Originally from San Jose, Costa Rica, Silene worked in finance for many years in Central America and was soon ready to create a new challenge for herself.
She knew she wanted to make a major career change and do something which supported others and made an impact on their lives. She essentially wanted to be part of something that mattered.
This led her on the journey of setting up and launching Kalon Surf a resort destination in Costa Rica with her husband Kjeld. Aside from the hospitality focus and creating an exceptional guest experience Silene is passionate about giving back to the local community and supporting her native culture. Silene has been an integral part of several initiatives including setting up the “Something a Bit Different Program,” where Kalon guests have the opportunity to provide Costa Rican children with clothes, shoes, and school supplies. The resort employs local people and works with several small, family-owned local companies to provide many of the day to day products used at the resort including local favourite and organic coffee suppliers Boleto.
Creating a sustainable resort has always been part of the Kalon vision and something which Silene was involved with when the resort was in planning. She wanted to ensure that the hotel was designed to complement and support the local environment and she worked with a leading architect to ensure this was achieved using renewable materials which keep in line with nature and the surrounding untouched primal rainforest. The resort uses partial solar energy, has several recycle initiatives, and collects rain to wash cars and water the plants, investing and protecting the property.
What is the first trip you remember taking?
North California, San Francisco and the Mount Shasta area when I was 15.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
Sarah Jessica Parker, she inspires me on how she has reinvented herself from a TV show actress to a highly successful business women and a designer. And of course, I love her shoes.
How do you recover from jet lag?
You have to be disciplined about the sleeping hours, and exercise a lot throughout the day. And then it all depends on my 2 year old and how he handles it!
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
Biggest lesson from your travels?
Keep all your essentials (for that trip) in the carry on – no excuses, even your wedding dress! When I got married in the Netherlands, my luggage did not arrive…fortunately, my wedding dress and shoes were in the carry on.
Do you travel for food, leisure, culture or something else?
Definitely food, I love good food, and I love to understand the culture of a country through their food. And to really be able to relax. I like to be in a huge timezone difference from where my work is so it makes it easier to disconnect.
Favourite Hotel? Why?
The Waldorf Amsterdam. Its beautiful, warm, and the location and service are top notch. It adds to Amsterdam being my favourite city.
Qatar Airways – their hospitality is like no other.
What’s on your travel playlist?
Shakira, Celine Dion and Lounge music.
What are your must-have travel picks?
First thing that comes to your mind?
Packing: roll or fold?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
On-flight tipple of choice?
Bucket list top destination?
Best shopping gem found abroad?
Rio Pearls in Hong Kong
Beach or City?
Château de Bagnols, Lyon, France