Just over an hour from San Jose International Airport, discover a new world destination for eco-conscious travelers. Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve is a 75-acre boutique mountain hotel surrounded by the spectacular Los Angeles Private Biological Reserve.
Originally owned by former Costa Rican president Rodrigo Carazo Odio and First Lady, Estrella Zeledon de Carazo, Villa Blanca has become a cherished Costa Rica destination. 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. As the former president had authorized new national parks, created the University for Peace and initiated the rural medical care program, his hotel, situated where it was, would have to become something more than just a hotel. It needed to be an inspiration.
Years later, this hotel would bring the president and his wife together with another visionary, making possible the extraordinary place that Villa Blanca has become today. A sustainable, green hotel, in the middle of the cloud forest of San Ramón, Costa Rica. That visionary was Jim Damalas.
Over time, the relationship between Jim, the President, and Estrella Carazo, revealed a shared goal of helping Costa Rica lead the world in developing sustainable eco tourism. The Carazo’s knew Jim as an experienced hotelier in Costa Rica, with a successful property in Manuel Antonio, already recognized internationally as a leader in sustainable lodging practices; so when they wanted to “retire” from the hotel business, they did not put it up for sale. They decided to pass the torch directly to Jim. In December 2003, Greentique Hotels (formerly Green Hotels of Costa Rica) acquired Villa Blanca. Work began in April 2004 to transform Villa Blanca into the kind of hotel that the two men had dreamed about. Seven months later, Jim and his design team — architect Rita Chavez Casanova and building coordinator Johnny Alvarado, had converted Villa Blanca into an upscale, nature-oriented boutique hotel and spa. A full- blown renovation and remodel, the project required a local crew of up to 157 men and women over its initial seven-month phase.