AmaTierra: A Versatile Retreat Center
in the Heart of Costa Rica
AmaTierra is a life-enhancing yoga retreat, wellness center and guest facility nestled on eight acres of jungle forest in the Costa Rican mountains, located less than one hour’s drive west of the capital city, San Jose, and one hour north of the Central Pacific beaches.
AmaTierra is your restful, secure and welcoming home away from home as you relax in a natural setting with breath-taking views, venture on day trips to a variety of area attractions – sandy beaches, waterfalls, Carara National Park, Poas Volcano, a snorkeling trip to Tortuga Island, and even a zip-line through the jungle canopy. AmaTierra’s tropical latitude and comfortable elevation, at 2000 feet, create an ideal climate for relaxation and wellbeing, with temperatures between 62-84 degrees F (17-29C) year round.
AmaTierra is a sustainability-minded eco-resort featuring:
– 10 beautifully appointed private casitas, each with its own outdoor patio;
– a breath-taking open-air yoga pavillion with 270° views of the lush jungle valley;
– a Spa and Wellness Center offering massage, energy therapies, spa services, nutritional consultation, detox programs and integrative herbal medicine with expert practitioners;
– organic gardens, hydroponic greenhouse and free-range chickens for eggs and veggies served farm-to-table at our gourmet restaurant on-site;
– quiet walking trails, meditation benches set among nature, hammocks in the shade and an infinity-edge pool for relaxation and reflection.
At AmaTierra, we value versatility, creating personalized experiences and offering high-quality service to our guests. Whether you’re looking for a bed-and-breakfast in a beautiful environment off the beaten path, an all-inclusive vacation package for wellness and adventure, or a place to host your next destination yoga retreat, we help you design the experience that’s perfect for you.
AmaTierra Owners, Bob and Jill Ruttenberg
Jill Ruttenberg is a Hatha yoga instructor, massage therapist and registered clinical herbalist with 30 years of experience in Chinese and western herbal medicine. Jill is AmaTierra’s Yoga & Wellness Director, resident herbalist and founder of AmaTierra Integrative Herbs. A lifelong student and teacher of natural medicine and alternative healing therapies, Jill has spent the past decade integrating her practice with a comprehensive knowledge of tropical plant medicine in collaboration with local Costa Rican herbalists and indigenous healers.
Bob Ruttenberg comes from a career of 40 years in the music business, which began the day he returned to Chicago from the Woodstock Festival of 1969. He owned two record stores in the mountains of Colorado in the 70’s & 80s and since then has helped hundreds of artists become known and respected, especially in the world of jazz music. Bob’s friendly nature and passion for music are a highlight of AmaTierra’s hospitality, and if you get him talking you won’t believe the stories he’s got up his sleeve…
Jill and Bob have been married for over 40 years. Their journey together has led them from their home towns in the suburbs of Chicago, to the mountains of Colorado back in the hippy days of peace, love and music, to the sunny beaches of Southern California where they raised their two daughters, Amanda and Tara, then to the dry deserts of Tucson, Arizona, and now to AmaTierra – their jungle-dream hideaway off the beaten path, in beautiful Costa Rica.
Many people ask us “How did you end up in Costa Rica? What’s Your Story?” So we’ve decided to finally write it all down.
After raising our two daughters, Amanda and Tara (the inspiration for the name Ama-Tierra) in Southern California and Arizona, we were looking for a new experience. Our love of travel and desire to live in a foreign country combined with a growing awareness that life in the good ole’ U.S.A. was spinning at an inhuman pace. Facing another four years of a George Bush presidency was not a pleasant thought, especially after Jill had worked on John Kerry’s campaign in southern Arizona. All of these things together propelled Jill to expand her vision of wellness and create a place where people could take a time out from life, de-stress and heal themselves.
Bob, meanwhile, was seeing the writing on the wall after 40 years in the music industry, watching digital downloads replace record stores. He, too, was ready for a change. We started making plans to leave the U.S. “It was just becoming bad medicine for me, feeling so frustrated every day,” Jill says of those months leading up to the move. “I felt the country was asleep, and I wanted to go somewhere that was more in line with my beliefs, a place where I could actually make a difference.” But where was that place? As a family, we had traveled often to Baja, Mexico, but options were limited there for clean water, growing organic produce and becoming self-sustaining along the desert coastland.
We had heard good things about Costa Rica. The country has no army since 1949, which means they will never declare a war – a refreshing thought for Peaceniks like us while the Bush/Cheney duo was destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. Friendly people, a stable democracy, a government who cares about education (Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate), giving everyone medical care (no one is turned away at the public health clinics), and concern for the environment (26% of the country is national park or forest land with successful reforestation programs in place). These were all encouraging factors in examining where our values might find resonance south of the US border.
Our daughter Tara was already planning to spend her junior year of college at the University of Costa Rica, so we sold the big house in Tucson, got a full price offer the first week (talk about the Universe supporting us—WOW!) and in June of 2005, the four of us jumped on a plane to Costa Rica for a two-week journey around the country. We looked at land, since the idea was to build our own yoga retreat and wellness center. We visited coffee farms, rustic homes made of wood, bamboo and thatched roofs, and even a few cement houses with bare lightbulbs and wiring strung across the ceilingless rafters. We reveled in the cultural differences, feeling excited about the possibilities. We visited coastal areas with crazy potholed roads and growling howler monkeys. Bob remembers, with good humor: “One day I’m standing in the pouring rain with mud and cow pies under my tennies, watching Jill actually smiling as she talked to the owner of this coffee farm as he stood next to his cows and I’m thinking, God, what have I gotten myself into?”
Throughout the particularly rainy two weeks, Bob kept asking: “When are we going to see that Finca Que Ama place?” It was a small hotel for sale in the mountains, owned by a young Israeli couple. We had read about it in an online journal called “Escaping America.” Sounded about right.
“Don’t you remember? It’s out of our price range,” Jill said. We dropped Tara at the beach in Jaco – her home for the month before beginning her study abroad program in the city – and went home with our older daughter Amanda to Arizona to digest all we had seen.
An email awaited us, from the couple at La Finca Que Ama, which translates to mean “the loving estate”. It read: “If you are still interested in our property, we have lowered the price and are willing to talk terms.” Hmmmmmmmmm….Bob’s intuition was right. But darn, we hadn’t even stopped by to visit! Ok, but Tara is there, we thought, and she’s even closer to the owners’ age than we are. Let HER go see it! Neta, a smiling and short-haired 27 year old and her husband Arbel, the bearded artist who loves Reggae, were gracious hosts the very next week. Tara called us from the hotel: “Mom”, she said “when you see this place, you’re going to want to do whatever it takes to make it yours”. Wow. In September we went back to Costa Rica, accompanied by our friend and psychic advisor Veronica, to see the place, feel its energy, and check it all out. And needless to say, we fell in love.
We didn’t have all the money together (does anybody ever in these sorts of situations?) but we scrambled to learn our best about how to find investors—talking to friends, lawyers, financial advisors; it was a big learning curve. We learned how to write a business plan, and make projections. In the end, we raised the minimum we needed, and just eight months after we first set foot on rich, fertile, Costa Rican earth, we were the proud owners of a 10-room hotel, with a dream-like vision to create our yoga retreat and wellness center.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Rafael ‘Cuco’ Zuniga Navarro, Property and Maintenance Manager
A native of nearby Puriscal, “Cuco” is our Right Hand Man at AmaTierra. He was here helping build the resort, and knows every inch of it. He can fix nearly everything, is always available to help, even late at night if there is an undesirable insect to be taken out of your room. Conversations (he taught himself English) with Cuco about farming, trees, wood, projects and life in the jungle are stimulating, light and lively.
Meybelin Reyes Lopez, Chef and Kitchen Manager:
Meybelin is originally from Nicaragua and joined our team in 2013. She loves to cook and has earned her reputation as the fastest “chopper” in the region! You will love how she combines spices and creates delicious, nourishing meals every day.
Camilo Garavito, Chef.
With a passion for learning and world travel, Camilo holds degrees in hospitality management and business administration, as well as culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu Academie D’Art Culinaire de Paris. His flair for incorporating flavors from a variety of cultures including his native Colombia will make your mouth water.
Yolanda Jimenez Bermudez, Head of Service Staff and Housekeeping
Yolanda was born and raised in our little town of San Pablo, is married to a well-known rodeo rider and has one daughter, Jennifer who is a high achiever in the local high school. Yolanda’s attention to detail shows in the many beautiful touches you will see in your room and in the common areas. She has been working here since the creation of the resort in 2003.
Lorena Aguilar, Front Desk Manager
Lorena is the first smiling face you will see when you arrive at AmaTierra, and the kind, soft voice you hear answering our phone. She has travelled to many lands and is an artist with a degree in photography design from The University of Palermo in Argentina. Her parents were both graphic artists and she learned much from them. Personally dedicated to self-improvement and growth, Lorena loves to learn, and has a multi-cultural approach to life. She is fluent in Spanish and English. If you are looking for a professional photo of yourself (either solo or with your traveling companion) in AmaTierra’s open-air studio, ask Lorena to help you create a lasting memory of your retreat.