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Steve Case Unveils $800 Million 'Green' Resort, Without Greenlight from Costa Rica

Where: Costa Rica
August 13, 2007 at 11:59 AM | by | Comments (0)

AOL co-founder Steve Case's plans to build Cacique, a $800 million resort complex on 650 acres in Guanacaste province in northwest Costa Rica, met little critical analysis in the U.S. press when details were unveiled at a press conference earlier this month. It's the first project for Revolution Places, a branch of Revolution, Case's lifestyle company. But the project has already hit a major bump in the road.

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The U.S. newspapers that covered the story, mainly in Washington, D.C., where Revolution, is based, and Hawaii, where Case grew up, dutifully described the project: One and Only Resorts will operate one hotel. Miraval, in which Case is a majority investor, another. The total number of planned rooms: 270. Exclusive Resorts, a time-share business owned by Revolution, will build 30 of the 300 planned private homes.

The papers also referenced the complex's "sustainable" components - recycling, energy efficiency among them -- and noted that Case did not want Costa Rica to become the next Hawaii, at least not in the negative, overdeveloped sense.

Yet, missing in the first wave of coverage: The inconvenient fact that the project's first environmental-impact project was flat-out rejected by Costa Rica's National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA). Without SETENA's approval, the project cannot move forward.

According to an article in the current issue of Tico Times, a respected English Costa Rican weekly, SETENA found that the impact study did not adequately explain a number of things, such as how a proposed desalinization plant, designed to alleviate the region's water shortage, would work or what impact the plant would have.

This inconvenient fact had been previously reported in several Spanish newspapers.

The Tico Times article noted:

The SETENA report said that the impact study also fails to catalogue the wildlife that inhabits the area, and problems of habitat fragmentation and the isolation of wildlife populations "are not considered in the design of the site."

"The preceeding considerations put in doubt the environmental sustainability of the project," SETENA's analysis continues.

Revolution Places submitted a new impact study for Cacique on July 9 and is awaiting approval. Whatever the project's fate, this region of Costa Rica seems poised for explosive luxury-resort development.

Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, where Brad Pitt and Angelina stayed last Christmastime, opened in March 2004. Last month Mandarin Oriental announced it was building a 536-acre resort and residences complex in Guanacaste province. As many as 30 others, including Ritz-Carlton, are reportedly canvassing the area.

Related Stories:
· Steve Case's Eco-Getaway [The Washington Post]
· AOL Founder Plans $800 Million Beach Resort [Tico Times]

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