An interview with Sendero co-founder, Stefanie Tannenbaum
All photos by Kirsten Ellis
If there was an award for throwing caution to the wind and following your dreams, there’s no question Stefanie Tannenbaum would be in the running. It all started with some family time in Nosara, Costa Rica. But instead of heading back to the big apple with surfing stories, a nice tan and vows to make a return trip, Stefanie, her family and her newfound business partner, Sarah, decided to ride things out a little longer—maybe open a luxury surf hotel or something. We’ll let her fill you in on the rest.
What sparked your and Sarah’s shared interest in your first project, Outpost?
Stefanie Tannenbaum: Sarah and I met in Nosara a couple of years ago, and our connection was instant. We bonded over our shared desire to find balance, intertwining our love for surfing, yoga and our children with our dedication and fulfillment in our work. At the time I did not know that my planned three-month stay in Nosara would take an unexpected turn due to the pandemic, resulting in an extended quarantine in Costa Rica. Thankfully, Sarah, who had already been living in Nosara, made the decision to stay as well.
As the months passed, my family and I grew even more in love with Nosara. It became evident that this place would play a significant role in our future. However, our rental home had its limitations, with unreliable internet and limited space, prompting me to daydream about the comforts of my office back in NYC.
Drawing from my expertise in luxury office spaces and playful boutique hotels, I started envisioning the concept of a resort town office space. When I shared this idea with Sarah, she was totally onboard, and together, we poured our energy into further developing the concept. Sarah’s extensive business experience in Nosara, coupled with her adventurous spirit, made her the perfect partner in bringing Outpost to life.
And thus, Outpost was born—a place that authentically captures the essence of a professional office while being far removed from the confines of a traditional workspace. It is a haven that allows individuals to immerse themselves in their work amidst the beauty of Nosara, offering a truly unique and fulfilling experience.
What are some of the differences you’ve noticed working in the hospitality industry in Costa Rica vs. New York?
ST: In Costa Rica, sustainability and social good aren’t just buzzwords; they’re non-negotiable. We’re surrounded by incredible natural beauty, and there’s this shared sense of responsibility to protect and nurture it. In New York, while sustainability is important, it doesn’t quite have the same urgency. So working here has definitely changed our perspective on doing business in a way that genuinely benefits the community and the planet.
What does a typical day’s work look like for you?
ST: My day starts with a perfect cup of coffee with my family followed by the chaotic beauty of the school drop-off, just like many other working moms. Then it’s time for a little self-care to get myself in the flow. Whether it’s gyrotonics, pilates or a breathwork session, I make sure to center myself for the day ahead. Once I’m feeling grounded, I head to the Outpost office, where we’re currently kicking off some new, exciting hospitality projects in Nosara. I soak up that morning energy to really fuel my creative side. Of course, I can’t resist popping over to Sendero to check in with our incredible on-site team. In the afternoon, Sarah and I always prioritize communication in our partnership so we catch up on the day’s happenings and what’s ahead. Sometimes that leads us right into a surf session or a sunset beach walk with the kids—really living the balance that Outpost was created to support. Finally, I end the day just as it began, putting our son River to bed and connecting with my partner Chris. It’s a beautiful routine that brings me a sense of fulfillment.
One thing you hope every human takes home with them after their time at Sendero?
ST: Above all else, we want every guest to feel like they’ve found their place in something greater—a sense of belonging and community. Nosara has a special place in many hearts and that’s why so many people end up moving here, but we want our guests to experience that same fulfillment during their stay without having to take the full plunge. So, if there’s one thing we hope people take away from their time at Sendero, it’s that feeling of being a part of something bigger, something meaningful; part of the Nosara community.
When you embrace your authentic vision, you attract the right people who appreciate it. It’s about quality over quantity, and that’s the key to creating something truly remarkable.
What was the biggest learning curve that you experienced during the process of bringing to life the concept of a luxury surf hotel? What did you learn from it?
ST: Defining luxury was a significant learning curve for us. We had our own ideas about what it meant, but we had to find a balance between our vision and the expectations of our guests. We realized that we couldn’t be everything to everyone, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Through this process, we learned the importance of staying true to ourselves and our beliefs. When you embrace your authentic vision, you attract the right people who appreciate it. It’s about quality over quantity, and that’s the key to creating something truly remarkable.
Best surf story from surfing Playa Guiones?
ST: I have a funny one for this. When I first visited Nosara and was learning to surf, I was out with some girlfriends who already lived in Nosara (including Sarah!). There was a big wave coming and I just blurted out, “If I get this one, I’m moving to Nosara.” And guess what? I did, I caught that wave. And, well, I moved to Nosara. To me, that’s a great example of how much of an impact surfing has on life in Nosara.
Tips on how to spend the perfect day at Sendero?
ST: Start by enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. In Costa Rica, coffee is an art form, and we make it a priority to offer a great coffee experience at our hotel.
Next, try an early morning surf. If you’re new to the sport, our in-house Chorotega Surf School has the best coaches, or if you’re a regular, simply grab a board from our extensive quiver of boards. Catching waves with the gentle morning sun is an amazing way to kick-start your day and feel energized.
Later, take time to explore the natural beauty of the town. Grab one of our bikes and discover the tide pools during low tide—they’re a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. If feeling more adventurous, an ATV tour into the remote mountain range is spectacular.
Make sure to save time to indulge in some wellness activities. Whether it’s breathwork, yoga, massage or many other options, find a way to take care of your mind and body. And don’t miss the refreshing outdoor shower afterwards—it’s a unique experience.
Finally, spend the rest of your day simply being present. Soak up the atmosphere, let go of plans and allow the day to unfold naturally. Embrace the freedom and enjoy the moments of pure bliss at Sendero.
That’s it—a simple guide to experiencing the perfect day at Sendero.
Something you hope your kids learn from growing up in Costa Rica?
ST: My son at four years old is now fluent in both English and Spanish. Being bilingual opens up a world of opportunities. But more than that, I want him to learn to see things from different perspectives. Growing up in such a diverse and vibrant environment, he’s exposed to so many different ways of life. I hope that teaches him that there’s rarely just one right answer, one right way to do things. That kind of cognitive flexibility is invaluable.
A piece of advice for anyone looking to connect with nature and their surroundings, no matter where they live?
ST: Start with your breath. Breathing is something we do all the time, but rarely pay attention to. So, take a moment each day to just breathe. Feel the air fill your lungs and then leave your body. Notice the simple rhythm, the ebb and flow. It’s a small thing, but it can really help you feel more connected to the world around you. And that’s what nature is all about.
A piece of New York you would bring to Costa Rica?
ST: New York has this amazing ability to make things unique, to take something ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. That kind of creativity, that style, is something I’d love to bring to Costa Rica.
A piece of Costa Rica you would bring to New York?
ST: On the flip side, Costa Rica has a way of making things simple, of stripping away the unnecessary and leaving you with something pure and authentic. That’s a piece of Costa Rica I’d love to see more of in New York. It’s a balance. Between the extraordinary and the simple. Between the unique and the authentic. That’s what makes life interesting.