Starting Over at 69 in Costa Rica

Vikki Gold from Colorado is delighted with her move to Costa Rica. “I love it here. I’m at peace. There’s beautiful scenery, a great climate, and so much wildlife. It’s our little paradise,” she says.

She came here just over a year ago after she and her daughter, Hollee, bought and renovated a boutique hotel in the jungle.

At 69, Vikki had no experience in hotels, didn’t speak Spanish, and didn’t consider herself a “people” person…but that didn’t stop her moving to Costa Rica and getting into the hospitality business.

The hotel hadn’t been operating officially for at least five years and the property was rundown. But it was a challenge Vikki was up for.

“I figured, how hard could it be,” says Vikki, laughing. “I think purchasing something in place was a big advantage. If it had been raw ground I probably would not have bought. But I felt very comfortable doing renovation. It was quite a challenge but I was very pleased with how it turned out.”

She has also discovered that she really enjoys interacting with guests.

“When people come here they may have booked for a night or two but many times they end up staying for two weeks if we have availability,” says Vikki. “I’ve met people from all over the world.”

The hotel Villas de Oros is now made up of five tastefully-appointed villas, all with private balconies, two with full kitchens, and three with mini kitchens on the balcony, all set on 3.5 landscaped acres.

The surrounding rain forest is alive with howler monkeys, toucans, and other wildlife. There’s an on-site pool…though the beaches, some of the most beautiful in the country, are only a short drive away.

Vikki and Hollee are equal partners in the business. Vikki manages the day-to-day on-site with a cleaning lady and gardener/maintenance man. Hollee works on the marketing and administrative side from Denver, though she travels south often.

Of all the areas of Costa Rica they visited, it was the Southern Zone that finally inspired them to take the plunge…buy property…and start a business. After returning home to Colorado, they scanned online property listings until they saw an ad for an old hotel for sale on Playa Tortuga, near the village of Ojochal.

That was February 2013. They checked out the place in March, and by July the keys were theirs.

This region of Costa Rica is untouched by large-scale tourism. No big hotels, no condo towers on the beach, or all-inclusive resorts. Instead visitors are mostly interested in eco-tourism like rain forest hikes and wildlife watching…and staying at small hotels like the Golds’.

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