Meet our Customers

Las Villas de San Buenas has a diverse set of owners from around the world (eight countries and counting). Come join us in paradise!! More information here

Customers San Buenas

Our customers come from around the world and have a variety of backgrounds.

Lapa Photographed at Casa Lapa

The photograph below was taken by Nick Halverson in May 2015 from the backyard of Casa Lapa using a Nikon D5000 with a Nikkor 18-140 mm lens. It is of a scarlet macaw (or a lapa as they are known in Costa Rica).

There were four lapas eating the ripening almonds from the almond tree in the early morning. If you look closely at the photo you can see that this one has the almond between its beak. We planted those trees approximately three years ago and we now regularly have lapas flying in and eating.

Costa Rica lapa san buenas

Lapa (scarlet macaw) enjoying an almond behind Casa Lapas, Las Villas de San Buenas. (c) Nick Halverson

Las Villas de San Buenas to Plant 2,000 trees in Partnership Agreement

Las Villas de San Buenas to Plant 2,000 Trees

Las Villas de San Buenas recently purchased 2,000 trees from a non-profit division of Sembrada Agua logo2ICE (electricity provider) called Sembrada Agua. This project connects high schools and local communities to organizations looking to repopulate damage done decades ago by cattle farmers whom cleared some of the jungles in Costa Rica. The goal of Sembrada Agua is to plant one million trees by 2030 – and we wanted to do our part in helping out.

“We are committed to designing and planning our development in an eco-friendly manner and integrating native trees into the landscapes,” explained Hanz Cruz, General Manager of Las Villas de San Buenas.

Sembrado Agua ICE 1

Some of the 2,000 trees that have been delivered to Las Villas de San Buenas.

Las Villas de San Buenas will be spending the next month planting these trees. When we purchased the land that is now Las Villas de San Buenas there were thousands of gmelina trees that had been planted in the 1960s by local farmers. Gmelina is a non-indigenous, invasive species that chokes out the native trees. After several years, and approximately $85,000, we successfully cleared out the majority of the gmelina trees. We are now actively replanting the same area with fourteen tree species that are native to the Osa Peninsula, which will help bring the land back to its more natural state from 100 years ago.

“We will be planting a variety of fruit trees, hard woods and ornamental trees which will show our owners the beautiful mix of the wonderful bio-diversity found in this region of Costa Rica,” said Las Villas de San Buenas CEO Nick Halverson.

 

Wildlife Author Carrol L Henderson meets with Nick Halverson

Earlier this week, Las Villas de San Buenas CEO, Nick Halverson, met with Carrol L Henderson, to exchange

Carrol Henderson Nick Halverson

Nick Halverson (L) and Carrol L Henderson enjoyed meeting and discussing Costa Rica earlier this week.

their experiences and stories about Costa Rica. Mr. Henderson is a wildlife biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and has written four books about Costa Rica’s mammals, birds and wildlife.

During the 75 minute meeting, Carrol shared many stories of his travels around the world and his success in raising awareness of wildlife in Costa Rica. In fact, Carrol was instrumental in getting the Ballena National Park designated as a national park by using photographs he took of migrating whales, and having those compared to photos on file at the Cousteau Institute.

Prolific Writing

Carrol’s four books about Costa Rica are: Costa Rica Wildlife, Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica, Butterflies, Moths, and Other Invertebrates of Costa Rica, Birds of Costa Rica

Carrol has spent a lifetime studying wildlife in both Costa Rica and in Minnesota, USA. He made his first visit to Costa Rica in the late 1960’s, where he met and married his wife of 40 years+. Over the past 45 years, Carrol has documented every trip and every animal sighting he’s had in Costa Rica. Armed with this data, he went on to write his books about wildlife in Costa Rica. He is constantly looking for updates and photographic proof of sightings so each new edition of his books is kept up-to-date. In fact, after the meeting Mr. Halverson sent Mr. Henderson some photos so that Carrol could identify the bird species in the photos.

Las Villas de San Buenas is committed to protecting the environment and due to this commitment, birds that were not seen 10 years ago in San Buenaventura are now common. Through working with professional horticultures, local experts and actively searching out other professionals (such as Carrol Henderson), Las Villas de San Buenas is continuing to improve the environmental diversity of Osa.

Small Town, Common Roots

It turns out that Carrol and the Chairman of the Board of Las Villas de San Buenas, Duane Halverson, both were born in Iowa and both were students at Iowa State University at the same time in the late 1960’s.

Nick Halverson was also born in Iowa, and interestingly, both Nick and Carrol have a strong belief that to truly appreciate and enjoy Costa Rica, one must immerse oneself into the local culture and customs.

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Since 1987, Mr. Henderson has lead private birding tours for small groups of people. Every trip is unique and different from any other previous trips. If anyone is interested in learning more about his past trips, or the January 2016 trip, please send us a note.

NOTE: All of Carrol’s books are available at national book sellers and Amazon.

Donation to LILA Non-Profit Organization

LILA Lakes International Language AcademyDonation to LILA Non-profit

For the 5th year in a row, Las Villas de San Buenas donated a week of Casa Lapas to Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) foundation. Casa Lapas generated over $2,500 for the non-profit organization with 100% of the funds going directly to LILA.

LILA Parents Jeanine Halverson and Annie Moorman enjoying the evening.

LILA Parents Jeanine Halverson and Annie Moorman enjoying the evening.

Mr. Chuck Phillips from Forest Lake, Minnesota, had the winning bid. Mr. Phillips owns a karate dojo and is looking forward to visiting Las Villas de San Buenas with his family later in 2015.

The funds will be used to further educate a classroom for an entire year with a licensed teacher from outside the USA who will bring their own experience, and language skills, into the classroom.

LILA 2015

Over 150 people attended the fund raiser.

Las Villas de San Buenas CEO Nick Halverson said, “We are proud to continue our commitment to helping LILA, and their International Baccalaureate program, which not only educates students in immersion learning (Spanish and Mandarin Chinese at LILA) but also provides students learning from a global perspective.”

The LILA fund raiser had over 150 in attendance, including Miguel Ramos, from

LILA Miguel Ramos Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Ramos donating a banner for LILA

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Minnesota Twins’ front office who donated a banner to be hung in LILA’s office and also facilitate several game-ticket packages that were used for a silent auction. The function was attended primarily by parents of students at LILA and several local business owners.

Las Villas de San Buenas is proud to have customers from eight countries (and counting) who speak at least six languages, and continues to attract customers from around the world.

Mr. Halverson stated at the event, “Costa Rica and in particular, Las Villas de San IMG_7536Buenas, appeals to people from around the world due to its amazing wildlife, the spectacular views throughout the property and its diverse customer base. Add to that the world-class amenities nearby and it’s understandable why we continue to attract customers from around the globe.”

 

Beautiful Reflective Photo Costa Rica

I took this photo of the sunset reflecting into the pool of Casa Lapa on March 20, 2015. The colors were

Costa Rica Sunset

(c) Nick Halverson

electric. NOTE: I used the photo editing app Snapseed to adjust the coloring.

If you enjoy taking photos, as an amateur or as a professional, you will love it here in the Osa region of Costa Rica. From the beaches, wildlife and stunning sunsets to the amazing number of birds and plants, there is never a shortage of subjects to photograph.

I hope you enjoy the photo. I look forward to seeing you during your time in Costa Rica. As always, we are here to help and can assist you in your trip planning, including rental cars and tours.

Pura vida!

Nick Halverson
CEO
Las Villas de San Buenas

Our Beautiful New Rancho

We’ve been busy the last month here in Las Villas de San Buenas. We’ve added some new roads, fixed up some of the old ones, added a few more ocean view lots (more on that later) and built a beautiful new rancho.

Costa Rica Rancho

First, a little background information. A rancho, or ranchito, is an outdoor structure used for gatherings, picnics and/or relaxing. The designs and quality vary greatly throughout Costa Rica, but the one key component of all of them is that there are no walls. This design feature ensures constant fresh air is flowing through at all times.

Our most recent rancho is our third one in Las Villas de San Buenas. We previously built one on a private lot and another one just past our bridge near the driving range of San Buenas Golf Resort.

Rancho Herradura is the largest one yet. The dimensions are 4 meters by 4 meters (16 square meters), which equates to 172 square feet! We used the same roofing material TejaReal and added designed a vent at the top which allows all of the hot air (from the air and cooking – not the fish tales being shared!) to easily leave.

Hand made table by a local carpenter in San Buenaventura.

Hand made table by a local carpenter in San Buenaventura.

One of the design elements that our clients love is how we took leaves from native trees, all of which are found in the development, and pressed them into the floor while the cements was still wet. This left a permanent imprint on the floor.

Rancho Costa Rica Floor

Unlike our other ranchos, Rancho Herradura has electricity with lights, allowing for all day and evening use. Additionally, there are two electrical outlets, internet service, a full grill and a sink.

Costa Rica rancho

 

 

 

 

BBQ costa Rica

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World…again

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World

Costa Rica has once again been judged to be the “Happiest Country in the World” by the Happy Planet Index. The rankings are based on the following three components, and each is given a traffic-light score

based on thresholds for good (green), middling (amber) and bad (red) performance. – See more

1) Life expectancy

female surfer playa dominical smile

Costa Rica once again is named the Happiest Country in the World. 

2) Experienced well-being

3) Ecological Footprint

These scores are combined to an expanded six-colour traffic light for the overall HPI score, where, to achieve bright green – the best of the six colours, a country would have to perform well on all three individual components.

The Top 10 Happiest Countries are:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Vietnam
  3. Columbia
  4. Belize
  5. El Salvador

As one can see, interestingly, four of the top five happiest places are in Central or South America. By way of comparison, the USA ranked 105th, Canada ranked 65th and France 50th.

For more information, and a full ranking of 151 countries, please visit their website here.

Everyone here at Las Villas de San Buenas, and the town of San Buenaventura, understands the happiness lifestyle. People of Costa Rica tend to be more relaxed and proud of what they have – not envious and jealous of others who have “more”. Although many Costa Ricans may not have a lot of “stuff”, what many Costa Ricans do have more of than other countries is a commitment to family and friendship.

This focus and commitment to family and friends is why Costa Rica continues to be a destination for people from around the world (and why we have had customers from eight countries!).

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

There are currently 50 national parks in Costa Rica, spread across the country, on both coasts and are varying in type as in the number of national parks. Some have volcanoes, others mountain peaks,  while many are located on the coasts housing amazing wildlife, marine life and plants.  For owners (and visitors) of Las Villas de San Buenas, the great news is that two of the six most popular national parks are quite close. In fact, Ballena National Marine Park is only 20 minutes away! According to an article by The Tico Times, Costa Rica most popular National Parks based on number of visitors provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), are as follows:

1. Poas Volcano National Park

Poas volcano costa rica

The crater at Poas volcano, in Poas National Park, is eerily colored due to the sulfur in the water.

Poas National Park is located near Cartago, one of the largest cities in Costa Rica, and now an extension of the San Jose metropolitan area. The volcano is still active and has an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet. It is easy to see the large, deep crater, and is a great place for photographers. They recently have added a visitors center, complete with a cafe.

2. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, is an easy 60 minute drive from Las Villas de San Buenas. Simply head north onto the Costanera Highway (Hwy 34) and in about one hour the turn off for Quepos/Manuel Antonio National Park will be on your left.

manuel antonio national park mono

Manuel Antonio is a popular destination for both visitors as well as Costa Ricans. It is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. With the Caldera Highway opening up in 2008, a trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is only 2.5 hours,.

Manuel Antonio National park was established in 1972 and is approximately 4,900 acres (1,984 hectares) in size.  It is one of the jewels of Costa Rica’s eco-tourism. The best way to see and experience the park is to hire a trained guide at the park’s entrance, and they’ll try and find sloths, monkeys and dozens of birds to show you.

From The Tico Times:

Foreigners flock here for a chance to live a day in a postcard-like setting. Manuel Antonio National Park’s beaches are the epitome of tropical perfection, the kind of place where the only distractions from the crashing surf come from monkeys swinging in the palm trees.

Morning is the best time, for sunny skies and to avoid crowds (only 600 people are admitted during weekdays; 800 on weekends). Hike to the third beach within the park; it may be the most spectacular beach in Costa Rica, with verdant, coconut palm-lined white-sand shores. Check out the tombolo, which is a deposit of sand built up by millenniums of crashing waves, connecting an island with the mainland. A trail will take you to the top of Cathedral Point, offering spectacular vistas of surrounding beaches and cliffs. The trail is steep and muddy; take care and go with a partner.

Snorkeling is excellent, as is observation of sea life. Sponges, corals, various crustaceans, algae and fish all share the coast. Dolphins and whales sometimes frolic off the islands, and at low tide you can see ancient turtle traps set by the local indigenous population over a thousand years ago.

3. Irazu Volcano National Park

Irazu is an active volcano located near San Jose (15 miles east) and during the 1960’s erupted for four years straight. There are plenty of tour operators that offer day trips to the volcano, although if you have a rental car, it is much more affordable to drive yourself. Be sure to wear warm clothes as Irazu is above the frost line and temperatures hover around freezing. Additionally, constant cold winds and saturating humidity, typically make this visit a short one (unless you’re used to the cold and have packed for it).

4. Tortuguero National Park

Located on Costa Rica’s Northern Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park, is best seen by boat. There are plenty of locations to rent canoes and kayaks so most and areas to hire local guides. tortuguero national park turtleThe name ‘tortuguero’ means ‘turtle catcher’ in Spanish. As you would imagine, based on the name, turtles are the main attraction here. Numerous species of turtles including green sea, leatherback and Hawksbill nest each year on the beaches here. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean coast you could visit both Tortuguero and Cahuita in a couple of days.

There is an extensive network of freshwater creeks and lagoons where endangered West Indian Manatees can sometimes be seen.

5. Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is located on Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean coast. It is best known for the coral reefs near the shore. During the dry season some of the world’s best beach snorkeling will provide views of light yellow brain, elkhorn and blue staghorn corals, sea fans and gorgonians, in addition to more than 500 species of fish.

Off the shore approximately 300 meters is a living underwater habitat that is home to over 100 species of fish and 35 species of coral.

6. Ballena National Marine Park

Ballena National Park is close to Las Villas de San Buenas. The main entrance point is in Uvita, although there are other access points north of the Uvita entrance that also are available. Regardless of which entrance point used, the park is beautiful!

Ballena National Park uvita Whales Tail

 

This beautiful landmark, best seen from the air while flying to Palmar Sur regional airport, encompasses miles of protected beaches. During the while watching season migrating whales can be seen from the beach, or if you’d like, hire a local company to take you out on a boat to get closer.

Costa Rica Tourism Up in 2014

Nick Halverson Pam Bunte

Enjoying a drink at Tortilla Flats, Dominical, Osa, Costa Rica. International travel in Costa Rica increased 6.4% in 2014 (up by over 103,000 travelers compared to 2013).

The number of travelers traveling through Costa Rica’s two international airports increased by over 6% in 2014 compared to 2013. The Tico Times provided the following information. Not surprisingly the majority of visitors come from North America. In fact, North America accounted for 74% of all international visitors to Costa Rica in 2013.

Tourism Ministry officials on Thursday reported that revenues from Costa Rica’s travel sector last year totaled $2.6 billion, an 8.3 percent increase over the $2.4 billion registered in 2013, according to figures from the Central Bank.

Officials credited the 2,526,817 international arrivals registered in 2014, an increase of 4.1 percent over the previous year. That’s an increase of 98,876 arrivals by air, land and at ports, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported.

Tourism Minister Wilhelm Von Breymann said that the arrival figures are generated by crossing reports from the Immigration Administration and the ICT.

Air terminals still are the main ports of entry for international travelers, and the country’s two international airports — Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber — registered an increase in arrivals of 6.4 percent, or 103,509 travelers.

According to the Immigration Administration, this is the highest number since 2008 when the international crisis hit the tourism sector worldwide and in Costa Rica led to a decrease of more than 100,000 arrivals in 2009.

Von Breymann noted that 67.5 percent of international arrivals came from North American countries, followed by Europe at 16.5 percent and South America at 6.9 percent.

“The ICT’s promotional efforts this year will focus on attracting more tourists from those markets,” Marketing Director Alejandro Castro told The Tico Times.

The U.S. remains the main source of travelers, and in 2014, Costa Rica registered 936,929 arrivals from that country – a 7.6 percent increase from 2013. Arrivals from Canada also increased by 7.5 percent, according to the Immigration Administration report.

“Our research told us that the U.S. has a potential market of 65 to 70 million citizens who want to travel abroad, and some 16 million would be interested in a destination like Costa Rica. So there is still great potential for us to increase arrivals from there,” ICT’s Director of Strategic Planning Rodolfo Lizano said.

By percentage, however, the region that showed the most important hike was Europe, which grew by 19.9 percent. According to Immigration Administration records, Germany, France, Spain and the U.K. are the main sources of travelers from that continent. The only drop was registered by South American travelers, which decreased by 18.1 percent “driven mainly by the FIFA World Cup that attracted tourists to Brazil,” Lizano said.

He also said that greater revenues were influenced by an increase in tourists’ average stay, from 11.6 to 12.1 nights. That prompted a hike in the average per-person spending from $1,252 in 2013 to $1,378 last year.

“These variables reflect Costa Rica’s leadership in the region as our figures actually can be compared with those of major destinations around the world. Our direct competition is not in the region,” Lizano said.

Asked if the opening of relations between Cuba and the U.S. and the boost of the tourism industry in Nicaragua would affect Costa Rica, Von Breymann said he does not believe those countries represent direct threats to Costa Rica’s tourism sector.

“Cuba is basically sun and beach. We have a much wider variety of tourism options here, and the country’s size gives tourists the possibility to visit many different destinations in a short period of time. As for other countries in the region, our main advantage is the experience and development of our tourism industry, which is many years ahead,” he said.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, regional countries such as Panama and Nicaragua last year registered average stays of eight days, while Cuba and Mexico reported 10 and 11 days, respectively.

ICT officials highlighted that another advantage for Costa Rica is its lodging capacity, as the country currently has 45,531 rooms, a figure that exceeds by far Panama’s 22,768 rooms and Nicaragua’s 11,189, according to World Tourism Organization figures.

Regarding the ministry’s plans for this year, von Breymann said officials have detected a strong potential in specialized types of tourism such as fashion, health and wellness, sports and events. He said officials are hoping to speed up construction of a National Convention Center, a key infrastructure project to attract event-related tourists.

Costa Rica Travler Arrivals by Air (2013, 2014). Source: Costa Rican Tourism Board and Immigration Administration

All data in ‘000s.

North America: 1.082 (2013) 1.162 (2014) Increase of 6%

Europe: 237 (2013) 284 (2014) Increase of 20%

South America: 145 (2013) 119 (2014) Decrease of 18%

Asia-Middle East: 31 (2013) 35 (2014) Increase of 12%