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Tabacon Resort
Tabacon Logo
Grand Spa Thermal Resort
La Fortuna - Costa Rica
6 Stars and 5 Stripes
Society - Extraordanary
June - 2008
6 Stars & 5 Stripes
Overall - 'Resort & Service'
Seven Stars and Stripes - Logo
The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes®
Our destination was the famous Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Fortuna, Costa Rica located near the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano and the Arenal National Park. We expected an exotic paradise and we were not to be disappointed. We flew Business with British Airways from London Heathrow to the US East Coast and continued after a break on Long Island with Intercontinental Business to Juan Santamaría Airport, Costa Rica. Almost all air traffic to and from Costa Rica is handled through the Juan Santamaría Airport, located thirty minutes from San José, in the city of Alajuela.
If you are traveling from Europe to Costa Rica, be advised that Iberia International offers a flat seat Business Class non-stop service from Madrid, Spain to San Jose. At the gate we were welcomed in articulate Spanish by a couple of genuinely friendly members of Tabacón's staff, holding a tray of nicely chilled Dom Pérignon '99 and Beluga Caviar with all the appropriate trimmings. The friendliness of the Costa Ricans, Ticos as they call themselves, besides the beauty of the country, make Costa Rica a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. The neatly uniformed driver of the Tabacón's Mercedes ML had parked the SUV conveniently at the main entrance.
Edmund Buehrmann - British Airways - Business Class
Edmund Buehrmann - British Airways - Business Class
One of the staff members quickly opened a basket of moist towels, which he had pulled from the accompanying hospitality bus, then he reached with a serving tool into the basket and we gladly freshened up. The crew was well prepared for the two and a half hour ride on the Pan American Highway from the airport to our destination resort. We were still in relatively good shape after a long flight and an even more tiresome three hours delay at our departure airport Newark, New York. Soon we were on the way and whenever we looked out of the windows of the comfortable, solidly manufactured SUV this beautiful Latin American country never failed to amaze us. A famous section of the Pan-American Highway includes the Alaska Highway and the Inter-American Highway, which is the section between the United States and the Panama Canal, and since the highway passes through many countries, including the USA, it has been non-conforming.
“…a system so vast, so incomplete, and so incomprehensible it is not so much a road as
it is the idea of Pan-Americanism itself…” ~ wrote Jake Silverstein of Harpers Bazar in 2006.
Tabacon - Uwe Wagner - Thorsten Buehrmann
Tabacon Arrival: Uwe Wagner - Thorsten Buehrmann (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
The Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is located circa one hundred miles from San Jose, Costa Rica's capital. During our pleasant ride to the resort we were offered exquisite specialties in form of delicious hours d'oeuvres. We arrived at the unique, inviting main-entrance of the resort, decorated, or rather 'naturally surrounded' by the luscious, wild and diverse flora and the sounds of the tropical rainforest. As we emerged from the perfectly AC'd SUV, we were pleasantly surprised by the comfortable level of humidity still in the early rain season. Costa Rica has only two seasons, which are called 'dry' and 'green', affording a mild climate and nice weather pretty much year-round. Besides, we got very little rain during our stay. We received a grand arrival ceremony at the main entrance, looked into open honest smiling faces of people who love what they do, graciously offering us the exotic specialty drink of the land. At the front desk we were welcomed first in Spanish and then in English. The official language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, differentiating itself from other Spanish speaking countries by the slower pace at which it is spoken and its clear pronunciation. Within a couple of minutes the official part of the check-in was done and we were guided to our accommodations.
Suite Tabacon
Suite - Tabacon Resort
The name Tabacón originates back to a local hot spring pool and restaurant in the 1980s known as Balneario Tabacón. Inspired by the natural assets of the location, a team of Costa Rican investors had gotten together in the early 90th and hired Architect Jaime Mikowski to design a world-class hot springs complex. Mikowski was inspired to design a resort that makes its rain forest setting the focal point featuring a natural thermal river with twelve hot spring pools, semi secret lagoons, lush waterfalls, exotic gardens, wondrous trails, an amazing spa and over a hundred luxurious accommodations. The Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, which opened it doors to the public in early '93, has since then become one of the 'Do Not Miss' tourist destinations of Costa Rica. The resort has essentially contributed to the growth of La Fortuna and the Arenal region, which is the second most visited region by international travelers today.
My accommodations were in one word 'handsome' featuring cool earthy floor tiles, dark wooden doors and trimmings. It was so uniquely laid-out that the suite appeared more spacious then it actually was. The bellman familiarized me in decent English with my accommodations and withdrew himself without expectations. The dark wooden furniture and natural fabrics challenged the relaxed colors of the suite. The open air bath facilities and the sapphire blue bath tub created the overall feeling of stylish, comfortably, serenely designed luxury. I dropped my laptop on the desk and here in the jungle of Costa Rica I was within seconds by WiFi connected with the world. Trust me, my Skype conversation with Europe didn't last long, I was too tired. Besides the melodious sounds and oblivious smells of the tropics were demanding my undivided attention. I poured a glass of superbly chilled champagne, nipped on some of the freshly sliced luscious fruits, gazed through the open fine-screened panorama window right into the rain forest and yawned. But I could not resist the tub, filled with warm, rose-peddle scented mineral water and surrounded by pretty, solid candle holders and large enough for three people, I stepped in. This was the ultimate relaxation after the long trip. Soon thereafter I slipped between the luxurious linens of my lonely bed until I woke up the next morning from the sounds of the birds of this paradise.
Tabacon - Breakfast
Tabacon - Breakfast (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
“How do you like the view?', team member Edmund asked me later at breakfast at the Los Tucanes restaurant. We had a table overlooking one of the pools with a waterfall adjoining the rain forest. He had knocked at my door since I was running late. I had ordered orange juice and coffee immediately after I woke up and to my surprise I was offered over a dozen different coffees to choose from. Within minutes a careful knocking indicated that room service had arrived after which I got lost as usual with my Mac-book Pro and a cup of one of Costa Rica's finest. Edmund had already called the service desk for a golf cart with a driver that was expecting us at the entrance. Within two minutes we arrived at our destination, and a fabulous breakfast feast was expecting us. Since coffee is big in Costa Rica, we had been presented with a coffee menu and plenty of roasts to choose. Our waiter was attentive and we were able to concentrate on this enticing, delicious, artsy display. All on white, the smoked salmon, the prosciutto de Parma and all the other colorful delicacies popped. The hot station chef prepared omelets and waffles fresh from the griddle. A wonderful start for a promising day.
We were scheduled for a Sky Tram & Trek Tour that promises to become a truly exciting adventure! We took the Tram up to one of the many mid-Costa Rican jungle mountains. While we were gliding up the hill with ease we couldn't believe the multitude of monkeys sitting and jumping around in the trees below us. I never thought of myself as adventurous, little did I know that I was scheduled for one of the most exciting experience-exercises of my live. We arrived at a Sky Tram platform from where we were able to observe the ever moving, intense fauna of the jungle and then we tried a short ride in a harness. It was interesting but that's all I wanted to risk, and given the option…
Costa Rica - Sky Tram
Costa Rica - Sky Tram (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
- after all, I am thirty-five. Our senior VP, who is in his late sixties, didn't think twice. He zapped like Tarzan from plateau to plateau and I so felt obliged to follow. I definitely felt my adrenaline pumping, as I zipped hanging high on cables over the treetops. Our wonderful guides had assured us before hand that their first concern was our safety; at no point would we be ever in any danger and that we would at all times be connected to a safety point. But this was something else. It was breathtaking, by any means, and now I am glad that I didn't miss this. Other tours in the region include white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, kayaking and ecological tours.
Thorsten Buehrmann - ZIP Line - Sky Tram
Thorsten Buehrmann - ZIP Line - Sky Tram (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
After that adventure I was kind of relieved to get back to the Grand Spa, where we experienced the utmost level of serenity involving most of ones senses. Re-discovering the balance of body and soul, supported by the sounds, aromas, tastes and sides of this enchanted forest, under the guidance of expertly trained therapists, was the goal this afternoon. I was glad. In the middle of this Garden of Eden we received exclusive spa treatments in open-air bungalows with private Jacuzzis and within close view of the volcano.
Tabacon Vulcano
Tabacon Vulcano
By the way, Volcanoes! We don't necessarily want to get to close to them, because they fall into the category of unpredictability. Still, hundreds of thousands of tourists every year taking the small risk; seeing an active volcano is exciting. This Volcano is alive and erupted the last time forty years ago. And on a clear night you might be able to see thin orange lava streams running down from the peak. I did, and I will return to see them again. This volcano is heating the mineral river that is in its early 'spring' state still relatively hot. The mineral stream cools down passing through several of the natural and man-made falls and pools while loosing temperature slowly as it winds down to the valley.
GM Uwe Wagner had the natural Tabacon mineral waters analyzed in Taunusstein, Germany where they were found to have an extremely high content of minerals and other healing elements. There is no doubt that there is a direct effect on the body, as the hot mineral waters open the pores almost instantly and allow the healing elements easy access. The mineral pools and falls show very little evidence that some man-made features were added, to keep the natural vision intact. It was a natural spectacular that we had the great pleasure of experiencing before we were scheduled for our first treatments at the spa.
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Hot Spring
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Hot Spring (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
First I was treated to foot reflexology, this one should not be missed. The bowl for the feet as well as the chair was of solid wood and smelled like the wild forest around me. I cannot get over the Avocado-pit massage increasing circulation as well as detoxification. My wonderful therapist rolled the pit of a large Avocado with light, but targeted pressure along the soles of my feet.
I did not want her to stop. Foot reflexology was practiced as an ancient form of pressure treatment (first noted in China and Egypt five thousand years ago) by using the application of focused pressure on known reflex points. The various points correspond to areas on and within the body and reflexology supports the release of toxins. A final splash with warm mineral water made this unique treatment complete.
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Thorsten Bührmann
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Thorsten Bührmann (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Later I followed my massage therapist Lorena on a meandering, private path through wondrous gardens to a private hut that was exposed on all sides to the rainforest. Here I received a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage that allowed my jetlagged body to relax and get stretched. My therapist also concentrated on the deeper muscle and was able to loosen them up. This kind of massage is said to increase the mobility of the joints and improve the circulation of oxygen and blood flow. Completely in tune with my world, I showered in a tub that was filled with warm mineral water that was continuously fed by mineral water running through bamboo pipes. Exposure to these thermal mineral springs has been associated with health benefits ranging from weight loss to pain and cellulite reduction. Suddenly a natural light mist came from nowhere and closed my pores instantly.
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Couple Massage
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Couple Massage (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Nothing I can write will do any justice to the afternoon at the Tabacon's Grand Spa. It isn't normally that easy for me to get lost in the moment and forget about the stresses of traveling around the world. Though it was only a few hundred feet between the spa and the actual resort, I hopped on the resort's courtesy bus. Here a half dozen other spa guests in bathrobes, like myself, accompanied me, with the same relaxed look on their faces; I was back in my suite within three minutes. Since it was almost time for dinner, I answered quickly a couple of e-mails and got dressed. When I entered Edmund's suite after I had knocked on his door, I was not surprised at all to find the already familiar relaxed look on his face as well. But now were both were hungry and good and ready for dinner …
Los Tucanes - Restaurant
Los Tucanaes - Logo
La Fortuna - Costa Rica
5 Stars & 6 Stripes
Extraordinary - Society
June - 2008
5 Stars & 6 Stripes
Overall - 'Cuisine & Service'
The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes®
The night air was semi-tropical but pleasant because of a steady breeze coming off the Tilarán range of mountains looming 1500 meters high and leading to Arenal, a stratovolcano that can clearly be seen from the restaurant. The darkness was illuminated by subtle indirect lighting in and around the restaurant and adjacent pool area but our eyes were drawn decisively toward the pyroclastic display of fire and magma being systematically tossed out of the top of Arenal’s crater. We were told that the boulders being ejected on that night were ‘only’ the size of Volkswagen ‘Beetles’ causing me to reflect on the incredible global reach of German engineering. Behind us and artfully arranged were glorious Bird of Paradise plants resplendent in tropical color with finger-like petals reaching up and out as if it were an unfurled Chinese fan. The incredible sounds of the rainforest at dusk gave us the feeling of splendid isolation in an enclave of luxury and comfort buoyed by the anticipation of world-class cuisine in a neo-tropical environment. We had been offered some good advice before we came here for our visit. “Be sure to bring loose fitting comfortable clothes, you have to be relaxed and at ease in this tropical environment”. Suggestion noted, we were well prepared and fit in nicely with the other guests in this casually elegant atmosphere. Executive Chef Leopoldo Cortés, a gifted master of his trade who studied under the tutelage of Spain’s Jean Marie Arzak and Great Britain’s Anton Mosimann, directed our cuisine event for the evening.
The mood at dinner was one of profound relaxation punctuated by the rhythmic resonance of a live Latin guitarra. Chef Cortés promised to dazzle us with his gastronomic interpretations of his own culinary dreams. He began with a feathery-light Fresh White Sea Bass Tartar perfumed with Cilantro as the opening act, in which he demonstrated his keen natural sense of being able to work with the tantalizingly delicate texture of sushi-grade fresh fish. The formula was further enhanced with the addition of pungent and spicy cilantro oil to accentuate and emphasize the Sea Bass.
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
A Moët et Chandon Brut Imperial paired the elegant appetizer well. The dry but classic mousse rolled over the palate all the while preparing the taste buds for the subtle flavor of the Sea Bass and at the same time working well to cut through the heady cilantro. A second course of Warm Salad of Seawater Mussels with Saffron Aioli appeared shortly thereafter as super-fresh mussel morsels sandwiched between thin crispy potato wafers and topped with a crown of tender greens and sprouts. In order to challenge the understated flavor profile of the mussels, Chef Cortés suggested a white Bordeaux blend called Chateau de Rougerie “Entre Deux Mer”. It proved to offer the right amount of round citrus to somehow shore up this sublime combination.
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
Next, in keeping with the theme of fresh local seafood in petite tapas-like portions, Chef Cortés presented us with his Saltwater Shrimps and Salmon Timbale. It was designed to be approachable and attractive with a dollop of Sevruga caviar capping the sleek construction while being surrounded by pale pinkish-orange dots of salmon roe. We relished the silky texture and the rich clean taste of the salmon while carefully adding a few grains of roe with each bite. Our tasting menu now included a well-designed pause in the form of Sorbet of Golden Mango, to efficiently yet tastefully clean the palate for the main course. The freshness of just picked, low-hanging fruit was evident in the cool, extremely smooth sorbet.
Our cuisine event had reached its apogee now with the advent of the first main course of Finesse of Canadian Wild Duck on Mushroom Risotto, a rather contrary menu choice since we were sitting in the middle of a Costa Rican rainforest. Although this item obviously had to be imported, that fact didn’t take away from the incredible fresh taste and expert preparation seemingly engineered by a master of his trade. The entire evening’s service was intentionally low profile and relaxed although we were certain that a wealth of knowledge and experience was present during every course in the personalized service of waiter Diego Kooper. Dining under these circumstances was supported by top-notch table settings comprised of Villeroy & Boch’s “New Wave Premium” dinnerware and stemware as well as Bohéme silver-plated flatware from the Italian manufacturer Mepra.
A second entrée was presented as Lamb Filet and Chop with a sweetened fresh Rosemary Sauce, reminding us of the exquisite preparation and care needed to keep the gamey flavor of lamb under control. Each of the two entrées was offered with a wine pairing of a superb Grand Cru Classé of Chateau Berliquet 2001, decantered in a graceful crystal bottle. It offered a timeless and stylish combination of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc in the perfect proportions leading to an opulent, rich structure with a decidedly black current and vanilla nose. I couldn’t help savoring this elegant wine even long after the entrées were finished.
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
Our gastronomic journey had reached its finale with the advent of Dessert Symphony, an assemblage of petit four-sized treats surrounding a volcanic centerpiece that actively spewed colorful foam and smoke over the rim of a martini glass ‘crater’. As we relished the spectacle of a live ‘lava’ flow in front of our eyes tableside, a bottle of Tabali Late Harvest Muscat, Limari Valley Chile 2005 was offered as a pairing for this delicate dessert. We observed its delicate gold, yellow color with a slight pink hint from the Pink Muscat grapes. It had an intense aroma of fresh papaya, honey and floral hints while at the same time sweet, luscious and very drinkable. At dinner’s end we commended Executive Chef Leopoldo Cortés and his team of professionals. My thoughts were positive and confident that Los Tucanes can continue to live up to the stringent criteria and regimen of a top-notch fine dining establishment in this tropical outpost.
2008 - Los Tucanes - Seven Stars And Stripes - Award-Hand-Out
2008 Los Tucanes- Seven Stars and Stripers® - Award-Hand-Out (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Chef Cortés spent years developing his own unique style loosely modeled after the alta cocina approach putting together international ingredients with ingenuity and panache. Chef Cortés sees himself as a sort of guarantor of utilizing the abundance of fresh local ingredients while applying Old World techniques. In his own words he revealed to us the secret to his incredible love for what he does: “To travel around the world, being in contact with other cultures, is the key for the creation of new recipes,” he said.
“The food itself which was prepared with such precision and parsimony while
presented so exquisitely that you could not have asked for more.” ~ TB
For the next day we were on for another unforgettable adventure, a safari float trip on the lower part of the Peñas Blancas River. A courtesy bus had picked us up at the hotel, fully loaded with what one might need for a long afternoon on the river. On the way to Peñas Blancas our guides had stopped to load a partially inflated air raft securely on a hanger. We arrived after twenty minutes at the steep entrance to the adventure river. The crew gave the float a final boost of air and then carried the boat down to the edge of the river. We were all given life-vests, received a quick lesson in safety and paddling and finally took on our seats in the small, but sturdy light blue boat, which would carry us now for a couple of hours through otherwise inaccessible jungle.
Costa Rica - Boat Trip
Costa Rica - Boat Trip (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
We had been promised that an excursion of the silent air raft would grant us the opportunity to experience the jungle at its best and with a little luck we might even be able to see crocodiles, toucans, iguanas and other animals and we sure did. It became obvious that our guides were experienced naturalists; they gave us a brief introduction into the natural history of this beautiful part of their country, besides pointing out and explaining the vast array of life surrounding the deep-olive river.
The trees above our heads were at times almost connected through their branches and monkeys were jumping back and forth, never respecting each other and always screaming accordingly. We paddled slowly toward the spot where a couple of crocodiles were laying quietly in the sun. We estimated that there were about six to seven foot long and possibly two hundred fifty pounds or more, with a broad head and a rather pointy nose. They looked like they had taking a mud bath and were all dry now and since they first didn't move we weren't even sure that they were alive.
Costa Rica - Boat Trip
Costa Rica - Boat Trip (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
There weren't really interested in us and moved little but just enough to give one the chills. Crocodile watching from the middle of the Peñas Blancas River is a great tourist attraction. One of the guides suggested that we have our photo taken next one of the crocs, to which we laughingly declined. The abundance of countless, colorful, tropical birds and listening to their different sounds was fantastic. Then we were asked to look up into on old tree and got to watch a sleepy family of bats roosting together.
There are more myths about bats than any other animal. Some people think bats are blind bloodsuckers that try to land on our heads. In fact, this flying mammal is extremely useful to humans. About seventy percent of all bats eat insects: flies, mosquitoes and the like. It has been reported that a colony of bats somewhere in Texas are consuming half a million lbs (226,796 kilograms) of mosquitoes nightly! Bats roost upside down, usually in larger social (the boss hangs above all) groups, in caves, trees, or man-made structures. In retrospect, they were not only interesting but rather cute creatures. Our guides educated while allowing us to connect with the jungle on an intimate personal level in the most peaceful way. The incomprehensible colors of the flora and fauna have left memories with me for a lifetime.
Costa Rica - Boat Trip
Costa Rica - Boat Trip (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Another of the ultimate Costa Rican adventure sports involves hiking into one of the deep rainforest canyons to rappel on a series of tropical waterfalls while using various climbing techniques; but we decided to save that for our next visit. It is a fact that the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is today one of the world's finest, best known hot springs destination spas. Designed with exceptional environmental preservation features, the luring outdoor spa facilities are decorated through a natural rainforest that produces steadily vigorous, rich, young growth. The 'natural sound system' is the combination of serenading tropical birds, chattering monkeys and other creatures, a lullaby always-changing, never still, and at the same time amazingly relaxing. Destination as well as Day-Spa guests have access to the hot springs from early morning until late at night.
Tabacon Resort
Tabacon Logo
Grand Spa
La Fortuna - Costa Rica
SPA - Of Global Distinction
'Of Global Distinction'
June - 2008
Seven Stars and Stripes - Logo
The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes®
Always seeking new innovations, The Grand Spa introduced the 'Huey Temazcal Aahuatlan', an exclusive therapy based on ancient Mesoamerican rituals, the first of its kind in Costa Rica. It is offered to the public and supposedly it is the only one in the world embedded in the energy of an active volcanic environment. Temazcal is a pre-Hispanic steam bath ritual that is widely used in Mesoamerican cultures, intended as both a spiritual and physical cleansing experience. The experience takes place in a womblike well rounded structure, where energy from the center of the earth and from all four winds is summoned and flows in circular motion in direct relation to the natural elements, which make up this magical place: Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
Tabacon - Grand Spa
Tabacon - Grand Spa - (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
But for now we were on to experience one of Mother Nature's most aromatic editions, coffee in an entirely different way. The 'Aroma' exfoliation we experienced first hand is partially made of real 'coffee' grind. A brown, aromatic paste is applied to the body with the intention to remove excess of accumulated fat in the cells. Other benefits are reduction in the appearance of cellulite while restoring smoothness and glow. The actual exfoliation process was performed with dry, peeled cornstalks, Mother Nature through and though. Invigorating? Indeed.
Tabacon - Grand Spa - Award
2008 - Seven Stas and Stripes - Tabacon - Grand Spa - Award (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
The Tabacón thermal mineral spa, directed by Miss Rosa Paulina Pèrez, earned the Seven Star Spa Award of Global Distinction with full accolades for: Exceptional customer service, genuine and unpretentious personal care that guests receive from the entire spa staff, and especially from Mr. Victor. The exquisitely maintained, natural and eco-friendly facilities. Innovation in development of new therapies and treatments and its one of a kind location.
Lets face it, our job of traveling around the world comes also with a lot of work and sacrifices. All our teams are practically jetlagged most of the time; sure we try to schedule the reviews geographically as close as possible, but that seldom works out. My Mac Book Pro and a couple of other gadgets are essential to do my job; we take notes all the time. Here you see me at one of the pools after a massage and yes, typing on the computer in paradise in definitely nicer then in an office environment. GM Uwe Wagner is presently working on enhancing Tabacon's meeting and conference facilities to accommodate larger executive groups.
Thorsten Bührmann - Tabacon - WiFi
Thorsten Bührmann - Tabacon - WiFi- (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Honestly, after three days of an adrenalin rollercoaster, including jungle adventures and then again spa plentiful, we were not really up to par for a private open-air dinner with the GM. Little did we know. A private dinner in one of the Tabacon's rain forest kitchens is a showcase dining experience. The table setting was outstanding and the chef's culinary preparation and demonstration of a 'soup to nuts' gourmet meal was one-of-a-kind.
Private Dinner - Tabacon: Victor Esquivel Ch. & Uwe Wagner & Thorsten Buehrmann & Edmund Buehrmann
Victor Esquivel Ch. & Uwe Wagner & Thorsten Buehrmann & Edmund Buehrmann
This is definitely the romantic setting that honeymooners or people in love will adore and even for us four hospitality guys, it will stay as an evening to remember. Tabacón's Managing Director and GM Uwe Wagner is a pro, there is little that he hasn't done himself or is working on. The high-powered 'Jack of all Trades' of German descent has a rock solid track record of over thirty years in highly successful management positions in Europe, South America, Asia and Middle East.
Tabacon - Cuisine
Los Tucanes - Cuisine
He studied at Cornell and Hong Kong University and completed over forty additional senior management programs. But back to dinner, the exquisite, artfully formed, white china by Villeroy & Boch could not have been a more stunning choice for a delicate dinner served in a hut with a roof that was covered with palm leaves and open on three sites. The service was unobtrusive and 'eficiente'.
After a dinner in the rainforest and a trip into the jungles of Costa Rica one would never expect to find a tiny Swiss village just a half hour ride from the Tabacon resort. We had left the Pan-American Hwy and took a relatively newly paved county road up to the Swiss Alps, just kidding. But to be honest, we really couldn't believe our eyes; this is a place where a Swiss enthusiast could get crazy. It was as if we had entered a time and space tunnel! The buildings and the little church on the hill all featured the Swiss Chalet A-frame building style. The houses had all red-shingled roofs and only the chapel roof stood out in a light grey. It might be interesting to note that nearly all Catholic churches in the country face west.
Costa Rica - Swiss Village
Swiss Vilage - Costa Rica - (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
This place overlooked an amazing lake could have been cut and pasted from a Swiss Alp travel brochure. The 'Lady of the House' welcomed us in English and in Swiss-German. In the late 80's a Swiss family started the resort village with a genuine Swiss cow stable after which a hotel, restaurant, another cow stable, a little chapel, apartment homes and a small bus station followed. After they had collected in Switzerland all the material that is needed to build a two-mile long authentic railroad they launched their train station behind their hotel. The locomotive and the trains still runs today over bridges and even through manmade tunnels, reminding us a little of a certain James Bond movie.
The train 'Tren Turistico Arenal' reaches an impressive 600 ft. altitude and grants a smashing 360° view over the whole Arenal Valley surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and the rain forests. At the end of the tracks they build a real underground station with a museum allowing visitors to understand its pre-Columbine habitants and their way of living. As we stepped out of the underground station we saw a terrace and on top of that building a revolving restaurant.
Costa Rica - Traditional Outfit
Costa Rica - Traditional Outfit (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
These chefs here are cooking authentic Swiss specialties; the restaurant is decorated with cowbells and red & white-checkered tablecloths and chairs with little hearts and everything else that one might think belong in a real Swiss home. We had ice-cold, freshly drawn imported beers, with lots of foam on top, and served in original beer-steins. I had some mind-blowing Zuricher Geschnetzeltes with some Roestis, trust me it was the real thing. Their Hotel Los Heroes is a Swiss Chalet with balconies and old-fashioned window shutters combining two cultures under one red roof.
Costa Rica - Swiss Train
Swiss Vilage - Costa Rica - (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
Costa Ricans, like the Swiss, are very proud of their national identity. While on the surface they may seem similar to other Latin cultures, through the large European population influx, there is very little indigenous cultural influence. Costa Rica is famous for its natural beauty and friendly people, rather than its culture. The paintings of Arnold von Winkelried (1386, seven hundred years since the founding of Switzerland) and Juan Santamaria (1856, one hundred years of Costa Rican democracy) at the Swiss inn represent part of those historic events and shall remind of each of their heroic battles.
Tabacon - Children Support
2008 Tabacon - Seven Stars and Stripers® - Award-Hand-Out (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
GM Uwe Wagner founded the Tabacon Resort Matching Grants Program last year to help children in the area that are in need with school uniforms and educational toys or tools. He implemented a three-dollar local 'donation' fee that is added to each resort guest's bill, but can be removed at his or her request. The resort then matches the total and buys the items that the schools or other public institutions are in need of. Last year students received uniforms and school supplies worth seventy five thousand dollars. This year a certificate worth almost one hundred and fifty thousand dollars was presented during the Seven Stars and Stripes Award ceremony. Wagner hopes that his 'Vacation - Donation' concept will catch on worldwide.
Thorsten Bührmann - Costa Rica - TV
Costa Rica - National TV (PHOTO TOUR - CLICK HERE)
After the official Seven Stars and Stripes award handout ceremony one of Costa Rica's national TV stations, which had covered the event, congratulated GM Uwe Wagner and his team and the charming reporter interviewed me in English and translated my answers thereafter in Spanish for their viewers. Costa Rican television transmission began in the 1950s. However today there are still only a dozen commercial stations and one government-run station.
Radio is still extremely popular in Costa Rica and is especially important for 'Ticos' who live outside of the capital city. At 7am every morning, all Costa Rican radio stations play the national anthem. Costa Rica is a nation of almost four million people that boasts a long history of democracy, no army, a relatively peaceful political development and is often been referred to as the Switzerland of Central America.
2008 - Tabacon - Seven Stars And Stripes - Award-Hand-Out
2008 Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort- Seven Stars and Stripers® - Award-Hand-Out
We can honestly say that we were plain astounded to find such a global, fully compatible upscale resort and spa in the middle of the rainforest of Costa Rica. The management and staff had a clear vision of where they intended to go. Team play is big in the kitchens as well as in the spa and the resort and with more empowerment on the GMs agenda, they are well on the way to reach the next level. Congratulations to the investing company that had the great fortune of hiring Uwe Wagner.
by Edmund Buehrmann & Thorsten Buehrmann

Editor: Ingrid Lemme

Editor-in-Chief: John Lomitola
© 2008 ~ Seven Stars and Stripes, Inc.


 
 
 
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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.


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