We began posting here June 15, 2011. La Paz Group started some 15 years earlier in Costa Rica, which you can read about here. In the mid- to late 1990s we worked primarily on Strategy & Development projects for emerging tourism Destinations; then in 1999 we added Resort Development & Management; and all along, unique Conservation initiatives.
We grew, first with the addition of a partner office in France, at the one decade anniversary of our founding; later with a development office in Singapore; and in 2010 the company made a strong commitment to Asia when two founding partners of La Paz Group moved to India and set up shop.
In the year 2000 or so, we started articulating our activities with vocabulary that would accurately reflect our mission to craft experiences with sense (logic, rationality, economic success) and sensibility (being protective of the natural and cultural patrimony, tangible and intangible, that we have been privileged to tend to). We came to call this, simply, entrepreneurial conservation, starting in 2001.
Kerala, India (2010-2017)
La Paz Group started working in 2010 under contract to Muthoot Leisure & Hospitality Services (MLHS). The initial scope of work was to establish a roadmap for MLHS to create a globally recognized brand hospitality brand. By early 2011 the plan was set in motion with a focus on new properties, and a new name that would affiliate all the properties in MLHS’s portfolio.
Raxa Collective was the name chosen by George M. George, Executive Director of MLHS, and Crist & Amie Inman, partners in La Paz Group.
As the owner of properties pioneering sustainable tourism in the Western Ghats and in the Backwaters, for George the name Raxa Collective resonated with his company’s tangible commitments to conservation. Raxa, derived from the sanskrit word for protector/guardian, reflected the intent; collective reflected the process.
A joint venture named Raxa Collective Pvt. Ltd., equally owned by MLHS and La Paz Group, was incorporated in India in 2011. This organization’s core purpose was established to map onto La Paz Group’s signature work, entrepreneurial conservation. Raxa Collective’s hospitality businesses were to adhere to this purpose–a group of professionals developing and managing hospitality businesses whose profits would be invested in the conservation of natural and cultural patrimony.
This communication platform was established, starting with a post from Nicaragua on June 15, 2011 followed by one from India the next day, to facilitate collaboration among those who participate in and communicate about entrepreneurial conservation projects. The objective is to highlight and explain unique private sector initiatives in developing economies; to provide creative personal accounts of exploring the cultural and natural environments where these initiatives operate, illustrated with photography, video, music and links to supporting relevant media; to inform about these efforts and encourage travel to these places to further strengthen the resorts’ commitment of resources to these initiatives.
From exploration of Western Ghats birds, to the improved understanding of monsoon rains’ therapeutic effects, interns working with Raxa Collective employees set a standard for collaboration in 2012. Pampa Villa and Kayal Villa came into the Raxa Collective portfolio and the team of interns based at Cardamom County helped conceive how these two private villas could be integrated effectively. They also worked on design advisory projects for the new properties under development, which would eventually open on the waterfront of Fort Kochi Harbour and on the pristine shores of Marari Beach. The posts that each of these interns contributed individually, and as a team, during this period became benchmarks for what we would strive for more of in the future.
In 2013 MLHS purchased Xandari Resort & Spa, in Costa Rica. This was facilitated by La Paz Group, which had a long history with and had previously managed Xandari. The strategy was to connect the entrepreneurial conservation work in Kerala to the excellent accomplishments along these lines in Costa Rica, especially at Xandari. This property is exemplary as a model of community involvement in a sustainably operated resort.
By the time the property in Fort Kochi had its formal opening in late 2014, it was clear that the name Xandari would best serve these properties, and so Spice Harbour was rechristened Xandari Harbour. Likewise Marari Pearl, which would open in March, 2015 was rechristened Xandari Pearl; and River Escapes was rechristened Xandari Riverscapes. By early 2017 our work in India was complete.
Costa Rica 2019 & Beyond
In late 2018 we were invited to submit a proposal for how we would approach managing two of the oldest and largest hotel gift shops in Costa Rica. This was a new kind of challenge for us: we were chosen because of our approach to entrepreneurial conservation, and this initiative would require combining the experiential with a focus on local tangibles. Authentica, a company we formed for this purpose, signed the contract to manage these two shops in May, 2019. Organikos was formed at the same time to provide “taste of place” products representative of Costa Rica in these shops. Specialty coffees are the signature product of Organikos, complementing a wide selection of hand made artisan handicrafts in the Authentica shops.