From an early age, those of us from societies where consumerism reigns supreme learn the importance of packaging in promoting products in the marketplace. We beg for the cereal with the coolest super hero on the box, and despite parental warnings, we inevitably judge books by their covers.
Here in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, where there are few books to choose from, and bags of rice all look more or less the same, people generally just take what they can get without much concern for packaging. The same holds true for restaurants. Of the handful of dining establishments within an hour´s driving distance from our place, you´d be hard-pressed to find one that didn´t have a standard-issue neon beer sign hanging over its door with the restaurant´s name in small block lettering -- a free gift from the beer company in exchange for supplying the local bubbly.
Despite our desire to blend in with the local community and follow established norms and customs, we have decided to do things a little differently with regard to packaging our jungle retreat. Our customers will get their first impression of Morphose from the road, so we have made a concerted effort to have our entryway reflect the quality experience we intend to deliver. The gate is made with the same teak and sandstone as our restaurant and has a similar Asian design. To create a welcoming feel, we have removed the fencing that once encircled the property and replaced it with a border of miniature Birds of Paradise.
So far, we seem to have succeeded in generating positive buzz about our new place. Now, when describing the location of our property to new acquaintances, there´s an immediate recognition when I mention our gate. One day, I drove up to the entrance to find a truck full of people having a picnic. At first I thought they might be delivering some construction material, but I quickly realized they had simply chosen our entrance as a pretty place to stop and eat. When I mentioned this encounter to Patrick, he chuckled and told me that he had heard that our entryway has become sort of a Lover´s Lane for local teenagers on weekend nights!
We can only hope that the clients we attract with our special ¨packaging¨ will be genuinely happy with the surprise they´ll find inside.