When did you open Calala Lodge, and what inspired you to do so?
We had travelled around Costa Rica back in 2015 and always remembered this small fishing town called Cabuya very fondly, it had a very special vibe and was the perfect location to enjoy the waves in Santa Teresa while staying close to nature in a peaceful environment. Four years later we came back and were lucky enough to come across a rundown lodge called Celaje, right on the beach nestled in its own tiny private jungle. After many months of hard work renovating the bungalows and nursing the garden we turned it into our vision: Calala Lodge.
What do you love most about Calala Lodge?
We managed to create a very unique space where nature can be enjoyed to the fullest while still being close to the more touristy spots. The ocean view from the restaurant overlooking the pool can't be beaten! One of our latest additions has been a yoga deck right next to the beach overlooking the ocean and Cabuya Island. For the early risers you can practice yoga while the sun rises from the ocean!
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Calala Lodge?
When we took over the hotel it was in need of a few major improvements. The makeover included adding new windows to all bungalows on both sides to make the rooms and downstairs brighter and airier, renovating the bathrooms, building new balconies overlooking the garden and ocean, major paint jobs and much more. The restaurant also got a facelift and the new menu now includes healthy, vegetarian and vegan options. It is always very rewarding to receive guests who have been to the lodge before, they can't believe the transformation and love the new look and ambiance!
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
The biggest challenge was building the right team to be able to help us run the lodge. In a small town it is hard to find skilled and motivated individuals that can provide quality service (and that aren't already working!). It took many trial periods and trainings to narrow down our options, but once we got more involved in the community and locals got to know us everything fell into place and we managed to form and train a great team that has been with us since.
How has Tab helped Calala Lodge?
We have been using Tab since we started our first lodge in Nicaragua in 2013 and it has always been a great partnership. Tab makes it very easy to receive the deposits required to confirm a reservation, we use it most to take payments as its commission is lower that the local banks and their customer service is exceptional.
What is your favourite feature that Tab offers? Why?
I was pleasantly surprised by Tab's quick reaction during the COVID-19 crisis to launch a new feature offering Gift Cards. We believe this will be a great opportunity to offer guests great deals while helping with our cash flow during the toughest months.
Why would you recommend Tab to another business?
I have recommended it to a few colleagues that have already implemented it successfully. The initial reason for us to use Tab was due to the amount of bureaucracy in Central America for foreigners to open bank accounts, to be able to accept Credit Cards. Tab makes it very easy to operate with Credit Cards within the country while using an overseas account.
Why is Cabuya a great place to visit?
Cabuya has a strategic location to visit the southern tip of the Peninsula. The biggest attraction in Cabuya is the Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve. Cabo Blanco became Costa Rica’s first nature reserve in 1963. The walk to Cabuya Island at low tide is another favorite activity, it takes just 20 minutes from the lodge. Just 6km away you will find the pintoresque town of Montezuma and its well-known waterfalls, 7km over the hill will take you to the famous surfing town of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. There is also a long and very easy wave perfect from beginners right in Cabuya, it's known as Reyes and works best with south swell.
How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The tourism and travel business are amongst the most affected by the pandemic; we rapidly went from a full calendar to not knowing when the next guest might arrive. The impact on our lodge for the next few months will be huge but our hopes remain high! We believe this will accelerate the trend towards a, much needed, more sustainable way of travelling, giving opportunities to smaller businesses.