Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Overview - Sept 29, 2010

Southern Costa Rica continues to make favourable changes while retaining its unique features of beautiful flora and fauna and a friendly relaxed lifestyle. Huge improvements in infrastructure such as roads & airports continue as well as opening up of the telecommunications industry & improvements in 3G cell coverage and Internet facilities. All of this has been spurred on by the new Costa Rican Government (in place since May this year), who continues to invest in the Southern Pacific Coastal zone. Tourism is on the up and the PuraVidaEcolodge project is an exciting a project as ever.

The brand new ultra modern hospital is now open in Cortez, San Buenas Golf Resort is soon to open their first nine holes and more than 90% of the country’s electricity demands are met by the new hydroelectric power system. Tourism is up and according to International Living magazine, Costa Rica ranks in the top 5 property investments for 2010!

PuraVidaEcolodge’s Current position - Sept 29, 2010

We have now decided to breakdown our project into three phases. Phase 1 will consist of the smallest unit of the project. Designed to sleep 4, it will be a relatively simple 'jungle-house' with an emphasis on outdoor living with hanging balconies, sun decks and a small plunge pool & rain shower. There will of course be a strong sense of space utilization and an element of 'eco-luxury' in its design, layout and amenities, characteristic of the project as a whole. While eventually this first unit will serve as the 'staff quarters' where a Tico/Costa Rican family will live and be in charge of the day to day running and security of the project as a whole (including Phase 2 + 3) it will initially be used as a guest suite for potential investors visiting the project as well as renting itself out initially to holiday-makers. Being located strategically at the entrance of the development, it offers great ocean, valley and of course jungle views.

With the feasibility studies of all phases complete we continue to work closely with our Costa Rican architect, developing designs and floor plans. We aim to start construction of Phase 1 at the beginning of the dry season 2011.

Phase 2 + 3 are larger units, so we will wait until we have the full financing/investment in place before we go ahead with these. That said, initial plans have already been made and we are waiting on the completion of the ‘ante-proyecto’. This will include full floor plans and breakdowns.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The San Buenas Golf Resort to open first 9 holes by end of the year!

The Village of San Buenas is a 150 acre Costa Rica real estate community nestled in the foothills of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. The project, when open, will boast the first 18 hole golf course (complete with spa, gym, clubhouse and restaurants) in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Costa Rican Insurance Market Opening Up! - Sept 27, 2010

The Quálitas Insurance Company, a Mexico-based auto insurer, has been approved to compete in the Costa Rican insurance market. Quálitas, which insures an estimated 20 percent of Mexico’s drivers, is the ninth company to be approved by the Insurance Superintendency (SUGESE) to operate in Costa Rica. The country’s insurance market was opened to competition when the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the U.S. (CAFTA) came into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. Prior to CAFTA, the National Insurance Institute (INS) had been the country’s sole insurance provider since its creation in 1924.

According to a press release by SUGESE, Quálitas has been approved conditionally. Quálitas has four months to meet additional requisites set by SUGESE before it can sell policies in Costa Rica.

Quálitas, which has provided auto insurance in Mexico since 1994, also sells policies in El Salvador.

Quálitas joins INS, Alico, Mapfre, Seguros del Magisterio, Assa, Pan American Life, Aseguradora del Istmo Adisa, and Seguros Bolivar as an approved insurance provider in Costa Rica.

New & Positive Costa Rican Government - Sept 27, 2010

In February this year, Costa Ricans voted in Laura Chinchilla and in May she officially became the first female President of Costa Rica. Laura was one of Oscar Arias Sanchez's two Vice-Presidents and his administration's Minister of Justice. Since coming to power she has continued to steer her ‘socially democratic’ PLN party towards improving the infrastructure of the country realizing how important tourism (eco-tourism especially) is to the advancement of this tiny Latin American country.

Tourist arrivals from the United States is still the most important market for Costa Rica, showing a 10% increase for this year, for a total of 468.172 visitors, 43.218 more than the first six months in 2009. But increases have been noted also from Canada, Europe & China.

Laura continues to work hard to attract more foreign tourists and seems to be doing well with the completion of the CostaNera Highway. This brand new highway means that guests, visitors and potential investors can get to the PuraVidaEcolodge project in around 2.5 hours from San Jose’s International Airport. (A couple of years ago this journey took 5 hours!) There is of course still the option to fly internally from San Jose to either Quepos or Palmar Sur, both within an easy 30 minutes from the development.

Jet Blue & Spirit Air, (two US based ‘low cost airlines’) have also increased the number of daily flights going in and out of San Jose and the number of direct flights from Canada & Europe as also increased.

The Chinchilla government has also committed to extend the landing strip/airport at Palmar Sur to accommodate larger planes and private charters. Again another very positive step to ‘open up’ the South Pacific Zone of Costa Rica.

The huge plans to construct and open the International airport in Sierpe in the south still continue. All of these improvements in infrastructure are allowing more people to "discover" the once hidden gem of Costa Rica.

The new government have also opened up the once ‘state run’ telecommunications industry. With increased competition, prices are envisaged to go down and complete 3G-cell coverage will be in place for the majority of the country by the end of the year. ICE continues to install more 3G towers in the southern zone including one in San Buenaventura (just round the corner from PuraVidaEcolodge).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Growing Tourism - Sept 25, 2010

It’s no mystery that the world ‘crisis’ has indeed taken its toll in different ways and to differing extents on all projects around the world. Luckily, Costa Rica, the little hidden gem that it is, has not suffered too badly and while values and arrivals in 2008/2009 seemed to level off Tourism in Costa Rica actually grew 3.96% in first half of 2010.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) (Costa Rica’s Tourism Board) has an optimistic outlook for this year, expecting to reach two million visitors for 2010. The optimism is based on the 3.96% increase in tourism the first half of this year as compared to the same period in 2009. This figure is nearer 10% for the South Pacific Zone!

According to data by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (Costa Rica’s immigration service) the number of tourist arrivals from January to June 2010 was 1.124.044. In contrast, during the first half of 2009, 1.025.460 tourist arrivals were recorded.

Given these figures, the executive director of the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles (CCH), Pablo Solano, confirms the increase in tourist arrivals and the average occupancy rate reported by his membership has also risen slightly over last year, averaging 60%.

Solano added that the hotel operators are positive that increase will continue due to the ongoing efforts by the Chinchilla government to attract more visitors to Costa Rica.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Costa Rica More Accessible Than Ever to Canadians - Sept 15, 2010

Over the past few years, the popularity of Costa Rica amongst Canadians has amplified substantially. Now with airlines like Air Canada adding more flights to the area, this is sure to increase even more so.

Air Canada offers a subsidiary service of charter flights called Air Canada Sun Vacations, and it is here that one of the destinations became Costa Rica. Air Canada has always flown to Costa Rica however there has never been a charter service of direct flights at exceptionally lower fares than average….