Association News - New Member Spotlight - January 2019


La Paz Waterfall Gardens & Peace Lodge

Alajuela, Costa Rica

Situated in a lush, tropical rain forest with more than 3.5 kilometers of trails, breathtaking waterfalls, and an animal sanctuary home to more than 100 species of animals, La Paz Waterfall Gardens & Peace Lodge seeks to offer visitors a true “Costa Rican Adventure.”

“We provide an experience, not a product,” says resident manager Jessica Luecke. “Guests regularly come for the waterfalls, but often, we receive the comment that the experience of the animals, authentic food, and kilometers of hiking trails exceeded all expectations.”

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a privately owned, 28-hectare ecological attraction located between two large national parks, Poás Volcano National Park and Braulio Carrillo National Park. The site features five waterfalls, a cloud forest and rain forest, a hummingbird garden, and a variety of animal exhibits, where guests can encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, toucans, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, margays, and more.

“In 1998, owner and CEO Lee Banks bought the property from a local farmer when visiting his vacation home here in Costa Rica,” Luecke says. “He was deeply inspired by the beauty of the five natural waterfalls on the property, which he wanted to share with all those who live in and visit Costa Rica.”

The year-round attraction opened in the fall of 2000 and has since made many additions. La Paz Waterfall Gardens added the Colibries Restaurant in 2004, the Serpentarium for snakes in 2004, and the Ranarium for frogs and Trout Lake, where guests can fish, in 2005. The current enclosed butterfly observatory opened in 2006, and the former observatory space was converted into an aviary. Completed in 2005, Peace Lodge, the property’s boutique hotel, offers 18 cabin-like rooms.

“I see IAAPA as an incubator for new ideas and products that I can use to improve the human experience and functionality of my attraction,” says owner Lee Banks.


Fast Facts:

  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens’ mission is to preserve and protect the natural environment of the area for the education, entertainment, and enjoyment of people of all ages. Its strategy combines environmentally conscious design with maximum educational impact for visitors.
  • The hiking trails and viewing platforms constructed from 1998 to 2000 were designed and built without cutting a single tree or vine system. The materials for the trails and platforms were carried down on foot to avoid the use of heavy equipment in the forest.
  • Guests can take part in hummingbird feeding, where they are given a personal, hand-held hummingbird feeder, and the birds will come right up to them.
  • Ninety-five percent of La Paz Waterfall Gardens’ 120-plus employees come from the area’s surrounding towns within a 20-kilometer radius.