Written by Hans Pfister, President of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality and Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
When I travel to the Cayuga Collection Hotels and Eco Lodges, I typically spend my time in meetings with the managers or owners or look at budgets, plans and strategic decisions. But last week, I had the chance to bring my family along, first to Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio and then to Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. On Saturday, I took the day off and enjoyed the lodge like a regular tourist in a family vacation to the Osa Peninsula. What a great day I had”¦
I woke up at 5:20 am, the same time I wake up during the week when the children go to school, but I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise and an array of animal life that is spectacular even in Costa Rica. The tree in front of our bungalow had become the breakfast buffet for three Toucans and a small family of Titi Monkeys. About 10 Scarlet Macaws were sitting in the Almond tree that was towering above our bungalow and out in the distance, we could observe two humpback whales in the Golfo Dulce.
I decided to go for a run (after enjoying all the delicious food at Arenas del Mar and Lapa Rios). The road towards Matapalo is a great rainforest run as you are sure to see monkeys and birds and if you look closely even a sloth or two. The run takes you along the three beaches below Lapa Rios. Pan Dulce, which is great for beginners learning to surf, Backwash, and of course Matapalo. While the beaches don’t quite offer the white sand and calm waters of the Caribbean Islands, they are wild, untouched, pristine and full of wild life. Coming back up to the lodge, a drink of cold water from the rainforest spring tastes like glory. After a cool shower on my bungalow deck, I have my favorite meal at Lapa Rios: breakfast. Gallo Pinto, Omelet, Cheese, homemade toasts and of course freshly brewed organic Costa Rican Coffee.
After breakfast, I took my family to see the pigs that we have down near the employee area. They eat the kitchen leftovers and produce biogas for cooking. Everybody was impressed by how clean and neat the area was and that there were no smells. The gardening team at Lapa Rios takes a lot of pride in this area which is also the recycling center. We stopped by Dona Josefa’s staff kitchen to say hi and saw her preparing lunch for the staff. Caracolitos (a small shell noodle) with Tuna. Simple but so good. Everything that Dona Josefa cooks is just delicious. She has been feeding our staff since 1999. Always a pleasure to see her spotless and perfectly organized kitchen with the shining pots hanging from the walls.
Later in the morning, we went for a hike to the waterfall. How wonderful to be in the primary rainforest. It reminded me of the time a few months ago when John and Karen Lewis signed the Conservation Easement that would ensure that the Lapa Rios Private Reserve is protected into perpetuity. I am so proud to be a part of this effort and that the eco lodge is contributing to this wonderful conservation effort. We want for a swim in the waterfall. My boys loved climbing up behind the waterfall. If you have never taken a dip in a tropical rain forest waterfall, please put it on your bucket list. It is one of the best experiences that you can imagine. And the best thing, a few minutes after we arrived, Ivan and Roberto show up from the lodge with a tray of fresh fruit and juices. Wow. Thanks guys!!!
After hiking back up to lodge, we spent a bit of time at the pool observing iguanas, pearl kites, coatis and agutis before heading to lunch. Since I was not working, I enjoyed my favorite Costa Rican Micro brewed beer ““ Segua. Ask for it in any of the Cayuga Collection Hotels. I think it can compete with any of the US microbrews. We had Hamburgers, Chifrijo, Quesadillas, Salads and Tacos. Oh, and did I mention that it was a clear sunny day with blue skies? Not what you normally expect in the rainy season.
After a nap, we headed down to the beach for late afternoon swim at Pan Dulce Beach. I love to see my kids play at a pristine beach where the only ones that watch us are monkeys and Macaws. They told me themselves how much they love to be in nature and what a great break this is from the every present ” i-devices” in our day to day lives. Edwin gave us a ride back up the hill and we got ready for our last dinner at Lapa Rios. We now offer a la carte dining and I was very happy to see how much the quality and presentation of the food in the restaurant has improved over the past months. Other guests that I talked to commented on this improvement as well. We need to work the wine list a bit though. One of the things that went on my to do list for when I get back to San Jose.
A special thanks to the management team of Marijke, Arnay, Hazel, Estibaliz, Rebecca and your wonderful staff for this perfect day in a rainforest eco lodge on the Osa Peninsula. I look forward to my next visit although most likely we will be spending a lot of time in the office talking about budgets, sustainability projects and the room upgrades we are working on.