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High Season Shows Nosara Economy Overcoming Crisis
By Fritz Elmendorf

While the world economy continues to struggle with economic recovery, the pillars of Nosara’s economy, surfing, yoga and nature tourism, have helped it weather the turmoil.

The Nosara Yoga Institute continues to bring in students at their pre-recession levels, according to Doris Brunnbauer. Their January four-week teacher training was at capacity with more than 50 students, and February brought 16 students for a Yoga Dance training and more than 30 for their Pranassage training.
Their Community Yoga classes, catering to walk-ins, increased from 396 attendees in January 2009 to 567 in 2010, while daily classes increased from two to three or four. A new studio, Yoga House, opened this season with a full schedule of classes and events as well.

The new “Blue Spirit Retreat Center”, opened in December for a three and a half month initial season, bringing in hundreds of new visitors, many of whom stayed in local lodging or extended their stay, bringing fresh dollars to area businesses. The center has consistently attracted 50 to 100 clients per week, and director Stephan Rechtschaffen said it has been “near capacity.”

Tyler Marsh of Safari Surf School and Steve Reyer of Coconut Harry’s reported strong seasons, while several new schools have given visitors many options for lessons. Juan Surfo agreed that this year recovered well from a year earlier and the future outlook is positive.

Reyer, in his third year running Coconut Harry’s, said he’s had two record years in a row although he noted a slow start to this season. Surf lessons continue to be the backbone, with less sales of souvenirs. “Word keeps spreading that (Nosara) is a really special place,” he notes.

The Nosara Surf Shop is recovering from a sharp decline in business last year, according to Pio Ruiz, while new surf schools are also competing for business.

One of the biggest attractions is the Ostional Refuge. Seeing the marine turtle laying eggs or the baby turtles hatching is a very unique experience in this side of the country. The vice-president of the “Asociacion de Guias Locales de Ostional”, Elmith Molina Parra, said that they received more costa ricans visiting during Christmas and Easter than other years “I think the ticos felt that they can finally go on vacation again”. Back in Nosara, horseback tours were off 30% last year, in spite of a 20% discount, but returned to normal this year, according to Hawe Klossek, who operates Boca Nosara Tours. Business has also picked up again at Lagarta Lodge, where clients take nature walks in their private reserve and book river tours.

Also, during this season, Nosara had new nature tours in their list, like Kayaking the Nosara river and Snorkelling in San Juanillo.

Hotels are recovering, although people are reserving rooms closer to their travel dates and not spending as much on amenities. The Harbor Reef “has surpassed expectations” for this season after a disappointing 2009, with occupancy rates climbing from a low of 50% to around 70% this season, although not at the peak of 2008, according to Victor Sanchez, operations manager.

The Harmony Hotel has held up for the past two high seasons with occupancy between 70% and 80%, although December and February showed a 10% drop in bookings, according to Esteban Redana, Guest service manager.

The Café de Paris, which saw a 10% drop in revenue last year, has recovered almost to the peak season of 2008, according to Thierry von der Weid, who observed that rising expenses can’t be passed on and profits are being squeezed. More of his retail space is rented and most merchants are not struggling like they did last year, he said.

Claire Saylor, Communications Coordinator for Nature Air, with two daily flights from San Jose, said “Nosara is one of our fastest growing destinations with a 24% increase over last year and also a destination that is highly supported by residents and locals, with frequent fliers making up nearly 45% of all traffic to / from Nosara.”

Ronald Castro, who has managed the National rental car franchise here since it opened five years ago, said they have had the best season ever. Last year saw only a 50% rental rate while this season they often didn’t have enough cars, he said.

Robin’s Ice Cream missed the recession completely, and expanded hours this season to include dinner. Robin Lance said “the off-season is not the off-season any more,” and she opened early after closing in October and never saw a dip in business.

Amadeo Amacker of LaGarta Lodge saw bigger restaurant and bar tabs this year after a tight season last year.

Joe Pereira, who opened the Beach Dog Café last June, has seen steady but inconsistent business. He said he had more business during the President’s Day U.S. holiday in February than during Christmas.

Richard Jordan, owner of Tica Massage, tracks the number of massages given and reports the best holiday season and January ever. “We still did pretty good last year, even though we were off a little. We’re pretty much back on track.”

He said he doesn’t take it for granted and invests every year in marketing, advertising and facilities upgrades. “I’m bullish on the future of Nosara,” Jordan said. Other established masseuses, Brenda Lee of “Enchanted forest” and Francela Gonzalez of “Buda Massage”, report strong seasons as well.

Residential construction has fallen back to the pace of six years ago after grinding nearly to a half last year, according to Aaron Willis, who has been building houses here for 16 years. Houses are also smaller on average than those built in the boom years, he noted, and many start-up builders and the out-of-town builders from San Jose have left the market.

However, he said he is building three to four homes a year in the current market and the current pace is enough to keep local workers employed.

Alex Nott of Nosara Real Estate said he doesn’t see much hope for a pickup in home sales as long as mortgage money is not available. “People still want what’s here,” but credit markets are still shrinking and it will be a few more years before this cycle turns around”, he predicted.



More Regional News

Nosareños Will Spend the Winter Without a Retaining Dam

Each year the Nosareños are affected by the floods caused by the growth of the Nosara River and, since there won’t be a retaining wall, or dam, that will prevent the water from reaching many homes in the community, this year won’t be the exception. More >

Sámara Waterline Project At Standstill

The waterline amplification project that began in 2009 has come to a halt due to management and land ownership complications. According to Sámara ASADA Administrator Eduardo Arnáez, the endeavor was initiated last year because “the town has developed a lot and the demand for water is increasingly greater”. More >

Evictions in Garza – One Land. Many Owners.

6 families from Garza are holding a dispute with Luis Diego Franchesky Chacón, owner of the property on which they live and from which they have an eviction order that was pronounced by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública. The order against one of the families was halted by the Sala Constitucional and, for the time being, the other five eviction orders have been paused by the Municipalidad. More>

Containers in Guiones: The Battle for Land In The Name Of Protection

After months of heated public debate and controversy regarding the placement and occupation of several storage containers in the Guiones area, The Voice of Nosara exclusively interviewed the two people representing both opposing sides of the story: Bobbi Johnson and Richmond Phipps. More >

Nicoya Cemetery out of Space City Hall Lacks Lot for New One

The local Nicoyan government continues to search in vain for an eligible site for a new cemetery in the canton, despite the fact that the current graveyard has been unusable for the last 20 years. More >

“Maybe the next government will do it”.
Arias passes the buck on Samara-Nosara’s paved road

Thursday April 22nd, the community of Nosara received a visit from the President of the Republic, Oscar Arias, to officially inaugurate the airfield. During his visit representatives of EBAIS, The Red Cross and other public entities delivered him letters that expressed their urgent need to receive improvements and aid. More >

Oscar Arias in Nosara – His Visit Revealed

Arias Inaugurates Nosara and Nicoya Airfields
On Thursday April 22nd, the former president of the Republic, Oscar Arias, took scissors and went to cut the tapes at the inauguration of the airfields at Nicoya and Nosara.

Some Excerpts from Outgoing President Oscar Arias’s speech in Nosara
Opening the speech
“This could possibly be the last time that, at least as president, I will be with you. As of May 8th, as a Costa Rican citizen again, I am going to be with you many more times” More >

Interview with Transportation Vice Minister Pablo Castro

“Up until ten minutes ago I did not know about this situation” (regarding closed River Frio Bridge)

VON: Why is the company MECO moving so slowly in its maintenance work of the Samara-Nosara route?
Castro: Last year we had problems with funding because of the way in which the contract (with MECO) was granted. We were paying for the specific project, and, because of the financial arrangements, things were getting more expensive. More >

Local Youth Killed For Motorcycle – Injustice Continues for Family of Murdered Nosareño

Some 15 teary-eyed family members join together to tell the story of their beloved son, grandson, brother, husband, cousin, nephew and father – Adrian Ruiz Chavarría. In the words of his grandfather Gregorio “he was a family man…for us he was the best grandson we had”. More >



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