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Stefanie Tannenbaum - Photo via Sendero Hotel -

U.S. woman got stranded in Costa Rica, so she opened a beach hotel

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Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2023
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services

U.S. citizen from Massachusetts, Stefanie Tannenbaum flew into Costa Rica with her partner and baby for an extended break in February 2020.

But after getting stuck in the coastal town of Nosara Beach in Guanacaste Province, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she felt so at home that she decided to stay for good.

According to a report published by  the Cable News Network (CNN) multinational news channel, nearly four years later, Tannenbaum is the proud co-founder of sustainable boutique hotel Sendero, which she describes as a “neighborhood hotel” that aims to provide its guests with “a sense of belonging.”

“Nosara is a really magical place, and we wanted to share that,” she told to CNN reporter Tamara Hardingham-Gill, before explaining that the hotel’s surf school, yoga studio and art gallery are all run by locals.

“People often say that as soon as they’re at the hotel, they feel part of Nosara,” she added. 

Tannenbaum had visited the town a few times before choosing to travel there for a month with her partner and their son River, who was around eight-months old at the time and was struck by the sense of community, along with the “phenomenal” surfing and the nature. 

When it became clear that she and her family would be unable to leave the country for a while due to the travel restrictions implemented as a result of the pandemic, Tannenbaum began looking into the prospect of starting a business in Nosara.

“Everything was really stressful, but there was a peace I was finding being in Nosara,” she said.

While collaborating with a team of locals to set up a remote working space named Outpost, she saw an opportunity to create a hotel at a nearby property and “decided to take that leap.”

“I had been feeling alone and isolated back in the US,” explained Tannenbaum. “And all of a sudden I was part of a community and the people I was building these projects with became my best friends. 

“It felt like we were all pursuing our dreams together. We like to say that we’re a friend-owned hotel, ” she said.

Tannenbaum, who had previously worked for a hotel management and development company and often dreamed of owning her own hotel, met her business partner Sarah Kosterlitz while in Costa Rica.

The excited pair used their life savings to get the projects off the ground. “It was a scary decision,” she admitted.

According to Tannenbaum, it took around 14 months to create Sendero Hotel, which officially opened in February.

The hotel is around two and a half hours from Liberia Airport and five hours from San Jose Airport by car.

The name Sendero comes from the Spanish word for “path” and Tannenbaum explains that the hotel has a path that extends across the 200 meters of protected land at Nosara’s coastal front.

“It’s also metaphorically how Sendero can play a role in the path or journey of one’s life also,” she added.

Its 25 rooms are made up of suites, private bedrooms with a custom-built bed and separate living area, jungle rooms, which include outdoor showers facing the neighboring nature preserve, and a king room, which has its own private balcony.

When travel restrictions were eased in late 2020, Tannenbaum, briefly returned to her home in the U.S. with her partner and son to connect with family and collect their dog, who they’d left behind many months before.

Tannenbaum has been able to build a completely new life for her and her family in Nosara over the years and is currently going through the process of officially becoming a Costa Rican resident.

“It was fast, but it just felt right,” she says. “Costa Rica is a very open country, they’re very into community and supporting one another. They’re always putting community first.”

What have you heard about expats running their own businesses in Costa Rica? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com