La Amistad: A Family Affair

September 9, 2005

THE Montero family has deep conservation roots, beginning with Roberto Montero’s great-uncle José Cástulo Zeledón, the pioneer Costa Rican zoologist whose name lives on in the zeledonia, an endemic highland bird. In his grandfather’s time, Montero says, ornithologist Dr. Alexander Skutch often visited La Amistad, and botanists Robert and Catherine Wilson, founders of the nearby Wilson Botanical Garden, were also frequent visitors.The main activity here for five generations has been coffee growing. Today, the plantation produces almost half a million pounds of coffee per year. A four-month completely dry season (December to March) gives the coffee plants here time to rest, Montero says, lending the coffee its characteristic balanced acidity and body.After earning one of the first organic coffee certifications in Central America and carving out a marketing niche for his coffee, Montero is now turning his attention to tourism. In addition to the “Feel Green” hiking and camping tour, he is expanding the chalet-style La Amistad Lodge, which until now has been basically a place for friends to stay. Ten new dormitory-style rooms will complement the existing 10 rooms, increasing guest capacity to 80. Montero is also expanding the lodge restaurant and creating a café to showcase the estate’s coffee.Montero’s family is pitching in. Daughter Silvia is finishing her studies in Spain as an international chef; daughter María Laura is studying tourism; and son Roberto is a corporate special-events planner who will help with marketing. So, Hacienda La Amistad will continue to be a family affair for at least another generation.

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