Selva Santa Fe Private Biological Reserve and Nature Retreats is an initiative of me: Thorwald Westmaas.
I”m a Dutch entrepeneur with 24 years of experience working in Central America. While educated as a marine engineer and having worked several years on merchant vessels, I have earned my marks starting and managing Spanish language schools in Costa Rica and Panama, a successful Bed & breakfast in Panama City and completing several construction projects in both Costa Rica and Panama. I was also involved in the conversion of a former North Sea trawler into a true expedition yacht with the goal of offering unique adventure cruises in and around Panama.
When I sold my language school in Costa Rica after 23 years, I was looking for a new opportunity to use my skills in “getting things done” in this part of the world. With my language school we had successfully merged professional language training for the workplace with activities to enhance our clients cross-cultural competence and field trips . My 18 years of living in Costa Rica have made me intimately familiar with the development of eco-tourism in this country and the excellent results with the Balboa Inn Bed & Breakfast which I managed until recently with my wife Saskia Swartz, put me on the lookout to realize a long-time dream: my own private jungle reserve with all the goodies: a sanctuary for wildlife, trails for hiking and horse riding, waterfalls and rivers and beautiful views.
A trip to Santa Fe in January 2011 with my family galvanized this dream and 2 months later I decided to buy a 99 hectare (235 acre) forest in the mountains behind Penonomé.
What are the goals of this project?
- To preserve the disappearing natural habitat in Panama by creating a sustainable tourism destination that ultimately supports the acquisition of more land for protection
- Creating a unique ultra-low-impact residential project that targets nature lovers and, like above, funds our goal of more land protection
- Educating the local population on the importance of forest convervation by providing (affordable) learning experience for all layers of society
- Support scientific reseach by providing low-cost or free accommodation and use of our facilities by scientists
We plan to reach these goals by using applying the concepts of sustainable tourism and development, proving that commercial activities and nature conservation can go hand in hand.
My vision and experience and engineering background will allow us to execute this project in an intelligent, cost-effective and on-time manner. Thanks to my relocation to the Netherlands this summer I will be able to scout for the most cost-effective and ‘green’ prefab building techniques and direct the marketing efforts in Europe.
Unlike some residential developments I’m not hiding behind a standard ‘About us’ page without any info about who’s really behind the project. It’s me, Thorwald Westmaas and a great team I plan to build.
Participating in this project means that you can count on my long term commitment to make everybody win – nature most of all.
That’s a refreshing change if you ask me and a part of what makes this project unique and ultimately successful. As you meander through the information here, we believe you will be intrigued and inspired by all that Selva Santa Fe stands for.