As travel restrictions ease, are you searching for vacation deals that are “too good to be true”?

If you are in search of bargain hotel discounts as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, we might have to disappoint you and ask you to look somewhere else.    Please don’t squeeze us!

But if you are comfortable paying a fair price at hotels, resorts and lodges that have been doing things right in the past, during this crisis, and continue to invest in people, community and conservation through sustainable luxury travel – then let’s talk. 

Secluded Playitas Beach at Arenas del Mar Resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The past months have been tough for everyone who works in tourism at every level and our hotels in Costa Rica, Panama and especially Nicaragua were no exception.   It’s sad to observe the number of hotels in popular tourist areas that have cut their staff back to the bare minimum of a couple of guards and maintenance staff.  Many have chosen to fully close down to wait this out and their decision to pause all investment is visible in the rapidly overgrown gardens, green pools full of leaves, and the shabbiness that buildings quickly take on when left unattended. Especially in the unrelenting climate of the tropics.  

Maintenance work at Aguas Claras in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

As you may know from our previous blog posts, we at the Cayuga Collection chose to go a different route and focused on investing in what was within our control over the past few months. We retained more than 50% of our staff working reduced hours at reduced salaries but continued to pay their benefits (and compensated all laid-off workers with severance pay.)  We brought in in coaches and various experts to provide training for our local staff, ranging from English lessons to practicing empathy to health practices in the home during Covid-19.  Just in May, we held over 24 separate training sessions.  Some of these were conducted virtually but some were in person, maintaining a two-meter distance.  And of course, we invested in the upkeep and improvement of our hotel infrastructure and gardens, resulting in properties that look brand new and are ready to open as soon as tourism returns.   

Most recently, we have been training our staff in the application of the new sanitary protocols.

Our employees also organized food drives and care package deliveries to help the local population with needed supplies but also and encouragement. In Puerto Viejo until now, we have delivered over one hundred food packages and the efforts are still ongoing. In Quepos, we delivered food relief for former employees in need.  We wanted to keep alive the energy and enthusiasm of our people – our number one strength – which we have invested so much in the past.  “Strong today – Extraordinary Tomorrow”.  This is our battle cry. 

All of this came at a cost to the owners of the Cayuga Collection Hotels.  But these committed owners supported our long-term strategy and believed in a future of sustainable luxury travel tomorrow with us.  With the hotels closed and receiving zero revenue, the out-of-pocket expenses for our owners ranged from $30,000 to $70,000 per month. 

Honeymoon Suite at Aguas Claras Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

So today, as the phones start to ring again and the email inquiries begin to pick up, we have one big request for you.  Please do not squeeze us.  Please do not squeeze this industry.    Please do not ask us to be cheap and take advantage of the difficult economic situation. By paying a fair price for your next vacation, you allow us to assist communities dependent on tourism to get back on their feet and make sure conservation efforts prevail. 

Our staff is our most important asset. And we mean it. We walk the talk.

We simply cannot offer a luxury hospitality experience with organic, high-quality food, excellent service, comfortable and well-maintained rooms & grounds, well paid, and cared for staff at a heavily discounted price.

Our operating costs post – Covid-19 will increase – not decrease.  We will have to focus on private services, contact-free experiences, and enhanced wellness and sanitation procedures.  Added to this are restrictions on occupancy levels so that we – and the entire tourism industry – is being challenged to do more with less.  And while we will find ways to adapt, this new reality does not leave much room for discounts if we want the hotels to be financially sustainable into the future. 

Mastersuite at Kura, Uvita, Costa Rica

Having said this, we have offered special values for our guests and will continue to do so.  We do understand that some our guests have been suffering economically as well and want to help them still enjoy a quality vacation experience, which everyone badly needs. 

At all of the Cayuga Collection Hotels will maintain our 2019-2020 rates until October 31, 2021 (November 30, 2021 for Jicaro); we cut prepayment and cancellation for 2021 periods in half; 2020 bookings outside of festive require no deposit and carry no cancellation penalties.  We call this our Zero Risk – Zero Hassle policy.

Isla Palenque, Panama

At all of our hotels, we seasonally offer complimentary nights when you pay for a minimum number of nights as well as other special values for certain times of the year.  We always include a la carte breakfast and complimentary services such as yoga, fitness classes, cooking & cocktail making classes, and of course our signature back of the house sustainability tour.  And we have never charged any kind of resort fees.

Heavy discounting on hotel rates would push us to cut corners in terms of sustainability and sanitary measures.  We choose not to go down that path.  We will continue to support our staff, our communities and local conservation efforts just like we did pre-Covid-19. It is the Cayuga Way. 

Arenas del Mar Resort, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Contact us if you want to make your travel count and make a difference.  Be strong with us today for an extraordinary vacation experience in the future. We’re in business to live our passion for people’s well-being, luxury hospitality, and sustainability.

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Hans Pfister

Co-owner & President