Monday, April 27, 2009

a 500-unit senior living complex in Santa Ana not far from the Cruz Roja building

Kaufman's first project will be 500 senior units in Santa Ana

Henry Kaufman's first project in Costa Rica will be a 500-unit senior living complex in Santa Ana not far from the Cruz Roja building and just four blocks from the commercial center.

Source: A.M. Costa Rica

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How about 10 days in Costa Rica beginning at $995?

Consider Costa Rica, an affordable locale
By Joy Crutchfield
Special to the News-Capital

Are you looking for a great vacation at an affordable price? How about 10 days in Costa Rica beginning at $995?

Costa Rica offers naturalist guides, exotic birds and wildlife, hiking in jungle rainforests, views of volcanoes, soaking in hot springs and cruising through biological reserves.

You’ll find relaxation on the both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Your tour begins and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica. It includes all meals in Latin America, all activities, all hotels, a great itinerary, all airport transfers, all transportation and excursions.

A professional tour director accompanies you for the entire tour. Purified water is provided at meals and complimentary bottled water is available on the motorcoach.

Want to know where you’re going? Take a look at this wonderful itinerary:

Day One: Welcome to the “rich coast.” Tonight you’ll dine in your hotel then join a welcome briefing.

Day Two: After breakfast you will view Poas Volcano and its’ mile high crater. Next, hike the Escalonia Cloud Forest Trail. Enjoy lunch, then see San Hose’s Plaza de la Cultura, Central Park and the National Theater.

Day Three: After a scenic drive through Braulio Carrillo Park, you’re going to glide through the jungle canopy on the world famous rainforest aerial tram.

Enjoy a short hike on level terrain with a naturalist guide, then lunch. Next you’ll cruise through rivers and canals to the 47,000 acre Tortuguero National Park. Look for toucans, parrots, kingfishers, and the rare green macaw.

Day Four: Cruise this morning along canals lined by raffia palm, habitat of howler and white-faced monkeys, green iguanas and tropical birds. Later you’ll take a boat excursion into Tortuguero Park to look for otters, turtles and manatees.

Day Five: After visiting a pineapple plantation you’ll drive through the scenic countryside to the San Carlos valley.

Day Six: This morning you head north through sugar cane, teak and orange plantations. Cruise the Rio Frio which runs through the world famous Cano Negro wildlife refuge, home to many migratory birds. Watch out for caimans, crocodiles, spider monkeys and web footed, water-walking lizards.

Finally, enjoy a relaxing soak in the volcanic hot springs. You may see Arenal Volcano’s softly glowing lava flow.

Day Seven: Today you’re going to hike on six suspension bridges through lush tropical rainforest canopy.

Later drive around Lake Arenal, then on to the only tropical dry forest in Costa Rica.

Day Eight: Enjoy your visit to the Manual Antonio National Park, home of the rare squirrel monkey. There’s time to beach comb or swim at the pristine beaches.

Day Nine: You’ll enjoy the morning drive to the central valley where you’ll shop for handicrafts including painted oxcarts. After lunch you’ll get to pick a few coffee beans at a coffee plantation and sample fresh Costa Rican coffee. Tonight is your farewell dinner.

Day Ten: San Jose: Your wonderful tour ends after breakfast this morning at your hotel.

Five Costa Rica adventures -

Five Costa Rica adventures - "Five Costa Rica adventures"

Friday, April 24, 2009

La Bahia

Source: Calypso Island Chronicles

The Best Pizza in Costa Rica!

April 24th, 2009

I had just arrived in Nosara, a popular beach resort community located in Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula. After picking up my Zen Cafecar at Toyota Car rental’s office in downtown Play Guiones, I decided to grab a bite to eat and some coffee at the “hippish” Zen Café before driving further up the coast to my hotel just north of Ostional.

During my conversation with the young Floridian Expats who owned Zen café, I inquired if they could recommend a good vegetarian restaurant near my hotel, Luna Azul. One of the guys who lived in the nearby village of Playa San Juanillo highly recommended a small seaside restaurant called La Bahia located about 5-6KM from my hotel. He boasted that La Bahia had the best pizza in all of Costa Rica. Now, I have had pizza a number of times in Costa Rica and it was average at best! As a pizza enthusiast, La Bahia sounded very promising. Finishing my large cup of organic coffee, which was very delicious by the way, I headed up to my hotel - a good 40 minutes drive from downtown Playa Guiones.

La Bahia signNeedless to say, I took the advice of the young guy from Zen as I ended up having dinner at La Bahia two of the four nights that I was in Nosara. Driving to the restaurant at night was quite an adventure though as the 800 meter dirt track from the “main (dirt) highway” was in terrible shape, making it a very bumpy ride. It didn’t help matters any that the signage from the “main highway” was improper and relatively obscure – on at least two occasions I passed the turnoff and had to backtrack to find the sign/exit. But you know what? The young guy at ZEN was right! Not only was the Pizza outstanding - better than 95% of pizzas that that I have had in the USA - but the vegetarian pasta dish and Mediterranean Salad that I had on my 2nd visit was even better. The pasta was freshly made and La Bahiawas accompanied by some very tangy tomato sauce spiced with herbs and some choice green vegetables. And the Salad? It was absolute perfection - a salad to die for.

Now I’m not one who hands out praise too easily especially when it come to restaurants, but I am going on record to say that La Bahia, even though menu is somewhat limited, has to be the best restaurant that I have been to in COSTA RICA! The two guys who man the kitchen are both from Italy and have worked for many years as chefs in both their native Italy and in Spain. No wonder, the food was so delicious!

FYI – For a medium vegetarian pizza, the cost was approximately $10USD, and for the pasta dish, large salad and a Bavaria Negra (the best beer in Costa Rica, by the way) the cost was $21.00USD. Not cheap, not expensive!

Drake Bay



Roughing it for the fun of it

By TARA DOOLEY Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

April 22, 2009, 11:41AM

DRAKE BAY, Costa Rica — The initial reactions from friends and family were not encouraging.

“You are dragging a New Jersey lawyer to a tent in the jungle of Costa Rica,” was more the lament than the question from my best friend.

“No hot water. That’s my idea of hell, not a vacation,” was my sister’s take on the plan.

Not that I could blame them. My trip to the Osa Peninsula, a remote part of southern Costa Rica, was out of character. My foreign travels had been in pursuit of art, history and education.

Sure, I like nature. I am widely admired for my ability, from a distance of more than 100 feet, to accurately distinguish between the squirrel and the tree. But my survival skills are pretty much limited to strategic mall parking, navigating the grids of large cities and deciphering the patterns of underground public transportation.

Indeed I was dragging a Jersey lawyer with a stress level measured by the beeps of his Blackberry into the rain forest of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica was his idea. The tent in the rain forest was mine. Mostly I wanted to take a deep breath get away from everything. And everything included crowds of tourists.

The area around Corcovado National Park, which takes up most of the peninsula, is known for its wildlife and wilderness. It promised unpopulated beaches. What better way to experience all that isolated nature than four nights at the Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp, I figured. Plus, canvas covering sounded like rent I could afford.

One of the major differences between the Corcovado park and a tourist beach town is the commitment required to get there.

At Tobías Bolaños International Airport in the Pavas district of San Jose, Jersey Boy and I boarded a plane so small we could touch the co-pilot from the front seat as he chatted with us about safety features.

After flying over a green canopy covering mountains, we landed in the Drake Bay Airport at the park’s northern border. Any fear that I would find myself surrounded by oiled beachcombers disappeared with my first glimpse of the livestock grazing behind the airport’s terminal, which resembled a lean-to.

With no questions asked — or answered — we were stuffed into a van and driven off on a mostly dirt road, over hill and plank bridge, to Drake Bay and the tiny town of Agujitas.

No more than 1,000 residents live in and around the town, which consists mainly of a dirt road, a dusty beachfront market, an elementary school, a clinic, a couple of one-room stores and at least one restaurant.

Banks, buses and traffic lights were conspicuously absent. Dirt bikes, donkeys and SUVs populated the road, though most traffic traveled by foot along an oceanfront path.

Even in the dry season, when dust had settled on the palms and hibiscus growing by the road, the air was moist and the forest pressed against the sides of the town.

“It smells like earth and vegetation and just loveliness,” said Lisa Emigh, formerly of Oregon, who manages a hotel on the bay. “You can feel it, there is a lot of oxygen; there is a lot of life here.”

We tumbled out of the van at the beach, rolled up our jeans and waded into the Pacific to board a boat for the final leg of our journey.

Hopping into a 22-foot swaying boat became a maneuver I would fail to perfect during my visit. Beginner’s luck meant I didn’t fall on my fanny on the first try. I had plenty more opportunities for that.

The boat ride along the Pacific coast felt like a vacation in itself.

The view from one side was of a thick wad of forest shaped like the edge of a green cotton cloud. On the other side was the vast ocean and Caño Island, a nature preserve known for the fabulous fish in its waters.

After about 15 minutes of warm air, cool spray and the slapping of the boat against the water, the driver steered toward the shore.

As the boat heaved, I lurched onto the beach where I hopped on tender, freshly pedicured feet over hot sand and into a stream before reaching the tent I would call home.

It was everything this city slicker could want out of a tent: a platform, two beds, clean sheets and a candle for a night light.

Larry Hustler, a former Californian who arrived in Costa Rica when he was 18 and never really left, owns the camp. He bought the property 25 years ago and for the past 15 years has operated the outdoor lodge.

He picked the spot because of the creek that runs through it and because it is wonderfully free of bugs. Biting bugs, that is. There are plenty of the other kind. He also liked that it was remote.

“I like the isolation of not having cars,” Hustler said. “There is no car access and there never will be.”

Electricity is expected, though — sometime soonish, he said.

In the meantime, the communal bathrooms and the rancho, or mess hall, are powered by a diesel generator. Late at night the low-level light comes from batteries.

The camp has 24 tents and a capacity of about 50 people. When I was there, about 12 were in residence, a great number when getting away is the goal.

Meals are served family style. There is no menu, though the camp attempts to accommodate dietary requirements. On my visit, the guests seemed to be an eat-what-is-placed-in-front-of-you kind of crowd.

The vibe was sort of summer camp for adults, a sense underscored every time the conch shell sounded to announce meals.

Like summer camp, dinner companions were important. I met an engaging group of adventure vacationers that included couples from Switzerland and Canada’s arctic, a French family and two transplants from Canada and the United States who now make their home in Costa Rica.

The first activity involved a short walk through the forest to an empty beach. Though the sand was brownish and silty, the water was clear, warm and soft.

That afternoon, time was marked by the tide and sunset. After a cold shower and a cold beer, sitting in front of the tent listening to the sounds of the rain forest and the pulse of the Pacific 20 steps away made dragging a New Jersey lawyer to a tent in the jungle seem like a good idea after all.

Look, but don’t touch in national park

CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK, Costa Rica — First was a warning: Don’t touch the thorny green tentacles on trees or plants. They could make you sick. Then was the introduction to spider webs. Finally the suggestions that we not step on anything moving or anything that seems suspicious. Also hazardous to the health.

The warnings came from Adrian Barboza Alvarado, the 26-year-old guide from the Corcovado Tent Camp who was in charge of navigating a field trip of grown-ups through the Pacific coastline rain forest of Corcovado National Park.

We entered the park at the San Pedrillo ranger station, which we reached by boat. For the next few hours we head a nature-hike view of what seemed to me magical creatures: Sloths lounged in trees, turkeylike birds shuffled through the forest and monkeys kept a safe distance from the tourists.

As we emerged from the forest, we were treated to a display of scarlet macaws in the trees marking a line between forest and ocean.

After lunch, our field trip came to an end with a reward: a swim under a waterfall nestled in the rain forest.

A new cast of characters underwater

CAÑO ISLAND, Costa Rica —Swimming with the fishes has always had a sinister ring to me. But after three hours in snorkeling gear with my head under water and my backside getting burned in the spots without sunscreen, my opinion changed.

The boat delivered us to the waters near Caño Island, a biological reserve. Wearing life vests, we jumped in and looked down into another world. I’m no expert, but the marine biologist on the excursion said the variety of species was astounding.

We saw manta rays, sting rays, bull sharks, sea turtles and a rainbow of other sorts of swimming creatures. My favorite was a fish that looked like a yellow submarine.

Tara Dooley: Chronicle
The Pacific Ocean is just feet aways from campers' tents at the Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp near Drake Bay in Costa Rica.


The first stop is getting to Costa Rica. Continental and most major airlines have flights daily to San Jose. Getting to the Drake Bay area requires commitment.

• Fly in: This is by far the easiest way. SANSA,, and Nature Air,, fly to Drake Bay. My Nature Air ticket cost $120 round-trip.

• Be adventurous: Buses run to Sierpe or Palmar Sur and boats are available for hire to Drake Bay. From there it is a path through the rain forest to hotels and the Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp. It’s about a two-hour walk from Drake Bay to the tent camp.


If a tent in the rain forest with shared bathrooms and no hot water isn’t your idea of fun the area also offers eco-lodging, some of it pretty upscale.

• Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp: Many of the tents are paces from the Pacific Ocean. Surprisingly bug free, they sit on platforms and are covered with A-frame tarp. Each has two beds with sheets. Some electricity. No hot water. Sometimes the adventure is getting to the communal restroom at night. Surrounding wildlife ranges from howler monkeys and toucans in the trees to frogs, lizards and other crawly things everywhere else. Four nights including meals, transportation from Drake Bay and guided tours of Corcovado National Park and Caño Island cost $535.

• Hotel Jinetes de Osa: This small hotel has nine rooms, a dining room and small bar tucked into the forest and right off the main drag — a pedestrian path — into "downtown" Drake Bay. It is managed by Lisa Emigh from Oregon. Meals are family style and the hotel specializes in organizing scuba diving trips. Rates range from $55 to $115 a night depending on the season, but trip packages are the most economical.

• Aguila De Osa Inn: This place counts as downright fancy with hot water, private bathrooms and 24-hour electricity. It is also remote, tucked into a green hill and has luxuries like a dock. Room rates range from $460 to $648 for two nights, depending on the season.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More farm than yoga, this eco-oasis provides an entirely off-grid experience




Week of April 23, 2009, Issue #705

Costa Rica: Going eco in the jungle


Costa Rica: Going eco in the jungle

Mike Garth /

It looks as though our plane is landing in the middle of a sea of active volcanoes. The only things visible at this late hour are streams of light trickling down the dark, jagged terrain like lava. Gone are the grids of farmland and cities familiar to North America. My brother and I have arrived in Costa Rica.

Equipped with only our backpacks and a guidebook, we have a full month to trek around the safest, most ecologically-protected part of Central America. We end up staying at 10 different places in 30 days, hitting all four corners of the land by way of public transportation—splurging on the occasional boat ride—while staying in clean, well-maintained hotels for $10 – $20 per night. Though each destination boasts unfettered hospitality, warmth and endless activities, the gem that shines brightest for us is the southernmost tip of the country: the Osa Peninsula region.
Each region of Costa Rica is distinct from the next—the differences within the tiny nation, about the size of New Brunswick, are surprising—and the Osa is no exception. Nowhere else on our trip is the concept of eco-tourism so forthright.

The notion of sustainability is new to this part of the world and more often than not takes a back seat to development and tourism revenue. La Leona Ecolodge ( breaks this trend in a wonderful way. To get there you need to allow plenty of time as it is situated on the doorstep of Corcovado National Park, world-renowned for its wildlife and about as far away as you can get from Costa Rican civilization.
After riding in the back of a truck down a long, bumpy road—rated the worst in all the land—we're let off at the beach. It's a three-kilometre walk to the lodge. The hardcore backpackers put us to shame by pushing past our destination for another 17 km hike to La Sirena Ranger Station, a bare-bones campsite in the middle of the jungle.

"A different kind of tourist visits this place," remarks Adrian Morales, co-manager. "Now and then we have instances where people turn around and leave because there's no TV or air conditioning. If that's what you are expecting out here, you will be very disappointed." Morales is part of the Costa Rican family operation that keeps the place running. Solar panels provide the minimum electricity requirements, powering only the kitchen and a small office.

Once night falls, everything is illuminated by candlelight. Internet is available at $10 per half hour but given the cost and your surroundings—on a cliff overlooking the Pacific—you might think twice about its necessity. Though the food looks and smells delicious, at $20 US a plate we opt to bring our own groceries, a common practice for budget travellers.


After our stint at the tent lodge, we are inspired. Not entirely sure what we're in for next, our eyes are about to be opened even wider to the possibilities of the sustainable eco-tourism concept.

But first it's back down the punishing dirt road. After a boat ride across the Golfo Dulce, some hiking, a bus ride, a river ferry, a voyage on a rusted-out school bus and yet another trek in the back of a truck we find ourselves 10 km from the Panama border at a place called the Yoga Farm (

More farm than yoga, this eco-oasis provides an entirely off-grid experience; solar panels, composting toilets, two natural water springs, an organic garden and a staff that includes a local indigenous family. The price is right too: $35 per person per day, which includes three vegetarian meals and a 70-minute yoga class.

The people staying at the Yoga Farm are among the most gracious we encounter on the trip. (We are instantly greeted and given the grand tour by someone who is just staying there for a few days.) Most are staying for weeks and months on end. Everyone takes turns in the kitchen, tending to the gardens and doing whatever else needs to be done. On our first night, we bend the vegetarian rules slightly to feast on fresh caught tuna and mackerel.

Built eight years ago by a Montréal entrepreneur, the structure itself is a masterpiece. Sitting atop steep hills that tower over beautiful beaches, materials were brought up on horseback and constructed by locals. Timber frames and impressive stonework comprise a main floor of dorm and bath rooms. Upstairs boasts a huge open-air yoga studio with a serene view of the ocean only mildly obstructed by the gentle sway of the tops of palm trees.

"On days when it's cloudy, you gain an appreciation for electricity," laments manager Klaus Fronius, who hails from Austria. "On days when it's exceptionally hot, you gain an appreciation for running water. If you stay here long enough, this place forces you to take a good look at how easy we all have it back home and how much we take for granted."

As far ahead as the Yoga Farm is in its earth-friendly operations, its surrounding countryside is decidedly not so. Little if any knowledge of sustainable farming exists. Large swaths of land are clear-cut for the harvest of lucrative palm oil; the unthinkable act of poisoning perfectly healthy palm trees and leaving them to die once their branches become too tall to reach is commonplace.

"It started with bananas and coffee. The same devastating farming methods continue today," explains Fronius. "At least hospitality in our part of the country has not gotten nearly as bad as it is up north [in the Guanacaste province] where gigantic resorts are being built with absolutely no forethought. Every single room has air conditioning." He has to stop himself as the sheer excess of the situation gets the best of him.

After an all-too-short three-day experience at the Farm, my brother and I leave the Osa region in tranquility and harmony with the land. As we make our way back to the bustling capital of San José to conclude our adventure, we prepare ourselves for the shock of returning to civilization. V

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Costa Rica The Guardian Report

Country profile: Costa Rica

Facts and statistics on Costa Rica including history, population, politics, geography, economy, religion and climate

Map of Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica. Source: Graphic

Potted history of the country: Malaria and dysentery, hostile natives and unbearable heat saw off early European visitors, until conquistadors established a permanent presence in 1563. Costa Rica joined other provinces to declare independence from Spain in 1821 and become the short-lived Federal Republic of Central America, before declaring itself a sovereign nation in 1838. A 44-day civil war in 1948 claimed about 2,000 lives. The victorious government junta drafted a new constitution and the first democratic elections took place in 1953.

  1. At a glance
  2. Location: The Central American isthmus
  3. Neighbours: Nicaragua, Panama
  4. Size: 19,730 square miles
  5. Population: 4,325,517 (123rd)
  6. Density: 219.2 people per square mile
  7. Capital city: San José (population 348,557)
  8. Head of state: President Oscar Arias Sánchez
  9. Currency: Colón
  10. Time zone: Costa Rica time (-6 hours)
  11. International dialling code: +506
  12. Website:
  13. Data correct on Monday 20 April 2009

Political pressure points: Costa Rica has been one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the region since the military was disbanded after the civil war. A four-year border dispute with Nicaragua over patrolling rights on the San Juan river, which separates the two countries, is before the international court of justice in The Hague.

Population mix: European and Mestizo 94%, African 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%

Religious makeup: Catholic 74%, Protestant 13%, no religious affiliation approximately 9%

Main language: Spanish

Living national icons: Franklin Chang Diaz (astronaut), Chavela Vargas (singer), Claudia Poll (Olympic gold medal swimmer), Nery Brenes (athletics), Ernesto Fonseca (motocross)

Costa Rica on a map Costa Rica on a map. Source: Graphic

Landscape and climate: Volcanoes divide the country, from Nicaragua in the north to Panama in the south. The varying altitude and climate nurture dense, rich rainforests inland and oppressive heat and humidity during the dry season in coastal areas. Earthquakes are an ever-present threat.

Highest point: Cerro Chirripo, 3,810 metres

Area covered by water: 15 square miles

Healthcare and disease: With help from the World Bank, the government has established a comprehensive national health service with near 100% access for its relatively small population. The country attracts many medical tourists. Dengue fever and malaria are the major disease threats, with the occasional case of rabies over the last decade.

Average life expectancy (m/f): 76/81

Average number of children per mother: 2.1

Maternal deaths per 100,000 live births: 30

Infant deaths per 1,000 births: 12

Adults HIV/Aids rate: 0.3%

Doctors per 1,000 head of population: 1.3

Adult literacy rate: 95.9% (m 95.7%/ f 96.2%)

Economic outlook: Eco-tourism provides 60% of the GDP, though President Óscar Arias has warned the economy could stand still this year. Costa Rican coffee and bananas remain in demand.

Main industries: Electronic components, bananas, coffee, textiles and apparel, fruits, jewellery, small appliances, tourism, pharmaceuticals

Key crops/livestock: Sugar cane, banana, pineapple, palm oil, cattle, poultry

Key exports: Bananas, sugar cane, textiles, machinery, electrical equipment

GDP: £11,352m (81st)

GDP per head: £2,581

Unemployment rate: 4.6%

Proportion of global carbon emissions: 0.02%

Most popular tourist attractions: Parque Nacional Tortuguero, where turtles hatch their eggs on the beach; whitewater rafting at Turrialba

Local recommendation: The waters of the Tarcoles river are home to dozens of basking reptiles, beneath Crocodile Bridge, about two miles north of Carara national park on the main highway to San José.

Traditional dish: Gallo pinto (fried rice and black beans)

Foreign tourist visitors per year: 1,679,051

Media freedom index (ranked out of 173): 22

Did you know ... There are approximately 52 species of hummingbirds, 750,000 species of insects and about 20,000 different types of spiders in Costa Rica.

National anthem:
If anyone should attempt to besmirch your glory
You will see your people, valiant and virile
Exchange their rustic tools for weapons.

· Information correct on date of first publication, Monday 20 April 2009.

• This article was amended on Monday 20 April 2009. We said that the average number of children per mother was 21. This figure should have been 2.1. This has been corrected.

source : The Guardian U.K.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marina Papagayo

Marina Papagayo started operations
earlier than announced

(InfoWebPress – — Even though the Marina Papagayo, located on Culebra Bay in the Gulf of Papagayo, recently announced that it would begin operations on January 2009, the first phase of the project was actually inaugurated this Monday, Dec. 15, thanks to the fact that it received the respective authorization by the Marinas and Tourist Docks Inter-institutional Commission (CIMAT).

In this way, Marina Papagayo complied with what had been established in its contract with the Papagayo Tourism Development project — that is, begin operating in late 2008.

The marina includes 108 acres that will initially hold 180 wet slips and 200 dry slips. Size of the vessels that would be arriving to this harbor can range from 40 to 285 feet (12 to 87 meters).

Boats that harbor here will enjoy a series of amenities, including immigration services, fuel dock, high-speed Internet, electricity, phone service, minor repair services for vessels, and wastewater disposal. Initial investment in the project is $15 million, said Roberto Kopper, director of Marina Papagayo.

Papagayo is the second marina constructed in Costa Rica under the law in effect since 1998. Los Sueños, in Herradura Beach on the Central Pacific, has been open since 2001.

Construction of the 350-slip marina began in 2007. The docking facility is part of Peninsula Papagayo, a 2,300-acre resort development, which includes 15 miles of coastline, 14 miles of bluffs, and 31 separate beaches. Brandy Marine International has named to manage Marina Papagayo, taking care of the facility’s 24/7 concierge service for all transient, seasonal, and annual customers.

Access to the marina will be public, via National Route 253, which begins at the intersection to the Gulf of Papagayo at Guardia. The road will be revamped to provide better access to the area’s new tourism amenity.

It is estimated that construction of the marina is generating some 470 direct jobs, and that during full operation the facility will provide employment to some 360 people.

The second phase of the project, scheduled for completion around 2010, will add some 200 more slips.

Source : The Journal

a group of 15 pairs of scarlet macaws was released in the Nicoya Peninsula

Macaws Released in Nicoya Peninsula(InfoWebPress) – Recently, a group of 15 pairs of scarlet macaws was released in the Nicoya Peninsula, thanks to the support of the Scarlet Macaw Conservation Association (ASOPROLAPA) and as part of a project that this group has been conducting for the past 13 years.This is the second release of this endangered bird species conducted by the association, and this time the colorful feathered creatures were outfitted with chips so researchers can follow up their movements, even if they happened to be taken into captivity. The first release done by ASOPROLAPA took place in 2007, when five pairs of macaws were returned to the wild.ASOPROLAPA’s goal is to release a total of 200 macaws so that their population can increase and have a chance at survival.Scarlet macaws have the greatest variety of colors of all macaw species. They live from Mexico to South America. Two sub-species inhabit forests from Mexico to Costa Rica: Ara Macao Cyanoptera, which has a large yellow stripe on its wings, and Ara Macao Macao, which features small yellow spots on its wings.In Costa Rica, macaws are part of two main populations, both on the Pacific coast: one in the Osa Peninsula, where some 700 scarlet macaws still exist in the wild; and a smaller population in the surroundings of the Carara National Park and the Guacalillo Mangrove Research. Scarlet macaws can also be found, in smaller numbers, in the Palo Verde National Park and in the La Amistad Conservation Area in Guanacaste.In addition to ASOPROLAPA, the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) is promoting a series of scarlet macaw conservation strategies in the Central Pacific area.This project began in August 1990 with the monitoring of macaw populations that traveled from their overnighting site (Guacalillo mangrove) to the Carara National Park and surrounding areas. In 1994, after 555 counts during 58 consecutive months, experts calculated that the population of almost 300 birds there was declining by about eight individuals per year. Such a decline was attribute to illegal poaching of youngsters for the exotic species trade. However, between 1995 and 1996, researchers noted an increase of 37 birds. Since 1996, the scarlet macaw population in the Central Pacific has remained stable.In 1995, the LAPPA conservation organization was created by 25 community leaders, local business people, local government officials, academicians and park rangers in the Central Pacific region. Since then, LAPPA has coordinated macaw conservation efforts along with state and private officials. Two regional conservation workshops in 1995 and 1996 helped set the goals, conceptual model, objectives and other activities that would guide this initiative. LAPPA has utilized the knowledge obtained about natural history of macaws to implement applied management (nesting, growth of hatchlings, habitat use, annual patterns, diet, etc.) together with local human populations.

Source :

Friday, April 17, 2009


Hotel Indigo

Silver Lining in Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

There’s a Silver Lining in Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

Kike Calvo for The New York Times

A beach club in Guanacaste, where development is slowing but a buyers’ market is evolving. More Photos >

Published: April 16, 2009

AT the heart of the real estate wave in Guanacaste province in Costa Rica in 2006, some 20 residential projects had either broken ground, been announced or been approved. About 350,000 visitors landed that year at the regional airport in Liberia, quadrupling the figure from 2003, its first year of international flights.

In 2006, $131.4 million was spent on personal property sales in Guanacaste, according to the Central Bank of Costa Rica, and Alexander Porras, an economist for the bank, estimated that most of that was in second homes.

But now the tide has turned. A number of highly publicized residential developments aimed at second-home owners and anchored by brand-name hotels and golf courses have been delayed on Guanacaste’s so-called Gold Coast, a 60-mile stretch on the Pacific Ocean from the Papagayo Peninsula in the north to Tamarindo in the south.

Vacation-home sales have been reduced to a ripple. Individuals who built or bought with an eye toward selling have lowered or postponed their quick-flip expectations, trying instead to earn money by renting out their properties in a region that remains a popular tourist destination.

These days, there are still visitors who come to Costa Rica on real estate buying sprees, but they will see less than was projected three years ago.

That’s not all bad news. For the serious or even the spontaneous buyer “this means deals can be had in some niche price ranges,” said Christopher Howard, an American author in Costa Rica who has written a book on the topic that will be self-published in July.

The best deals are in the $300,000-and-under market, “but properties at the high end haven’t been hit too badly,” Mr. Howard said. “In a way, this turn-down benefits the Guanacaste market. Things were developing too fast; prices were getting too high.”

The best-known Guanacaste project to be delayed is Cacique, a venture backed by Stephen M. Case, co-founder and former chairman of AOL. He announced plans in August 2007 for an $800 million development that included two luxury hotels, an array of high-end homesites and 300 private residential units on 650 acres. A year later Mr. Case halted development. Jorge Cornick, corporate relations officer for Cacique, said it would be delayed until the economic outlook improved.

Not far from Cacique, in Panama Beach, work had begun on La Punta Papagayo, a projected $300 million development, but it’s now been put off, too, said the Minneapolis-based developer, Blaine Kirchert. The Costa Blanca Hotel, which was on the property when he bought it, is open, but no progress has been made on another hotel, the 150-room Viceroy, nor on the planned 86 condos and 34 estate lots.

Ground was broken in January 2008 in Brazilito for the Azulera Resort Village, a 557-acre community with a $300 million Hyatt Regency and 1,000 condominiums, town houses and single-family houses. Then construction stopped last fall. Anil Kothari, chief executive of the New Jersey-based Global Financial Group, the developer, said that work would resume in June, with completion in two years.

Despite the slowdown, opportunities have risen. A small number of individual homeowners are finding a market among vacationers seduced by the enduring appeal of the country, where annual municipal property taxes are 0.25 percent of the construction value of the home, where no rain falls from December to May, where 25 percent of the country’s rich biodiversity is protected parkland and where a stable democracy has existed since 1899.

In February, Louise Chandler and Ken David, a couple in their early 50s from near Butte, Mont., walked into the Tamarindo Beach office of Bella Collina Realty and walked out with a “fire sale” deal: on April 1 they closed on a two-bedroom 1,100-square-foot town house. It was originally priced at $142,000; they paid $99,000. Lock Cooper, the sales director at Bella Collina, said the owners had sold because they wanted to trade up to a larger unit closer to the beach.

The new owners say they plan to spend two to three months a year there and rent it out the rest of the time. “It was purely an impulse buy. We were on vacation, fell in love with the country and didn’t want to leave,” Ms. Chandler said. “We just happened to pop into this agency. It was an unheard of deal — plus a pool and gated security.”

Chris Simmons, an owner of ReMax Ocean Surf Realty in Tamarindo, said there were a few individual owners in every property he currently represents who were willing to shave 20 to 30 percent off listing prices. Developers are also posting special deals, he said, including at Crystal Sands in Langosta Beach, south of Tamarindo. Five beachfront condos there, originally priced from $800,000 to $2.3 million, are being offered at 20 percent discounts.

But because “there are virtually no new projects breaking ground now,” Mr. Simmons said, “I’m going to swim against the tide of conventional wisdom here and predict that the real problem we’ll face is next year when we’ll have no inventory to sell.”

For now, though, homes remain available at the three major developments on the Gold Coast. They are Peninsula Papagayo in the northern region (a 30-minute drive from Liberia), a 2,300-acre luxury development anchored by a Four Seasons Hotel with its own collection of homes and lots for sale, the destination club Exclusive Resorts and a 180-slip marina that opened in December; Reserva Conchal in the middle (near Conchal and Flamingo Beaches), a 2,200-acre development with homes, lots and condos, with a Paradisus Playa Hotel; and Hacienda Pinilla (just south of Tamarindo Beach), a 4,500-acre project, with a JW Marriott resort that opened in early February.

Sales representatives from all three reported that since last September most of the signed contracts had been for condos, while lots and villas had moved very slowly.

Those who buy lots in such gated developments and have their houses built “definitely minimize their risk compared to starting from scratch on their own in this country,” said Bryant Martin, 49, of Denver, who is Hacienda Pinilla’s largest individual property owner. Along with buying a 12-room bed-and-breakfast on the grounds and turning it into a family vacation home, he also bought 13 beachfront acres (24 lots) to develop as La Dulce Vida. On another lot, he built a 4,000-square-foot four-bedroom house, which he put on the market on March 1 for $1.5 million and rents out for $7,500 a month.

“These development owners spend many millions on infrastructure — water, roads, electricity, permits — which in a third-world country like this can be a time- and money-consuming process,” said Mr. Martin, who owns a company that sells high-end bathroom fixtures, windows and doors and has built homes in Colorado, Arizona and Mexico.

The Gaunacaste real estate ebb may turn out to be an inadvertent saving grace for a country known for its ecological treasures.

Jim Preskitt underscored that idea, pointing to a hillside across Culebra Bay from the executive offices of Peninsula Papagayo, where he is senior vice president. The forested hill dropped into the white-sand beaches of villages named Panama, Hermosa and Coco.

“That hill would have been dotted with a Rosewood, a Miraval and a One & Only hotel. But all those projects are stalled,” he said. “Though we welcome the competition and the regional buzz, this slowdown may be nature’s way of saying, ‘Protect what you have.’ ”

Michael McNulty and his wife, Denise, were vacationing at the Four Seasons when they saw real estate opportunities in the development. He and his friend and business partner, Frank Rizzo III, bought four Papagayo lots in that frenzy three years ago and have since built two homes. Mr. McNulty said he hoped delayed development protected not only the environment but also their investment, which he calculated at about $9 million.

“When we saw the economy sliding, we worried about our long-term investment, but now we find ourselves in an enviable position as pioneers here,” said Mr. McNulty, 47, of Philadelphia, a founder of the early Internet business-to-business portal The McNulty-Rizzo houses are the first of six built so far at Peninsula Papagayo and the only two currently available for rent. When not vacationing with family and friends, Mr. McNulty and Mr. Rizzo market the houses as vacation rentals at $2,200 to $4,500 a day, depending on the season.

Meanwhile, Mr. McNulty still harbors fantasies of flipping the properties.

“Some day,” he said, “a wealthy yachtsman from Dubai will pull in to the new marina, look up, see our house and say, ‘We need a place to sleep tonight. Let’s buy that one.’ ”

Hacienda Pinilla, just south of Tamarindo Beach, is a 4,500-acre community that features three miles of beach and folkloric presentations with Costa Rican costumes.Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Children play in the surf at Playa Avellana.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

A surfer at Playa Grande.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Twenty-five percent of Costa Rica's rich biodiversity is protected parkland. The Playa Grande Marine Turtle National Park protects the leatherback turtle's prime nesting site.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Mr. Risso's daughters, Samantha and Bess, take a dive in the pool.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

The Prieta Beach Club looks out on a beach in Guanacaste, where development is slowing but a buyers' market is evolving.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Despite the real-estate development slowdown on Costa Rica's Gold Coast, a small number of individual homeowners are finding a market among vacationers seduced by the enduring appeal of the country. The beach town of Tamarindo has become a condo haven.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

The JW Marriott resort opened in early February.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Mr. Rizzo is a co-owner of one of the first of six houses built (so far) at Peninsula Papagayo. Only two are currently available for rent. A view from Mr. Rizzo's property.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Frank Rizzo III and his family at his Peninsula Papagayo home.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

Pelicans fly over the waves at Playa Avellanas.

Photo: Kike Calvo for The New York Times

source :NYT Great Homes and Destinations

New Projects for Costa Rica

April 17, 2009

First Hotel Indigo in Central America opens in San Jose, Costa Rica

Hotel Indigo today announced the opening of its first property in Central America. The 100-room hotel is in San Jose’s upscale neighbourhood of Santa Ana, one of the city’s fastest developing areas and an excellent starting point to visit some of the world’s most compelling eco-tourism destinations. Uniquely designed to reflect the local culture, character and geography of the surrounding area, Hotel Indigo San Jose Forum showcases Costa Rica’s tropical climate and natural settings by incorporating oversized and artistic photographic images throughout the hotel of tropical flowers, waterfalls, coffee beans and dynamic elements of the rain forest. The use of water features at the main entrance and lobby along with contrasting colours and different textures from the floors to the ceiling are an understated homage to the country’s natural resources.

This new establishment is at the Del Centro Empresarial Forum Dos, the city’s latest and most prominent commercial office development, which provides business and leisure travellers easy access to shopping, coffee houses, and gourmet restaurants. In addition, the three-story boutique hotel is just 15 minutes from the Juan Santamaria Airport and adjacent to a major thoroughfare that connects to Escazu, the prominent residential and business district of the city.

February 14, 2008

Crowne Plaza comes to Costa Rica

Crowne Plaza Corobici San Jose Costa RicaInterContinental Hotels has opened a 213-room Crowne Plaza hotel in the city of San Jose. The Crowne Plaza Corobici San Jose Costa Rica is the third IHG hotel in the city, following in the footsteps of the Real InterContinental Costa Rica and the Holiday Inn Aurola San Jose. Formerly affiliated with Sol Melia, it has been fully renovated, has 10 meeting rooms, is capable of catering for up to 1,000 people for a corporate function, and is the first Crowne Plaza in Costa Rica.

August 4, 2006

Thunderbird Resort - Tres Rios, Costa Rica

Category: Accommodation, Central America, Costa Rica, Hotels, Real Estate, Regions, Resorts — Paul Johnson @ 11:41 pm

Thunderbird Resorts, Inc. has acquired land for a new casino-resort project in Costa Rica. The “Thunderbird Resort - Tres Rios” project covers approximately 11 hectares of scenic land located in the eastern suburbs of Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. It is one of the only available locations zoned for tourism development, close to a new highly successful supermall called Terra Mall. The development will include a luxury resort hotel, a Las Vegas style casino, a world-class convention center, a world-class spa and health club, commercial real estate and a private residential community.


A Luxury Travel Blog

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a treasure trove of botanical wonders.

Costa Rican cloud forest alive with birds, butterflies and orchids



It’s also a major pain to get there.

Five miles of new paving on the Monteverde Road was just finished in December, adding to the seven miles already paved.

But the last 13-mile stretch is still an infamous 1 1/2 - to 2-hour trip along a potholed, take-your-life-in-your-hands uphill road better suited for donkeys. Crawling along at barely 5 m.p.h., vehicles weave up the mountainside, stones flying from the tires over the no-rail precipice.

Purists always have been against paving the whole route. They worry that tourists will overwhelm the fragile spot that is home to a rich ecosystem that incudes 400 species of birds, 600 of butterflies, 300 of orchids and 200 of ferns.

But with tourism faltering due to the worldwide recession (visitor numbers to Monteverde hover between 100,000 and 250,000 people a year), sentiment is building for paving the entire route — with caveats.
“Much tourism is lost due to horrible road conditions,” says Richard Whitten, an American biologist who recently moved back to the United States after living in Monteverde for 15 years collecting insects. “But much damage to the fragile ecosystem can result from weekend joyriders and others who only come up the mountain for quick thrills and who care little for the real value of Monteverde, one of the last most amazing cloud forests on the planet.”

Rumors are that the government plans to pave the last part soon. On the other hand, “I will not hold my breath. Things are slow here, and frankly that is just fine,” says a Monteverde tourism official who didn’t want his name used.

Magical Monteverde
Having survived the harrowing trip, I can say that the cloud forest makes every minute of the drive worth it.
Monteverde (”green mountain” in Spanish) is a magical anomaly in nature.
Set in the stick-dry Pacific coastal Tilaran Mountains, the Monteverde region has its head in the clouds at 5,000 feet elevation. Just past the town of Santa Elena, you traverse suddenly from hot, dry and sunny to cool, misty and rainy, with clouds hovering barely above ground nine months of the year.

Only 13% of sunlight makes it through to the ground. That allows the damp forest to grow like a wild terrarium, with smaller plants growing on the trees up to the sun.

The result is a botanists’ wonder of wild orchids and bromeliads blooming on trees and delicate moss and ferns seemingly sprouting from tree trunks. You may see a hummingbird’s nest no bigger than the palm of your hand or a quetzal bird with a long, multicolored feathered tail.

The plants that grow on the trees are called epiphytes. There are more than 500 species here. The forest also boasts 500 species of trees, 100 of mammals and 120 of reptiles and amphibians.

Dreamily dubbed an “elfin forest” for its canopy of short, gnarled trees, Monteverde also has Quaker roots.
In the 1950s, a group of American Quakers from Alabama settled here to raise dairy cows, far, far away from the violent world they deplored. Some are still here, although tourism has taken over.
Swing or zip through the park.

It is possible to hike through portions of the 26,000-acre Monteverde reserve areas, but most tourists see a portion of the bountiful scenery via swinging bridge skywalks or zip-line rope courses.
I visited Selvatura Park, which has a Tree Top Walkway of eight long swinging bridges set nearly 200 feet above the canopy floor. It also has a ropes course featuring 15 zip-line cables and platforms, some more than 1,000 feet long.

The park also has a phenomenal outdoor hummingbird park (50 species live in Costa Rica), a restaurant and an insectarium featuring Whitten’s collection, called Jewels of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has an astonishing number of bugs — including bugs with luminescent “headlights”– iridescent butterflies, and beetles as big as dinner rolls.

A few degrees warmer here or there, and Monteverde’s clouds could lift and its creatures be left to bake in the sun.

To see the diversity here is to realize what we stand to lose.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Villa Perezoso

Costa Rican Chef Brings Exquisite Meals, Authentic Cuisine To Luxurious Villa near Rainforests and Beaches

Villa Perezoso, a new luxury vacation villa, located in the quaint, picturesque seaside town of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, has added a full time chef to its staff.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica (PRWEB) April 1, 2009 -- Over Arroyo, 32, has been hired as full-time chef at Villa Perezoso, a luxury four-story Balinese home near the sun and surf of Costa Rica's idyllic ocean beaches and the pristine rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park.
A native of Manuel Antonio, Arroyo trained in Valencia, Spain, and worked as a chef for 10 years before accepting the position.

At Villa Perezoso, he works with guests to create menus for the week. Whether they have chosen sit down dinners or casual poolside buffets, Arroyo will plan meals that make use of the region's abundant fruits, vegetables and seafood. What guests love most is that Arroyo does all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, leaving them free to enjoy cocktails, animal watching and sunsets from the villa's terrace.
Arroyo's specialties include grilled mahi mahi and mango salad, pasta, sushi/sashimi and tuna poki dinners, fruit platters with papaya dressing, guacamole, calamari fritto, seafood paella, tres leches cake and cocina tipica, Costa Rica's traditional dishes. He loves cooking breakfast, and is known for his fun, friendly demeanor, delivering each meal with a warm "Buen provecho!"

It was carefully prepared and served with such authenticity.
"The food was divine," said guest Susie Biehler of Half Moon Bay, California. "It was carefully prepared and served with such authenticity." Guest Yildiz Dural of Holmdale, New Jersey, said, "Over's food made me feel full, healthy, delighted and nurtured."
Villa Perezoso, which opened in November, is named for the property's original resident - a sloth who oversees things from his guarumo tree home. Summer guests who book a week-long stay by May 15 are eligible for a special introductory package. They'll pay for six nights and receive the seventh night free. More information can be found at