Last January we began an incredible year for destination weddings, with three of them booked back to back the week after New Year’s. The happy couples kept on coming and we hosted over 30 wedding groups in 2010 and a similar number of honeymooners. Wedding and honeymoon business is so gratifying and exciting to us as hoteliers, because we truly become a lasting part of our guest’s lives and memories. We are redoubling our effortsin the new year to provide a truly personalized, special and memorable occasion for all the bridal and honeymoon couples who’ll be joining us in 2011.
In addition to our focus on romance, we had several corporative incentive groups who enjoyed our facilities last year. They were able to program a wide variety of tours and activities for their guests, along with catered dinners and fun, “bonding” activities such as Pool Volleyball, Karaoke Nights and Texas Hold’Em Tournaments. We look forward to welcoming more corporate groups this year, and assisting them in promoting employee solidarity, productivity and communication.
One of our major focuses in 2010 was to become a more sustainable, environmentally friendly resort. In addition to celebrating Earth Day with Tree Plantings, candle-making and other green activities, we beganour process for the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo’s Certification of Sustainable Tourism. Two Environmental Studies students from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment assisted by gathering data and working with our management team to train our entire staff in every aspect of environmental sustainability. We instituted such programs as: separation and recycling of all plastics, paper and aluminum products and waste matter; regular beach clean-ups and maintenance of Playa Flamingo’s international Blue Flag Certification; periodic water-quality monitoring of the ocean, the pools, and the resort’s drinking water; the use of water coolers to replace bottled water; the purchasing of only biodegradable, recyclable and environmentally safe products by our housekeeping, food & beverage and maintenance staffs along with the reduction of the use of plastics and any other non-biodegradable products; achieving energy savings through the installation of low-energy consumption lamps and light bulbs, along with recycling of organic waste for energy uses; achieving water conservation through the installation of low-flow faucets and shower heads.
Assisting our local communities is an important part of our commitment to sustainable tourism in Guanacaste, and we collaborate closely with local schools, churches and community organization to provide donations of money, time and materials; assist with fundraising efforts, offer job training and support in many other ways. We started a program of guest donations to support CEPIA, a non-profit social and educational organization based in a nearby community. We also collaborated again with Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to develop and sponsor an in-depth scientific study of our adjacent mangrove forest. The unique ecosystem found in the mangrove wetlands provides the perfect environment for young marine organisms, and protects the coastline from erosion.Two graduate students worked all summer mapping the mangrove system, taking soil and water samples, making a complete survey of the flora and fauna, and educating local schools and communities about the importance of preserving and protecting the mangrove ecosystem. The field part of their study culminated in a Mangrove Clean Up Day sponsored by the resort.
The Fall Green Season was a time for much-needed staff vacations, but we also hosted a number of wedding groups attracted by our Free Wedding Package promotion. Guanacaste’s rainy season is never as intense as the rest of the country’s, and our resort guests enjoyed many days of sunshine as they toured the lush, green local attractions. It was also a great time to enjoy many of the seasonal specials for massages and skin treatments offered by our Serenity Spa.
Pacific Coast Diving spruced up their Dive Center facilities with some gorgeous new wall murals, and continued to certify a number of new dive enthusiasts thanks to their top-ranked team of professional PADI instructors. Our resort is now recognized by PADI as one of the premier dive resorts in Costa Rica, especially due to our proximity to the marine-life rich Catalina Islands.
The Flamingo Casino moved into smaller quarters overlooking the pool area from the second floor lobby, and with its new, cozy bar and lounge, morphed into Flamingo Pub & Gambling. They will be promoting Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournaments and offering blackjack and poker classes in the coming year. In the old casino space, we opened a new Family Center, with ping-pong tables, billiards, foosball and a mini movie theater. The area in our second floor lobby also includes a convenience store, snack bar, and Internet access. Another exciting new investment is the beautiful new artwork in every guestroom, featuring colorful Costa Rican flora and fauna, designed especially for the hotel by San Jose-based artist, Jacques Quillery.
Finally, in December, the resort welcomed two new vendors to our family: First, the Famous Points Beauty Salon located in our shopping area off the Main Lobby; they provide hair cuts and styling, manicures, pedicures, depilation services and high end hair products and treatments. Second, a new water sports venture was launched by Playa Vida Waters Sports; they provide beach umbrellas for rent, offer free chairs for a guests, rent boogie boards and skim boards, and offer exciting Jet Ski Safaris. They are located in a newly built kiosk on the beach side of the resort.
The year ended with our largest ever New Year’s Eve Party, featuring a multi-course gourmet buffet dinner; live music by La Seleccion, and what everyone agreed was the best fireworks display EVER! Champagne and cocktails were enjoyed by all, the starlit night was spectacular, and many of our guests have already signed on to return again for next year’s bash. Our team at the Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa is geared up and ready for the new year and waiting to greet you and your family and friends at our ever-improving facilities. We are not perfect by any means, but we are the friendliest staff you will find in all of Guanacaste and promise to go “above and beyond” to satisfy you, our valued guest. Happy New Year; we look forward to seeing you (again) soon!