When we get called by property owners or developers to offer our services as a hospitality management company, one of the first and most common requests to us is: “can you recommend an architect?” Or many times the owners or developers have already started to design the hotel with an architect of their choice.
And while architects certainly play a very important and prominent role in the development of boutique hotels, we always recommend talking to a master planner first. This is especially important if they are looking to develop a property in a remote and natural beach, forest, or mountain setting. We know from experience that by investing in this first step, as a developer or owner of a hotel project, you will save lots of money, headaches and avoid making mistakes that many others have committed before.
“A master plan is a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. Master planning is about making the connection between buildings, social settings, and their surrounding environments”. Source: The World Bank
Our preferred partner for working this master planning process is a company called Vida. Their studio is located just down the road from our office in Escazu, Costa Rica. We have done more than a dozen master planning and development workshops with them. We have worked with them in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, untouched beaches in Nicaragua, an island in Panama, and most recently in a remote and undeveloped area of the Dominican Republic.
One of our Cayuga Collection Hotels, which was a result of one of our workshops with Vida, is Isla Palenque in the Golfo of Chiriqui in Panama. We have also done several renovations or are working on expansions such as in the case of Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio.
But of course, we are open to working with other master planners from around the world. In the past, we have worked on great projects with Gensler Architects and HM Design (our friend Hitesh Mehta who specializes in Eco Lodges).
The workshops that we have participated in typically take 2 to 3 days and bring together the projects’ key decision-makers to understand the site, the business case, the people, place and context, the history and the trends, the market, potential risks, programming, and phasing.
As operators, we have found that when we are present from the very beginning we can significantly improve the guest experience, reduce operational costs and therefore increase financial sustainability for everybody involved. We are also able to raise our concerns, observations, and recommendations for building and running the planned hotel in a sustainable way.
To illustrate this master planning process, we are sharing some pictures of our most recent workshop. The owners and developers of this project visited three of the Cayuga Collection Hotels in Costa Rica in September and a couple of months later they hired Vida and Cayuga to help them develop a master plan.
When Matt and his Vida team deliver the masterplan booklet, we get to work at Cayuga to deliver a hospitality concept with a preliminary market analysis as well as financial operations projections (Profit and Loss Proforma) to the clients. Interested in learning more. Contact Andrea Bonilla at firstname.lastname@example.org.