Antonio Álvarez Desanti and Nuria Marín Raventós, two young lawyers, founded on June 21, 1982 what is now known as Álvarez and Marín Corporation. Although they had their own law firm, early on those years, it was clear that besides the practice, they wanted to develop themselves as entrepreneurs.
His beginnings were not always successful, but it was a great school, and the foundations of what would become a life philosophy. His early business ventures were having some level of investment. It was a different Costa Rica, where there was no private banking, and also, where being professionals in liberal arts, were not creditworthy.
In 1980 Antonio started selling roasted peanuts with his classmates. They packed the peanuts, and distributed the product themselves. It was sold in supermarkets. Also, they started with a sale of exclusive leather shoes. They hired cobblers and began to sell them in different shops of San José. Additionally they had a business of concrete blocs and furniture selling.
During this process (81-82 year), the firm began to grow, and require much more of their time and generated much higher incomes. The practice of law was playing better returns than small enterprises. That’s where businesses choose to be distributed, and Antonio sells his.
In the following months, Nuria and Antonio decide to participate in larger businesses, requiring a more significant investment capacity. There, they decided to save a fixed monthly amount of the surplus of the firm in order to have capital for future endeavors that allow the practice of complementary activities.
They decided to open a financial entity, and is in 1983 when AMR Assets and Insurance generates a very fast growth, since there were only state banks at that moment.
The business was the speed to deliver the money, in 24 hours. Nuria did the appraisals in mortgage loans. The business was successful very quickly. Soon they were seeking larger businesses to finance, as some urban developments.
During these years, Antonio participated in political activity, President Luis Alberto Monge appoints him the President of Fertica (1985) and later Executive President of the National Production Council (1987). During the administration of President Oscar Arias, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture (1987) and then Minister of the Interior (1988).
In 1991 he was given the opportunity to study at Harvard. Antonio started a Masters in Tax Law, and Nuria is accepted as well in the Master of Government, a master’s offered only for Americans, with a duration of two years. Nuria was the only Latin, and also had to complete it in 12 months, as the household savings would only allow them to live in Boston for a year. Thus, the family packed bags, and moved to Boston.
In 1992 they return to Costa Rica, both finished their master degree. It was time to pursue other business alternatives to engage in business. The first alternative was to increase the participation in Brunca, the other option was to diversify into other areas such as construction. However there appeared a chance on a business that promised a very bright future.
In November 1989 the Berlin Wall falls and experts say that Eastern Europe would consume equal or greater amount of banana as the Western Europe. It was believed that the European Community would disappear tariff barriers, it was to have a single border and bananas and would not be protected. That the market for this fruit is going to open, and bananas produced by the Canary Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and other countries of the ATP would disappear because they are not competitive compared to Costa Rica or Ecuador.
Although none of these situations happened, Antonio and Nuria, with a sales contract to Jamaica Banana Producers, decide to close the office and dedicate 100% to the banana sector. Antonio falls squarely in the business and Nuria remains in office dedicated exclusively to the Raventós Corporation and Brunca lawyer as well as support in the location of markets and market intelligence, with special interest to Germany, where even she began studying the German language.
The May 15, 1993 the first export of Bananera Calinda took place, where as a family, the four had functions that day. Adriana 13, packed up the first box of bananas, which still hangs in the office of the farm. And Andrea six years officialy opened the banana production “pool” by swimming in one of them from side to side. In 2000 they bought his second banana farm and called it Las Valquirias. In 2002 bought Tamesis, Córcega in 2007 and in 2010 Continental banana farm. Thus Calinda Group became the second largest exporter independent group of Costa Rica, with more than 1,500 employees and almost 1700 hectares.
In 1996, they decided to invest in buying shares of a cane-banana bank called Banco Continental, becoming the second largest partner of the bank, which then merged with Banex.
At the same time, they entered in the urbanization business with several projects in San Jose and then, so starts the stage of diversification.
In 2010, the Corporation decided to expand their horizons by investing in Panama. They bought 685 acres of land on the mainland of Bocas del Toro, with 12 kilometers of beach.
The key to this project is to be a sustainable development that causes the least impact on the environment, which allows a type of cultural tourism exploiting the folkloric richness of the indigenous Ngobe Bugle, customs and traditions; hand economic development of the population, bringing basic services like water, electricity, medical services, and decent work for its inhabitants.
A market study was prepared by the prestigious company HVS, which points as a target the Luxurious, Sophisticated, Cultural and Adventurous Tourist. These are tourists looking for unique and authentic experience. This is the fastest growing tourism segment in recent years, and whose spending patterns and consumption have remained constant despite the crisis. This type of tourist looks for remote locations, has no problem with taking several aircrafts, including hours by car or by boat to reach their destination. They are seeking “the road less traveled,” volunteering, eco-traveling real places, looking for adventure and culture within an environment of luxury and comfort.
A contract with a Thai chain called Six Senses is signed, Six Senses won several awards worldwide for its concept of SLOW LIFE: Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences. Six Senses operates 14 hotels, mostly in Asia, known for luxury living to a level of experience.
Six Senses Canaveral then, would be the anchor hotel for a whole innovative, environmentally sustainable and with a strong impact in the area of the county project. But in late 2013 the Panamanian authorities informed Development Ecotourism Canaveral that despite the purchase made, they were having title duly registered in the Registry of the Panamanian property, the land is not in the place where it was believed and it was not within an indigenous region. Given this legal uncertainty demonstrated by the Panamanian government, Canaveral filed for arbitration before the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) in order to obtain compensation for the investment made by the expropriation suffered and recover lost profit. The case was filed in early 2015 and is expected to have the ruling in 2016
In 2008, in conjunction with other entrepreneurs, the corporation inaugurated the first stage of Multicentro Desamparados Mall, and in 2011 the second stage for a total of 52,000sqm of construction.
In 2010, the Corporation became part of the group that founded the company specialized in blindage, Blintec.
In 2013 the corporation signed a contract to bring the American food franchise of Entertainment: Chuck E Cheese’s. It is expected that the first of three restaurants open operations in the western sector of the capital at the end of 2016.
Today, as a result of hard work by many years of Antonio and Nuria, who will then accompanied by their two daughters Adriana and Andrea, and by the hand of a group of highly qualified and committed people, the corporation is a dynamic business group, with interests in diverse areas and more than 1500 employees. Currently it has established a New Business division in order to seek greater diversification for the corporation, currently focusing on areas such as tourism, technology and renewable energy.