Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica, besides being known for its beaches, volcanoes, and wellness, could be a great location for your next corporate meeting or retreat. Hear about the best time to visit Costa Rica with Federico Gurdián, General Manager of Casa Chameleon Hotels, and learn how to take advantage of group-friendly outdoor activities with Chakiris Menafacio. Meanwhile, our hosts go deep into their top ten things to do in perhaps the most relaxing country in Central America, from hiking in the excitement-filled mountains, achieving temporary flight in the zip line, to immersing in the Costa Rican culture first-hand at local restaurants.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Costa Rica, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

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Costa Rica

Adventurous General Manager Federico Gurdián Shares Guest Experiences In Paradise And Celebrate The Pura Vida Lifestyle With Outdoor Enthusiast Chakiris Menafacio

Ticos and Ticas, the casual name for Costa Ricans, have the longevity mindset Pura Vida meaning pure life and they live it to the fullest. With volcanoes, rainforests and beaches, there’s no shortage of inspiring activity. Have an adventure on horseback, zip line, raft, rock climb or relax on a catamaran and sip on coffee or craft brew. We will be interviewing the General Manager of Casa Chameleon Hotel, Federico Gurdian. This villa hotel has been described as the gates of heaven. Get ready to put together a list of fun, outdoor activities with Chak Menafacio. Live out the simple life on this episode of Destination Everywhere, Costa Rica.

We’re bringing you to one of our favorite places in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica. We have been there lots of times. It is known for the Pura Vida lifestyle, meaning pure life. There’s so much to do. We’ve taken family trips down there. We’ve taken clients down there for fantastic incentive trips. We’ve got lots of great ideas for you. Todd, tell me about your experience there and what you’re looking forward to sharing with our audience. We ended up going down. We flew into San Jose. We took SANSA Airlines over to Quepos. We stayed at Manuel Antonio and that was my first trip. We spent quite a bit of time in San Jose. It was absolutely amazing. At the time, it was relatively untouched. It was great for a US traveler because I could get by with my very little Spanish. Most people spoke English that we dealt with, which was great. It was relatively inexpensive. I know there are a lot of resorts there now but it was an amazing trip. I’ve gone since then now that I’ve become a little more settled in my lifestyle and I can check out some of the nicer things. Some of the resorts there are second to none, gorgeous. The currency is the colón. It’s easy to get around. Everyone speaks English even though Spanish is the major language. Because of that, it’s easy to travel. The wild life that they have in Costa Rica, you can do the beaches but then you’re not very far. You’re then just up in the volcanoes and it’s some of the greenest and plushest tropical forest you’ve ever seen. The zip lining and the eco-adventure activities that you can do in Costa Rica are limitless. What’s great is they have the local guys, they call them Ticos. You can always find somebody to take you out on one of these excursions and do something. They are fearless fellows and ladies, everything from horseback riding to zip lining to rafting and rock climbing. You could always find these guides that will knock your socks off. They’ve all impressed me tremendously. It is a tropical climate and it has the Caribbean side and the Pacific side. I’ve been there in October when I was younger and I didn’t know October is the wettest season. You need to know the seasons when you go down to anywhere in Central America but Panama, with its rainforest in particular, it can be really wet. The driest months tend to be around December to March. Take that into account when you’re planning your trips unless you like lots and lots of rain. For those of you who might be considering taking a client down there or taking team members down there from your company, they have a new national conference, a convention center, which opened up in 2018. It’s 5 miles from the international airport. It is focused on promoting business and tourism in that type of climate where you can do outdoor activities. It’s beautiful. There’s a great lift coming from the East Coast or the West Coast. It’s right there in the middle. It’s easy to get to. It takes us less time to get to Costa Rica from South Florida than it does to LA or even Colorado. It’s such a quick trip. When you fly from Miami, you fly straight over Cuba, which is always neat to see. That’s pretty cool.

We are joined by our next guest from Guanacaste in Costa Rica. He is an outdoor and fitness enthusiast and he’s the CEO and Founder of Chakfitness. We’d like to welcome Chak Menafacio. How are you? Thank you for having me on the show. How did you get to where you are? What is it about Costa Rica that draws you in and draws you back? I am Costa Rican even though I wasn’t born here. I was born in Switzerland in Geneva. I lived most of my life here in Costa Rica. Most of my family are from here. I lived abroad for twenty years and I came back. I came back a couple of years ago because I missed this beautiful paradise. Starting with beaches, we have so much variety of fauna and flora and adventures. Anything that you want to do, we have it. We call it the New Zealand of Central America because we have so much stuff to do here. It’s a beautiful paradise. I came back and it reminded me of the beauty of that we have here, the Pura Vida lifestyle which is more relaxed, more calm, taking things one day at a time, not rushing, not going crazy with work and so forth. It’s a beautiful life here, very calm, outdoor adventures, and peaceful. Let’s define the Pura Vida lifestyle for our readers who may not know. You talked about a relaxed lifestyle. It’s also about health and wellness as well. [bctt tweet=”There’s no better place in Central America to get great coffee than Costa Rica.” username=””] Everybody here is very conscious about not just the environment but also what we eat. Everything is natural or organic. Almost everything is fresh from the moment you go to the farmer’s market to the little market on the next door, which they sell fruits and vegetables, everything is fresh. We have a very good lifestyle here, natural and everything. The main courses and the main plates here are based on vegetables, rice and beans. It’s a good lifestyle. It’s healthy. How do you pair up? How do you find the tourist consumer to provide your services to? It’s simple and easy because specifically where I am, it’s a very small town. It’s called Las Catalinas. It’s in Playa Danta, which is in Guanacaste. It’s a small beach but it provides all sorts of things. My experience here, which has been for the past year or two that I’ve been coming here is that everyone that comes here comes specifically with that in mind, adventure, doing trails. We have a huge mountain bike trail that was done by a world champion from Europe. We have paddleboard competitions. There are all sorts of tournaments and competitions for triathletes. It’s really big. I had the opportunity to establish myself here coming from the United States with all my experience in fitness and outdoor activities. It was a perfect fit. Most of the tourism here is geared towards that, adventure, outdoors, waterfalls, jumping, spelunking. I took my daughter to do one of the longest zip lining. They call it the Superman because it’s about 1,800 meters long. Where was that? This is in Diamante. I believe it’s one of the third ones and the largest in the world. You zip line from one tip of the mountain all the way to the other tip. It takes forever. You feel like you’re actually flying. It’s amazing. My daughter was static. She couldn’t even believe it. These are the things that as you’re zip lining, you’re overlooking the ocean. You’re on the mountain and you’re overlooking the ocean. Those are the things that you have to remind yourself like, “I live here. I’m experiencing this.” I would recommend anybody that is looking for a thrill or for an adventure. Even if they’re not going to zip line, you can still see the lookouts. It’s an amazing sight when you see a whole beach from the tip of the mountain and it’s right there. There are few places that I can remember that I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that in Hawaii, maybe in some other places in the United States but there are few ones that I’ve experienced, but here we have it everywhere. Let’s talk a little bit about your approach to fitness and how you work with individuals and groups. I would love to know how you do groups because that’s exciting from a fitness perspective. How do you do that? How do you blend in the Costa Rican lifestyle into your philosophy around health and wellness? Here in the programs that I’m implementing in the Las Catalinas in this area, it’s very simple and easy because everybody that is coming here, the tourists, residents, locals, everyone has already that mindset. They’re coming to exercise, hike, and do all different things. Our gym is an outdoor facility. We also have a small palapa where it’s covered but we can do group classes. A lot of the people here that come, they pay by day or they paid for the week. We have all sorts of memberships that they can do. It’s simple. Everyone is relaxed because the moment they come to Costa Rica, it’s almost like it’s injected in your system. You have to. Coming back for me after twenty years of living in the States, I had to remember that lifestyle. It’s almost like it’s forced because everybody’s relaxed, laid back and then you have to like, “I’m in Costa Rica now. I have to sit back, relax, not stress out, and not worry about things.” People take their time and it’s part of the lifestyle. That’s why everybody tells you, “Pura Vida.” That means relax. You hear it all the time when you’re going around town. Especially when you’re getting stressed out or something is not going your way. People just turn around and tells you, “Pura Vida.” You’re like, “Yeah.” Costa Rica has so much. You’ve got the mountains, beaches, volcanoes, rainforests. What part would you recommend to our readers where they want to go? Do you have a favorite spot? You’re in Guanacaste and that is a very special spot. When you take a vacation in the country, where do you go? It’s hard to narrow one because there are so many. I love going to waterfalls. That’s one of my favorite, and jumping from waterfalls. Do you have a favorite waterfall? There’s a waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja. It’s a volcano. It’s a beautiful site. It’s almost like a tunnel when you’re coming down, you have to go down around this huge hole like a cenote but it’s wider. It ends up in this beautiful, closed mountain and the waterfall is right there. You can actually go behind the waterfall. You can jump into the natural pool. It’s crystal clear. It’s amazing. It’s such an experience. We take it for granted sometimes because I’ve done it so many times. I forget that most people don’t have that at home. They don’t have it right next door.

DE 20 | Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Costa Ricans tend to focus more on physical and mental health than money.

What is a typical Costa Rican meal? Do you have a favorite spot that you like to go to close to where you are? Not fancy dining, just a space with good food and good atmosphere. There are several ones and one of my favorites, the typical Costa Rican meal is rice and beans. We call it Gallo Pinto. It’s like rice and beans, a little bit moist and a little bit of sauce. They put peccadillo, which is potatoes and a little bit of meat. You put eggs and everything. You have like a huge car bomb. In Costa Rica, that’s what they eat. It’s a heavy breakfast. One of my best favorite places to go is called Gracia. It’s in Mar Vista. A friend of mine is an amazing chef. The view there, you sit and you have an infinity pool. You get to see the whole ocean from there while you’re dining or having lunch. It’s really good. These are good friends of mine also. Besides the fact that they’re friends, the food is amazing. You can have a drink, you name it. It’s a good restaurant. You were born in Geneva. You lived in the United States. You lived in Costa Rica. You’re a world traveler. We ask all of our local connoisseurs our rapid-fire questions. We’d like to ask you them now, if that’s okay. You can give some tips to our readers. The first one is, have you ever completed anything on your personal bucket list? If so, what was it? I did. In 2020, I went to Chile. I went to El Calafate in Argentina. I crossed the border in about four hours to Chile to Torres del Paine, which is a huge national park there. There’s an eco-camp. It’s a very famous eco-camp. You experience everything. We did horseback riding, mountain biking. We went to the glaciers. We kayaked in the glaciers. It was a nice experience. I’m an adventure-seeker so I love this type of adventure. We also went to Perito Moreno, which is a huge glacier in Argentina. We walked on the glacier. That was one of my bucket lists. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? Costa Rica. That’s an easy one. When you’re packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers? This is why all my friends bug me. I pack a tube band to do exercise so I can put it anywhere in the hotel room or anything. I pack my light gear to work out after a day hiking or whatever, I do a little light work in the hotel. Not all hotels in the world have gyms. I always have to do my workout when I go traveling. Our last rapid-fire question, what is your most memorable experience in Costa Rica? There are so many but I’m going to say learning how to surf when I was fifteen years old, being on my own and sleeping in the sleeping bag on the sand on the beach in Tamarindo. That’s where I started learning how to surf. That was the first place I tried surfing as well. It’s very easy. It’s good for somebody that’s learning. It has good waves. I met Tom Curren at the time. He was a world champion surfing there. I didn’t even know who he was. He told me he was a surfer and I was like, “Great, let’s go surfing.” Later in life, I found out he was Tom Curren, which was huge. That’s a great example of Pura Vida. You just go with it. If our readers want to follow you on social media, how can they track you to know what you’re up to? [bctt tweet=”As a natural paradise itself, Costa Rica has been dubbed as the New Zealand of Central America.” username=””] They can look me up on Instagram. We have an Instagram account which is @Core_Chakfitness. Core is our gym here in Las Catalinas, Core Gym or Core by Chakfitness. Follow us there and check it out. Thank you so much, Chak. We appreciate you taking the time and sharing Costa Rica with us. We wish you all the best. Safe travels. Come by and visit. We’ll see you soon. That’s what I need right about now. Thanks, Chak.

Todd, are you ready to do our top ten bucket list ideas for Costa Rica? I am but this was hard to choose because the list could have gone on but we will get as many as we can in. Our first one and it’s amazing. We’ve been several times visiting the most active volcano in Costa Rica. It is Arenal. It’s been the most active volcano for many years. The last time it had a lava flow was in 2010. It’s sleeping. They say it can erupt at any time. There are many outdoor activities around there. There are some fantastic hotels like The Springs Costa Rica. There’s horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking, zip lining that we’re going to talk about. There’s so much to do. La Fortuna had some great restaurants, which is right at the base of the mountain in the town there. I would say about two and a half hours from San Jose. It probably depends. We did take an incentive group there once and in a bus, and it was nerve wracking but if you have a smaller vehicle. It’s two and a half hours unless the roads have improved since the last time I was there, which they always seem to be doing. It’s not that long. Todd, what do you have? One of ours and you can pass it if you’re going out to the volcano. It’s La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park & The Peace Lodge. It’s got five amazing waterfalls. It’s the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica. It’s one of the most popular nature tours. We stayed on that property and the rooms were amazing. There weren’t that many rooms. At the time, there were thirteen maybe. We took our kids and they have tons of hummingbirds. Our kids were holding up these little hummingbird cups and they would just come right up to you. They had an exhibit with frogs. It’s pitch-black in there. You’d go in. You’re seeing all these different types of frogs that are native to Costa Rica, birds, frogs and butterflies. It was something. It’s great for adults but the kids, ours were 4, 5, maybe even younger, they absolutely loved it. It’s a beautiful location but straight up to a national park. There are lots of hiking as well. My next one is immerse yourselves in one of the greatest exports that Costa Rica has, which is coffee. If you read the blog, you know I’m a coffee aficionado. I love it. There’s no better place in Central America to get great coffee. One of the things you can do is experience the coffee culture by going to the El Toledo Coffee Tours. It’s an organic coffee farm. It’s a family-owned farm. It focuses on growing with organic sustainability in mind and only using the natural resources of the land. Their philosophy is focusing on health than money. A great message as well, a beautiful location and a lot of fun to see how great Costa Rican coffee is made. Anywhere where there’s great volcanic soil can produce some strong and wonderful coffee.

DE 20 | Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Nicoya is home to more than 900 people who live over the age of 90, and they credit their longevity to the calcium-rich waters around the town.

Don’t ask for a Starbucks in Costa Rica. You might offend somebody. This next one is cool. It’s spend a night in an exclusive, one-of-a-kind suite at the 727 Fuselage Home. It’s a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 aircraft that’s been refurbished and placed in the jungle canopy. It offers a two-bedroom suite and it totally immerses you in nature. It’s a really different experience. You could sit on the terrace overlooking the trees. Some of the animals you might see while you’re there like sloths or monkeys. Costa Rica has so many animals and different types of species. You’re probably going to be amazed with some of the wildlife that you see if you stay there. The next thing I’m going to talk about is health and wellness tourism. In Costa Rica itself, there’s so much of it but there’s the pure life, Pura Vida which is a living concept that is in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican lifestyle is all about improving mental and physical health. Therefore, it’s very relaxing and there are a lot of great beneficial activities around that. There are forest baths where you can breathe in fresh forest air and barefoot earthing, which is barefoot walks and body wraps made in volcanic mud, coffee and chocolate to moisturize the skin. Costa Rica also has one of the blue zones. If you recall, a blue zone is an area where the longest, healthiest living humans live. That is in Nicoya and they’ve had over 900 people live over the age of 90, they think mainly because of the calcium-rich waters that are around the town. Definitely take that out and include that in your plan as you’re planning your trip. I have a cousin who went to an all-girls surf camp in Costa Rica. It was a whole wellness program and she had the best time. They learned to surf and then they did yoga and meditation. At the time, they had closed it, which can be very comforting at some level for girls who want to travel but they want to stay together. They had the most amazing time. They said the surf instructors were amazing, the meditation and then the scenery and wildlife. If you want to get some more traditional culture, almost Western-inspired, European-inspired, there’s an amazing theater that is in San Jose and it’s modeled after the Paris Opera House. It has breathtaking interiors. The theater’s main ceiling was named one of the top great ceilings around the world. If frescoes, paintings and architecture are your thing, definitely go by the National Theatre in San Jose. Now we’re going to go to the Pacific side and going deep sea fishing off Manuel Antonio. Because there’s no major fishing industry off the coast of Costa Rica, the fishing and the deep sea fishing is amazing. When I was there in my twenties, I was lucky enough to jump on a boat. You can walk straight up to the docks and jump on a boat for the day. I went out there and I caught a black marlin the size of a cow. They pulled it up to the side of the boat. We let it go. For a few minutes there, we were able to touch and experience it in its natural habitat. It was definitely a bucket list item for me. One of those things that I will never forget, it was absolutely incredible. Deep sea fishing, you can catch live tuna and they cut it on the boat for you. You can eat it and you can still feel it moving around in your mouth. It’s pretty incredible. The next one is what I should have been doing instead of surfing. There’s a great, little, hidden sanctuary beach called Playa Quesera. It is located also in the Nicoya Peninsula and as part of the Curu Wildlife Refuge. It’s an amazing, gorgeous spot. It’s picturesque. When you think of the beach, it has crystal blue waters. You can see the bottom when you’re in the ocean. You could see the ocean floor. You can rent kayaks, snorkels and enjoy a serene, secluded spot. It’s gorgeous. Finally, we have something that we did with clients and we brought them down to Costa Rica. We took them to the Limon Carnival. It’s a Caribbean annual carnival, usually in October. It spans over a week and they have famous chefs, dishes, singing, dancing, and just a lot of fun. If you want to experience a traditional Caribbean carnival, this one is for you. It’s a lot of fun and something you can do with the entire family. I want to add one more, Andy, if we could. When I talk about Costa Rica, every once in a while zip lining comes up especially if you’re talking about eco adventures. This is one we discovered when we were taking an incentive group there, and then we went back as leisure travelers. It’s the Sky Adventures Arenal Park. I’m typically not a very nervous person but this one had my knees shaking. You take a tram up and then these guides are zipping down then someone’s there to meet you but these are the longest, highest zip lines. I know there are probably longer ones and higher ones that I had ever seen. I remember when we took the incentive group to these zip lines, someone from the group had to go first and I was working. I was the one that had to go first. Every time I was petrified. You’re going so fast. It’s absolutely amazing if you can keep your eyes open, the views are spectacular. I definitely recommend it. The same group also does kayaking tours, they rent bikes and things like that. The zip lining is a recommended adventure. There are some great bucket list ideas as you’re planning your next trip and destination to Costa Rica.

Andy and I were passionate about meeting connections that changed lives. For many years, we have traveled our clients all over the globe supporting their business goals and helping them stand apart from hotel sourcing to audio-visual magic. We’ll make your corporate meeting or event second to none. Go to AmericanMeetings.com to learn more. American Meetings, AMI. Meeting, planning perfected.

With this edition in Costa Rica, we’ve got our next guest with a very special property. I’d like to welcome Federico Gurdian. He is the General Manager of the Casa Chameleon property in Las Catalinas. Welcome. How are you, Federico? Thank you. I’m doing great. I’m excited to be part of this show and looking forward to letting you know all about the property and giving you some insiders about Costa Rica too. What a beautiful property. If you have not seen this property, get online and see it. It has views like I’ve never seen, just absolutely stunning. [bctt tweet=”Most locals take Costa Rica’s beauty for granted, not realizing that most of its gems cannot be found anywhere else.” username=””] We should mention that there are two properties in Costa Rica, the Casa Chameleon properties include not only the one at Las Catalinas but also Mal Pais. They’re both in Guanacaste, right? Is Mal Pais a little further south? Catalinas is in Guanacaste and Mal Pais is located in the Province of Puntarenas. We are on the same peninsula. Let’s talk about this property because it’s relatively new and it has 21 villas with their own private plunge pools. That’s just something that everyone is going to want to do. I bet they’re extremely popular. They’re salt water as well. Tell us a little bit about those and the guest experience. The Las Catalinas properties are a very unique property in Costa Rica. You won’t find many of them like this since we’re perched in the hill but so close to the ocean. That’s not something people get very often. We decided to take advantage of that and build these beautiful villas that offered private plunge pools. All of them have astonishing ocean views. An added fact is that half of them have sunset views. You can enjoy year-round beautiful sunsets from the privacy of your terrace in your plunge pool with your couple, which makes it a perfect setting for a romantic escape or an anniversary celebration. You might not get them out of the villa. It’s actually one of the biggest challenges we have. The town doesn’t allow cars. What can they expect? Where would a guest fly into? How are they going to get to the property from the airport? My recommendation is to definitely land in the Liberia Airport. There are two international airports in Costa Rica, the San Jose one and the Liberia one. You have to land in Liberia because if not, it’s a long drive from San Jose. My recommendation is to stay in Liberia. We will then pick you up in our hotel car with our bilingual driver that knows a lot about the area. It’s a short drive. It’s just 45 minutes to the property, a very scenic drive. Once you get to the hotel, you won’t need a car for much. If you do need to go somewhere else, we have the hotel car available that can drive you to the location that you desire. Tell us about some of these unique experiences. I understand there’s a hanging bridge that goes across a volcano. I hope the volcano is not active. No. There are several volcanoes here in Costa Rica near the hotel, around an hour away is a volcano. It’s still active but the explosion it makes are vapor explosions, nothing like magma or anything. It’s surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. There you can find beautiful ranges, thermal waters, mud baths. How far is that from the hotel? That’s an hour and fifteen minutes away from the hotel. A quick drive and a great day excursion from the hotel.

DE 20 | Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Costa Ricans are more laid back than anyone else, taking one day at a time and not being crazy about work.

It’s a perfect half-day trip that you can take and enjoy. There’s some beautiful, very traditional Costa Rican restaurants that you can stop by, have lunch and get that cultural connection that our guests are so much seeking for. That’s something that I’ve found in our guests. They love to get to know the Costa Rican culture. It’s something that we have to portray here at the hotel. They get to experience it firsthand when they go visit these locations. Federico, are you finding that more guests that come to your property, are they looking for ecotourism? Are they looking to get outside? Are they looking for activities on the water whether it’s surfing, fishing, things like that? Whatever they’re looking for, does the hotel have access to set all of those up for your guests? Yes. We have total flexibility. Since we are a small property, our main goal is to cater to all and every need that our guests have. For example, it’s funny because since we’re an adults-only property, we get two segments of guests, the very young ones that are on their honeymoon, that are very active and seeking for adventure. We then have the older adults that are already with big kids and they’re coming more for the romanticism, anniversary celebrations, and those type of stuff. We cater to those two things. If you want to just lounge by the hotel and enjoy the day beds around the pool, we will give you a beautiful service. If you want to do hikes and things, you can do it without having to leave the property because the town of Las Catalinas is located on a very big property. It’s over 600 hectares. It’s full of mountain biking trails, hiking trails all surrounding the hotel. You don’t have to go anywhere. If you’re looking for hikes or a short adventure, we have mountain bikes here at the hotel. One of my hobbies is mountain biking. Once a week, we will take guests out mountain biking with me. That’s a good perk to your job. You get paid to go mountain biking. How awesome is that? Another thing you mentioned to us was this coffee tour. I’m a huge Costa Rican coffee fan as some of the best coffee in the world because of the volcanic organic matter there that makes it special. Tell us about this tour. Where do you take everybody? There’s a coffee tour. It’s around an hour and a half away in an area that is a little bit higher than us because coffee needs a certain height to be better. One of our private guides will take you there. You will be able to walk through the coffee plantation. They’ll take you through the whole process of how coffee is made. By the end of the tour, you’ll be enjoying a cup of warm coffee from that farm with some traditional Costa Rican pastries. It’s a learning experience. If you wish, you can buy some of their coffee to take back home or enjoy it there for yourself. It’s something beautiful, not very away from the hotel. For coffee lovers, that’s something I found unique. As a local, what is your favorite restaurant? Where do you like to get food? I’m a huge Italian food lover. Near the hotel, there is an Italian restaurant called La Forketta run by this nice Italian family that has been living for a long time in Costa Rica. They absolutely have the best ravioli with sea bass. It’s always fresh, homemade, and delicious. The pizza is amazing. You then have the ocean here if you like surfing. I love surfing. Do you have good waves right there? Thirty minutes away from the hotel, there is an area called Playa Grande and Tamarindo, which is great for surfing and learn how to surf. I live very close to that area. I try to surf at least 2 or 3 times a week. It keeps my mental health. It’s beautiful. If I’m not doing that in my time off, I am mountain biking the trails or spending time with the family. I love spending time with my family and Costa Rica is a place that makes that very easy because there are a lot of places that you can go without having to drive far away. We like to ask all of our guests our rapid-fire questions and what they are because our readers want to hear from world travelers like you, people who are in the industry and what it’s like. The first one is have you personally ever completed anything on your bucket list? Yes. I had the chance to visit Iceland and it was huge on my bucket list. I was there for two weeks. What was the most amazing thing there? Driving around Iceland. The island was amazing. Pointing out one single thing is so difficult because that place is filled with nature. We are huge nature lovers. We were driving like crazy around the island. We didn’t even stay very long in any hotel. We were on the road all the time, seeing all of these places, the scenery is mind-blowing. [bctt tweet=”Costa Rica doesn’t require tourists to drive a long way just to find a nice place to visit.” username=””] Going is a bucket list itself. I would be back in Iceland in a heartbeat. If you could ever live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? That was a difficult one to think about because Australia is one of the places I would love to be able to live in for a year. It’s a huge place where you can experience so much nature. I’m a huge nature lover. I’d say Australia would be perfect. I will be able to surf world-class waves and explore the wildlife there. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, dead or alive, who would it be? Kelly Slater. He would definitely take you to Australia, wouldn’t he? I will be happy to show him around Costa Rica too. He’s been here several times but there are some places I will be happy to show him. We’ll have to #KellySlater on this and see if he gets the message. That would be a dream come true. Packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers? I always pack food like Costa Rican treats and chocolates. I always need them with me. It sounds weird but I’m very fond of some things that I eat here in Costa Rica. Even if it’s for a week, I try to take my favorite chocolates from here because I like having them at night. Costa Rica has great chocolate for our readers if you didn’t know that. Finally, what is your most personal, memorable experience in Costa Rica?

DE 20 | Costa Rica

Costa Rica: There are a lot of beautiful and traditional Costa Rican restaurants where tourists can stop by and get that cultural connection not found anywhere else.

There’s a waterfall called Tinamaste in the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. You will hike for an hour and a half through the rainforest and then you’ll come up to this huge waterfall. What makes it so special is that right behind the waterfall there’s a cave. The family that owns that farm has set up beds, a kitchen and bathrooms. You will go and sleep in the cave behind the waterfall. Have you done that? Yes, I’ve done it twice. That’s definitely my most memorable experience. That’s a bucket list item. That’s a great one. Did you sleep overnight in the cave? Yes. You hike there in the morning. You arrive at the waterfall in midday. You will have lunch in the waterfall, dinner and breakfast. There is no electricity or anything in the cave. It’s all with candle light and they will fix your meals there. How loud is it? Is it loud? It’s loud but since it’s water falling, it’s soothing. It’s delicious to sleep. It’s very humid. It’s in Tinamaste, the Southern Pacific near Ballena. From here, it’s a long drive. It’s five hours. That’s definitely a bucket list item for sure. How incredible. Thanks for sharing that with us. That’s great. I’ll be happy to send you more information because it is something special. You did great on the rapid-fire questions and we appreciate your time and your beautiful hotel. Where can our readers find you on social media and your website? We have our Instagram, which is @CasaChameleonHotels. There you’ll be able to find us on Instagram, Facebook also, Casa Chameleon Hotels. Our website is CasaChameleonHotels.com. You’ll be able to access all our properties and book there, and access some great specials that we have for booking online for our guests. Federico, thank you so much for your time. We greatly appreciate all the great ideas and explaining everything around the hotel, but also those great ideas you have far away. You gave us 5 or 6 fantastic suggestions. Thanks for joining us on the show. Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure meeting you. Let me know when you want to join me in one adventure here in Costa Rica. We certainly will.

Costa Rica is an amazing country. I’ve been there so many times. I always want to go back. We talked about the mountains, the beaches, hiking, surfing, Pura Vida. Probably the thing that I want to go back and do is the waterfalls just like Chak was saying. I’ve been to many and they are some of the best in the world. When you’re planning your trip, make sure that you look at all the great natural waterfalls that you can see. That’s my last great tip. Special thanks to our team here at Destination Everywhere. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred podcast app or by going to Destination-Everywhere.com. Be sure to join us next time. Be safe out there.

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About Chak Menafacio

DE 20 | Costa RicaChak Menafacio is the CEO and founder of CHAKFitness, Costa Rica’s most unique, beachfront, outdoor gym located in Las Catalinas. He has been working as a fitness professional for over twenty years and is accredited by the NSCA, ACE, AFAA, and USA Gymnastics Association. He holds a license in sports massage therapy from the Florida College of Natural Health. Chak is ranked black belt of the first degree in Kung-Fu Shaolin. He was born in Geneva, Switzerland and was raised in Costa Rica where he started training in martial arts at the age of nine. He is truly an accomplished fitness professional. He has gained national exposure with featured articles in Self Magazine, Natural Awakenings, local publications, TV shows and fitness videos. He has performed at fitness conventions, competitions and exhibitions at more than one-hundred shows at national and international level.

About Federico Gurdián

DE 20 | Costa RicaFederico has been in the hospitality industry for over 12 years now and currently holds a BA in Hospitality and Human Resource Management from Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. During his time in the industry he had the opportunity to work for a big all-inclusive hotel in Riviera Maya, a big city hotel in Beijing, China and several boutique hotels in Costa Rica. Federico was born on April 13th, 1987 in San Jose, Costa Rica where he was raised. Both his parents are Costa Ricans as well as his brother. Federico’s biggest hobbies are surfing which he’s enjoyed for over 15 years now and more recently mountain biking has also become a hobby. He had the chance to be in charge of 2 hotel openings one of them being Casa Chameleon Las Catalinas and he could say that doing hotel openings is probably what he has enjoyed the most during his years of experience.

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