Por/ By: Andrés Benavente
was a dark year for the global economy but doubly so for Guanacaste.
The country, in
particular this province, witnessed a sudden deceleration of commercial
activity and the abrupt halt of new real estate investment, one of the worst
hit industries worldwide. Moreover, this all followed years of accelerated real estate development
and an intense growth in tourism levels.
2011 is starting to be written with a different pen, a much more optimistic
one, with which each stroke traces solid signs of recovery.
and activity are returning to the area and many new projects that had remained
frozen for months are now moving forward.
A new airport is being built to
accommodate the growth in
first good news is that the much-awaited expansion of the Liberia airport is
already underway and on firm footing.
progress continues at the present rate, arrivals to Guanacaste after August of
this year will be very different: A two story terminal, boarding ramps, more amenities, new commercial
areas, more service personnel and expedited processing through Immigration and
new terminal will not only expand to almost double the current operational
capacity (it will be able to handle 1,500 travelers
simultaneously), but it will also substantially
increase passenger security and the quality of services provided to them. As part of the same plan, it will also
increase the size of the runways to enable them to receive larger aircrafts.
expansion is an essential step in recharging the tourism industry in the
province, which is now enthusiastically awaiting more news concerning the
arrival of new flights. CATURGUA (Chamber of
Tourism of Guanacaste) in conjunction with the ICT(Costa Rica Tourism Institute) and
Mr. Carlos Benavides, Minister of Tourism, are working hard on this task.
'Family' airplane that brought
the Saudi Arabian royal family
to their holidays in Guanacaste
Picture courtesy of Vitiok
Beyond the additional flights that already have been confirmed from Denver and
El Salvador, there is progress in negotiations for future arrivals to Liberia
by new airlines from Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.
multiple “Fam Trips” (familiarization
visits to present Guanacaste as a tourism destination) for
wholesaler agencies from around the world are being organized for the coming months.
Medical tourism will have luxury headquarters.
very big project being re-launched in the area following a year on standbyis the ‘Pacific Plaza Health and Living’, a
mega community offering medical and residential services 10 minutes from the
Liberia International Airport and the beaches of the Gulf of Papagayo.
first phase has already started with the construction of the CIMA
Hospital, which promises to be the largest and most
modern facility in the region.
a total investment of $125 million, Pacific Plaza will be developed in 7
phasesin a 54-acre area, which will include villas, condos, hotels, offices,
shopping centers and a recreational center in addition to the hospital.
these last few years, Costa Rica and particularly the province of Guanacaste,
have been betting heavily on attracting medical tourism to the region, and the
arrival of CIMA and Pacific Plaza are key pieces in this projection.
important milestone in promoting the country as a premier destination for
medical tourism will take place in May when the country will host the 2nd
Medical Travel International Summit, from
May 2 to 4, 2011 at the Ramada Herradura Hotel in San Jose and the Hilton
Papagayo in Guanacaste.
more information on this event at: TheMedicalTravelSummit.com
The largest country club in Costa Rica
a 3rd mega project in the region has recently
been revitalized. We are referring
to the ‘Guanacaste Country Club’,
a gigantic real estate project to be built on 2604 acres, mainly focused on
promoting health and sport activities for residents.
vast complex will include 1311 luxury residences. A golf course designed by well-known golfer and designer
Jack Nicklaus. 8 covered tennis courts plus a Jim Courier pro academy (all
courts with US Open-style hard floor covering and one with seating stand for
competitions). A huge swimming pool with tournament seating, 2 other pools and school
by Olympic champion Mark Spitz. It
will also have a convention center, club house, fitness center, spa and
volleyball courts, 5 miles of hiking trails and 10 miles of mountain bike
trails – all this in an enormous area at the foothills of the Guanacaste
Mountain Range, just 10 minutes from Liberia and 20 from the International
addition to Jack Nicklaus, Mark Spitz and Jim Courier, the project’s
co-developer add other big name and many experience: Frank Biden, ex-Director of Legislative Services of the
White House and brother to the current Vice-President of the United States, Joe
Jack Nicklaus and Frank Biden signing the official agreement.
relevance of this project for Guanacaste, however, goes way beyond its size,
the employment it will generate or the famous names involved.
concept developed by Biden and his partner Craig Williamson is very
unique: They have made a
commitment to developing all elements in the most sustainable manner possible.
According to this, each building will incorporate bioclimatic solutions, low
impact construction systems, use of local raw materials, water treatment and
energy efficiency systems, and the entire project will have underground wiring,
renewable energy generation systems, biological corridors and an internal
program for the recycling of waste.
plan is ambitious in every way. If
the Guanacaste Country Club is developed exactly as planned, it will provide a
lesson on business creativity and environmental responsibility that will no
doubt set a precedent for future developments in the region.
will be the first project of such magnitude totally guided by the LEED
Standards and supervised by the World Green Building Council, the entity that
certifies environmentally friendly construction and developments on a global
the other hand, Nicklaus promises a daring golf course, with an innovative and
challenging design, as one of his goals for the future is to bring tournaments
and official PGA tour competitions to this area.
if these 3 huge enterprises were not enough to point out the revitalization and
new opportunities in the region, we’ll take this opportunity to let you know of
some other relevant arrivals – such as the confirmation that Westin Hotels will
commence operation in May 2011 of the Westin Playa Conchal Resort & Spa in
Meanwhile, another large world-class hotel chain has confirmed
its entrance into the region: Hyatt Hotels, through its ‘Hyatt Andaz’brand, will build a luxury 150-room boutique hotel in the interior of the
The Andaz Papagayo, which will be located next to the
fabulous Marina Papagayo, will start operations in 2013. It will bring a concept that promises
to combine luxury and simplicity, following the unmistakable seal of Peninsula
Papagayo –a 5-star hotel and residential community including the Marina
Papagayo, a few private homes, Four Seasons Hotel and luxurious villas that
belong to Steve Case's Exclusive Resorts chain.
you can see…Guanacaste is back!
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Now we invite you to see this article in the virtual magazine (with better design) and then check other articles and tourist tips included on our issue 31.