Ocean - View Hotels
At age forty-three, Robbie Felix decided that the world was much bigger than the United States, so she took early
retirement from an executive position with a California high-tech computer industry. She says, I decided to move to Costa Rica because, after looking into other countries in
Central America, it seemed almost a no-brainer! I didnt want to be worried about express kidnappings or having to live a low-
profile lifestyle for fear of being victimized. Also, being three and a half hours away by air a low rate of violent crime, and a
country without an army really appealed to me. Another benefit is the tropical climate; since I moved to Costa Rica my
arthritis rarely bothers me.
When thinking about going into business, Robbie realized that
where she wanted to live, in the Manuel
Antonio area there was nothing of a high-tech nature. But she did have a little experience in the hospitality business, so
thats what she decided. She found a lovely ocean-view hotel, the Hotel California and bought it. She says,I was
relatively foolish in retrospect. Like many people, I thought that the hospitality industry looks easy. Had I known that it looks
far easier than it really is, I might have chosen differently!
When asked about the worst part of being in business, Robbie said:
I would say the extremely poor quality of lawyers in the country and the need for lawyers in numerous transactions. My
guess is that many, if not all; foreigners here change lawyers with frequency until they actually find someone who is both
effective and honest. It took me three years and a lot of failed and costly attempts to find the lawyer that I have now. You
will not find me recommending him to anyone; I want to keep him for myself!
For advice to those thinking about doing business in Costa Rica, she says,
Learning to speak Spanish opened
a lot of potential doors for me, and I would advise people to do their homework! Spend time in the country, talk to people,
know the industry you are going to enter and know it well. Many people who have little or no business experience seem to
have the tropical dream, and in the end they dont have the skills to make it happen. Even people with a lot of experience in
business will find the climate here is different than any other, and most of what they know will be useless! First rule, throw
out everything you know and start all over. Everything I thought I knew did not serve me here in Costa Rica.
When asked for the enjoyable part of being in business, Robbie said:
The best part about being in business here is that you can really be part of a community of businesses that truly collaborate,
both amongst themselves and with the community in general. My business in the United States was very disconnected from
the community at large, but here we play a significant part in local affairs.
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