Enjoying Villa Blanca
We're at the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel Resort near San Ramon, a 75-acre boutique hotel surrounded by the spectacular Los Angeles Private Biological Reserve. The property was originally owned by former Costa Rican president Rodrigo Carazo Odio and First Lady, Estrella Zeledon de Carazo. The Carazo’s vision was to capture the simplicity, charm and deep respect for the land that is the spirit of the people of the San Ramon area. The former president had pioneered the country's national parks, created the University for Peace and initiated a rural medical care programme, so his hotel, situated where it was, would have to become something more than just a hotel. It needed to be an inspiration. The current owner, Jim Damalas, has put that into practice. Villa Blanca has a comprehensive recycling programme, uses biodegradable cleaning products, promotes energy use management, and organic gardening. Additionally, its commitment to the community is evidenced in its staff, 95% being local residents who provide distinctive, friendly service.
Villa Blanca supports butterfly research conducted by INBio, the National Biodiversity Institute. INBio operates an active field research laboratory on the Villa Blanca hotel grounds, just 1500 feet from the hotel lobby. Part of what makes this research so extraordinary is that it is conducted so close to a human population and operating hotel facility, making Villa Blanca the only hotel in Costa Rica where such a programme exists. The work done by INBio at Villa Blanca is part of an international database shared with scientists and researchers around the world. Talking about sharing things around the world, it's one of our guest's birthdays today. Richard uses his mobile telephone to link up the family back home and say Happy Birthday to Jill. A good use of technology!
The weather today? Well the cloud forest delivered what it says on the tin and stayed cloudy for most of the day. Around 2pm it suddenly cleared and we could see for miles. Our guide Bernal almost immediately spotted a White Hawk. Where is it we say? Over there says Berrnal. He organises his scope and we take a look through the lens. And sure enough there's a White Hawk ... sitting on a branch at least 1 km away! We're not sure how Bernal does that, but the hawk is definitely alive and kicking, not remotely controlled.
This evening we get together in the lounge for a pre-dinner drinks reception. It seems to go down well. Dinner featured a choice of Tilapia fish, or Tenderloin with a coffee bean sauce.
Richard and Dawn think it may be a problem dragging guests away from Villa Blanca tomorrow morning!