Safari Surf & Hotel Casa Tucan – “The Story”
by Tim Marsh, Co-Owner/CEO.
I can remember my first time at the Hotel Casa Tucan in 1995…driving through Nosara on a mission to find surf, sun, and fun on my first visit to the “rich coast”, I stopped in to have a beer and ask directions. Little did I know at that time that I would come back years later and run a business out of this location.
Safari Surf School officially opened its “doors” in 1999 and from 1999 to 2005 the Hotel Casa Tucan was home to our surf program and the base of Safari’s operations. We were a small start up surf school, one of the first in all of Costa Rica at the time, and using this facility as our base of operations. We did not own the hotel but we had forged a good relationship with the manager and owner and promised her we could fill the place with traveling surfers and tourists.
From 1999 to 2005, Safari Surf steadily grew and had a solid “fan base”…word was getting out about this cool surf location, cool and unique surf program, and the unbelievable local townspeople, vibe, and just amazing aura that was Nosara, Playa Guiones. Hotel Casa Tucan along with its charm and mystique steadily became a meeting spot, a hub if you will, for traveling surfers and tourists alike. The rustic charm, the relaxed pura vida vibe of the staff was unmatched. It was so authentic you could taste it. People who could afford to stay at much more expensive lodging preferred to stay at the Casa Tucan due to its charm, its allure of pura vida, its relaxed vibe…it was perfect in so many ways.
In 2005, the hotel became available for purchase. We (Tim & Tyler) quickly knew something had to be done to make sure they could keep this little slice of nirvana. We reached out to a few previous surf school guests about the prospect of going in with them and purchasing the hotel, bar & restaurant. Within a few short weeks the funds were realized and the hotel & bar were now firmly rooted in Safari Surf Schools’ name and future plans.
From 2005 to 2010, Safari Surf school steadily rose to prominence within its industry…building relationships with guests one by one that will last a lifetime. Families, new found friends, continue to return year in and year out to visit Playa Guiones, Safari Surf, and Hotel Casa Tucan. So many faces have come in and out of Casa Tucan over the years and many to this day continue to come and enjoy the charm and serenity they have become accustomed too at their home away from home…Hotel Casa Tucan.
We have watched many of the families children grow over the years and every time they return it is like a long lost family reunion…something that cannot be forged, a real bond with people and place.
In 2010, the “other” investors preferred not to be involved in the hotel and bar side of the business so Tyler and I decided to lease the entire hotel to keep secure the environment we had created over all those previous years. To keep intact the vibe and aura that had become so renown to all its guests.
In March of this year (2013) we were approached by an investor who was eager to buy our property. So much so, that this investor offered top dollar for our entire property. Tyler and I being 1/3 partners were unfortunately not in the majority and a decision was made to sell the Hotel Casa Tucan. 30 days later and the hotel was sold. The new owners were nice enough to allow Safari Surf to finish out its current lease that runs through August of 2013. At that time the Hotel Casa Tucan, the memories, will unfortunately be no more.
This was obviously an incredibly difficult time for Tyler and me in many respects…but mainly, what were we going to do for our business, how were we going to move forward? Things transpired in lightening speed and the reality that Safari Surf did not have a home after Aug. was to say the least, a bit stressful for us.
It’s interesting how life moves…moves in ways we cannot predict. I believe things happen for a reason and that fate does play a role in our lives more than we recognize.
Not more than 2 or 3 days had passed once we had realized we were not going to be able to save the Hotel Casa Tucan than an aberration appeared before us…my wife Marsi and I had reached out to many of the local real estate and rental agents in and around Nosara inquiring about locations or homes we could use to set up our base of operations for our surf program, when we received a phone call from one of the agents informing me that there was an amazing property that had just become available and it was not currently on the market so no one knew of its availability.
This property is right on the 200 meter line or as most in Nosara know…beachfront as you can get in Playa Guiones. There were 8 lots with one of the lots having a gorgeous 4 BR 3 bath home on it. This was the ideal location for an amazing surf school retreat.
I had to work extremely fast as time was not on my side. Once word got out to the other local RE agents that this property was for sale and it would have gone in a second. There has been a large influx of money coming back into Nosara and the fact that this was available would have been swallowed up by an investor quite quickly. You just don’t see this size of a property, with its location (and potential) available any more in Playa Guiones.
I quickly sprang into action and put together an investment opportunity and sent this proposal out to a few select people I thought might be interested. The long and short of it was I was right…there were interested parties and when it all came down to it the property was purchased and a new partnership came to life.
The plans for this new location are to build an office for Safari Surf School, a club house, kitchen / food service area, pool, commons area with BBQ along with 8 to 12 (2) BR units for rent.
What excites us the most is this entire project will be built with sustainability in mind. From the architecture, to the water reclamation, to solar, grey water systems etc. Our facility will be built with Sustainable Certification as top priority from the country’s highest standard ICT as well as certification from Center for Surf Research and other entities.
The name of our new location will be “Ola Verde” or Green Wave.
We have begun the architectural design phase and anticipate breaking ground this coming November 2013. Safari Surf will be putting together a blog to follow the progress of this amazing project from start to finish.
The one and most important thing we want to transfer from the Casa Tucan to Ola Verde is that amazing vibe, that relaxed surf theme. What made the Casa Tucan so amazing was ultimately the staff…and we will be bringing the majority of our staff with us…keeping intact the “real” pura vida vibe that made Casa Tucan and will make Ola Verde the place to be!
First drawings of the new Safari Surf Clubhouse at Ola Verde.