#011 Nico Botefur: This Permaculture-Designed Hotel, Restaurant, and Food Forest is Set Up for Success (Essence Arenal)

Jun 4, 2021

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*** I made a Recap Series of our Season 1 episodes! ***

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Nico Botefur of Essence Arenal shares how he’s turned a couple of rooms on a denatured piece of property into a thriving business, food forest, and employment opportunity for entrepreneurs in his region.

Located at the base of the beautiful Arenal Volcano, his hotel/restaurant/spa is an excellent example of what magic can come with the patient and persistent application of the permaculture principles to one’s business. 

Nico and I discuss his use of bamboo for a wide variety of projects from glamping tent frames, to greenhouses, to volleyball posts. 

We also explore several ways that Nico has been creating synergistic systems that maximize his efforts, recycling waste back into the project and providing multiple yields with each input of energy.  

If you’d like to learn more about Nico’s cyclical approach to resource management for his hotel and restaurant, check out this short PDF that captures some of the highlights of how it all works.

Be sure to follow up with the video tour of Nico’s food forest and permaculture designs right here. 

To learn more about Essence Arenal or to schedule a visit, check out:

 If you want to know more about creating high-producing food forests, in city and suburban environments, I recently came across an excellent course on the topic. 

You can find it right here.

If you take the course, I’d love to hear what you think. 

I’ve been very impressed by Toby’s style of teaching.  If we’re going to green up this planet for the next generations to thrive, we need to be doing it in urban as well as rural environments!

 If you enjoy the podcast, please consider leaving a short review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. 

It takes less than a minute, and it really makes a difference in helping to spread the word about our mission to others looking to improve their own projects.


Special thanks to Peter Mukuru for editing this episode!

Music: Rite of Passage by Kevin MacLeod


In this episode, we hear from Nico Botefur of Essence Arenal, an eco-lodge, restaurant, and food forest nestled just across the lake from Volcano Arenal.

Nico is another one of those mavericks who’s taken pasture land and turned it into a regenerative food forest and hosting grounds for transformational experiences.

In this video, we take a tour of some of the ways that Nico is using cyclical resource systems, channeling waste products back in, to feed future harvests.

Between his podcast interview and this farm tour, we hear about a number of approaches to build fertility, beauty, and profit, including:

  • Building a hospitality and restaurant business to bring money in to feed the reforestation efforts. Now the planted forests are feeding the hospitality and restaurant businesses.
  • Compost from restaurant feeds chickens. The chickens’ eggs feed the restaurant.
  • Weeds from the garden and prunings from the fruit trees are piled up and inoculated by the tilapia pond water. That material is then composted and moved back to feed the trees and gardens.
  • Rebuilding soil by planting Perennial plants like Mexican Sunflower and Medero Negro are used to rebuild the soil by providing ongoing sources of biomass that can be used for mulch in nearby gardens.
  • The project attracts volunteers who are given the opportunity to make the project more attractive.

  • Neighbors are invited to provide tours and spa services that improve the quality of the hotel, therefore bringing in more guests to support the local community. To learn more about Nico & Essence Arenal or to schedule a visit, check out: Website – http://essencearenal.com 


As always, if you find the information in these farm tours to be something worth sharing, take a minute and share your thoughts in the comments section or post about it on your social media feed.

We need as many land stewards as possible to be empowered by the examples set forth by these leaders.

If you want to know more about creating high-producing food forests, in city and suburban environments, I recently came across an excellent course on the topic. You can find it here.

If you take the course, I’d love to hear what you think. Special thanks to Lekan Ayodabo for editing this episode Follow Regeneration Nation Costa Rica.


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