“Pura Vida”… translates  to “Pure Life” or “The Good Life” for those living in and visiting Costa Rica.  A group of trade and consumer publication journalists experienced “Pura Vida”

Up close and personal during a recent press junket organized by award-winning outdoor furnishings designer and manufacturer, Castelle.  From February 4th through February 7th, the invited guests were given not only an inside look at CASTELLE’s Costa Rican manufacturing operation, but also at sites throughout the country that CASTELLE is honored to call home.

Journalists from  Casual Living/Exterior Design, Traditional Home, the Associated Press, California Interiors/Modern Luxury, and the Universal Press Syndicate were among those attending the three day adventure. The fun and educational experience began with an opening night reception and dinner in the capital city of San Jose.   Derek Ritzel, CASTELLE’s president and CEO, and Laurie Rudd, CASTELLE’s PR Consultant, welcomed the journalists with an overview of the company and an outline of the experiences to come throughout the visit. Delicious native cuisine and beverages were on the menu this night and throughout the visit.


Journalists gather in the San Jose sunshine. Pictured clockwise from top left: Laurie Rudd, Elaine Markoutsas – Universal Press Syndicate, Waynette Goodson – Casual Living, and Kim Cook – Associated Press

CASTELLE CEO Derek Ritzel welcomes Clara Haneberg of Traditional Home

The junket begins with a welcome dinner hosted by CASTELLE

As a beautiful day dawned in Costa Rica, the group departed for the CASTELLE manufacturing facility in nearby Cartago.  As the group made the one hour trip to the plant, Rudd provided the guests with a brief talk highlighting Castelle’s history as well as a quiz on terms and fun facts relating to not only CASTELLE but to the outdoor industry as a whole. (Such as, who was Lillian B. Winchester?).

CASTELLE COO Victor Wolf demonstrates the hand crafted elements of Castelle Furniture furnishings

Upon arrival at the plant, the group, outfitted with protective gear, began a fascinating tour conducted by CASTELLE C.O.O. Victor Wolf. The tour offered the full scope of the vertically integrated manufacturing operation.  To begin, the guests were given a first-hand look into the workings of the foundry and saw the pouring of liquid aluminum into the casting molds. Throughout the tour, the visitors were immersed in all the steps involved in creating the luxury cast aluminum furnishings.  With a chair from one of the company’s most popular collections staged at each location along the manufacturing journey, these first-time visitors experienced a start to finish story of the high-quality design and manufacturing.

A theme often related through CASTELLE marketing and publicity content, but not fully realized until personally experienced was the individual handcrafting occurring for each furniture piece and the hundreds of elements that are required to produce just one item. Custom handcraftsmanship was on full display within each department.

Although typically taking up to 18 hours for a complete production, the guests moved through each of the product cells from welding to grinding to polishing and beyond.  The all-female group of journalists particularly enjoyed viewing one of CASTELLE’s top welders, a woman crafting an outdoor lounge chair with precision and artisan skill.

CASTELLE COO Victor Wolf demonstrates the hand crafted elements of Castelle Furniture furnishings

Wolf explains the fabric components of the outdoor furnishings to the journalists

Kim Cook, Elaine Markoutsas, and Waynette Goodson look on as Wolf demonstrates CASTELLE’s superior welding process

As each furnishing piece is formed, constructed, refined, finished, hand painted, and custom packaged,  the skill and artistry of everyone involved is evident. “Our staff are one of the most important ingredients in the process,” said Wolf. “We were happy to focus during the tour on the passion and experience of our people.”

The personal element of the manufacturing operation was not lost on the visitors, with each reiterating an appreciation for the abilities and sense of ownership that was on display.  “This was such a great trip – for someone who does a fair number of press trips each year, this one was for sure one of the best ever,” said Kim Cook, Lifestyle writer, Associated Press. “This was a top-notch factory tour with loads of interesting things to see and very forthcoming in terms of info.”

In the sewing operation, the use of U.S. materials was on full display as well as the amazing process developed in the Cartago facility for filling oversized cushions via a vacuum process.

Gathered at Costa Rica’s highest volcano are, from back row left: Laurie Rudd, Waynette Goodson, Laura Eckstein, Clara Haneberg, Elaine Markoutsas, and Kim Cook (front)

Following a lunch of Costa Rican cuisine and a look at product introductions in process in the company’s showroom, the group enjoyed a side trip to the Irazu volcano and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels.  The evening was topped off with a dinner hosted by Wolf and Ritzel with a question and answer session and a trends presentation.

As no trip to Costa Rica would have been complete without an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the land, on the final day of the junket the guests were feted with a daylong excursion into the rain forest. Each was immersed in the natural habitat, flora and fauna as well as breathtaking water falls.

Enjoying the cooling spray of a thundering waterfall

“I feel I’ve come home with a tremendous sense of what CASTELLE and Costa Rica are all about. Muchas gracias,” said Cook.  “I second that emotion,” said Casual Living’s Editor in Chief, Waynette Goodson. “I loved every moment of the trip.”

“It was an incredible, eye-opening trip,” said Laura Eckstein, Editor in Chief of California Interiors/Modern Luxury. “I had no idea of what goes into making each piece of CASTELLE furniture and all I can say is WOW. This was truly an amazing experience all-around.”

The participating journalists took away from the CASTELLE Press Junket valuable insight into the crafting of outdoor luxury furnishings and memorable tropical experiences, each capturing a side of pure enjoyment in the out of doors.  “Pura Vida!”

Gathered at Costa Rica’s highest volcano are, from back row left: Laurie Rudd, Waynette Goodson, Laura Eckstein, Clara Haneberg, Elaine Markoutsas, and Kim Cook (front)