Last fall I spent a month at El Sueño Tropical as part of a retreat for digital nomads and I look back on that as one of the most enjoyable, productive, and unique experiences of my life. It was an opportunity to really to get know a diverse, global, yet like-minded in many respects (as in, we’re all coders), group of people, work on professional projects, personal projects, learn new skills, and enjoy the amazing range of activities that Costa Rica has to offer.
A typical day involved a morning stand up meeting where everyone reported progress on their own projects followed by group breakfast (more on the food later). Then people would hang around the common area working, or coordinating plans to take one of the hotel’s 2 communal cars into town for surfing, eating, or working at our favorite wifi-enabled oceanside bars (check out Lo Que Hay!) Later we’d generally return to the hotel for dinner, followed by some work at night or group viewings of movies or, more often, Japanese anime 🙂 One of the many things I loved about the program was that there was as much or as little structure as you wanted. If you wanted to stay in your room all day from morning til night coding like a madman, only emerging for the occasional sustenance, no problem. If you wanted to take a day off from work to just chill on the beach, go for it. The organizers and sometimes ad hoc groups planned some bigger excursions such as weekend trips to Nicaragua, ziplining and other activities in different areas of Costa Rica, or just the occasional group dinner at a local restaurant.
As for the hotel, the accommodations are really nice – my private en-suite room had a fridge, flat screen TV, fan, air conditioner, and huge bed. The hotel has excellent wi-fi coverage (which I hear is even better now), which is of course crucial for groups like ours. The restaurant / communal area is a great place to work, eat, lounge in a hammock, or have a drink at the bar. There’s a decent sized pool adjacent to the restaurant and a bunch of lounge chairs for the tanning crowd.
Vanni, the chef at the restaurant and a native Italian, offers a great selection of local and foreign cuisine, perhaps most famous for his thin crust pizza which he cooks in a dedicated pizza oven. Jose is the owner and is a really great and friendly guy, always happy to accommodate odd requests (borrow his cars for trips into town, help out with BBQ’s on the beach, etc) and together with Maria, who is the waitress, receptionist, and various other functions, the service is great – you really feel like part of the family.
My only regret is that I wasn’t able to come for the full 3 months!
— Danny Panzer