Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Calling all Cookie Monsters…Costa Rica’s most Famous Cookie Company!

If you’ve ever traveled in Costa Rica, you likely are familiar with Pozuelo products. Perhaps you didn’t even realize it, but if you’ve eaten cookies, crackers, small cakes or other dessert treats off store shelves, then you have surely been eating products of the famous Pozuelo Group! Easily one of the most respected brands in Costa Rica, Riviana Pozuelo has been an integral part of “snacking” in Costa Rica for an amazing 95 years!!

History of the Cookie:
One of the first widely known “foods” worldwide are commonly known as “cookies”. Starting as a kind of long lived flat bread, this food item was most often distributed to crews of ships, as well as groups of soldiers whether out on the high seas or fighting on the battlefield. These days, the term “cookie” can refer to a wide range of food products consisting of a wide variety of shapes and flavors, and most often produced in private homes, bakeries or in larger industrial factory operations. The technical definition of “cookies” (also sometimes referred to as “biscuits”) states according to the Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology that "cookies” are products containing very little moisture, consisting of flour and being rich in fat and sugar. (Yummy!) A further reference in the Spanish Dictionary lists the “cookie” as deriving from a 1636 French word "galette" (galleta in Spanish) in which they are considered to be an unleavened bread product.

In more primitive times, the use of raw forms of flour enabled ancient tribes and nomads to prepare a hardened dough that although not particularly palatable, was travel friendly and easily stored with no refrigeration or special preservation measures. Before that, the grains had simply been finely ground and eaten by mixing with water or milk, and forming a kind of porridge. Upon the discovery of fire, “man” used this doughy mixture to form the first unleavened bread, shaping it into small cakes or round cookies, spreading it on hot flat stones, then covering them during the cooking process, resulting in what we would consider equivalent to our most basic cookies or crackers of today. Frankly, the new ability to “cook” the biscuits drastically transformed this food’s overall quality, quantity, durability and most importantly, it’s taste, forever guaranteeing the cookie’s place in food history!

Who is Riviana Pozuelo anyway?
One of the leading companies in Costa Rica, their success is the result of the extensive efforts by a well trained staff of employees whose goal is to produce daily world-class biscuits or cookies. Their human resource strategy has created a company culture based on productivity and high standards of customer service and consumer satisfaction. DCR Pozuelo Cookie Company S.A. is a subsidiary of Grupo Nacional de Chocolates S.A., focusing on the production and marketing of cookies and crackers for domestic consumption in Costa Rica and increasingly more and more for export worldwide. Located in one of the most recognized industrial zones in Costa Rica called La Uruca, folks can “smell” the company as they drive through this area located on the outskirts of the capital city of San Jose. Pozuelo also has regional warehouses located throughout the country and for many years this company has been exporting a high percentage of their production throughout Central America, Panama, the Caribbean and the Latin American communities in the United States.

Commitment to Quality:
Since the inception of this prestigious company, Pozuelo has worked to provide their customers the best cookies, crackers and snack foods, always meeting the highest standards of national and international quality. Based on this commitment, Cookie Company DCR Pozuelo, S.A. obtained the ISO-9002 : 94 quality standard in August 1999, after several years of dedicated work and production changes by it’s employees. The certification was given by INTECO (Standards Institute of Costa Rica) and AENOR (Spanish Association for Standardization), two internationally recognized entities. Subsequently, the development of the new version of ISO standards, the DCR Pozuelo Cookie Company in 2002 obtained recertification with an even higher international quality standard of ISO-9001: 2000.

Business History:
With the idea to offer a product of unparalleled flavor and texture, in the year 1919, businessman Felipe Pozuelo, a Spanish national, founded a biscuit factory in the small town of San Jose, Costa Rica. Thus was born the "Cookie & Confectionery
Factory Felipe Pozuelo and Sons Ltd". Originally only a small building located on the well known street of Paseo Colon in front of the Hospital San Juan de Dios, in 1949, due to growth and the need to meet the high demand for their products, the owners were forced to expand their infrastructure and factory machinery. To that end, acquired in 1960, land situated at the perimeter of the capital city in La Uruca, became the new home to Pozuelo Cookie & Confectionery and their offices and production factory remain in this same location to this day. In 1964, the company was sold to Grace & Co. and six years later, in 1970, was acquired by the U.S. company Riviana Foods, Inc., out of Houston, Texas. Since that adquisition, all products made by the Company are now marked with the label "Riviana Pozuelo". With that well needed cash infusion, this food company has continued to expand it’s services, product line, while working with its subsidiary, Grupo Nacional de Chocolates S.A., they continue invest in food companies based in Colombia and have expanded to become a part of the conglomerate known as Grupo Empresarial Antioquia.

Company Activities:
Riviana Pozuelo is a company which over the years has been characterized by its great interest in broadening channels of communication and relationships with its customers. To do this, Pozuelo created a series of Educational Events, with team leaders in charge of giving visitors a tour of their factory, as well as having a team of Special Events Coordinators to develop different activities in the market further engaging customers and consumers, while enabling the company to reward their customers for their loyalty and preference for their products. Some of the activities are designed as a collaboration to increase sales overall. Examples of this include the “Ruta del Sabor” and “Cookie Week”. Other events like the Tour Chiky ® and "Growing Together Cremito ®, focuses on bringing fun and learning to their valued consumers.

Educational Events:
Riviana Pozuelo invites teachers to bring their students for educational tours of the cookie and cracker factory to learn the process of production of their many delicious sweet products. This educational tour is part of an overall strategy in their Sales and Marketing department, likely forever etching the brand in the minds of all Costa Rican children, guaranteeing future sales of their sugary products! This tour is conducted in the "World of Fantasy Cookie Pozuelo ®”, a specially designed room that welcomes visitors from throughout the country, creating a fun and informative learning environment for students and their teachers.

Cookie Week:
Cookie Week consists of fun filled promotional activities inviting consumers to try the different Pozuelo products be it in store front promotions, stands at special events, or the “Caravan Parade” where clowns and other company mascots put on a show, provide free products and have an extensive give away known as "muuuucha galleta." (Lot’s of cookie.) The company also arranges performances at school events, where children enjoy the show known as “Growing Together with Cremito Pozuelo”®. So watch for Riviana Pozuelo items at your local supermarkets, where you can often find special product promotions, contests, raffles for great prizes and even win free trips!!

Route of Flavor:
The “Ruta de Sabor” is a similar activity run during a single day, a weekend or sometimes for a week, at which the company offers extraordinary activities and attractive promotions for customers. The Taste Trail serves to increase sales and strengthen the business image for their customers.

Growing Together in School Program:
The Growing Together program began more than fifteen years ago. It is designed to have contact with the elementary students at their own school, using fun-filled activities, contests and prizes, including "muuuucha galleta." (Lots of cookie!) Its main objective is to promote values important to the development of children such as respect, humility, honesty, responsibility, ethics, morality and family bonds among others. It also seeks to develop a positive mindset in the social and educational development of all children. The event brings together children, parents and teachers in positive learning environment. The Pozuelo Cookie Company also sponsors events that provide institutions an attractive medium in which to raise funds for good causes, without making any investment or outlay of cash.

Tour Chiky ®:
A complete variety show designed by the Pozuelo team for the older kids of different schools throughout the country. It seeks to motivate the adolescent mental health and enhance athletic and artistic skills in a fun filled environment with many incentives and prizes. This activity offers young people a healthy form of recreation, where teenagers release their energy and encourages positive interactions between peers and teachers, all in an environment that combines the delicious taste of cookies Chiky ® with the best music, animation and entertainment. It is important to note that these events also give schools the opportunity to raise funds for purposes that benefit the school institution.

So is that a great company, or what? Not only does Pozuelo have delicious sugary products, but they hold themselves to a high standard of quality, provide excellent customer service, as well as engaging ways to interact with their consumer base. So the next time you are in your local pulperia, supermarket, Costa Rica hotel, many restaurants in Costa Rica, or visiting friends pantry, don’t forget to look for all the great Rivana Pozuelo cookie, cake, cracker and other YUMMY products…. your taste buds will thank you forever!!

Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horseback Riding Tours in Costa Rica? Try Rancho Savegre and Gallop the Beach of your Dreams!

There are so many great tours in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area of Costa Rica, that I periodically like to share some of my favorites with my blogging friends. This month I have chosen to feature the horseback riding tours offered by Rancho Savegre Tours, located just North of Quepos in beautiful Esterillos, Costa Rica.

Rancho Savegre Horse Tours is owned and operated by Mr. Diego Solis, a Costa Rican businessman, skilled horseman and a bonified nature lover. Diego actually studied and worked in economics having received a University Degree in that area, but after years of trying to please his family with the 9-5 office lifestyle, Diego decided that he could be much happier pursuing his true love…….horses. Having grown up around horses on the family Costa Rican

farm, the benefit of living near a popular tourism area allowed Diego to start his own business, sharing his extensive horse skills and knowledge by offering ecologically sound horse tours along the beaches and jungles of the spectacular Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Though still actively teaching part-time classes in economics to students in Costa Rica, Diego spends most of his time tending to his own horse farm and it’s many equine (and other) inhabitants. Diego and his staff of talented equine tour guides take pride in carefully tending to every detail of your horseback riding adventure, ensuring an unforgettable vacation horse experience for visitors from around the world. Their stable of well cared for and beautiful professionally trained horses are perfectly schooled to accommodate all levels of horseback riding experience. Careful attention is given to not only the health and condition of the horses, but the riding equipment, extensive trail systems and typical Costa Rican meals offered during your customized horseback riding excursion.

The Man Behind the Horses:
Diego has actively promoted many horse, cowboy, parade and rodeo events throughout Costa Rica for many years, raising funds for numerous charitable causes, entertaining at local community events and eventually enjoying mentions in several prestigious magazines who came to recognize the high quality and uniqueness of his many horse endeavors. Having professionally trained horses for the National Iberoamerican Breed Horse Cup, Diego also promotes the Costa Rican Criollo horse breed (the most common Costa Rican Horse Breed) via his horseback riding tours, sales, breeding and general promotion of this hearty little breed of horse at the many events he attends.

Costa Rican Horses:
The Criollo is the native horse of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and easily the most common breed found throughout Costa Rica. It may have the best endurance of any horse breed in the world next to the Arabian. In fact, due to the criollo's low basal metabolism, it may even be a better long-distance horse than the Arabian in prolonged

races, making it an excellent breed for endurance competitions that can last over a week in duration and allowing no supplemental feed or performance enhancing drugs during the competition. The breed is very well known for its hardiness and stamina, as well as it’s ability to live in extremely challenging conditions of harsh weather, low feed quality, lack of water and areas with common parasite and tick infestations that would negatively effect most other horse breeds. It’s resistence to harsh conditions makes it the perfect breed for the harsh tropical conditions found in Costa Rica.
The word Criollo originally referred to human and animals of pure-bred Spanish ancestry that were born in the Americas. Over time, the meaning of the word came to simply refer to all native breeds of the Americas. The Criollo in the equine world is typically a small, hardy horse with a brawny and strong body, broad chest and well-sprung ribs. They have sloping strong shoulders with muscular necks, short and strong legs with good bone structure and resistant joints, low-set hocks and sound hard feet that hold up to both marshy ground or the rocky hard ground commonly found throughout Costa Rica. The medium to large size long-muzzled head has a straight or slightly convex profile with wide-set intelligent eyes. The croup or withers are sloping, the haunches well-muscled, and the back is fairly short with strong loins. The Criollo is considered an intelligent, willing and sensible mount, averaging a meager 14.3 hands high, with a maximum height for the males of around 15 hands. Today, the horse is used mainly as a working-cow horse, but it is also considered an excellent choice for pleasure and trail horses, and they are also considered excellent for rodeo and endurance competitions.

Horseback Riding Tours:
Diego Solis welcomes you to enjoy all of Costa Rica's Nature Experiences on the Rancho Savegre Horse Tours and hopes you will choose to visit his own little piece of Paradise along the beaches and mountains of Monterey de Esterillos. Each tour is customized based on the requirements of the individual riders. Detailed riding instructions are carefully explained for each level of riders experience, and each tour offers a bilingual guide to help you enjoy your tour to the fullest. Your outing includes a delicious traditional Costa Rican meal prepared in a “typical” Costa Rica setting and prepared in the old style Costa Rican traditions. Tour sizes are purposely kept small with a maximum 10 people (usually less) assuring your safety and personal attention throughout the ride. Offering mountain rides, isolated beach tours, or a combination of both, Diego has recently added a special tour designed just for Honeymooners or those looking to have a special romantic equine adventure.

Mountain Ride:
This tour is perfect for both beginners as well as advanced riders that

want to enjoy great panoramic ocean views along safe forested trails, on healthy well trained horses. Wildlife such as toucans, deer and coati mundi are often sighted while crossing forest and cattle pastures, before arriving to the Chiris River where riders are invited to take a refreshing swim. Riding time : 2 hours, transportation, fruits and water included

Waterfall Hiking Tour:
This tour takes you to the amazing waterfalls located on the Parrita

river. Hikers enjoy a beautiful tropical forest and crossing cattle fields while learning about the flora, fauna and cattle industry in Costa Rica. It is an easy ½ mile walk. Tennis shoes or hiking boots are a must. Important: Bring a swim suit. The natural ponds are a great place to swim! Departure 11:00 am, minimum of 2 persons, transportation, fruits, water, and entrance fee to waterfalls included.

Beach Riding Adventure:
The beach tour starts with a short trail ride through the ranch on the

way to arriving at our isolated beach destination, the almost completely deserted black sand beach of Esterillos. Known for rare Scarlet Macaw sightings, this beautiful wide beach has been awarded the coveted Blue Flag, which honors Costa Rican beaches that have passed strict ecological standards. This area serves as the perfect backdrop to gallop freely along the warm waters of the Pacific shoreline. Riding time: Approx 2 hours. Lunch, transportation, fruit and water is included.

Surf & Turf:
This perfect mix of mountain and beach riding starts at Rancho

Monterey, approximately 20 minutes south of Jaco and 40 minutes North of Quepos. The ride begins crossing through cattle fields along forested back roads on wide safe trails revealing spectacular ocean and mountain views along the way and offering many opportunities to gallop for the more experienced riders. Sightings of local deer, monkeys and the colorful Scarlet Macaws are not unusual as well as other wildlife and birds. As we cross small rivers and creeks, guests come upon more impressive forested vistas and then the ride descends down the rolling hills eventually arriving at beautiful Esterillos Beach. This pristine black and white sand beach is almost always completely deserted, making galloping along the shoreline one of the highlights of this horseback riding adventure. Guests will enjoy the lush vegetation and small mangrove estuaries that line this isolated beach. The trails on this tour are easy to navigate for both beginner and advanced riders on our well trained horses. Riding time: 2 ½ -3 hours. Lunch, transportation, water and fruit are included.

Ride in Paradise "Not Just Another Tour":
For that special person or occasion, riders can arrange a private

Sunset Ride with wine and special snacks, followed by a bonfire at the beach. Below are some pictures of one such ride, the honeymooners comment was, "It is the most memorable part of our wedding and honeymoon". Discuss your plans with Diego and he will set up a custom event that you will remember for the rest of your life. Tour operates depending on season and weather conditions.

For all tours: Pictures and videos are available at the end of your ride, so your memories will last a lifetime!

Rancho Savegre is truly one of the premier horseback riding tours available in Costa Rica, and is a very popular tour recommended by area Costa Rica Hotels. Offering quality horses, fabulous deserted beaches, lush rainforest and mountain locations all with the added benefit of being conducted by professional riders/guides in small private riding groups. As a champion horseback rider and trainer myself, I can personally highly recommend this tour to other riders no matter whether they are young or old, beginner or experienced, those who are looking to truly experience the wonders of Costa Rica while enjoying the unique companionship that horseback riding offers will love this tour. For those interested, feel free to contact Diego with any questions you may have or you can reserve by emailing or at
Rancho Savegre Costa Rica Horseback Tours
Costa Rica 8834-8687 or 2799-9500
USA 011-506-8834-8687 or 011-506-2779-9500

Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.