The rumors are true. John S. Johnson and Susan Short, the owners of the Harmony Hotel and The Sunset Shack hotel in Nosara, bought another lodging place, none other than the legendary Harbor Reef Surf Resort.
According to two sources who asked not to be named, the purchase was made for $2.6 million and was finalized on Wednesday, July 13th.
Rich Burnam, the real estate agent representing the Bombard family, the owners of Harbor Reef, said that when the Bombards decided that they wanted to sell the hotel, which has been in existence for 18 years and has accumulated several debts, they decided they did not want to give it to the highest bidder but rather to someone who would “make good use of it.”
“They are very happy John and Susan are buying it [because] they care about Nosara and are not going to build a big building. They are the right people,” Burnman said.
Johnson owns several businesses and properties in the district of Nosara: The Harmony Hotel and The Sunset Shack in Guiones Beach, a 17-hectare (42-acre) real estate development in the neighboring community of Esperanza and several properties in Garza Beach and Guiones Beach. Johnson is also a shareholder of The Voice of Guanacaste.
What will happen to the iconic Harbor Reef Hotel?
Since 2014, expansion plans have existed for the Harmony Hotel. However, Johnson said that buying Harbor Reef Hotel, a 8,000-square-meter (2-acre) property 300 meters from the beach, was not part of their plan.
“Buying Harbor Reef was obviously not an original part of our plans for the next phase of the Harmony, so at the moment, we’re still working on the concept and experience of the hotel,” Johnson said.
Asked about plans for Harbor Reef, the businessman stated that there are no plans to make radical changes for now. “It’s an important part of the community and we don’t have plans to change the name or radically shift away from the small surf hotel vibe,” he remarked.
Harbor Reef Hotel will be closed beginning in mid-July “to make some light renovations to the rooms,” explained Johnson.
The plan is to reopen in November or December of 2016. The hotel will be managed by Cayuga, the company that has managed the Harmony Hotel since 2006, specializing in sustainable hospitality.
Although he did not confirm if they plan to keep the current employees or hire new ones, when asked about the future of the employees who currently work at Harbor Reef Hotel, Johnson specified that Cayuga’s “broad vision of sustainability includes a focus on hiring and training from the local community.”
Will you continue buying properties adjacent to or nearby the Harmony Hotel?
Johnson replied, “Definitely not.”