Adiós, Tamarindo Heights — the Name is Senderos. If you’re a fan of the giant Buddha statues next to the Auto Mercado in Tamarindo, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is they’re coming down. The good news is you can have one for free (delivery not included).

Over 200 people drove past those Buddhas on Dec. 5 for a party at the sumptuous, 8-bedroom mansion Casa Bali, where a new ownership group announced the renaming and relaunching of the 110-acre Tamarindo Heights property under the name Senderos.

“A sendero is a path associated with discovery” said Matt Golberg of Playa Flamingo, partner and marketing chief for the new owner, Integer Development. “A sendero works with nature. It never forces its way through. Nature allows a sendero to pass.”

He spoke to a standing-room-only crowd on the top floor of a stunning 18,000-square-foot home, with swimming pools that cascade from the third floor to the second to the first — a place that rents for $20,000 a week.

Partner Curtis Peart, also of Playa Flamingo, who specializes in development, noted that the project has a “plethora of ocean-view lots,” each with a “personality unto themselves.”

“We’ve been studying how to integrate and really focus on each lot and find the unique concept that works for that space,” Peart said.

The third partner and head of construction, Karl Gronemeyer of San José, who has 20 years of construction experience in Costa Rica, said in Spanish that “the goal is to bring people together, whether on vacation or a family, to create experiences that turn into beautiful memories.” And Karl is something of an expert in creating memories, as he has built several of the region’s highest profile homes (in Langosta alone, Villa Marrakech, Casa de Las Tortugas and Casa Roca).

The partners also announced the formation of the Senderos Trust, to be funded by 1% of all sales. Half of this money will be given to the Senderos community to make improvements, hold events, and build community, and the other half will be donated to the town of Tamarindo to use wherever it’s needed most.

The backstory

Tamarindo Heights was inscribed as a horizontal condominium project in 2005 — in the heady days of easy loans and rampant construction that would come to be known as “the real estate bubble.” A total of 110 acres was subdivided into 168 lots, with the residential portion behind and above the commercial plaza that houses the area’s best grocery store, Auto Mercado, and even a movie theater.

But the project ran into big trouble during the financial crisis of 2008, and unkept promises led to lawsuits and liens, which froze construction for 10 years. Ownership changed hands twice, and the property was acquired by Integer Development in early 2019. Construction is once again in full swing, and there are ambitious plans to complete a luxury gated community unlike anything the region has seen before.

Senderos reaches to the top of the tallest hill behind Tamarindo and extends along the ridgelines. The property features panoramic ocean views that extend all the way to the Catalina Islands in the north to Playa Negra in the south. Five homes have been completed so far, four more are under construction, and another four have plans submitted to start.

All the lots here have six-figure price tags, so budget housing this is not. Yet nowhere else in Tamarindo does such a standout inventory of properties exist.

“Senderos is virtually the last opportunity buyers have in Tamarindo to build a custom home on ocean-view property in a gated community this close to town,” said Dave Corredor, head of sales, during a tour of the project. “Plus, the amenities and the experience the Senderos team is planning for the community is unlike anything I have seen in the area.”

A ‘natural modern’ vision

Goldberg said the primary approach to development here will be a “natural modern” concept that combines a respect for natural spaces with a modern approach to interior and exterior architecture.

“The ‘natural’ part is working with nature and not disrupting it,” Peart said. “For example, taking advantage of the sides of hills and building with the contours of the land. It’s allowing the inside and outside to feel seamless, so if there’s stone or wood on the outside of the house, you bring it inside too.”

The “modern” part, he said, “celebrates the materials that go into the construction.” For example, modernistic design might leave I-beams exposed, where more traditional design tends to cover the framework of the house with decorative moldings and baseboards.

Gronemeyer stresses that each home will be designed specifically for the physical space it occupies, and that no two homes will be the same.

The group plans to hire a local preservation consultant and offer amenities in line with the idea of natural modern. “We will dot the community with art that doubles as play structures for kids, offer a co-working space to acknowledge the shifts in how people live and vacation, and have an architects guild comprised of the country’s foremost visionaries in natural modern design,” says Goldberg. With the guild, the developers offer a choice of eight architects to partner with.

Four phases

The development is broken into four phases. The infrastructure for Phase 1 is now completely developed, with underground utilities, paver-brick roads, wastewater treatment, streetlights and curving sidewalks with gutters.

There’s a duck pond inhabited by a flock of very cute cormorants, in an area that will always remain a park. Many improvements are planned, including a yoga center, gym and coffee house.

Just up the hill at Phase 2, construction of roads, other infrastructure and a couple of homes is currently underway. It’s a steep hill — which increases the degree of difficulty of construction, but also means the homes here will have incredible, unobstructed ocean views.

Phases 3 and 4 are still undeveloped. But we toured a site beyond the summit where plans call for an ocean-view, mountaintop restaurant open to the public, which is something Tamarindo is missing.

The crown jewel of the community is a group of five lots on the very top of the hill, with 360-degree views of the region.

“When planes fly into the Tamarindo airport,” Dave said, “they fly under your feet.”

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