difference.
Overall, our week was simply outstanding and we would highly recommend Kalon to anyone looking to learn how to surf in a remote, luxurious and friendly setting. Pura Vida!