Caribbean hotel invasion is another blow to tourism

Tourism took another hit Thursday as news of a hotel invasion started reaching the various travel sites.

Locals say that the invasion by gunmen early Thursday into the Hotel Samasití in Hone Creek on the Caribbean coast was the fourth such recent incident in the area. They blamed the same gang.

The lightly guarded and frequently remote hotels are fat targets for a gang of crooks.

In the case of the Samasití the victims included 18 tourists, mostly U.S. and Canadians. They were ordered from their rooms and held hostage for an hour while crooks sacked the hotel rooms.

The bandits did not get away without problems. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the hotel owner, who lives nearby, finally realized what was taking place and exchanged fire on the crooks when they were in the hotel parking lot. They left in his vehicle, said agents.

Samasití advertises online as “perfect as a romantic getaway and for a relaxing yet adventurous holiday.” It is in lush jungle a kilometer from the main highway.

The bandits did not have any trouble entering the hotel at 1 a.m. Once they had the keys, they began visiting hotel rooms. They herded the guests at gunpoint into a single room where some of the gang kept guard. The items lifted from the rooms are valued at $6,000 dollars, agents said.

The hotel prides itself on being a proponent of sustainable tourisim, and it promotes yoga vacations.

Some agents think that the crooks arrived on motorcycles. Typically the hotel gate is closed at night, but that is not a barrier to a determined band.

The owner became aware of the crime when he saw some of the gang puncturing tires in the hotel parking lot. Presumably they wanted to avoid a chase or someone alerting police. The hotel is short on telephones. The owner’s vehicle turned up about a kilometer away near the main highway, said judicial agents.

The hotel is not far from Puerto Viejo and Cahuita.

As news of the raid came out on the various electronic media, tourism professionals responded with comments on various web pages. One said that peace is the main component that Costa Rica can offer to tourists. The news was picked up quickly by international travel sites.

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