The Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas was a success

We recently completed planning and hosting the first ever Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas. Based on the feedback from all of the participants it was a great success!! Our featured author was Will Viharo, who has over ten books published (purchase one here on Amazon) and has a passion for writing pulp fiction, Hollywood history (his father was a B-movie actor) and vintage pop culture. In fact his book “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” has had the movie rights purchased by Christian Slater. Mr. Slater and Will are finishing up the screenplay and hope to have it filmed in the next five years.

waterfall writers retreat pavon

Will Viharo (center with hat), Ezekiel Tyrus (3rd from left), Nick Halverson (far right) with some of the participants at the Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas.

What exactly is a ‘writers’ retreat’? It involves daily sessions of writing, free time to think, write and be inspired, and times to relax and enjoy everything Costa Rica has to offer. The idea of The Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas came from author Ezekiel Tyrus (“Zeke”). Enjoy the short video at the end of this article (<1 min) to get a glimpse behind what the Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas is all about. From the Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas Website:

Who can attend?  Our guests have included, as described by one of our guests who is a successful Hollywood actor, The Lad from Long Beach, The Lady from Minnesota, The Poet from North Beach, The Pugnacious Floridian, The Seattle Searcher, My New Hero from Stockton, The Gentle Giant from Bloomfield Hills all with sinewy stories and sublime spirits. In short, anyone who has a passion for writing, whether you are an accomplished writer with a bookshelf filled with your byline, a famous novelist experiencing writer’s block, or a novice who has always dreamed of completing that book. This place is for you.

The Mission of The Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas is to create an intimate, luxurious, inspiration-filled environment for writers to write. You may want to pen some essays, complete pages upon your travel-journal, finish your novel, perfect your screenplay, collect some short-stories, write poetry, or perhaps you’ve never written before but feel the time is right to start your memoirs.

Zeke was a guest of ours back in 2016 and ended up staying longer than either he or his family had predicted. He became our Property Manager for a couple of months and during that time he wrote a novel that is to be published in mid-2017 (stay tuned!). Zeke returned to Florida last summer but he missed the beauty, the tranquility and the essence of Costa Rica. The urge to return resulted in him contacting us about setting up a writers retreat in Las Villas de San Buenas. We were excited to have Zeke back in Costa Rica, but we had never planned a writers’ retreat before (although we have had weddings, birthday parties, etc on the property) so we were cautiously optimistic.

Zeke took care of all the writing details and in securing pulp-noir author Will Viharo, and we took care of planning all of the details of lodging, transportation and meals. Collectively, it worked out wonderfully! The all inclusive element of the Writers’ Retreat makes it easy for participants to enjoy their time here. The feedback has been fantastic!! In fact, we already have our next Writers’ Retreat of San Buenas planned for June 10-17, 2017, with accomplished author Vi Khi Nao.

Here’s some testimonials from the retreat:

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Guest writers and attendee group were amazing. So much energy and creativity! I feel I did my best writing, ever, at the retreat. — Michelle H.

I was afraid that it would be a bunch of feel-good hippie crap, which frankly I do not need and doesn’t really fit my personality…As far as the writing workshop itself, I can truly say that it was life-changing…Probably the most valuable aspect of the retreat for me was the retreat itself: carving out the time to focus on my writing, and doing so surrounded by such an amazing group of writers who were also invested in taking their work seriously. — Ray A.

I am as surprised as you that I actually went on this adventure. A writer’s retreat? Absolutely in my comfort zone. In Costa Rica? Absolutely the farthest thing from my comfort zone outside of going shirtless in public or bullfighting. I guess my inner writer needed to get to the jungle. What a learning experience! — Dustin T

Please contact either us or through the Writers’ Retreat website if you’d like more information about this all-inclusive option.

 

Corcovado National Park adds stations to attract tourism

NOTE: Original article is from The Tico Times |

The following article is great news for everyone who owns and/or visits Las Villas de San Buenas. Corcovado National Park is approximately a 2 hour 45 minute drives from Las Villas de San Buenas (map).

Corcovado National Park is home to 2.5% of the entire world’s bio-diversity, making the park the most biologically diverse place on earth.


MICHAEL KRUMHOLTZ | FEBRUARY 17, 2017

The Costa Rican government unveiled new installments in Corcovado National Park as part of a $2.4 million investment that officials say should help increase tourism numbers to the biodiverse jungle in the country’s Osa Peninsula.

President Luis Guillermo Solís traveled to Corcovado on Friday to officially inaugurate new infrastructures located in the park’s three main sectors: San Pedrillo, La Sirena and La Leona.

Workers are building a new visitor’s center in the southernmost station of Leona. In addition, there will be new bathroom stalls, showers and water treatment tanks. Leona will also be equipped with picnic areas and an electric generator as part of the latest investment.

corcovado park upgrades

In addition to some of the new installments already mentioned, the Sirena station in the central coast section of Corcovado has received a camping platform and a common area for cooking and eating.

Authorities said the improved infrastructure should not only boost the number of tourists and help facilitate the work of park rangers, but it should also give more economic benefits to locals living around the national park.

“All of these works have to do with the efforts made by the Environment Ministry (MINAE) to better the conditions in our national parks,” said MINAE chief Edgar Gutiérrez. “We’re looking to increase the visitation and supply extra help to the people who live around these parks by bringing more tourism and more opportunities to their communities.”

Solís pointed out that his administration has continually emphasized the importance of Costa Rica’s national parks and especially Corcovado, which he said has received more than 5 billion colones ($8.9 million) in investments since Solís’ election in 2014. They are part of the Bank of International Development’s Sustainable Tourism Program, which has given some $25 million to various national parks in Costa Rica.

“When this administration took office the resources from the Bank of International Development that allow us to have these new installations today in Corcovado National Park were almost taken away from us because they basically hadn’t been used at all,” Solís said. “We then took up that commitment and have made great changes to benefit our conservation areas in order to bring in more international and national tourists, which can then improve conditions for the surrounding communities.”

Though Corcovado is made up of just under 48,000 hectares (about 185 square miles) of land and marine area combined, this gem in Costa Rica’s southwest corner accounts for 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

Among the wildlife found in Corcovado are jaguars, tapirs, pumas, giant anteaters, monkeys and macaws.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

United Airlines adds Seasonal Flights to Costa Rica

United Airlines Adds Two Nonstop Flights to Costa Rica

Source: The Tico Times

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) in July reported that U.S. carrier United Airlines will open two seasonal flights between Denver and Costa Rica from December to April.

One of the flights will arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside San José, and the other will fly to the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste.

United Airlines Costa Rica

The new seasonal trips from Denver will operate Fridays and Saturdays from December 18 and April 30. (Courtesy of United Airlines)

The route between Denver International Airport and San José will operate once a week from Dec. 18 to April 30, 2016. The flight will depart from Denver at 10:59 p.m. on Fridays and will arrive at Juan Santamaría on Saturdays at 5:24 a.m. From San José, the flight will depart Saturdays at 7:19 a.m. and will arrive in Denver at noon.

The route to Daniel Oduber also will operate on Saturdays from Dec. 19 to April 30.

Flights will leave from Denver at 9:55 a.m. and arrive in Liberia at 4:15 p.m. Departures from Liberia will be at 12:30 p.m. and will arrive in Denver at 5:05 p.m., the ICT reported.

Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the news from United is important for the country: “These new flights will boost the tourism sector throughout the country, but they also will expand opportunities for Costa Ricans to fly to this major U.S. destination.”

The U.S. is Costa Rica’s main source of travelers. In 2014, the country registered a total of 936,929 arrivals from that country, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013.

 

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

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.

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 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 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%

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%

We made a terrific choice!

We made a terrific choice!

The Madrigal family from San Jose, Costa Rica, recently spent a week in Las Villas de San Buenas. After their stay they wrote the following review of their stay.

————

We decided to go south Costa Rica for our year end vacation. We’re from San Jose and we all decided to skip the road to Guanacaste as this time of the year is hectic.

We rented this house for the final week of December and first days of January and we really had a great time here. First of all the road is in in great condition. Directions to the house are also really easy to follow. We were a group of 7 people, 3 couples and a friend. The house has 3 bedrooms, all with their private bathroom. Hot water of course and even a Jacuzzi in the master suite.Costa Rica home rental
Kitchen is in perfect condition, large refrigerator, dishwasher, stove and microwave. Laundry room with washer and dryer. Living room with Sky TV and all others with a DVD player.

The gardens and pool area are exceptional, the ocean view is amazing and we really spent our days there! With a cool breeze and birds singing everywhere.
The property is located in San Buenaventura town, close to beaches, national parks and waterfalls

Now, we really didn’t find any cons, however I must say that the house is listed for 8 people and the house has only 3 bedrooms with 3 beds (for 6 people comfortably accommodated). The other two must sleep in mattresses in the floor so you have to make some room for them in the bedrooms. Not a big issue for us.
Booking process was excellent and Nick the owner, replied every single email in no time.
If you’re thinking for a vacation in south Costa Rica, this is a great choice, you’ll have a wonderful time here!