Health is the new Wealth – A Global Megatrend Shaping the Consumer Market

July 7, 2018

At Cayuga, we believe in healthy lifestyles and a stay at one of our sustainable luxury hotels and lodges in Central American can boost our guest’s health in many different ways.  Here is how…

According to Euromonitor International, an important market research firm based in the UK, healthy living is a very important megatrend shaping the consumer market.  Important health factors mentioned in a recent report are a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking and limited alcohol consumption as well as limited daily stress levels.

A Healthy Diet

We believe in fresh local ingredients.  Lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, hormone free chicken and beef and sustainably caught seafood.

Keep it fresh and delicious.  Tuna Poki at Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

 

And of course, everything tastes better outdoors.  Rainforest Waterfall Luncheon at Lapa Rios Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

 

Regular Exercise

Beyond a gym routine, at our hotels and lodges, you can do outdoor exercises like hiking, surfing and other watersports.  In the past year, we started to offer complimentary yoga classes to our guests in almost all of our properties.

You don’t have to be a pro to participate in our yoga classes. Our instructors are happy to help you get started or perfect your postures.  Yoga studio at the Harmony Hotel Healing Center in Nosara, Costa Rica.

 

It is not only about the exercise.  It is about being outdoors, sharing quality time with your loved ones and having new experiences.  Horseback riding tour near Latitude 10 Resort in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

 

And why not try something new? How about some surf lessons?  We will help you find the perfect wave.

 

Not Smoking and Limited Alcohol Consumption

All our hotels have a strict non-smoking policy and we are not known as “party hotels”.  But we are also aware of the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.  How about a glass of biodynamically harvested Malbec from Argentina or a locally brewed craft beer.  All with measure.

Beachfront picknick at Isla Palenque, Golfo de Chiriqui in Panama.

 

How about some juice to replace the cocktail today?  Fresh local ingredients prepared “a la minute”  just for you.

 

Limited Daily Stress Levels

Just be.  Sit on your balcony or deck and observe, hear, smell and feel the Ocean and the Tropical Rainforest.  This is like meditating.   Take an outdoor shower, take a nap on a rainy afternoon and go for a walk along a pristine tropical beach.  Connect with the locals.  They have a different concept of time.  Let go.

Find your perfect space to let go of everything. It might be at this beach near Kura Design Villas in Uvita.

 

Enjoy the view. Let it all soak in. Listen to the sounds of the sunset near Lapa Rios Lodge on the Osa Peninsula.

 

Go for a hike. No matter if you are in the rainforest or the beach, in the southern part of Costa Rica you will find a lot of special places that will help you unwind.

 

 

Cayuga Collection Homepage Photo for Palenque

Would you consider Panama for a Boutique Luxury Vacation?

January 18, 2018

The Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges is expanding. We are in the process of building a Luxury Boutique Resort of 12 suites and beachfront casitas on a private island off the Pacific coast of Panama.  We are set to open to guests in June and are now stepping up our efforts to “get the word out”.  We are reaching out to our Cayuga Aficionados and guests that have visited the other Cayuga Collection Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Master Planning Isla Palenque
Master planning document for the eight beachfront Casitas on Isla Palenque. Hard to find a resort that is closer to a private beach than this.

We are also working with a great team of professionals (Clark Kotula and Kirstin Gardener ) that help us get the word out with the travel advisor and wholesaler community in the US and Canada.  We are about to sign up the resort with TravellerMade as well.

Our public relations team is reaching out to travel writers that have been covering our Costarican and Nicaraguan properties and we have already received coverage in the New York Times early this year.

New York Times
Coverage in the New York Times: 52 PLACES TO GO IN 2018 – New Hotels to Check Out in 2018 – Notable properties in Indonesia, Greece and elsewhere will focus on the environment.

So here is the good news.  Panama is quite well known, and people have a positive image of Panama.  They mostly know about the canal.  It is a safe place to visit, the currency is the US dollars, so no need for complicated conversions and English is widely spoken.

It is easy and fairly cheap to fly to Panama City as it is a major hub for Copa Airlines with daily flights from North-, South-, and Central America as well as Europe.  There is even talk about direct flights from the Emirates…

Panama is also a natural paradise featuring more than 10,000 plant species and well over 900 different bird species.  It has 1,786 miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and a great indigenous heritage.  It is not as heavily visited as nearby Costa Rica and people often remark that it is like visiting Costa Rica 20 years ago.

Aerial View
Aerial view of Isla Palenque in the Golfo de Chiriqui, Panama.

 

But is Panama known as a luxury destination for travelers?  According to colleagues that have been operating in Panama for years, they are struggling to compete in the luxury segment with other destinations, mostly due to the fact that most upscale accommodations are in or near Panama City.  The rural areas have not been developed in terms of luxury hotels, resorts or lodges.

With the opening of Palenque Island Resort, we want to introduce the symbiosis of Sustainability and Luxury to Panama.  We have successfully shown that this symbiosis is not only possible but extremely attractive to the well-educated, adventure-seeking Luxury Traveler from North America and Europe.

Stay tuned to learn more as we get closer to our opening date.  Interested in booking, contact us here.

Isla Palenque Panama

Hospitality Training in the Sustainable Luxury Segment

November 7, 2017

At Cayuga, we believe that our local staff is our biggest asset.  This is why we are committed to year around employment, something that is not usually done in highly seasonal destinations like Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  We take advantage of the lower occupancy months to invest in our infrastructure but also to make sure we train our local staff.

Eduardo Zumbado of Cayuga Collection with the Lapa Rios Lodge Food and Beverage Team getting ready for diners at Brisa Azul Restaurant.

We have a dedicated person on the Cayuga corporate payroll that visits all the hotels and trains the staff on an ongoing basis.  He also trains a ‘trainer’ in each department that is then responsible for the training of new staff.  He is also responsible for updating our Cayuga Operating Procedures.  No, they are NOT Standard Operating Procedures as there is nothing standard about what we do.

It is not only about technical training though.  At Cayuga we have a strong focus on motivational and fun activities as well.  Team building is an important part of our efforts in the low season.

We can see the results of our training efforts in the smiles of our guests and the warm hugs our employees receive from guests before they return home.  And of course there are the “raving reviews” on Tripadvisor.

The Latitude 10 Resort Team in Santa Teresa with Cayuga Collection Trainer Eduardo (second from left).  Celebration after a successful training session.  We are ready for the high season.

Many of our staff members have very little formal education and most have not worked in the hospitality industry before starting with us.  A lot of what we do is done by learning on the job, but the formal training sessions are just as important.

The devil is in the detail.  Especially in housekeeping.  This is a picture of our housekeepers at Arenas del Mar Resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

You might have read about our Cayuga Week on this blog.  Here is the link to the last edition.  It is always important for us to do things right.  The Cayuga way

People or Place? What’s the key ingredient to an unforgettable vacation?

August 2, 2017

The other day we received some really spectacular TripAdvisor feedback for Cayuga Collection’s Arenas del Mar Resort from a first-time reviewer.  They made a big effort to point out that they never normally write up their vacation experiences and many of us can probably relate to that.  After an underwhelming stay we feel cruel to leave harsh comments and totally shatter a hotel’s reputation in the process, and equally, time is too precious to share mediocre experiences!  A lot of us only share things that really impact us, experiences that so far exceed our expectations that we want everyone to know about them.

Tortilla classed with Mama Eli at Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

With amazing hotels up and down Central America’s Pacific coast and rain forest, and even on private islands, our guests are never short of inspiring vacation stories to recount on TripAdvisor.  We could spend hours reading their feel-good tales of mischievous monkeys in Manuel Antonio, perfect beach sunsets in Santa Teresa, and tasty food on the Osa Peninsula!  The one stand-out thing that always warrants its own little paragraph and plenty of capitalized exclamations, however, is our staff.

People or place?  What matters most?

This has got us thinking – what is it that really makes for a truly memorable vacation?  What is it that makes first-time reviewers so eager to finally break their TripAdvisor silence?  Is it the people or the place?

If you’re lucky enough to have stayed somewhere where the service has been so unexpectedly outstanding and genuine, or where the people you met were able to show you a whole new perspective on the world, then we know what you’re thinking; the choice is a no-brainer.  More than ever people are looking for meaningful travel experiences, and in our (TripAdvisor-informed!) opinion, the most crucial ingredient in the complex recipe for meaningfulness has got to be authentic human engagement.  It’s part of our Cayuga DNA!

It’s always story time at the Latitude 10 bar in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Our Cayuga philosophy is centered around four “pillars” – Experience, Learn, Connect and Relax – and at the properties, we’ve never really had to train our staff on how to connect with guests.  Our many long-time staff members in particular have fascinating stories to share, and love to listen as well.   It seems to come so naturally to them to go above and beyond, and to actually build bonds.

Our guests arrive to the hotels, welcomed by new faces who quickly become just like family.  They come expecting a certain level of service, but end up leaving with new friendships, heavy hearts, and often even teary eyes when it’s home time!  And the feelings are mutual – we’re always delighted to see familiar faces return year on year, and the friendship picks up right where it left off!

So, the key ingredient to an unforgettable vacation?  According to our guests, it’s the great conversations, memorable characters and incredible experiences shared with locals that really stick!

What do you think?  Let us know and comment here or send us a note to info@cayugaonline.com.

Travel to Latin America in 2017:  PEOPLE OVER POLITICS

February 17, 2017

We are living a strange and fraught moment in history, which has presented a new set of challenges for travelers. A journalist from the United States who recently stayed at Jicaro Island Lodge while researching a story on Nicaragua posed a question that challenged us at the Cayuga Collection: How am I perceived in Latin America as a tourist from the United States these days?

It is a fair question. In the US media, there has been a lot of harsh rhetoric targeting Mexicans. As a result, it is no surprise people traveling to Latin America wonder if they may encounter a backlash. Are we safe? Are we welcome? These are basic questions people ask themselves before deciding on a destination.

We love visitors from all over the world.  We have a passion for food that many of our guests share with us.  Let us prepare something fresh and local for you here at Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa.  

Inspired by this uncertainty that potential visitors may feel, we put our thinking caps on and did some soul-searching at Cayuga. We are happy to report that you are not only safe at our hotels & lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, you are more than welcome. We are big believers in building bridges between people and cultures, which seems more pertinent now than ever before. With so much talk about walls, separation and division across the globe, on our patch of the planet we are all about bringing people together – and bringing them closer to nature.

Our housekeeping team at Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rain Forest Resort in Manuel Antonio.

For the most part, Latin Americans can distinguish between the people and their governments very well. In Nicaragua and Costa Rica, you won’t be personally blamed for your president’s rants. We know how to spot people with good hearts and right intentions. Of course, commonsense advice on respect applies. Make sure you act like a visitor. A little humility goes a long way when traveling in a culture other than your own. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Don’t assume everybody speaks fluent English. If they do, show your appreciation.

Say the magic word. A “gracias” and a smile will take you far in Latin America, and right to people’s hearts.

Always ask permission, whether it is to take a photo of someone or touch their handicrafts.

Don’t dwell on politics. Instead, talk about soccer, food, cold beer and fun things to do in the area.

We are also happy to share that Costa Rica is one of the world’s most peaceful and tolerant countries, a stable democracy that has no military and stands as a global leader in sustainability. At the Cayuga Collection properties, you will know right away why that is so.

Our people are our power. This is where we draw our good energy and the great impressions that our guests walk away. For the staff at Cayuga, it matters not where you come from. If they come with the right attitude and an open mind and heart, we give our all to guests.

 

8 Surefire Ways to Love – or Hate – your Cayuga Collection Stay

January 28, 2017

Though it’s great to think in positives, sometimes in life we need to be clear on what we don’t want in order to get down to what our heart desires. With travel experiences, this counts even more, as disappointment can loom large when expectations don’t live up.

So to help you choose your vacation wisely, we’ve come up with a list of very important reasons NOT to book a Cayuga Collection Hotel or Lodge. If you recognize yourself in any of these, you may want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ve come to the right place.

Swim-up bars and all-you-can eat buffets are your idea of a perfect culinary experience.

Our idea of the perfect culinary experience is a little different. The restaurants at all our hotels serve freshly prepared meals showcasing local seasonal ingredients and even when “fast” and no-frills, the food is prepared with a lot of TLC.

You have no tolerance for wildlife and wilderness encounters.

All our sustainable luxury hotels & lodges come with creepy-crawlies and wildlife aplenty, so you’ll need to come with an open mind and get out of your comfort zone–and once you do, the rewards you reap are immense.

You don’t like to work up a little sweat while on holiday.

At Cayuga Collection hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we provide a myriad ways to stay active, be it walking to your room, going on a hike, rappelling down a waterfall or playing at the beach. Though they can, our guests don’t spend their vacation lazing by the pool.

You like your hotel staff to bow and wear a subservient smile.

At Cayuga, you get to know our local staff and sometimes even strike a friendship. It’s the pura vida way. We don’t put on a show; it’s all real-deal, including those smiles.

You love your water in a plastic bottle and plastic straws in your drink.

At Cayuga, we passed on plastic back in 2014. In fact, we eliminated the use of plastic bottles and straws at all of our properties. We only have one earth we all live on. Plus bamboo straws are cool.

You are a deal hunter and the price you nabbed is more important than the experience.

We love deals too, but our ultimate goal is to offer guests unique authentic experiences that have a positive effect on both the people and the environment. We walk the talk and don’t compromise on quality.

Shopping is the most important part of your holiday.

While our hotels, resorts and lodges do have shops with local handicrafts and edible treats, the souvenirs our guests take home can’t be paid in any currency–it’s the memories that stay with them forever.

You are looking to eat what you eat at home.

Forget about imported cheeses and ingredients flown in from across the world. At Cayuga, we strongly believe in food that is locally produced and organic and our restaurants serve only responsibly caught seafood, grass-fed beef, hormone-free chicken and lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

Are you still interested in visiting a Cayuga Collection Hotel or Lodge?  Send us a note to info@cayugaonline.com to request a reservation or itinerary.

Meeting like-minded travelers on vacation

January 8, 2017

Sometimes the best vacation memories include meeting other travelers, sharing on-the-road experiences and having the time, head and heart space for new encounters. We see this happen all the time with our guests at our sustainable luxury hotels & lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

According to a recent article in Skift Magazine about 2017 Mega Trends in the Hospitality Industry, the concept of “bringing people together” is bound to take off as a big trend. City hotels are turning lobbies into bars and restaurants and hotel chains are designing specific areas where travelers can hang out and meet.

Santa Teresa Resort
Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa used to be a private beach home and is therefore set up for social interactions. Guests enjoy their private “casitas” but come together for meals in the main lodge to share experiences and stories.

We find that guests at our hotels, resorts and lodges connect best, deepest and strongest when they share activities or get to know each other on tours. This is true for all kinds of travelers.

We have days filled with honeymoon couples sharing stories of their “wedding stress” at the bar at Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa. At Playitas beach of Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio, we have mothers bonding in the shade of palm trees while their little ones play in the sand caressed by the gentle waves of the Pacific Ocean. We have had two Nobel Prize winners meet each other casually by the pool at Lapa Rios Rainforest Lodge on the Osa Peninsula (physics and economics, if we remember right).

rain forest reserve
A lot of bonding happens on tours. At Lapa Rios Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, it is not uncommon to see guests have lunch together after meeting on a morning excursion in the the rain forest reserve.

We have adventure travelers bonding on the boat ride from Granada to Jicaro Island Lodge over why now is the time to visit Nicaragua before it is too late. New friendships are forged during cooking and cocktail-making lessons at Kura Design Villas in Uvita, just south of Manuel Antonio. Our guests connect in the ocean while waiting to surf the perfect wave at Guiones beach in front of the Harmony Hotel.

rafting costa rica near manuel antonio
Water sport adventures such as rafting or surfing are also a great bonding experience for guests. Many guests of Kura Design Villas or Arenas del Mar Resort opt for a rafting trip during their vacation.

Our concept of “Experience – Learn – Connect – Relax” encourages guests to leave their comfort zone, explore new things and share with others. In many cases that can be our staff but of course it is also about connecting with fellow travelers.

A guest recently told me that what impressed her most about her stay with us was how connected she felt to other guests. Perhaps because we are so focused on sustainability and doing the right thing, that attracts a certain kind of guest so bonding gets easier. That’s one explanation.

What do you think? Have you been to places where you really connected with others? We would love to hear from you. Comment below or send us a note to info@cayugaonline.com.

tortilla-making-class-at-arenas

Have you taken a vacation this year?

September 19, 2016

If you have – congratulations, you did well.  You are doing much better than many others out there.  Almost 40% of Americans have not taken a vacation this year.  The following statistics were published in Skift Magazine last month:

“To better understand what the average American worker was thinking this year, We asked a pool of over 2,000 people: “Now that summer is almost over, how many days of vacation did you take this summer?” While 33.5% of respondents said that they took either one or two weeks vacation, 48.4% said that they had taken either no vacation (37.4%) or 1-3 days (11%).”

Jicaro Nicaragua
A vacation is not just about relaxing at the pool sipping cocktails. It is about learning about cultures, trying new foods and connecting with the locals like here at Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua.

The advice from the management gurus in terms of health and productivity is clear:  “The real enemy of high performance is not stress. Stress = Growth. The problem is the absence of disciplined, intermittent recovery.” – J. Loehr & T. Schwartz

So, why is it so hard for North Americans to go on vacation?  Of course there are monetary restraints.  We all know about that.  But we wonder if people just do not know how to go on a vacation, change their routine and simply “let go”.  Is this something that needs to be taught?  “How to organize you work, your private life and your finances so that you can go on a vacation?”  A university course?  An online course?

Waterfull lunch
Have you ever had lunch in the middle of the rain forest next to a gushing waterfall? Those are the experience that renew you and will recharge your batteries… This experience is a favorite at Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica.

We see the positive impact that a vacation can have.  We observe the before and after.  We greet guests that arrive, pale, tired, stressed and with “worry wrinkles” on their forehead.  And we see them leaving looking healthy, talkative, smiling and relaxed after a few days with us.  There is not a doubt on our minds that those guests will be better and more productive employees once they get back to their jobs.  Of course it helps that our hotels, resorts and lodges are located in natural environments with plenty of activities, healthy food and friendly people all around.

Maybe businesses need to set up training sessions on how to take a vacations?  We would be happy to help.  Send us a note if you need help.  And yes, summer is over, but it is never too late for a quick escape.  Now is a great time to visit Costa Rica and Nicaragua taking advantage of our green season values.

te
Fresh Ceviche, a cold beer and all of this while sitting on a secluded tropical beach.  You can find that experience at Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rain Forest Resort in Manuel Antonio.

 

Havana Cuba

Tourism in Cuba – the next frontier for Cayuga?

May 5, 2016

Where is Cuba Tourism going?  Will it be sustainable or continue down the road of mass tourism?

We have been managing sustainable tourism projects in Costa Rica since 1995.  We have been involved in the administration of one of the world’s premier and pioneer ecotourism projects, the Lapa Rios Ecolodge since 1999.  We started to get involved in projects in Nicaragua as early as the year 2000. And we are recognized as world leaders in combining sustainability with luxury.

Is 2016 the year to once again put on our “pioneer” hats and help Cuba develop sustainable boutique tourism?  We were invited to visit Cuba as consultants earlier in the year to help in the development of four small sustainable luxury hotels.  It was an exciting trip.   Lots of great experiences and inspirations.

boutique hotel in the making
This is the building that used to be one of Cuba’s first luxury hotels. It has great potential to be a wonderful boutique hotel again. But it sure needs some work…

We came back to Costa Rica excited about the opportunities and very happy with the warm welcome we received there from everybody including government agencies, local and international investors and local consultants. Scouting out new projects is a real fun part of our jobs and we started to dream…

Rum in Havana
There is lots of history and many stories to be told.  Best place is at the bar.  The tough part of our research. Where to find the best Mojito in Havana. 

But then reality hit!  Currently, Cuba is all about 700 room all-inclusive beach and sun locations, 1970s looking high rise city hotels and ‘home stays’ of people renting out real estate in the city.  There are no boutique hotels and sustainability is a new word for Cubans.    Doing business in Cuba is currently only possible if you accept the Cuban government institutions (in some case the military) as a business partner, or if you are a “well-positioned” Cuban resident.  Resources in Cuba are very scarce and it is expensive to operate at a high level.  Internet is just getting introduced and very sloooow.

Internet in Cuba
Airport Internet Cafe in Havana. Out of Order. Can you imagine doing business today without good internet?  It will take a while to improve.  Need patience!

What struck us the most was that the Cuban authorities were very confused about our sustainability practices in terms of how we treat our staff.  They loved our ideas of sustainability in terms of energy, building and other resources.  But many of our human resources policies at Cayuga are more “socialist” than how staff is managed in Cuba.  Isn’t that ironic? Unless this changes, this would be a deal breaker on our decision to expand to Cuba.  We are all about the people that we work with…

Mintur Meeting in Havana Cuba
We found competent staff at the meetings at the Tourism Ministry. In general, there is a great desire to do things right.  We invited them to come to Costa Rica.  

But Cuba is hot.  No doubt about it.  The Pope was there, Obama was there.  The Rolling Stones gave an amazing concert with over 1 Million people listening.  Big American hotel chains just got contracts for hotels.  The first US cruise ship just arrived in Havana.  We understand why.  Going to Cuba right today is like traveling back in time.  The first day of our visit in Havana, we felt like we were in East Berlin in 1988 – just more color and better weather.  What we are not sure about is weather the “winds of change” are for real…

Cuba Tobacco Growing Region
This was one of our favorite spots to build an Ecolodge or Sustainable Hotel. Los Vinales – the Highlands where the Tobacco for the famous Cuban Cigars grows.

We will continue to explore more and keep you posted.  Of course, we would love to open a Cayuga Collection Hotel or Ecolodge in Cuba.  But it has to be in line with our values and beliefs.  In the meantime, come visit us in Costa Rica or Nicaragua and learn how we do sustainable hospitality here – the Cayuga way.

Cuban Hospitality
We had great experiences wit the people of Cuba. The hospitality that we received was genuine and authentic. We always got offered a coffee, some fruit, a shot of rum or a cigar… We will be back.

Don’t Kill Yourself Working so Hard

January 23, 2016

Why is it so hard for Americans to take time off and go on vacation?  Research clearly shows that not going on vacation has very negative impacts on health and performance.

We run hotels, resorts and ecolodges in beautiful tropical vacation destinations.  Of course it is in our interest, that Americans and Europeans take time off and go on vacation.  No problem with the Europeans as vacation time is deeply engraved in their culture.  But a recent survey done by Skift Magazine showed that during 2015, 41 percent of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day and almost 17 percent said they took less than 5 vacation days.  These numbers are about the same as in 2014, when Skift did the same survey.

So from a marketing point of view, our “target” market of North Americans going on vacation is cut in half just by the fact that they don’t even go on vacation.  We are not competing with other destinations, we are competing with offices!  So why are Americans not taking vacations?