The Banana Azul Team
Colin Brownlee - Co-Founder of Banana Azul
Colin (left) with Banana Azul Gardner and friend, Rick Hibbitts
A lot of people ask me why I chose Puerto Viejo as the place to open a hotel. I had traveled all around Costa Rica looking for a good spot and what attracted me most to Puerto Viejo was how many different cultures there were here. The indigenous Bri Bri, people of Jamaican descent, people of Spanish descent (the Costa Ricans), and the ex-pats (mostly from Europe and North or South America) all comprise the population of Puerto Viejo. There is a bohemian quality to this place that makes it unique and a great place to live. The only other place I liked as much as here was Samara on the Pacific side but it was just too hot all the time to live there.
When I initially came to this area looking to buy property, everyone told me the places to be were Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva. I really liked Playa Chiquita but I wasn’t having luck finding a suitable property for what I had in mind. After numerous trips to Puerto Viejo, I met a Canadian guy in a bar in town who was looking to sell his property in Playa Negra. From everything I’d been told, Playa Negra wasn’t exactly a hot spot to build a hotel. The property was a cow field and you couldn’t see the beach from so much tree growth. Honestly, there was nothing attractive about it except that it was beachfront property, close to town and the price was perfect. I needed to make a decision in that moment as I was leaving the following day as well as the person selling the property. Being an atheist, I decided to forgo my previous notions and asked for a spiritual sign. Within a few minutes two blue morpho butterflies flew across the property. I took it as the sign! We headed to the lawyers office and signed the paperwork. Still, to this day, whenever I see morpho butterflies, I stop what I’m doing and take notice.
This is something I found hard to carry over into life in Canada. The simple notion that it’s ok to slow down and take notice. Three years ago, in 2010, I went back to Toronto to return to my old job in advertising and marketing. By all North American standards, it was a good life. For me though, it never felt fulfilling. It wasn’t until I returned to Costa Rica that I realized I felt much more fulfilled, as you don’t have to be rich to get the penthouse! For me, the glass is always half full here. I had stopped feeling content with life in Canada; my job wasn’t inspiring me anymore. Here it’s the opposite, every day I wake up eager and excited to start the day. I feel inspired here.
If you are interested in reading about how I came up with the concept of Banana Azul, here is a link to a great interview I had with International Living.
From Barcelona Spain, Roger is our Hotel General Manager, he has been with us for 2 years already making our guests feel better than home.
Ernesto is the manager of our tour company, Caribe Fun Tours, originally from Los Angeles, California and has lived in Costa Rica for 10 years now. He has worked here for 3 months only but already loves the job as he gets to provide amazing holidays for clients, which make them feel as excited about the country as he felt when he came here for the first time.
Lesvia is from Nicaragua and has been working in the kitchen for 9 years. She is currently the head of the kitchen. Her favorite thing about the hotel is the location and the vibe it brings with it.
Rina is our Front Desk Manager. She is originally from Cahuita and like her job a lot as she likes to work in a team. She also thinks everyone is very friendly which makes for a good working environment.
Ronald is from Limón and has worked here for over a year. He was an assistant cook in the hotel restaurant but now works as a server and restaurant team leader.. He enjoys working at Hotel Banana Azul as he enjoys the environment and has made a lot of new friends at the hotel.
All the way from New York is one of our most popular bartenders, Tariq who has been working at the hotel for a little longer than a year. He moved here because his mother is Costa Rican and he wanted a change of lifestyle. He gets along with the customers very well and tries to personalize every order.
Yadira is the Housekeeping Supervisor and is from Margarita, Costa Rica. She has worked here for two years and enjoys working at the hotel because of the nice location.
Yarisel is another one of our housekeepers and she is from Margarita, Costa Rica. She has been working at the hotel for one and a half years and her favorite thing about her job is definitely the location.
Yanilda is one of the housekeepers at the hotel and is originally from Nicaragua. She has worked here for six months and loves her job as she enjoys helping her colleagues and making sure the guests enjoy their stay.
Ovelia is from Nicaragua and has been working in the kitchen at Banana Azul for three years. She has lived in Puerto Viejo for six years and moved here for work. She enjoys all aspects of her job in the kitchen!
Marlene is from Nicaragua and has worked in the kitchen for six months now. She is very enthusiastic about her job and the hotel and loves everything about working here.
Alí has been working for the tour company, Caribe Fun Tours, for only a month and is from the Talamanca area. He likes the vibe at the hotel both among the staff member as between staff and guests.
Rick is our landscaper and has been doing a wonderful job here for 9 years. He is originally from Texas and enjoys all the new people he meets while working here as there are a lot of different nationalities at the hotel.
Cristino is part of our maintenance crew. He is from the nearby town of Bri Bri and has been one of our maintenance guys for three years. He likes living here to be close to his family. He tells us his favorite thing about working here are his co-workers.
Caribe Fun Tours
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