The Bodhi Tree hotel has plans to transform the landscaped gardens and meandering pathways of the former Nosara Yoga Institute’s 4.5 acre grounds into a “village” of retail stores and services open to the public, casitas for sale and rent, and an additional yoga space and pool for resort guests.
Gary Edwards, Bodhi Tree owner, who recently purchased the NYI site from its founders Don and Amba Stapleton, said he is in the planning and permit stages for the full project. Recently, he divided the original yoga pavilion into a fitness class space on one side and TRX facility on the other. He plans to have more of the village concept built out by next high season.
“Naked Foods is going to establish a restaurant in the old office building. We’re using the original Institute parking site for now,” he said.
Edwards envisions installing services and retail for both his hotel guests and the community, and insists all development will maintain the lush foliage established by the Yoga Institute.
“The retail will be along the main road. Along the back will be condos for sale and also for us to rent in our hotel inventory. We want to keep the amazing trees and beautiful landscaping and put Bodhi Village in among the jungle paths,” he said.
Jan Paul (JP) Kahlan of Naked Foods, long time juice and plant-based, organic food provider in the Nosara area, explained that he is partnering with experienced chefs Dave and Erin Intonato, of Long Island, New York to create the Naked Purple Elephant restaurant on the property. He plans to be open by July.
Kahlan said that when Edwards approached him with the idea it felt like a natural next step for him, developing a restaurant on the former NYI grounds.
“It’s a special place. Don and Amba were big supporters of my business and gave me space at their retreats to offer my juices and organic foods.”
Kahlan plans to keep his current Playa Pelada location open but is excited about the future at Bodhi Village. “I want to revive the Nosara Organics weekend market and website and offer it from there,” he said.
Isis Mejia, local physical therapist and owner of Nosara Bodywork, moved her business to the current Bodhi Tree Spa in early March and will move into new facilities in the Village once a therapy space is completed.
“I moved for three reasons,” Mejia said. “The location is great for locals and tourists. I can build my business by adding in hotel guests and I really support the Bodhi Tree vision of fitness and health. Physical therapy is about healing and recovery, not just blocking pain. ” she said.
The Bodhi Tree Resort has been operating for over three years and since its opening has added rooms and villas, a spa, a juice bar, an air-conditioned workout gym, a pilates and a dance studio and several yoga platform spaces. All area are open to the public, as well as hotel guests.
“We bought Color Champagne and are converting that into larger private villas. We have a certain clientele that want bigger, nicer rooms with more common space,” Edwards said. “We found the 40’s and up crowd don’t want to stay in dorm rooms.” With these additions, The Bodhi Tree will have space for about 80 people to sleep by next high season he said.
“We are a fit person’s dream. We have TRX and pilates and six to seven yoga classes a day. We have a lap pool and a gym and with the new space will add barre and aerobics. In keeping with our whole concept of fitness and health, I’d like to have an organic market, a physiotherapy building so you could come here and rehab. Maybe a healthy mini-super. I’d like to get some other local businesses to relocate here.”
Edwards won’t give further details until negotiations are finalized but he did say he plans to put a 3,000 square foot yoga space on the top floor of the existing house on the former NYI property. He’ll put an additional pool and patio area where the Bell Tower is now.
Several Guiones area businesses admit Edwards has asked them to move but refuse to go public while they watch the Bodhi Village take shape. “Let’s see how it goes over there,” said one service provider who did not want to be identified.
Water for Future Development
Another Bodhi Tree improvement Edwards currently is working on is an expanded and improved septic treatment plant, utilizing new technology. “We recycle all our water and use it on our landscaping. The only Asada water we use is for drinking water.”
He said for the expansion through the former NYI site he may have to build his own well or tap into a local Asada.
Playas de Nosara Asada President Lili Adams said that they have not yet received any information on the expansion project in their office. “If Bodhi Tree follows the municipality process they need to present plans to the Asada in order to get a water letter for their permits.”
Any new construction that uses two to 12 cubic meters of water a day, or more, has to have a technical study done. Asadas then assess impact fees accordingly for water system improvements necessitated by the new development she said.
“The Bodhi Tree, way back about five or six years ago, did have a technical study done and Gary’s impact fees supported big improvements in the K-section,” Adams said. “We were not in a water deficit situation at that time,” she noted. “My hope is that he will work with us closely.”
The Stapletons founded the Yoga Institute in 1994 as Nosara’s first yoga teacher training, retreat and public class site. Their renown and multiple offerings helped make Nosara famous for yoga and spawned many other yoga based retreat centers and studios.
In 2016, the Stapletons decided to focus on new projects and sell the Institute, originally planning to sell to a Colorado based yoga school. Edwards exercised a first right of refusal he had in his original agreement with the Stapletons when they first co-developed the hotel in 2013, and bought the property adjacent to his Bodhi Tree Resort.