By the time that MLHS had completed the acquisition of Xandari in Costa Rica we were already well under way with the development of what is now Xandari Pearl, on the beach about 40km south of Xandari Harbour. Reflecting today on what I love about Xandari, I again am reminded of some rather heroic decisions made by George M George, and the board of directors who he reported to.
In 2010, when we were in the early months of this relationship between MLHS and La Paz Group, there was already a completed architectural plan for the beach property that MLHS owned at Marari. There were already permits applied for the construction of those plans. So it was with some trepidation that I took a firm position in my recommendation to the board George reported to: those plans would result in a resort that would not fit the strategic road map I was laying out. To start with, it was 80+ rooms; and there were other issues but scale was the one I focused on.
Just now I was looking at the powerpoint presentation I brought into the board room with me to make my case about abandoning the original plans for the resort at Marari. The first image in that presentation was the one above, which was a photo snapped just some days prior to the meeting. I talked about the natural beauty of the beach property, and how our target market would appreciate meandering on paths through as much of that as we could preserve; ideally we would not cut a single tree. We would let the local fishermen continue to keep their boats on property. And other points about that land.
In the notes section of that deck of slides, I reminded myself that in addition to talking about their property, I would need to show the following slides as examples from another property La Paz Group had managed. In talking about scale, and meandering, and cultural encounters on property, I had a screen with this pair of photos:
I acknowledged that a couple photos of pathways was a strange way to talk about resort design, but I had “Garden of Eden” in my notes (I cannot remember if I said it or not, but it is my visual reference for Xandari in Costa Rica). And next I showed this:
I explained that it was a property called Xandari, and that even though it was far away in Central America, and it was not a beach property, we would be better off designing a resort for guests who could sense the Muthoot family’s love of the Marari property the same way guests of Xandari appreciate the combined love of Sherrill and Charlene Broudy in this onetime coffee plantation in Costa Rica.
My point here and now: thanks to George, the original plans were put aside, at considerable expense in terms of both architectural fees and the time to start again from scratch. Soon George offered an orienting theme for the design of the Marari property. And he did so on the same intensely personal level that I had described the love affair between the Broudys and the property in Costa Rica (which George in 2010 knew nothing about other than these photos in my deck of slides). And today there is a property that many are saying is the most lovely of all the resorts on the coast of south India.