October 7th, 2008

The Sleep Inn Hotel—Old Meets New

When the Sleep Inn San José Downtown was first built, there had been no new hotels built in the central downtown area for about thirteen years. The Sleep Inn brought new hotel, restaurant and entertainment services to central San José, but it hoped to seamlessly fit itself into a charming downtown area known for its gracious parks and large, old trees. The Sleep Inn builders made several design and decorating choices that have helped the hotel blend nicely with its older surroundings and earn praise from guests and city officials alike.

Before the Sleep Inn was built, the Escuela Metálica, one of San José’s oldest high schools, stood directly across the park from the hotel’s proposed site. The Escuela Metálica is one of the most unusual buildings in San José. As its name suggests, the outer skin of the building and its fine architectural details are made entirely of metal. The building has become an attractive downtown landmark, its greenish hue playing off the green of the surrounding trees. The building was manufactured in France and shipped in pieces to San José, where it was assembled. The Sleep Inn builders hoped to acknowledge the Escuela Metálica when they built the hotel. The outside color choice for the Sleep Inn is a similar, slightly modernized green—a respectful nod to the older Escuela Metálica.

A visitor to the pre-construction Sleep Inn site looking toward the Escuela Metálica would also see beautiful old trees lining narrow streets. When the Sleep Inn lobby walls went up, these trees were no longer visible. The Sleep Inn commissioned Denis Salas, a Costa Rican painter, to do some paintings for the hotel’s lobby walls. Denis Salas, who loved the old tree-lined streets, painted the very images that the pre-construction visitor would have seen on the unbuilt hotel site. The lobby now boasts a series of paintings that work almost like windows, providing views of the surrounding downtown area.

San José’s mayor and several prominent city officials have praised the Sleep Inn for modernizing the downtown area and renewing business while creatively acknowledging the area’s past.

Writing and editing by Beaumont Hardy Editing.

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May 11th, 2008

Tourism on the upswing in Central America

In 2008, the seven Central American countries witnessed a strong upswing in tourism. The previous year, as many as 8 million people from all over the world were expected to visit Maya sites in places like Tikal (Guatemala) and Copan (Honduras); the wildlife refuges and beaches of Costa Rica; the Panama Canal; and the volcanoes and colonial cities of Nicaragua. Nearly 100,000 tourists were expected from Germany alone, according to Pilar Cano, general secretary of the Central America Tourism Agency (CATA). Speaking in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose at the start of the tourism fair CATM (Central America Travel Market), Cano said, “The countries’ joint marketing, including in Europe, and the stable political situation are bearing fruit.” Belize and El Salvador also reported more tourists in 2007 than in 2006. In 2006, about 7 million people visited Central America. Costa Rica remained the region’s most popular destination. In 2006, it received 1.725 million guests, a figure that Tourism Minister Carlos Ricardo Benavides expected to increase by about 10 per cent in 2008. “Tourism provides a livelihood for the people of all seven countries,” Benavides said. “To keep it that way, we must continue to work for peace as well as climate and environmental protection.”

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