Last year I traveled to Costa Rica courtesy of the Costa Rican Tourism Board and took a 10-day tour of some of their top eco-tourism destinations. I came away deeply impressed with the commitment the people of Costa Rica have to preserving their natural resources. They understand the long-term value of not slashing and burning through nature in terms of both economics (making more money) and natural service (having clean drinking water). They get most of their energy from clean, renewable sources and have created wildness preserves from border to border. It's no mistake that they are considered the top eco-tourism destination on the planet.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that the country would attract green-leaning entrepreneurs like Randy Langendorfer and Carlos Rojas Jara, owners and operators of the Monte Azul, an art-focused boutique hotel nestled in the rainforested slopes of the Talamanca Mountains in southern Costa Rica. Two years after they first visited the country on vacation they sold off their homes, businesses, and most of their possessions and moved to Costa Rica to build their dream- a boutique hotel that embraces the arts as much as it did the environment.
Randy is a veritable Jack of all trades and has put his past experience as a building contractor and home restorer to good use not only overseeing the design and construction of the Monte Azul facilities but also handling the interior design and furniture selection.
One of the gorgeous rooms at Monte Azul.
Carlos also gets involved in the interior and furniture design and is head chef and chief menu developer. His menu is based entirely on what is available locally and has been described as "comfort food with just a little flare".
The hotel is located on the 100-acres Monte Azul Preserve, just minutes from Chirripó National Park, one of Costa Rica's more beautiful national parks. The preserve sits in stunning scenery, surrounded by mountains bursting with green in all directions. It's peaceful, wonderful, and a place I hope to make it back to some day. It's all the better that the land had been a clearcut dairy farm rife with animal poachers before Randy and Carlos took over. You would never be able to tell that now as the prime Costa Rican growing conditions have allowed nature to seize back the space with fierce speed. Today their land is chock full of native Costa Rican animals like the capuchin monkey, ring neck peccary, and the sloth.
The greenhouse at the Monte Azul puts a lot of fresh tasty greens on the dinner table.
Randy and Carlos invite a rotating cast of artists-in-residence who take advantage of the serene seclusion to take their art to new places. Hotel guests are encouraged to interact with the artists with an eye on collecting their work. Collectors are able to really get a sense for how the artist creates and can go home with pieces that comes with a deeper connection.
You can find out more about the Monte Azul hotel by visiting their (well-designed) website.
I was lucky enough to get an interview with Randy and Carlos, click over and read about how failure wasn't an option for them, why being green is vital to their mission, and which came first: the art or the hospitality.
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