Tourism in Guayabo Begins to Bounce Back After Hurricane Otto

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Tourist resorts in Guayabo de Bagaces have reopened to welcome the first visitors since Hurricane Otto devastated the area on Nov. 24.

Despite continuing efforts to clean up and repair the areas destroyed by a massive flash flood caused by the hurricane, staff at Thermomanía tourist resort and Hotel Guayacán hope to recover at least some of their lost business during upcoming seasonal vacations.

Workers remove debris that buried several of Thermomanía’s hot springs after a flash flood swept through the area during the hurricane.

The Voice of Guanacaste visited the district of Guayabo on Tuesday to document post-hurricane conditions. Thermomanía reopened the day we visited, and areas around the tourist resort were still desolate, although the sound of heavy machinery and the sight of workers along the river underscored reconstruction efforts.

“We reopened the areas that weren’t damaged; the restaurant, the rooms and cabins are intact, as well as most of the hot springs. About 75 percent of the facilities are intact,” Thermomanía manager Olivier López said.

Thermomanía owner Didier Ulate said seven of 12 hot spring pools escaped damage from Hurricane Otto.
Last Tuesday, the first visitors since Hurricane Otto struck began arriving at Thermomanía.

The flash flood buried part of the hot springs complex and destroyed camping shelters and four suites, as well as an animal farm.

The biggest loss for Hotel Guayacán, Thermomanía’s neighbor, was the death of the hotel’s head cook, Marisa Alvarado Méndez, who was swept away by the river while in her home, along with three family members.

Maintenance required in the section of rooms at Hotel Guayacán was minimal.
Hotel Guayacán will have to rebuild the bridges that connected the rooms to several hot springs.

Hotel manager Maruja Alvarado said staff returned to work on Dec. 8, and Marisa Alvarado’s daughters currently are running the restaurant.

“The front part remains intact [with] four villas and 10 rooms; the restaurant, as well. Five hot spring pools filled with sand, but three already have been repaired. The water also washed out a hanging bridge to some of the pools, and some trees have fallen on our trails,” Maruja Alvarado said.

The flash flood on Nov. 24 did not reach the restaurant or the rooms at Hotel Guayacán.

Easing Concerns

Both tourist resorts are working to ease concerns following the disaster.

“If you saw us on television, it looked like this place had disappeared, but that’s not the case,” López said.

“We have regular customers who ask us on social media about the condition of the facilities because they’d like to come back. About 20 of us depend on our jobs here, and it’s not only us, tourists also benefit the rest of the community,” López added.

Nevertheless, no one at either of the tourist complexes knows how long it will take or how much it will cost to completely rebuild damaged areas.

A truck removes debris from the hot springs area at Thermomanía.
A flash flood hit five homes head-on near Thermomanía and Hotel Guayacán.