Vamos Ticos! Let’s Go (to) Costa Rica

Vamos Costa Rica!
Vamos Costa Rica!

Today Costa Rica is playing the Netherlands in the World Cup. After a wonderful week at Arenas del Mar in Manuel Costa Rica, I am definitely rooting for Costa Rica today. The happiness of the Costa Ricans (also known as Ticos) was so obvious throughout the whole country both with life and with soccer. Although I missed their tie with England because I was zip-lining through the jungle, I could feel the excitement and Costa Rican pride throughout the resort.

I have so many favorite moments from my trip including the gorgeous views, the spacious rooms bigger than my apartment, and the monkeys… OMG MONKEYS!! It was the first time I saw monkeys outside of a zoo! I was like a little kid when David, the owner of Arenas del Mar, came running up to me at breakfast to say there was a “troop” in the trees.

I only saw a tiny sliver of Costa Rica, but I already know I want to go back. I want to see the volcanoes, cloud forest, Osa Peninsula, and Arenas Del Mar again! While I usually stick to my “no repeats” clause when it comes to traveling to the same place more than once, I am giving Costa Rica a pass. There is so much to see and do there. I barely scratched the surface! With more than 600 photos, and the majority of them of food at Arenas del Mar, it was hard to pick my favorites. Here are just a few!

Hover over the pictures for the captions.




Costa Rica

100% Gluten-Free in Costa Rica at Arenas del Mar

Do you ever dream about faraway places but get scared because you have Celiac?
Do you ever think “I want to travel, but where can I eat gluten-free so far from home?”
Are you ready to take your first gluten-free vacation since you were diagnosed with Celiac, but you don’t know where to go?

I know exactly how you feel. That’s why I started my Gluten-Free Globetrotter website in 2011. I wanted to convince other Celiacs that they also can travel. Living with Celiac since 1981, I didn’t know anything else but gluten-free travel. In 2005, I took my first solo trip to the Grand Canyon and I never looked back. I’ve travel the globe and ate gluten-free 100% of the time!

Part of my mission with Gluten-Free Globetrotter is to find “safe” places for us to go around the world. When I learned about Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, I was truly impressed. The more I read, the more I knew I had to go see it for myself. I diligently started doing my research, homework, and outreach to make this dream come true.


Photo credit: Arenas del Mar
Photo credit: Arenas del Mar

Arenas del Mar is a 38-room hotel on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In 2013, Travel and Leisure magazined voted it the Top Family Hotel in Central and South America. It has also been awarded 5 Stars for Luxury and 5 Leaves for Sustainability by the Government of Costa Rica. This is all nice, but not enough for this Gluten-Free Globetrotter.

GREAT kitchen logoWhat impressed me most? All of the kitchen staff at Arenas del Mar is currently being trained through the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens training program“This comprehensive course teaches the essentials of gluten-free food preparation and cross-contamination avoidance – skills that are critical for serving customers with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.” This is HUGE! Here is a hotel almost three thousand miles away that is learning how to cater to a Celiac customer in the middle of the jungle!!!

My gluten-free stars aligned, my unused vacation days were ready and waiting, and in less than three weeks, I will be traveling solo to the jungles of Costa Rica and staying at Arenas Del Mar* for five days! I am beyond excited for this trip. Traveling the globe, searching for gluten-free friendly places, and then sharing that with my readers is exactly what I want to do with my life. It’s why I write Gluten-Free Globetrotter. If I can encourage just one reader to step out of their comfort zone and book a gluten-free vacation anywhere in the world, then my mission is complete!

Arenas del Mar can cater to the gluten-free community year round, but there is an extra special treat later this year. In September and again in November, Arenas del Mar is hosting two weeks dedicated to the Celiac Community. These two weeks will be 100% gluten-free for all guests! How cool is that?

Photo credit: Arenas del Mar
Photo credit: Arenas del Mar

Here is more information about these extra special weeks:

A Week for the Celiac Community

In support of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), Arenas Del Mar will host two Weeks for the Celiac Community. During the weeks beginning September 13th and again on November 8th.  Both restaurants at Arenas Del Mar will go 100% gluten-free for their guests’ safety and comfort.

A Week for the Celiac Community was inspired by the daughter of one of the owners who has celiac disease and understands first-hand how anxiety bout dining out can deter those with special dietary needs from traveling. When she travels, she becomes scared at each mealtime with concern for the ingredients in her food and cross contact in the kitchen.

The first week, beginning September 13th 2014, will feature guest Chef Monica Glass, who herself has celiac disease, accompanied by Chef Nicole Petrongolo. Monica has worked as a pastry chef at the acclaimed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City, 10 Arts in Philadelphia and now Clio in Boston.

The second week, beginning November 8th 2014, will feature Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook, the owners and chefs of the highly rated Zahav in Philadelphia. This restaurant was named best restaurant in Philadelphia by Philly Magazine.

All the kitchen staff at Arenas Del Mar will also have completed the NFCA’s Great Kitchens training program which is accredited by the American Culinary Foundation.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the NFCA.

For further details, please contact Jeremy Allen, Program Director and hotel Partner at or 1- 610 407 9371. Please tell Jeremy you learned about Arenas del Mar from Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Globetrotter!

You can follow my Gluten-Free Globetrotter stay at Arenas Del Mar via:

* Arenas del Mar is hosting my 5-day stay later this June. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.


Guest Post: Gluten-Free in Palm Springs

In 2007, I took a trip to Southern California. I had planned a few days in beautiful La Jolla followed by a trip out to the desert to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. Unfortunately, there were devastating wild fires that changed my itinerary. Since San Diego County was declared a state of emergency, I couldn’t leave La Jolla. I extended my hotel reservation, got myself a face mask for the ashy days, and sadly missed my first California desert experience. 

Recently, I “met” Jen of GFPalmSprings on Twitter. From Jen’s informative Tweets, I assumed she was a blogger so I asked her to write a guest post about being gluten-free in Palm Springs since I didn’t get to experience her city myself. Turns out Jen is not a blogger, but she was up for the challenge. I am excited to share her awesome write-up about her city. I love Jen’s approach to gluten-free eating and exploring. She does not let Celiac stop her, which is a theme on this Gluten-Free Globetrotter website. Thanks Jen for your contribution. I hope to meet you in Palm Springs one day! 

Gluten-Free in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs Sunset

My name is Jen, and I’m a year-round resident of Palm Springs, California. I have celiac disease, which means I have to be very careful about eating out, but I refuse to let my diagnosis keep me from enjoying the world-class dining that Palm Springs has to offer. I also eat at dives, bars, and less-classy places, so I have a lot to share about living gluten-free in this particular oasis.

Palm Springs is a unique resort community that attracts visitors from around the globe. Whether your vibe is casual or elegant, you can find world-class dining without batting an eyelash. I try a new restaurant about once a week, which is hard, because it’s very easy to fall into a routine of your favorites when the menus are so good. I won’t go into the finer points of ordering a celiac safe menu, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of common sense: If you get a blank stare, get out of there!

If you haven’t visited Palm Springs, I can’t recommend it highly enough. “The season” begins when the weather gets cold everywhere else, so winter is hopping here. There is something deeply satisfactory about strolling down Palm Canyon wearing shorts, when you know your family is shoveling snow. Summers are slower, and some restaurants and stores restrict hours or even close in late July and August, so if you visit in the summer it’s a good idea to call ahead.This happens less frequently than it used to because Palm Springs and other desert communities have done a great job bringing tourism in all year round, but double-check if you have your heart set on a particular place.

Global exposure does good things for local cuisine, and Palm Springs has a wide variety of tastes to appeal to every palette. Of course, some cuisines are more naturally gluten free than others, and I have had really good luck at the Mexican and Spanish restaurants. At Casa De Frida ( they make their own corn tortillas and you have to specially request flour — what a fun change! The tapas menu at Alicante ( is clearly labeled with gluten free items and the sangria is delightful on a hot afternoon.

The following are just a few places that I recommend for safety, food quality, and general ambience:

A Palm Springs highlight, Trio ( is known for exceptional food and desserts. Their menu is very clearly marked, and the first time I went in, I almost fell over when I counted fully eleven gluten free items, many of which were naturally gluten free and very high quality ingredients. The wait staff is knowledgable and will always double check with the chef. The lamb shank is to die for and it comes with gravy — a rarity for the celiac diner!

Bill’s Pizza ( makes the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s fresh and prepared safely, and they have a small beer and wine list. The menu is very unique and the staff is truly delightful. Bill’s is always packed, so order ahead if you’re starving.

The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge ( is true Palm Springs. The decor is swanky and chic, with enough nod to the 50s and 60s to feel nostalgic. The menu in the restaurant is very elegant, and the taro chips are a must try. The patio is a great place for a light dinner, appetizer plate, and a drink or two. Another nod to a staff that really gets it, they’re very careful with my orders and make suggestions for modifying the standard fare.

Escena Lounge and Grill ( gets an honorable mention for the extensive wine list and the best view in the valley. The gluten free selection of food is not great — mostly salads — but I go often for a glass of wine at sunset. It’s too pretty to stay away!


One more honorable mention to Workshop Kitchen + Bar ( for their unique, fresh, delicious cocktails. I’ve never eaten there, but it’s a frequent last stop for a nightcap on the way home. Try the Matador #2 for a spicy kick or the Town & Desert, a delicious take on a sour.

There are many more delightful little hideaways in the desert that I’d love to share with you all. If you can brave the summer temperatures, Palm Springs Restaurant Week ( is a great time to visit — price fixe menus are available at over 100 restaurants and they pull out all the stops. But any time of year is great here in the desert, and I hope you plan a trip knowing you can eat delicious and safely-prepared gluten-free meals!

About Jen of GF Palm Springs:
Jen is a lifetime resident of Souther California, currently living in the resort town of Palm Springs with her husband and two Australian Shepherds. A celiac diagnosis mandated a new relationship with food, and she tweets about living the good life, gluten-free. You can find Jen on Twitter:


Gluten-Free Weekend at Canyon Ranch

Image from you looking for a gluten-free getaway for next spring? Look no further than the Gluten-Free Weekend at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. Co-organized by Lesley Hock of Travel Leaders and Karen Broussard from Gluten Free Travel Site, this gluten-free weekend is sure to be a luxurious gluten-free event.

Gluten-Free Weekend at Canyon Ranch
Lenox, Massachusetts
May 3-6, 2012

Special All-Inclusive Three-Night Package

Single Occupancy $2,360
Double Occupancy $1,790
Rates are per person – a savings of up to 30 percent!

Your Canyon Ranch in Lenox stay includes:

  • Gracious accommodations
  • Three gourmet meals daily, plus always-available healthy snacks
  • $130 allowance for spa, sports and integrative wellness services plus an additional $130 after group orientation
  • More than 40 fitness classes and activities daily
  • Unlimited access to truly incredible facilities
  • Transfers to and from Hartford or Albany airports, or the Albany (Rensselaer) train station, or complimentary valet parking
  • The kindness, warmth and expertise of our caring staff
  • All taxes | Canyon Ranch is a no-tipping resort

Although Canyon Ranch offers gluten-free items on its menu, the Canyon Ranch kitchen is not wholly gluten free.

Information & reservations:

Lesley Hock, 508-879-6110 or lhayden@

Rates are per person based on deluxe accommodations. Rates and services are subject to change without notice. Space is limited. A deposit of $500 is required upon booking. Full deposit refund if cancelled 30 or more days prior to arrival. Deposit held for one year toward a future stay with cancellation made 8 to 29 days prior to arrival. Deposits are forfeited for cancellations made 7 days or less prior to arrival.

To read more about this Gluten-Free Weekend at Canyon Ranch, please visit the Gluten-Free Travel Site blog.

If you book this trip, please tell Lesley you learned about it from Erin at Gluten-Free Globetrotter! Thanks.