How Drug Money financed Kura Design Villas in Uvita, Costa Rica

Is it true that the newest member of the Cayuga Collection Hotels and Lodges has been financed by drug money?   Rumors about this were very widespread all over the small town of Uvita in southern Costa Rica in the last two years.   How in the world, could a young couple of Ticos build such an incredible hotel?   Who are they? Where did the money come from?   What are they up to?

Well, there is a very simple explanation to all of this.   Yes, the hotel has been financed by ” drug” money, but drug money of a different kind.   The good ones, the drugs that can SAVE lives.

solar panels next to infinity pool
The Kura Concept combines design, luxury and sustainability. Solar panels to generate electricity just below the infinity pool.


The managers of Kura Design Villas are a young couple of Costa Ricans that grew up in the Capital city of San Jose, but soon fell in love with the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.   They moved to Uvita and built a house for themselves in the rainforest hills above the Pacific coast made of recycled shipping containers.   It was their dream to build and run a small boutique hotel that would be a model for sustainable development in the region.   It was soon to be possible with success of the majority owner’s success in the ” drug” industry.

restaurant view of Kura with infinity pool
View over the infinity pool from the restaurant. Ready for lunch? How about some ceviche?

Kura’s owner is the Head of Oncology Research and Large Molecule Research at the Roche Innovation Center in Zurich, Switzerland.   He holds a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology  and is considered ” one of the most dedicated and committed researchers of the last decade” according to PharmaVoice, a very well reknowned trade magazine.   He and his team have made some breakthrough research that allowed them to discover an engineered anti-cancer antibody (obinutuzumab, GA101, Gazyva) for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. Gazyva is the first drug ever to be approved under FDA”™s new Breakthrough Therapy regime designed to speed up the approval of promising medicines in areas of high need.

He decided to invest the compensation he received for his work in his native Costa Rica and together with the managers, they created a luxury boutique hotel that would also meet the highest criteria of environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility.   They teamed up with the team of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality and opened the operation to guests in November 2013.   The hotel was a success right away.   The unique modern tropical architecture, combined with the most spectacular views and high quality customer service gained quick recognition online and the reservations department became busy very quickly.

view from kura guest room
Kura only has six rooms. All have spectacular views to the Pacific Ocean.

Today, it is very hard to get a room at Kura Design Villas.   The hotel is booked out months in advance, mostly due to the raving reviews that guests post on Tripadvisor or through social media channels.   Oh, and by now, everybody in Uvita knows the story and is proud to have such a high level lodging operation in town.     The rumors about the ” drug” money died and the story about the famous chemist and researcher in Switzerland have taken over.

Some of the benefits that the building of Kura brought to the community are the fact that the staff is made up of locals living in villages nearby and most products and services are purchased locally.   Furthermore, the Kura guests are encourages to explore the nearby beaches, take tours and boat rides and eat out in local restaurants.

Kura pool in Uvita, Costa Rica
The pool is a masterpiece. The perfect infinity pool with highest quality speakers for underwater music and a “fireplace” in the pool. Learn more about our pool at

If you would like to learn more about the sustainability practices at the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Eco Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, click here.

For reservations at Kura Design Villas, click here.

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