The gift of Hospitality

Hospitality, once a term I vaguely understood, has become the cornerstone of my career in architecture and development. Reflecting on my journey, I realize that hospitality has been a guiding principle throughout much of my life, shaping the way I approach design and the experiences I create for others.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I had a basic understanding of hospitality in the context of hotels and restaurants. However, it wasn’t until my college years that I truly began to appreciate its depth andsignificance. My wife and I frequently hosted dinner parties, bringing people together in our home and creating a sense of warmth and welcome.

After graduating from Texas A&M University, we embarked on a new chapter in the Dominican Republic, a country renowned for its hospitality. There, we experienced firsthand the genuine kindness and generosity of the people, which left a profound impact on us.

As an architect and builder, my career has been largely focused on designing spaces that facilitate hospitality. From youth resorts to luxury beach resorts, from master-planned vacation destinations to boutique hotels, each project has presented unique opportunities to create environments that foster human connection and create lasting memories.

One of the projects that epitomizes this philosophy is Spirit Mountain, our farm in the Dominican Republic. What began as an abandoned coffee farm has been transformed into a vibrant community space.

During our first couple of years, developing the farm, we couldn’t stop thinking about how we could create a place where our friends would want to come. We loved having people over to our home on top of the mountain, overlooking the town below. It was our family’s own private retreat, and our girls grew up with a constant flow of guests, both old friends and new, as something completely normal. The thought of developing this abandoned coffee farm into a vibrant community space was like a recurring dream that wouldn’t fade.

In the early days, we were limited to day trips and primitive camping. Our family enjoyed exploring the farm by foot or on horseback. After several years, we had built a fully functioning camp, thanks in part to the efforts of a Boy Scout troop from Minnesota and a group of friends from Tyler, Texas. Camp Spirit Discover, located in the middle of the farm, soon became q popular spot for families and groups of friends looking to get away into the mountains for the weekend. Camp Spirit Discovery also became a strategic location for schools to facilitate Outdoor Education programs. Over the years, we’ve hosted friends and family, providing them with an escape from the ordinary and a chance to connect with nature and each other.

As we further define the foundational elements of what will make Estancia Natura special, we are leaning into this idea of hospitality. What differentiates the Dominican Republic from other countries are the people and their hospitality. Don’t get me wrong, the country is incredibly beautiful and wildly

diverse, one of the most amazing places on earth! Even though we know that Spirit Mountain is an incredible property, in an ideal location, with great access on a strategically important island, we also understand that the only way to fully differentiate Estancia Natura from all the noise in the vacation resort space is to provide world-class Legendary Hospitality.

Spirit Mountain has always stood out as more than just a destination; it’s a working coffee farm. This unique aspect presents a challenge for our staff, who must balance serving our guests with caring for the coffee crops. However, what might be seen as a challenge for our team has turned out to be a gift for our visitors.

From the outset, we recognized the rarity and value of offering guests the opportunity to witness the cultivation of something as special as coffee. What may seem like routine work for us and our team has become an enriching experience for our visitors.

Looking ahead, we’re committed to enhancing the hospitality experience at Spirit Mountain. We understand that exceptional hospitality is not just about the physical space; it’s about the service and the overall experience we provide to our guests. Our team, led by Krista Wallace and Franchira Peralta, is dedicated to ensuring that every guest who visits Spirit Mountain leaves with unforgettable memories.

In the broader context of the hospitality industry, providing exceptional experiences has never been more important. According to a study by Deloitte, 88% of guests say that an excellent customer experience is a key factor in their decision to return to a hotel or resort. Additionally, a survey by PwC found that 65% of guests are willing to pay more for a great experience.

These statistics underscore the importance of hospitality in driving customer loyalty and satisfaction. In an increasingly competitive market, hotels and resorts must go above and beyond to create memorable experiences that keep guests coming back.

At Estancia Natura, we are committed to exceeding our guests’ expectations and providing them with a truly exceptional experience. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or interested in becoming a part of our permanent community, we invite you to join us in creating unforgettable memories at Spirit Mountain.

Written by

Chad Wallace

Our founder and lead architect, Chad is at his best when he’s bringing people together.