- Founder and CEO, Greentique Hotels (Ecotourism)
Born Los Angeles, United States. BA, Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles (1973).
“[H]aving a history on the property that goes back to the mid-’70s, we saw how nature had taken back what farmers had unfortunately destroyed when they deforested most of Costa Rica…[we] know our customers are here for nature, more than anything else. So it pays to save the landscape.”
Jim Damalas, founder and CEO of Greentique Hotels, discusses the origins and growth of the ecotourism industry in Costa Rica and his own involvement in the field, which followed a career in television and advertising. A UCLA political science graduate and Sierra Club member who first saw Costa Rica in the early 1970s, Damalas opened a boutique sustainable hotel and restaurant, which became the basis for the first luxury-oriented eco-hotel in 1993. The interview describes Damalas's interests in environmentalism and landscape architecture and provides deep insights into both the goals of ecotourism as well as tensions between public and private environmental efforts. Damalas further narrates the key role of technology, which facilitated reservations and advertising but also enabled price bidding in the industry.