Our Story

About Us & Encantada Arenal

Hi. We are Marty & Nita Kemsley, and that cute little Blue Heeler pup is our rescue dog Beau! Marty was born and raised in Southern California and Nita originally hails from Portland, Oregon. Eventually, our life journeys took us both to Utah, where we met and married in 1984

Our dream of living in Central America began in 2003 after spending an impromptu vacation week in Costa Rica. Though we have previously traveled the world exploring new places and many old historical ones as well. When we came to Costa Rica, we were smitten. For Nita, it was “Love at first sight.” But for Marty, it took a second trip south of the border, before he was finally convinced that Costa Rica was truly a place, we could call home. It was on our third trip down, that we took the plunge and bought our property, which consisted of two beautiful acres of pastureland, that bordered on the Children’s Eternal rainforest. As the sun beamed brightly in a clear blue sky, Howler monkeys called in the distance, adding their base to the soprano choir of birds singing individual songs and the lake shimmered like broken glass. This life changing moment was simply magical, and we were so enchanted, that we named the parcel, Hacienda Encantada, that very day! With stunning views of the Arenal volcano and Lake Arenal, we’d finally found our own little piece of paradise and it even had a little creek running through the jungle below.

We built our first home, which is now the Encantada Guest House, in 2009 and in 2011, we started building a larger Spanish Colonial style home, that would eventually include two courtyard guestrooms for a future Bed & Breakfast business. Having had a thriving retail business for many years, Nita has always had a knack for customer service and for catching the swell of the next popular wave before it peaks. Sites like Airbnb and VRBO, were just starting to catch on and Costa Rica was quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, so we decided to try offering our Casita as a “Vacation Rental” home, when we weren’t in residence. To our amazement, the new guest house was an instant success!  Catering to tourists soon became like a fast falling love affair: With us, connecting on a personal level with each guest and our guests returning that sentiment back to us, by leaving great reviews. And with that, our hosting journey had begun.

We made the official, and permanent move to Costa Rica, in 2016. Having spent so many years building our dream home and visiting this little country, we have gained the unique perspective of experiencing Costa Rica, as both visitors and as locals. Our past experiences as avid, leisure travelers helped lead us to this point and taught us so much about hosting. In fact, we learned much of what we know today from the guest’s point of view. For instance, we learned that communication between the host and guest is very important; what amenities make sense; what types of homes are desirable; and unfortunately, having some not so good experiences, have also taught us what we should not to do, as well.

Because we were guests, before we became hosts, we operate with a guest-first mentality. For example, we remember times when our flight was delayed, or we simply got in so late that we had missed having dinner along the way and we would then arrive in our hotel room with no bottled water and basically nothing to eat. Remembering those times, we wanted to make sure that our guests don’t have to experience that discomfort and so we make sure that there are bottles of pure fresh spring water and snacks, waiting for every guest upon arrival. Fast forward to the next morning and I would inevitably wake up to realize I’d forgotten to pack something. What would it be this time? Toothbrush? Hair dryer? Shampoo? Feminine products? For those instances, we have developed what we call our “Dang it” baskets and Lady boxes. They have items that are commonly forgotten and can hold you over, until you can get to the store for the things you need.

At Encantada…Mi Casa es Su Casa. (My house is your house.) is not just a casual saying, it truly means something, and we want our guests to enjoy feeling laid back and comfortable during their stay. So, we have put extra care and detail into every aspect of our home. From lush tropical gardens, to refreshing spring fed pools, jetted hot tub spas, and even a private rain forest trail, the quality of our amenities will surprise and delight!  Recently, we have even added a lavish Moon-gate (perfect for a wedding backdrop), a seasonal gas firepit and 2 cozy hammocks for two. We are constantly striving to offer a tranquil upscale retreat, that our guests will love.

  • We personally recommend activities based on their level of fun and amazing locations that we, ourselves frequent and trust. We are pleased to act as your personal concierge for booking tour and activities.

  • Our Guesthouse is always privately enjoyed and setup exclusively to welcome guests as couples or families.The B&B is exclusive to adults only and offers a more luxurious and pampered stay.

  • Nita has lovingly designed each room with intention to maximize the space and make sure everyone is comfortable during their time there. 

  • We made a list of things we wished we had during our own travels and put them in our rooms (like those nifty “Dang it” baskets).

  • Through our direct partnerships with local businesses, we have worked to find the best value ordiscount for our guests to help them save money on dining and adventure attractions.

  • We never use an impersonal management company, so you will always have direct access to us, during any Encantada stay, and especially when booking directly.

We work behind the scenes for every reservation, taking note of special occasions, and arranging activities in advance, so you can enjoy a no worries, no hassle stay and our rock star cleaning crew is cleaning every crevice in the home, whether it looks like the last guest touched it or not; and of course Nita is always going behind them fluffing pillows, restocking coffee, making sure everything is perfect and ready for your arrival. It may be a lot of work, but making sure our guests feel welcome from the moment they walk through the front door is something we genuinely love and take pride in.  

When we first began hosting, we operated on-line under the name Encantada Guest House. However, with the addition of the new B&B, which we just finished building in 2020, we have decided that the name was too limiting and no longer fit our identity. Thus, we have become Encantada Arenal and the guest house is now an additional asset of our hospitality business, rather than a stand-alone venture of its own. While we may have a new name, the level of commitment and service to our guests, remains the same. 

Whether it’s a spirit of adventure that brings you to Costa Rica and the El Castillo, Lake Arenal area, or a quest to find tranquility and relaxation, Encantada welcomes you!
We are honored that you’ve chosen to stay in our home and we encourage you to reach out to us, if we can answer any additional questions for you. We hope that your stay at our home, will become a special part of your Costa Rica memories and that you will experience a magical journey of your very own. Come as guests...leave as treasured friends!

Marty & Nita Kemsley
Owners & Hosts at Encantada Arenal

P.S. If you’d like to stay connected with us and our adventures, we invite you to sign up for our semi-monthly blog, O’CRAP (Our Costa Rican Adventure Publication) and to follow us on Social Media!.