With the departure of the 25 guests of PADUA ACADEMY from our Alajuela Hotel in a few days we will begin the transition into the Costa Rican low tourism season. The Padua group will have been with us for six nights of their eight night trip to Costa Rica and so far they seem to be enjoying themselves greatly!
Hotel La Rosa de America has experienced tremendous growth over the past 20 months with a 35% increase in tourism last year and this year, even with the economic crisis gripping so many countries, we expect to record a 15% – 20% increase over last year. Naturally this is a good thing for the Hotel and our employees. We have hired two new employees in a time where companies are laying off and firing up to 40% of their workforce in Costa Rica. Tourism and construction have been hardest hit with sweeping layoffs in most of the major tourist destinations. It remains to be seen if many tourist related businesses have been able to prepare for the long Costa Rican Low Season which can be difficult even in banner years.
All this growth at our Alajuela Hotel has of course come at a cost. Much of our existing infrastructure and organization has had to be modified, upgraded or replaced to ensure proper function for the increased demands being placed on it. Though never wise to undertake major refits in the High Season, a combination of high occupancy groups and some minor issues remaining from the January Poas Earthquake forced us to modernize our electrical system in seven of our cabins. We were able to upgrade both above and below ground wiring, breaker boxes and associated electrical items in accordance with Canadian electrical codes which are of a significantly higher standard then the normal electrical work found in Costa Rica. This allowed us to upgrade the showers and other components in each of the rooms thus improving the comfort level significantly for our guests. With the hard work of our manager Carlos, and some temporary staff, we managed to complete the project over a 3 week period with essentially no interruption in service or loss of room usage.
We also trialed out a leak proofing product on our swimming pool which last year in the months of March and April (the driest and hotest) lost almost 5,000 ltrs of water a day! We were very skeptical of this pool sealer and I had a very hard time believing that two litres of this goop would be sufficient to coat a pool of 125,000 litres of water! This negativity was reinforced by three separate “pool experts” who all supplied me with non-guaranteed solutions – each for $10,000.00! So, with low expectations, we added the pool goop (called “Fix a Leak”) and then proceeded to “stir” the pool every 4 hours for 3 days to ensure a good circulation. Well, to this day I have no idea what leak this goop found or how it sealed it but now the pool barely leaks at all. Best of all, the pool goop solution cost only $100.00!!! Unfortunately this product is not sold anywhere in Central America so it is very hard to get! Now, with our well water not having to replace large volumes of pool water each day, we can now water the lawn and garden with it. Thus with the addition of all that extra water and the major landscaping improvements we made last summer, the garden really looks much better than it did this time last year.
Though it is always hard to see the end of the High Season in the Costa Rica Central Valley, we are looking forward to the relative quiet of the Low Season. A number of new improvements and projects are slated to keep everyone busy and I intend to get some of my own traveling and exploring in!!!