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How We Began

When the borders closed to Costa Rica in early 2020, Alexis O’Reilly, husband Colin and son Brendan, who was 4 years old at the time, had a moment of panic just like everyone. The difference, Alexis jokes, is that it was only for a brief moment. 

The family had moved to Costa Rica two years earlier on what was intended to be a sabbatical of sorts for Colin, who admittedly was back to work within a few months — determined to reinvent himself as necessary and never to look back. 

As those around her who were not native to Costa Rica made plans to return to their home countries, Alexis remembers asking Colin to sit down and talk about where they wanted to “ride out” what was to come. She laughs when recalling that he didn’t even sit down; he was convinced that they were where they were supposed to be.

One evening shortly thereafter, a family friend messaged Colin and said, “Lets buy an eco-resort.” Alexis was not surprised. “Those two are like peas in a pod.” she says with a smile. “They can be heavy and a bit too much for some people to keep up with. But they are perfect for each other and complement each other extremely well.” 

Afterwork rumblings were overheard from time to time, but Alexis could see that the concept was coming from a good place. “They both put their family above all else, and Roca Mística was born out of their desire to protect us by finding a place where we could take care of each other. “

Ideal discovery

With the borders closed, Alexis and Colin traveled the country looking for their solution. Colin spotted what would become Roca Mística off of the radar from any realtor they spoke with, and they decided to go back and take a look. Inside they found a sprawling property with what some call the best pool in Tamarindo, villas, cabinas, bar and restaurant, and office space. (We at Howler didn’t even know it was there, with such endless possibilities of size, infrastructure and amenities all within a short distance from the main hub of Tamarindo.)

Then it was time to build a team. 

Enter Sophia. Sophia Duran — originally from San José, with a deep connection to the Guanacaste shores since a young girl — met Alexis at an ecstatic dance class shortly after they both moved to town. As a nurse at the local clinic, she and the O’Reillys got to know each other well, as any parent of a barefoot young boy can imagine. 

Over dinner at Taco Tuesday one evening, Sophia happily joined what Alexis often refers to as the “ship of fools.”

“Sophia is a special talent, period,” says Colin. “She navigates complicated situations with composure, but also has a way of simplifying things when necessary. The other day in a meeting she told me that the land at Roca Mística is special and needs more love, so we’ll give it love; how can you argue with that?”

Auspicious debut

A local DJ, and member of the Ocaso team in Tamarindo, tracked down the new owners of the property. One thing led to another and Roca Mística opened its doors with a bang as the proud host of the Ocaso Music Festival’s 5-year anniversary event. 

Colin gives most of the credit to Sophia and the amazing team from Ocaso. Alexis attests to what she says were literal blood, sweat and tears over the past year. But she says the future looks bright. Strategic business partners in this area will take what is already an innovative and impactful retreat scene in the country to the next level with its offerings and protocols. Howler readers can learn more when Roca Mística is featured in our upcoming summer health and wellness issue. 

As the world normalized somewhat, the project’s entrepreneurs obviously took the turn from a multi-family bunker to taking what the market was giving them and assessing what people will need post-pandemic. It’s a matter of regulating themselves mentally and physiologically, and gathering among people again. That has been their focus with the event and wellness retreat development. 

“We all strive for balance,” Colin says. “Starting with an event like Ocaso, which is quite the party and a very communal and outgoing gathering, and next working with retreat partners to include small groups and even those in solitude — which is very inward and personal — brings balance to the space, attendees, and fortunately our work.” 

The O’Reillys encouraged us to invite Howler readers to reach-out to them with any idea. Sophia in her magically simplistic fashion said that she could feel the energy change on the property in the weeks leading up to the Ocaso event and that it’s ready to be shared with more people. 

We’re thankful to our friend Turner Mojica, whose general interest and following of Alexis for potential involvement with the Costa Rican Chamber of Culture, Fashion and the Arts, led to an introduction to us at Howler. 

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New Beginnings at Roca Mística
Enhancements Unfolding
“Improvements to onsite lodging will provide guests with an intimate or communal experience.”

was a period of thoughtful reflection for members of the team at Roca Mística. The March full moon and spring equinox have marked a new beginning, with the execution of hard work and attention to detail that will allow their joy and excitement to be shared with more people. There’s a sense of anticipation by many, if the interest they’ve been receiving from clients and guests is any indication.

After a grueling design process, the pending improvements at Roca Mística are exciting. 

“Once completed, we will host retreat groups, a focus since the beginning.” says Alexis O’Reilly, Director of Business Development.Though we are loved as a venue space already, most of that credit should be given to the event hosts and wonderful attendees creating that energy. We believe in continuous improvement; improvements to onsite lodging will provide guests with an intimate or communal experience depending on our offering.” 

Heading into what is considered the low season in Costa Rica is usually the perfect time to renovate. However, Alexis admits that “low” is relative at this point, and that Costa Rica doesn’t have what was once considered a traditional low season. 

“I’ve been blessed to live here long enough to notice this change; what were once considered times to get out of town and travel, have become an extension of what used to be a condensed and limited high season,” Alexis says. “Residents from San José, expat families and even tourists are beginning to gravitate to the area year-round.” 

She’s perceptive in recognizing that the coming months are more often being referred to as “green season,” with an acknowledgment of its beauty, rather than “rainy season,” with its drab connotation. 

“There has been a shift in mentalities as much as institutional policy, if not more so,” she adds. “We try to tap into that for guidance.”

The Roca Mística team asks everyone to look out for events during Semana Santa and this summer. 

“We have a lot of work to do, but will balance that with the right opportunities during the process,” says Alexis. “If we didn’t pause to enjoy and share the ride, we wouldn’t be Roca Mística!”

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