Travel + Leisure (USA)
“To many people, luxury requires bringing things from far, far away,” says Hans Pfister, president of the Cayuga Collection, a group of small luxury hotels and lodges in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. “What does it mean to be ultra-local?”
At the collection’s seven properties, the answer to that question includes ecoconscious toiletries and cleaning products made locally; sheets and towels sourced predominantly within Central America; and dockto-dish partnerships with nearby fishermen.
Twelve years ago, long before banning plastic straws became trendy, Cayuga’s properties replaced them with a bamboo version. The idea came from an employee who
grew bamboo in his garden and soon became the group’s straw supplier.
The emphasis on the local also extends, significantly, to the group’s hiring philosophy. People from nearby communities are recruited “not just as gardeners and housekeepers,” Pfister explains, “but also as general managers and head chefs.” At Arenas del Mar, a 37-room resort in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, Rodbin Bonilla, a member of the crew that built the property, became a driver, then a bellhop, then a manager—as well as an entrepreneur, founding a transportation company that offers airport transfers for guests.
“Sustainability means investing in people to make a difference in communities,” Pfister says. “It’s possible, but it’s not easy. You have to train, invest, and educate.” cayugacollection. com.—Jeff Chu