Travel + Leisure (USA)

Cayuga Collection

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“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

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Club, the terrace restaurant at Cayuga Collection’s Hotel Aguas Claras, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.
DaLime Beach Club, the terrace restaurant at Cayuga Collection’s Hotel Aguas Claras, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

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