Christina Truitt used to hang out with her friends on a beautiful beachfront lot in Playa Hermosa, five kilometers south of Jacó on the central Pacific coast.
The vacant lot sloped gently down onto the beach, so she and her friends would park it there, talk and go surfing.
Just a few years later, Truitt has opened her own hotel, Surf Inn Hermosa, on that very lot.
“I started looking and … one time I saw a ‘for sale’ sign for this lot, and I was like, ‘Wow. I’ll just call.’ They wanted something ridiculous for it,” she recalls. “So I said, ‘Why don’t we just throw out a number and see what happens?’ It was about 50 percent of what was on the sign, and the guy took it.”
Truitt has been many things, but never a business owner. She worked in finance and then as a teacher in the United States.
After she came to Costa Rica about five years ago, she began teaching at a local private school and working as co-director and now treasurer of the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
At first, she was wary of taking the plunge into business ownership. “Last year I just finally decided, ‘OK, I’m going to do it,’” she says.
Her boyfriend, Mike Cruden, is a Web designer who has lived in the area for more than five years. The two lived next door to the lot while the hotel was being constructed and have since moved into one of the second-floor rooms, which has a view of the ocean where they both like to surf.
Cruden says part of the reason Truitt was able to get her hotel up and running in only a year is the respect she has earned in the community as a teacher.
“There were definitely days we’d walk over here and say, ‘Wow! It’s really happening,’” Cruden says.
The three-story hotel emphasizes simplicity and elegance in its design. Clean, cool woods set off cream walls that blend inconspicuously into the tropical surroundings. Each room emphasizes comfort over anything else.
The four one-bedroom studio apartments feature one queen bed with a single bunk above, stove, refrigerator, television, air conditioner and leather couch, while the two two-bedroom apartments have two queensize beds and two single bunks, with a larger kitchen that includes a washer and dryer.
Everything looks new and clean, like the kind of place someone seeking comfort in paradise would gravitate to. In fact, Truitt had just such a person in mind when she built the hotel.
“One of my good friends is an older guy who surfs,” she says. “He got tired of traveling around and staying in places that weren’t too comfortable. And he loves to surf – he comes down here five, 10 times a year. He’s traveled the world, but now he wants comfort and he’s got the money to pay for it.”
Perhaps the best part of the hotel is its incredible oceanfront view and access. Truitt and Cruden plan to put up a webcam on one of the walls to provide a perennial online view of the talented surfers who gather in front of their hotel, at crsurfcam.com.
Unlike most nearby hotels, Surf Inn doesn’t have a pool between the hotel and the ocean. Instead, Truitt decided to artfully include the pool by the stairway, where it provides an oasis-like feel to the middle of the hotel. This also means there is no obstruction between the rooms and the ocean. A rolling green lawn stretches for about 50 meters, and then opens onto the sand and ocean.
Truitt hopes the hotel offers the cozy and inclusive feel of a U.S. Eastern Shore bed-and-breakfast.
“I’m from around Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland) area, which has a lot of really quaint bed-and-breakfasts where you go and stay and have a nice time and nice meals. And you kind of feel included. You’re entertained,” Truitt says. “Here in Costa Rica, I haven’t really found too many places like that. So that’s what I wanted to create.”
Because of that vision, Truitt decided to make the third floor an open and spacious café, despite her architect’s desire to build more rooms there. Hermosa Café will serve tasty treats such as coconut French toast, Asian sesame chicken and curries to guests and the public. The couple’s neighbor and friend, Juan Vega, the café’s chef, serves up delicious beach fare guests can enjoy while watching the ocean crash in front of them.
The hotel is full of personal touches, such as the tropical murals done by the couple’s friends, Gary Lynn and Danielle Ciminero (www.unytedmovement.com), which brighten the outdoor showers and front wall.
Truitt and Cruden are attentive but relaxed hosts who know the area well and are eager to guide their guests to the best the region has to offer. Whether you’re there to surf or just lie on the sand, Surf Inn Hermosa is a comfortable and beautiful place to do it in. You might never leave the hotel’s back porch.
Getting There, Rates, Contact Info
Surf Inn Hermosa is 200 meters north of the Backyard Bar in Playa Hermosa. about two hours from San José on the Pacific coastal highway. Driving from San José, take the and take the La Garita exit toward the central Pacific beaches, through Atenas and Orotina. Once on the coastal highway heading south, pass Herradura and Jacó and continue five kilometers to Hermosa. Surf Inn Hermosa is on the right, 200 meters before the Backyard Bar.
Inter-American Highway west
and take the La Garita exit toward the central Pacific beaches, through Atenas and Orotina. Once on the coastal highway heading south, pass Herradura and Jacó and continue five kilometers to Hermosa. Surf Inn Hermosa is on the right, 200 meters before the Backyard Bar.
Buses to Jacó leave San José from the Coca-Cola terminal at 6, 7, 9 and 11 a.m. and at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. (Transportes Jacó, 2223-1109, ¢1,935/$3.50 one-way). From Jacó, take a taxi to Hermosa for about ¢3,000 ($5.50).
The hotel’s opening rates are $100 for a one-bedroom studio apartment and $250 for a two-bedroom oceanfront apartment. Rates jump to $150 and $300 over Easter week, Thanksgiving, Christmas and July 1 to 20. For the World Surfing Games to be held in Hermosa July 21 to Aug. 15, rates are to be announced. Weekly and monthly rates are available.
For information and reservations, call 2643-7184 or (410) 734-2687 in the United States, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit surfinnhermosa.com.