For nearly a decade now, biologist Jimmy Mata inspects and certifies the operations for the Ministry of Natural Resources (MINAET) every 90 days.  Jimmy conducts this certification at the Manuel Antonio Nature Park and Wildlife Refuge, a nature preserve owned and operated by the Si Como No, the flagship resort of Greentique Hotels.  

The Wildlife Refuge, just up the road from the port town of Quepos on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, covers 20 acres of protected tropical jungle overlooking Manuel Antonio National Park.

What Jimmy does is incredibly valuable not only to the Si Como No family of employees and guests, but to the region as a whole — because he protects the literally millions of life forms that call those 20 acres “home.”  He makes sure that life continues, that it thrives and flourishes, and that it is not lost amidst the ubiquitous pressure of development in these fragile environments.  What Jimmy also does, is to help pay forward a dream of mine that is so much a part of who I am and what I care about.  I am truly grateful for his commitment and how he leads his team at the Wildlife Refuge.

Back in 1974, I was a serial tree hugger, backpacker, and grad school drop out from Southern California.  I accidentally discovered my own bit of paradise when I hopped a Pam Am Clipper flight bound for Costa Rica.  By the way, it was a Boeing 707, not the flying boat — I’m not that old.

Anyway, I caught up with my dear friends from Belmont Shores, Pam and Mary Anne Aden, nieces to Daniel Oduber, the newly elected president of Costa Rica.  I could have done a lot worse for a local connection.  They pointed me to a place on the Central Pacific Coast and I found myself camping on an incredibly picturesque horse-shoe shaped beach.  I can’t explain why or how, but I connected with that place on some level that still amazes me.  

Looking back, being there could have been purely accidental, unless I choose to believe otherwise.  Actually, I do. What I saw and what I felt about this place quite literally changed my life.  Apparently, it impressed the people at Forbes Magazine as well, because they named it in “Ten Most Beautiful National Parks” for 2012 issue.  It’s Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park.  I think they picked a very special place, it just took them a bit longer to find it.      

So it was on this, the first of many more trips back to Costa Rica, that I started fantasizing — okay, maybe obsessing, about a truly eco-friendly project that I could create not too far from that beach I found.  Little did I realize my own vision would evolve to include the Wildlife Refuge with the same name, “The Manuel Antonio Nature Park.” It’s part of the Si Como No Hotel I built in 1996, a sustainable hospitality concept that’s was just an “eco-friendly project” rattling around my head (and heart) long before I could even spell sustainable. We’ve been hosting guests from around the world for nearly 20 years now.

With our own certified credentials of Five Green Leaves in Sustainability Hospitality, I feel we’ve been true to our original idea of helping guest discover and appreciate the “Magic of Nature. So now we help them make the magic by involving them in all kinds of nature-based activities as as part of Greentique Hotel’s exceptional Costa Rica experiences. Guests can find this commitment and immerse themselves in unique, nature-based activities at our sister properties, Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve, and the Aguila de Osa Inn and Marine Frontier.

Along with Pam and Mary Anne, we continue to enjoy our piece of paradise here in beautiful Costa Rica.  And every 90 days, Jimmy Mata makes sure we’re living our commitment.