Nayara Resorts: Setting the Gold Standard for Luxury Resorts in Costa Rica and Beyond

Nayara Resorts: Setting the Gold Standard for Luxury Resorts in Costa Rica and Beyond

Nestled in the shadow of Arenal Volcano’s breathtaking beauty, Nayara Resorts has redefined the very essence of luxury and service in the world of hospitality. With a triumphant trio of properties – Nayara Gardens, Nayara Springs, and Nayara Tented Camp – this esteemed resort collection has not only crafted a distinct and abundant experience for its guests but has also raised the bar for luxury resorts in Costa Rica and across Latin America. Today, their properties extend to Panama’s Nayara Bocas del Toro, Nayara Alto Atacama in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and Nayara Hangaroa on the World Heritage Site of Easter Island. 

To delve into Nayara’s industry-defining Vision of Service, we had the honor of engaging in a conversation with Jairo Quesada, the Resort Manager of Nayara Resorts in Costa Rica, to explore the history, values, and vision that have solidified this remarkable group of luxury resorts as the epitome of unparalleled service and grandeur. Mr. Quesada has been part of the company and its growth since the very earliest days, with a story that is both personal and filled with business leadership.


A Sit Down with Nayara’s Resort Manager


So great to connect with you, Mr. Quesada. Let’s start with an easy question: how long have you been with Nayara Resorts?

I have been with Nayara since 2008. I started as the front desk supervisor and worked my way up. I have been Resort Manager for three years.


When you started you were not a resort chain, just a small(ish) hotel in an area with many similar-sized properties. How did you morph into what you are now?

Yes, when I started, we had only one property, Nayara Gardens, and our staff was around 30 people in total. Back then we were a good “local” hotel: 25 rooms, no real amenities to speak of, but an incredible location. We were all cross-trained in so many things because you needed to be there for your guests at all times. That idea of understanding all parts of the property is still a large component today.


So even then, the idea of service was central to the hotel’s approach.

Yes, I remember having meetings with our owners, who wanted to have the best customer service in the area to help us stand out from all the other hotels of our size. We were the first hotel in the area to offer free international calls, and the first to offer free high-speed internet. But even more than this, the entire team believed that we needed to offer amenities and details that nobody else was offering at the time, to go above and beyond.


That’s a big step when you are a smaller property.

You know, 2008 was during the financial crisis but even then, we never thought about nickel and diming our customers. If it helped give the best service, we wanted to do all we could. And little by little, we became known for our customer service. 


Why Service is Important to Us


Why was this important to you as a company and as staff?

We knew by offering those details, guests would fall in love with what we did, spread the word, and come back to see us again. That word of mouth not only helped put us on the map, but it helped us establish a vision of service that is truly the key to our resorts today. Within two years we were known as the hotel in the Arenal region.


Tell me about growing pains. A lot of companies see their quality drop when they expand. Did you?

No, quite the contrary. In 2009/10 we started construction on a 2nd phase of Nayara Gardens. We realized that while we were on the map in the region, we could not only grow larger, but also expand our focus towards luxury and be known as a true luxury destination in Arenal, in Costa Rica, and in Central America.

Then in 2010, we started construction on Nayara Springs, with the vision of making this the most luxurious hotel in Costa Rica. Our attention to detail and putting customer service and quality first and foremost helped us fine-tune what we did and how we did it. We knew we were moving in the right direction when Travel & Leisure put us on their cover as one of the top hotels in the world within one year of opening Nayara Springs.


But you didn’t stop with two properties in the region, why did you add Nayara Tented Camp?

By 2016 we were for sure on the luxury map with many awards and loyal patrons. But our owners had a vision to have something totally different for this region – a true African safari experience in the Costa Rican rainforest. With Tented Camp we wanted to compete with the most luxurious brands in the world. But not at the risk of losing our vision of service. And that’s what makes Tented Camp – and all our properties – so special: we never lost our vision, only expanded it. 


Fostering a Spirit of Service Every Day

I have to say that I’ve stayed at a lot of properties that say this, but you do more than talk the talk, you truly walk the walk. Why?

Hmmm, that’s a good question. I will say it this way: “Never say no.” If you want to be more than just a place people come to vacation, if you want to be a special place, an inviting place, you need to be willing to find a way to say “yes”. Like wanting something not on the menu, a dream activity you don’t know is possible, or just the little things in a room to make a couple feel special and cared for. If it is possible (and sometimes if it seems it isn’t) we’ll figure out how to make it a “yes.”


How do you instill this vision into your team as you’ve grown?

When we hire anyone in the company – be they in a front-of-house position or someone behind the scenes, we look to understand their passions and how we can help them grow. To us we are not hiring for a position, but for a career. Look at me, I’ve been here since 2008 and I now oversee all our Costa Rica properties. We believe that everyone should be hired with this in mind. And because of that, we have very little turnover. People want to be here because we all believe in our mission and our values. 

But it goes beyond that. I mentioned that when we were small, we all jumped in to do what needed to be done, not just what our job description said. We still do that today. We want everyone to learn about our resorts, our guests, our vision of service. So, every person – at all levels – spends time across the property. All will clean a room, all will serve a guest, and all will work front and back of the house, so we understand what it takes to be able to say “yes”, and so we are all in this together. To me, that is something unique about our vision of service.


I’m sure your competition has copied your success.

For sure they have. But we don’t care if they do, because we think this is what everyone should be doing. But I will say that we often get staff coming from other hotels to stay and very frequently they will say “Now I get it! I see why you are so special.” And this type of service doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t say “we are going to be” and become that. It has taken us many years to get to this point. It has taken complete buy-in from our teams. And a family commitment from management to those who are here in any capacity to put this vision first. So that’s why I smile when they say, “I get it now.”


Serving Our Community and the Natural World Around Us

How do you take this vision of service beyond the grounds of the resorts?

We have over 520 staff right now, and 90% of us are from this area, and the vast majority of our staff live in the surrounding communities. Our belief is that we have a responsibility to support our community and those we call our coworkers, our neighbors, and our family. That means we work with local producers and help them grow their businesses and their level of service as we grow. It means we work with local farmers to help them understand the needs and demands of a luxury property. It means we support local schools and charities. It’s why we have so little turnover. We are a true part of this community, and we want people to know they have a future both at Nayara Resorts and in this region.


OK, we’ve talked about your vision of service to your guests, your vision of service to your team, and your community, but there is another area I’d like to touch on and that’s how this translates to where your properties are located. How do you serve the natural habitat?

I’m not sure if you know but there was a time when Costa Rica didn’t value its natural lands and a great deal of it was cut down for timber, farming, etc. As a country, this has changed dramatically, and we pride ourselves here at our Arenal properties, and across all our resorts, on our focus on the land and the animals that surround us.

For example, here in our area around Arenal Volcano, we have a sustainability team that cleans rivers, cleans streets, and provides education on sustainability, recycling, and clean energy. To us, luxury isn’t just having a very nice property but having a true relationship and respect for the world around us, including our commitment to being carbon-neutral properties. Knowing that we have a responsibility and hope that value translates for our guests and those we work with. 

Since I joined the company in 2008, we have always had a reforestation project, including having a natural corridor from our properties, through the primary forests to the Arenal River. And we now see lands teeming with life that disappear with deforestation. 

We believe there is a difference between having a hotel and being true partners with the world around us. It’s about supporting our team and our community, it’s about protecting and enhancing our environment, and it’s about having (as a company) a unique sense of self and purpose.


This is something you do at Arenal, but how has it translated to the properties in Panama and Chile?

We have talked a lot about how we train our teams here in Arenal. But we do this same thing across all our properties. Our team trains and experiences all facets of our properties in Bocas del Toro, the Atacama Desert, and on Easter Island, and their teams come to train here at Nayara Gardens, Springs, and Tented Camp. 

But we aren’t just training our staff for jobs. As I said, we look to support careers in our team. The front desk managers of today will be resort managers of the future. Maybe here, maybe at Alto Atacama, or another property. This is how our vision of service becomes a true value and part of the DNA of all who work with Nayara Resorts. I am incredibly proud of this, and how it translates to the experiences of our guests.


We Hope to Welcome You Soon!

Today, this vision of service remains Nayara Resort’s north star. And it is no wonder that the resorts have earned awards from across the travel spectrum, as well as a loyal following. When you hear from people like Jairo you understand the unique perspective that runs through all who serve and interact with their properties. For more information on Nayara Resorts or to book your own stay, clic here.