Winning the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Award: A Poignant Honor in a Difficult Year

Bodhi Surf + Yoga / Surf + Yoga Camp Blog / Winning the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Award: A Poignant Honor in a Difficult Year

Last week, we were notified that we had won TripAdvisor’s 2021 Traveler’s Choice Award (TCA). It is an honor we have received on several occasions; but this year, it felt extra special. In this period of difficulty and uncertainty, we have very much been living in the moment. We know now to expect the unexpected, yet it was indeed a sweet and poignant accolade. An award that perhaps on a normal year we would have acknowledged only superficially, this year we took the time to really celebrate. For us, this is a takeaway of the Covid-19 pandemic — slowing down a bit, giving thanks for the ability to do our work, and celebrating the little wins when we have them.

“I have been to Bodhi several times over the years, and it was the first place I wanted to go to recharge and reconnect when I felt safe to travel. This was an incredible end to a very difficult year.” ~ Stephanie O, 2021

“Everyone that works at bodhi just gives you the feeling to be part of the family which makes your stay fantastic. We felt at home after the first few hours.” ~ Nicolas, 2021

What is the Traveler’s Choice Award?

An award such as this is an endorsement by the guests themselves. As they are the central focus of any operation, it is a really meaningful acknowledgement for any hospitality business. To receive the Travelers’ Choice Award means that your company is ranked within the top 10% of hotels in the world, based on feedback by the travelers.

Since our inception in 2010, we have been using TripAdvisor as we realized it’s power: it is an opportunity to hear feedback and commentary from the guests, for whom the experience is designed. We’ve always felt that, while we may think we have a stellar operation, that needs to be constantly examined and validated. In short: in the service industry, there is nothing more valuable than reviews from those who patronize your establishment.

Bodhi Surf + Yoga 2021 TCA

“We were new to surfing, but felt so safe and comfortable learning with Travis. The way he taught us, starting from understanding the waves and riding on our bellies and progressing to catching blue-green waves and making turns, made for a really solid foundation of surf knowledge that I think will allow us to continue surfing back in the states. The sessions were so joyful and empowering, and provided a killer workout! Yoga was the cherry on top of this beautiful experience. My husband and I practice regularly and we were so impressed with the classes that Pilar and Anki crafted for us throughout the week. Classes would leave us feeling a little bit stronger, looser, and wiser.” ~ Sam B, 2021

“Planning my trip to Costa Rica during a pandemic left a lot unknowns unanswered. However, Bodhi exceeded my expectations and removed any uncertainty. I was immersed into the Bodhi community where I relaxed and reconnected with the ocean. Bodhi checked all the boxes and more. I got up on a surfboard, practiced yoga in a open air studio, and had amazing food (Thank you Fanny!). This was one of the best experiences I have had. Thanks, Bodhi for the wonderful memories.” ~ Yoly G, 2020

Yoga class at Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica

2021, an uncertain year

In many ways, 2021 has felt like an extension of 2020 (a year that seemed unprecedented). We have dealt with this by putting our heads down and working hard to figure out next stepspod-. Like so many others in the tourism industry, have adjusted to the “new normal”. Yet our particular operation — being a small lodge that doesn’t house too many people and providing outdoor and nature-based experiences — didn’t have to change drastically to operate safely for both our guests and the local community.

We have put in a great deal of work to make our operation more safe, accessible, and applicable in this new era, in a number of different ways:

  • We adopted best practices of travel in the Covid-era from some of the powerhouses of tourism, such as TripAdvisor and AirBnb, as well as local guidelines from the Costa Rican Ministries of Health and Tourism
  • We introduced the Pod Offer, a way for groups of four or more people to travel down in their bubble or “pod” in 2021, and have the entire lodge to themselves.
  • We started our Bodhi Online Membership program, a way to not only share our knowledge and passions, but also reach our audience at home.

Family Surf Camp in Costa Rica

Since the pandemic started, we’ve endeavored to be flexible, but also work hard, to find new and interesting ways to continue our mission of educating, inspiring, and empowering our stakeholders to live more sustainably through surfing, yoga, nature immersion, and community engagement.

“For COVID-19 cautious travelers, I came to Bodhi during a time when cases were rising in Costa Rica and the U.S. State Department advised against travel. My experience, however, always felt very safe and smooth for several reasons: the outbreak was in the capital, San Jose, all Bodhi activities were conducted in open air spaces (meals, yoga, surf ext.), and staff still wore masks.” ~ Erica Chalmers, 2021

“Before anything else, Bodhi was extremely COVID safe. They followed all the protocols and we always felt very safe. Both the surf and yoga lessons were brilliant, because they each taught more than just the exercise. They also taught us the philosophy, and the fundamental principles of each discipline. We feel that we could do each completely independently now, which is amazing.” ~ Ed Russell, 2020

You can read more about our FAQs about visiting Bodhi Surf + Yoga amidst Covid-19 here

Bodhi Surf + Yoga in Costa Rica

Receiving the TCA in a year like this

We were very relieved that, after a period of forced closure, we were fortunate to be able to open for the 2020-21 season on the normal date. Moreover, we have had a very good season. It hasn’t been as busy or full as past years, but that felt okay — our mission was simply to stay afloat, keep our staff employed, and be able to continue growing and developing.

We have had so many truly lovely moments with guests and staff alike this year. It was a season that really highlighted the importance of connection. After fear, uncertainty, isolation, being indoors, and being cut off — our guests benefitted from (and even blossomed with) the opportunity to share wonderful conversations with others, to connect with nature and the ocean, and to go deeper into themselves and unpack some of the emotion that’s built up in both the body and mind through yoga.

“The team at Bodhi are truly dedicated to each individual guest. I should clarify, you are not treated as a guest, but as part of the tribe. There is strong emphasis on belonging to the experience which obviously includes surfing and yoga, but you leave with a sense of how connected we all are.” ~ Scott Y., 2020

“The food is delicious and I was so inspired by the conservations I had during my time here. I really can’t say enough good things about Bodhi. If you’re thinking about booking a retreat – this is your sign to go.” ~ Lora, 2021

Surf photography in Costa Rica

How we feel about receiving this award

Any recognition that comes from our guests is incredibly meaningful to us. We are incredibly thankful for all of the people who we have had the great privilege of meeting and working with in our company’s 11-year history. In particular, we are thankful to the guests who came down this year — who took a chance and traveled in an uncertain time. This made all the difference for us, and allowed us to continue to live and share our knowledge and passion, to remain together as “the dream team”, and to remain purposeful and useful in an incredibly challenging moment.

We shared the news with our team over cake and coffee, and explained to them what this honor meant. That, because of their individual hard work and our collective effort, we had done something special. That, despite challenges and hardship (or maybe even because of it), we are able to do great things. That, no matter what, we should not give up! It was a special thing to have shared together, and to hear from the staff about means to them.

“Their emphasis on the importance of community and running a sustainable and eco-friendly business is inspiring & admirable and we felt whilst staying there that we were contributing to that in a small way perhaps. They are an example to other businesses!” ~ Matt W, 2020

“You come across special places every so often in your life. Bodhi is one of those places for me. The staff are incredibly kind, passionate, and conscientious. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place gets discovered by a celebrity, tweets about it, then it fully books up and becomes impossible to get in. So just book Bodhi while you can before the secret gets out!” ~ Brian S, 2020

Traditional Costa Rican food

So from the entire team here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, thank you to TripAdvisor, all of our guests, and to our network and supporters who have made this season possible, and one of our most beautiful ever. We love you!

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About the author


Adrianne is the fun-and-food-loving socialite of Bodhi Surf + Yoga. If she's not whipping up a feast for Bodhi Surf + Yoga guests, or out in the water giving surf lessons, she's probably busy writing for the Bodhi blog or keeping people up-to-date on the goings on via social media!