I keep correspondences for as long as possible. With all of our moving around some of my older paper correspondences have been lost along the way, but since the advent of email, and especially since archiving email has been possible, I have been a diligent archivist.
So, as I reflect on the completion of our engagement with MLHS June 30, that gives me a dozen opportunities for daily reflection on Xandari as we prepare to hand over the keys. Email archives keep it real.
My relationship with George M George, related in an earlier post, started a couple years after I had first met the man who created Xandari in Costa Rica. From the mid- to late-1990s I was focused on destination-level strategy work in Costa Rica and other countries in that region. I met Sherrill Broudy first during those years as part of my effort to understand the hotel investors who came to Costa Rica from other countries. At that point, the main building of Xandari and just a few villas had been built.
Sherrill and I met again in 2000, one year into La Paz Group’s transition from advisory firm to management company. By then, more villas had been built, and what had clearly been a coffee plantation on my first visit (when the property was originally named Xandari Plantation) now was starting to look more like a Garden of Eden. A beautiful resort was shaping up, and I told Sherrill (half-jokingly and as respectfully as possible) that if and when he got thinking about retirement, he should be aware that our company was now in the business of managing properties like Xandari.
Sherrill, well into his 70s, was amused. He was 40 years my senior, and he asked me with his sly smile whether he looked like he was ready to retire. My reply, that I hoped he would continue creating the beautiful architecture that Xandari was until the masterwork was complete, and that his wife Charlene would hopefully be adorning the property with her art forever, he knew I got it. I understood that he would keep at it, but I had no clue for how long.
That same year, in September 2000, I met George M George. Occasionally I used La Paz Group properties as case studies in the classroom, and at that point the most important was our first property under management. Lapa Rios, based on its unique mission and especially based on the success that it became, was the most common basis for conversations I continued having with George by email until, finally, a few years after his graduation, I finally visited Kerala, India. The emails between George and me over the next few years make clear that we both were forming a common vision around bringing La Paz Group’s business model to India.
As it happened, that was exactly the time when my relationship with Sherrill Broudy had transformed from a friendship-acquaintance into a business relationship. When he was approaching 80 years old he asked me to come to Xandari and, on a trial basis, allow him to experience how our services worked. We carried out that trial, after which point Sherrill thanked me, saying he was not yet ready to retire, and that he would call me when that time came.
Fast forward some years, by which time La Paz Group was under contract to MLHS to manage their properties and guide their investment in what would become a collection of high end resorts under one brand. A letter came from Sherrill back in Costa Rica, telling me that as he was approaching his 90th birthday he was thinking about a transition plan…
The rest is rich history, too rich for here, but a few years later we were told by Charlene that Sherrill was very pleased with what we had done to take care of Xandari in Costa Rica and to extend its reach to India, and perhaps eventually elsewhere. In early 2015 Sherrill passed away, well into his 90s, still healthy and active. Everything I have written in this post was prelude to the first love letter I want to share. Here it is written, for posterity, and placed in that Garden of Eden: