Going back to my roots… what a soul-bathing experience!

Gustavo J. Segura, CEO

This day marks my debut as a Blogger! I will be contributing some experiential paragraphs and share them with friends who are interested in this wonderful relationship between conservation, hospitality, culture and community.

Twenty years ago, a group of visionary entrepreneurs had faith in a young 26 year-old professional, who was just out of business school and trusted him with becoming the General Manager of what was perhaps the most important ecolodge in Costa Rica and one of the most salient in the world. This young enthusiast was the first one to undertake this role without the permanent presence of the owners. That ecolodge was Lapa Rios and that young manager was me! I became a part of a wonderful local community, along with more experienced managers and staff members who were devoted to setting new standards for a hospitality business. One with a powerful, greater purpose of conserving hundreds of acres of a very valuable forest, full of environmental services and species that had to be protected. That amazing adventure went on for 3 years.

I moved on and had the chance to expand my professional scope in various exciting roles. During those subsequent years I witnessed the rise of another champion. Another ecolodge began to enrich the sustainable tourism scene, daring to do unexpected and incredible things, bringing back from oblivion the Cabecar indigenous culture, pushing the bar for safety standards in adventure tourism, bringing top world class cuisine to the heart of the rainforest, no matter how difficult the logistics; that ecolodge, the one I have admired for years, is the Pacuare Lodge.

The year 2019 is proving to be particularly special. Many paths are crossing. Many stories intertwine. While the owners of Pacuare Lodge took the step to acquire Lapa Rios, at the same time my heart was telling me to search deep within and go back to the path of sustainable hotels, those with few rooms but huge positive impact on social, cultural and environmental fronts, and so it is. By accepting to become the CEO of this wonderful company I have reencountered my first professional love – Lapa Rios, and finally meet one of my most admired industry players – Pacuare Lodge. I have a new opportunity to become a part of an amazing group of people who devote their every day professional life to making magic: alchemists who mix interesting guests, convivence with “locals”, rainforest lessons and indigenous principles, in order to obtain an improved and conserved ecosystem! 

I have found a Lapa Rios that is faithful to its principles and roots. Also, I have found an important group of guests raising their voice about the need to update the hospitality experience at Lapa Rios; constructive suggestions to rejuvenate the Lodge, make it more comfortable and regain its formerly undisputed leadership. So today we hear that voice. Today we embark on a rather challenging process of infrastructure renovation. We will continue to operate regularly, therefore that process is not free of logistic hurdles, but the challenge is totally worth facing. We have a conviction that the renovations will put us back in the path where the guests want Lapa Rios to be.

The sister property, Pacuare Lodge, recently moved along that road of improvement and standard upbringing. At this point, Pacuare emerges as both a source of lessons for its sister hotel and a beneficiary of experiences from it.  Together these lodges will directly protect over 800 hectares (+2,000 acres) and indirectly over 20,000 hectares (+50,000 acres) of tropical rainforest, will continue to create hundreds of employments, promote gender equality within its labor conditions, and will continue to see how indigenous communities recuperate their traditions and respectful relationship with the forest.  

Lapa Rios and Pacuare Lodge are emblematic projects. It is no coincidence that they were both part of the initial few properties that shaped National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of The World Collection; and now, as sister properties, they will proudly raise the Costa Rican flag as sustainable tourism leaders! Those of us involved here pledge to work hard everyday to honor such an amazing responsibility!

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