It was just over a year ago that we made a firm commitment to leading a more sustainable travel lifestyle. And over the last 12 months, we have made significant changes not just in the way we travel, but in the way we live our lives.
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We made changes to what we wear, changes to what we eat, where we stay, and how we explore the world. We quickly found that the more we learned about sustainability, the more questions we had and the more we wanted to know.
We looked for best practices among the countries we have visited, comparing hotels, restaurants and tour operators and often got so frustrated when those that promoted themselves as “sustainable” only did the bare minimum to be able to use “green and responsible” in their marketing materials.
“Come on! You can do better”, we’d say. “There is a way to do better!“
Fueled by frustration, we started dreaming of one day creating a sustainable business of our own. We hoped that one day, we would get a chance to show others that you really can do better!
An Opportunity in Paradise
For the last few years, we’ve called Costa Rica our semi-home base. It’s the place we enjoy coming back to in between our trips, a place where we can visit Max’s family and where we can relish in some much needed time off the road.
Our home here is a small beach community called Playa Avellanas, located just 30 minutes south of the tourist hot spot, the town of Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Playa Avellanas is nothing like Tamarindo. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and it’s still very local. There are three beautiful beaches within a 2 km radius, a few great restaurants, some yoga studios, and a friendly community of locals. It’s also home to howler monkeys and iguanas, and the nearby beach is often used as a nesting ground for sea turtles.
Every time we walk to the beach for a sunset swim and find ourselves completely alone on our own private beach, we feel so grateful to have the opportunity to experience life in paradise.
We’ve always felt sad for the many tourists that get stuck in the crowded Tamarindo and don’t get a chance to check out our neck of the woods.
But unfortunately, accommodation options in Playa Avellanas are very minimal. The hotels and cabins that are available for rent here are very basic and none of them are really all that exciting.
There is always land for sale in the area and we’ve toyed with the idea of one day building up a piece of land and turning it into a hostel or a hotel that would provide travelers from all over the world with a comfortable accommodation option to enjoy the area.
But building from scratch in Costa Rica is a huge undertaking, one that we weren’t really ready to take on just yet. “Maybe, one day”, we always said.
And then, a few months ago (much sooner than we ever expected)… a new opportunity arrived at our door-step.
An existing hotel in the area was put up for sale and the price peaked our interest.
So last November, we met with a realtor for a walkthrough of the property. It was old. It was grimy, it was unloved, but it had soooo much potential.
Could this be it? The opportunity we had been waiting for?
We ran some numbers and decided to join forces with a few family investors and put down an offer.
In early December, while in Africa, we got the scariest and most exciting email of the year.
Our offer was accepted.
We bought a hotel in Costa Rica!!!
Our Hotel in Costa Rica
The hotel sits on a small 1-acre property and has an eight-room building, four freestanding two-bedroom villas, two bars, a kitchen, and a pool area. Its best feature is the lovely garden of lush palm trees and flowers that stay green even in the dry season.
The hotel was built in 2007 but has since been slowly deteriorating without much maintenance or repairs. We knew that a lot of work would be needed to revive this property.
When we got back to Costa Rica after our trip to Africa and ran over to inspect our new purchase, we fell into a bit of a despair.
The hotel looked so much worse than we remembered from our first walk-through.
It was cracking at the seams and peeling at the sides and needed thousands and thousands of dollars in repairs and many many months of our hard work and dedication.
So we cancelled our travel plans for the first half of 2018 and threw ourselves into this renovation project.
Our Vision: An Eco Lodge in Paradise
We had learned so much from our eco-conscious travels in the last year and we couldn’t wait to put our learnings into practice.
Armed with the best ideas and practices from eco-hotels from around the world, we committed to turning this run-down hotel into a beautiful sustainable eco-lodge that would follow our own eco-conscious principles and lifestyle choices.
We called it, the Drift Away Eco-Lodge
In just a few months time, what used to be a run-down hotel, will become a completely renovated, beautifully decorated eco-lodge that will tick all the sustainability boxes.
Join Our Journey
After many months of planning, we are ready to hit the “GO” button to bring our ideas and plans into life.
We are excited to share our progress with you guys and hope that many of you will follow our progress and come along on the journey with us.
We’d love to hear what you think every step of the way. (But please go easy on us. We are not designers, builders, or developers. We are just a couple with one hefty vision).
UPDATE: After many months of renovations, Drift Away Eco Lodge opened its doors to the public in October 2018. Get Behind The Scenes at the Drift Away Eco Lodge for an insight view of our beautiful lodge!