Friday, March 31, 2017

Representing Costa Rica at the Sustainable Hospitality Development Symposium

 By Roberto Fernández, Pacuare Lodge owner

Sustainable Hospitality Costa Rica example

Monterey Bay in California has long been at the forefront of sustainability. This past February, visionaries, public officials, policy makers, tourism professionals, and hospitality developers gathered for the first-ever Sustainable Hospitality Development Symposium in the hopes of propelling this beautiful seaside county to another level of sustainability. However, before we had a chance to strut our stuff in front of a distinguished panel of guests, a funny thing happened on the way to the symposium.

Making an Impact from Costa Rica

When you do something from the heart, like our vision for Pacuare Lodge, you always hope that it will have an impact on the world. We were very humbled to be chosen as the first example of successful sustainable tourism and featured at the Sustainable Hospitality Development Symposium. Not only is it a huge personal honor to get this kind of recognition for our work, but also a great opportunity to make new partnerships with renowned leaders from California and Costa Rica. Did we mention the former president of Costa Rica, José María Figueres, would also be in attendance? You don’t get a better audience than that!

sustainable hospitality symposium leaders Jose Maria Figueres Costa Rica
Renowned hospitality leaders from California and Costa Rica
listen to former costa rican president José María Figueres

However, what made the biggest impact wasn’t the former president or hospitality developers looking to learn from the success of our sustainable eco-lodge in Costa Rica What marked us the most on this trip actually happened before we ever made it to the symposium.

A Personal Experience in an Impersonal Setting

As we were traveling to California, we had our usual layover in Houston. Immigration is usually an impersonal experience, not the place for inspiration or for creating lasting memories - at least, not pleasant ones. However, this immigration experience proved to be quite different.

Pacuare Lodge eco-tourism at its finest
When it came our turn to talk to the immigration officer, the experience started out in the typical fashion. “How long are you staying? What’s the purpose of your trip? Do you have anything to declare?” You know, the usual. Often in these situations, you feel like the officer is going through the motions, looking straight through you, and not really taking in the experience - and can you blame them? They’ve asked these questions of a million people already; why should we be any different? However, when we told the officer about the Sustainable Hospitality Development Symposium, his ears perked up, and he asked about our work. To our surprise, as we described our little sustainable lodge in the jungle of Costa Rica, a look of familiarity crossed his face.

“I know you!” the immigration officer proclaimed. 
“You have to river raft to get to your lodge, right?”

We were stunned.

The officer went on to explain that we had passed through immigration at his booth once before, and we had talked about Pacuare Lodge and what makes it so special. Those few minutes passing through immigration had made such an impact on the immigration officer that he still remembered us and our lodge to this day. He hadn’t even visited Pacuare, but had simply been forever impacted and inspired by our passion for our work.

We passed through immigration with a handshake from the officer, who promised that he would make it to Pacuare Lodge one day!

Sustainable Hospitality Pays Off

At Pacuare Lodge, our mission has always been to put sustainability first. We believed that our dedication to the environment would drive our business, and we were right! Never wavering from our mission, the Pacuare Lodge has been named one of the most unique lodges in the world by National Geographic. Today, eco-tourism is a huge trend, but it wasn’t always, and we are proud to be successful pioneers and passing on our knowledge to fellow developers in the hospitality industry.

Costa Rica sustainability first eco-lodge

Pacuare Lodge is Eco-Tourism at Its Finest

Representing Costa Rica at the
Sustainable Hospitality Development Symposium
We are extremely proud to have presented Pacuare Lodge at the symposium. We are proud that our experience, as well as the measures we take to put sustainability first, will be the example from which Monterey County is going to model their hospitality industry in the future. It’s always nice to be recognized by your industry and fellow environmentalists, but making an impact on a random stranger while passing through immigration in Houston, Texas, is something that will stay with us forever!

It is moments like that which give us proof that we are on the right path, and that sustainable hospitality is something that will have a lasting impact, not just on the planet, but on the people.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Meet Luis, A Guide Who Grew Up In Nature – And At Our Lodge

A guide who grew up in nature Costa Rica
Luis and his father Luis Gerardo
young Luis and his brother
and sisters
Luis Picado Nájera might know the Pacuare Lodge better than anyone. After all, he grew up here. His father, Luis Gerardo Picado Herrera, has worked with us for over 25 years as a builder and guide. The junior Luis was only six years old when his father began his tenure at our lodge, so he’s spent nearly his entire life under the canopy of our rainforest. 

When school was in session, I’d stay with my grandmother in Bajo del Tigre,” says Luis, referring to the village some 35 minutes away on foot. “But I’d be back at the lodge every weekend, and I’ve lived here basically my entire life".

Cabecar Indian Rancho & Rainforest Hike
Luis is a multilingual naturalist guide. He speaks Cabecar, which is the local indigenous language; Spanish, the official language of Costa Rica; and English, which he learned “by listening to Pacuare Lodge clients and practicing.”

In the twelve years he’s worked at the lodge (and not just lived here), Luis has transitioned from working in maintenance to being a general guide who helped clients on canopy tours, rappelling excursions, and hikes. But his true passion is nature.

Costa Rica’s Flora and Fauna Are His Passion

Costa Rica Birdwatching experience
“I like everything about being here,” Luis says about the lodge. “It feels like home. But I really love being out in nature. I love birds, reptiles, insects, trees, plants. I really love this … because I grew up here. All of my knowledge stems from growing up here,” he continues.

More than just a practical education, Luis is a formally trained naturalist guide. After graduating from high school he spent some time at Tortuguero National Park, where he took a 27-month-long course so that he could learn everything he could about being a guide. After this rigorous training, Luis was officially certified by the Costa Rica Tourism Board.

Outside of work, Luis enjoys spending time with his family. “I’m a bit of a homebody,” he says, “but I get out, too. I like fishing, driving around on my motorcycle, and exploring new places whenever I can.”

Work, however, remains one of Luis’s passions. “Some people don’t understand that I do what I truly love. They might ask why I’m doing this or whatever, but I’ve very focused, I know what I’m doing, and I love it.”

A Luxury Ecolodge in Costa Rica

Pacuare River Rafting
Pacuare Lodge is a luxury ecolodge situated on the banks of the Pacuare River in Costa Rica. We carefully combine high-end accommodations and cuisine with unmatched service. At the same time, we strive daily to remain in harmony with nature and the surrounding communities.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

World Class Chef Collaborates with Pacuare Lodge

World Class Chef Collaborates with Pacuare Lodge


By Roberto Fernández, Pacuare Lodge owner

Pacuare Lodge is one of NatGeo’s Unique Lodges of the World located in Turrialba, in the Limón Province of Costa Rica. Besides being surrounded by unmatched natural beauty, the rushing river, the lush green rainforest, and the unique, intimate experience of lodging in a luxury treehouse, we can now add a world class cuisine to our repertoire. Travelers ourselves, we always look to enhance the experience with every fellow traveler. As we head out into the world to broaden our minds and witness other rare and exclusive destinations, we look to bring something back to Pacuare Lodge to share with our guests. We find that every great adventure – every treasure found – becomes greater when you can share it and pay it forward. The world is our oyster, but there is more than one pearl. After a recent trip to Greece, we are proud to bring back one of our favorite finds: world class chef Giorgios Belesis.

Taking in the places you visit, you have to take in all of it, engaging all senses with the sounds, the sights, the smells, the touch, and the tastes. Unmatched natural beauty surrounds us, from nature to the wildlife to the sounds of the rushing Pacuare River, so food becomes a way to engage all senses at once. Best of all, food is something to be shared.


We pride ourselves on creating local, fresh, seasonal,
and sustainable cuisine.
Making unforgettable culinary experiences for our guests has always been a passion of ours. Some of the finest ingredients in the world are growing all around us; on the trees, on the bushes, and in the ground. We take full advantage of every local delicacy, harvesting many of the vegetables, tubers,  and fruits at our organic farm. We even make our goat cheese and local Turrialba cheese on site. Our goal is to turn famous local dishes into gastronomical delights, keeping it local, fresh, seasonal, and sustainable. However, even with the best ingredients at our fingertips, we knew we could do more.

“Through the process of cooking, I’m always passionate about seeing the final creation. I love to create new things and textures. With the correct technique, the use of fresh and nice ingredients, plus a touch of imagination, you and your team can come up with something extraordinary that will satisfy your guests.”
Giorgios Belesis, Executive Chef, Kapari Natural Resort

In 2016, we took off on one of our adventures, visiting another NatGeo Unique Lodge in Santorini, Greece: Kapari Natural Resort. The resort boasted one of the best restaurants in Santorini, so naturally, we wanted to try it out. We were blown away by the food that we were eating; so much so that we never bothered to go anywhere else for our entire stay. When food is this good, you stay until you have tried everything. This was what we wanted to bring back home. This was what we needed to make Pacuare Lodge an even more memorable experience for our guests and world travelers.

chef Giorgios Belesis collaborates with Pacuare Lodge
World class chef, Giorgios Belesis collaborates with Pacuare Lodge.

Giddy and satiated from four days of incredible culinary experiences, we were invited to meet the Executive Chef, Giorgios Belesis, in his kitchen. We wasted no time and proposed a management cross training between our hotels. And here we are, eight months later hosting  Giorgios as an invited chef to our kitchen in The Nest, our remote restaurant nestled in the canopy of a ceiba tree.

Turning local favorites into gastronomical delights in Pacuare Lodge.
Turning local favorites into gastronomical delights.

“I immediately noticed the wonderful flavors, fresh ingredients, and a very appealing way of preparing the dish. I was also very impressed by the efforts that Pacuare Lodge makes in hiring people from the local communities and the opportunity that this represents in terms of knowledge and new skills for the local cooks and the rest of the staff.”Giorgios Belesis

Giorgios quickly emerged himself in the local culture, working with our local staff and chefs to create elevated cuisine using all of our seasonal and local ingredients. He did not come to take over; he came to collaborate. To add his experience to ours, to help enhance and heighten the exquisite flavors and local dishes that we were already serving our guests. We hope that when Giorgios returns to his homeland, to his kitchen in Kapari Natural Resort, he will bring back with him a little bit of Costa Rica.


Book your stay at the Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica and get an unforgettable dining experience. All of our food is fresh, local, seasonal, and sustainable. Experience gastronomical delights by local chefs, created in collaboration with one of our favorite chefs in the world, Giorgios Belesis.