Prevue September/October 2015 - (Page 50)

Costa Rica A sophisticated and sustainable meetings haven [ON LOCATION] REGINA BARABAN T wo streaks of red flying over the lush rainforest canopy surrounding the Villa Caletas, a boutique hotel on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, catch my attention as I take in the expansive green and blue vistas of rainforest and ocean. These are scarlet macaws, the world's largest parrots and one of Costa Rica's most magnificent birds. Several more pairs follow, blazing trails of scarlet across the sky, and I gasp in delight. This scene was typical of my week in Costa Rica, a Central American country that combines a surprisingly sophisticated meetings and technology infrastructure with a stunning natural landscape rich in tropical biodiversity. Environmental consciousness is part of the national psyche- this was evident not only in close encounters such as that with the scarlet macaws, but in the country's progressive environmental practices that have made it a world leader in conservation and sustainability. Nearly all electricity, for instance, comes from renewable resources and there's a national mandate to become completely carbon-neutral by 2021. "In a country the size of West Virginia, 25 percent is protected as nature reserves, and we have more wildlife species than the United States and Canada combined," says Pablo Solano, executive director of the Costa Rica CVB. It's a given, he says, that meeting and incentive attendees will want to participate in nature-related activities. "We are experts at melding business with nature. Our DNA is about sustainable travel," adds Alejandro Castro, CMO for the Costa Rica Tourism Board. "And our experience shows that attendees are going to be even more productive after having a unique Costa Rica experience, such as relaxing in a volcanic hot spring." 46 | prevue magazine LUXURY IN NATURE Costa Rica's irregular mountainous terrain is bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with most group business taking place in the Northern and Central Pacific regions. Known for its beautiful beaches, Guanacaste boasts a growing number of upscale resorts that cater to groups; among the most popular is the 406-room Westin Golf Resort & Spa Playa Conchal. Despite an expanding tourism infrastructure, the region is sparsely populated and meetings hotels such as the Westin are located in secluded enclaves surrounded by nature. Wherever you go, even within the manicured grounds of a resort, you're likely to encounter some of the country's exotic wildlife, from monkeys to toucans to raccoonlike creatures called coatimundi. Group activities in Guanacoste include day trips to a volcano; visits to waterfalls and lakes and catamaran sails. For groups with limited time to spare for a uniquely Costa Rican adventure activity, consider a tubing trip on the Rio Negro, a navigable river near Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which can also be paired with a horseback ride. At the Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, groups don't need to leave the property to connect with nature and have an adventure. Here, regionally inspired architecture-with stylish and colorful public spaces renovated in January-is tucked away on 45 acres flanked by two jungle-edged beaches. Attendees can enjoy a round of golf on the ocean-view Arnold Palmerdesigned golf course, which has 25 species of trees and is certified by Audubon International, and then participate in a "Trail of Giants" golf car tour and tree planting activity. CSR activities that foster sustainability are also popular with

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue September/October 2015

Planner’s Pick: Santa Fe
Fresh Meets: Grupo Posadas Expands Into US
Bureau Buzz: Detroit CVB
Good Business: Singapore Tourism Board
Sea Shores: Cuba: Pioneering a “New” World
On the Verge
On Location: Costa Rica
On Location: Langham Place New York
On Location: Norfolk
Checkout: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Prevue September/October 2015