At La Casa Verde Eco-Lodge, linens are crisp. Mountain air rushes through open windows and hummingbirds dance in the garden. Homemade breads warm in the oven and guests begin the day with real coffee in the bright dining room. By 9am, the Greenshields have arrived for breakfast with their guests. Married expats, Rebecca and Doug Greenshields prepare a plate for their four-year-old son, Jon. She spreads Vegemite on thick brown bread. He pours organic yogurt over fresh cut fruit. After mingling with guests, Doug continues construction of the lodge’s new addition. Rebecca tends to business logistics. Each day has its chores and routines, and as an Aussie-Kiwi expat family, they run the best hotel and only eco-lodge in Baños Ecuador.
Living Overseas with Children
Unlike many expats, Rebecca and Doug are not retirees. They are not teachers or independent backpackers or twenty-something’ers looking for a full moon party. Conversely, they are a young family with a child learning as much Spanish as English. Rebecca’s background is in finance and Doug grew up on a sheep farm. In their twenties, they lived in England and traveled extensively around the world. Nowadays, they’ve seemingly “settled” into Ecuadorian life and immersed themselves in a small, mountainside culture that allows them to financially thrive while raising their family.
After five years, La Casa Verde Eco-Lodge sits at the #1 Trip Advisor slot for best hotel in Baños Ecuador. They’ve been featured in guidebooks such as Lonely Planet and Frommers. For good reason too. The Pastaza River borders their backyard, beyond which looms high peaks of the Andes Mountains. In the morning, thick clouds roll past the bay windows and smother the sun in a romantic haze. Limes, tomatoes, and avocados grow in the garden. Wood accents create a warm mood in an ultra-clean house. Soaps are organic and hand cut for each room. Rubbish is sorted and recycled accordingly. With every aspect of the hotel executed precisely, the Greenshields toil with one question: Where should we send Jon for kindergarten?
Future Plans for La Casa Verde
Rebecca and Doug have grand plans for La Casa Verde. While Jon works on his Spanish verb conjugation, Doug works on consrtuction on additions to the already superb hotel. These extensions will continue to bring La Casa Verde to another level of hospitality. But like many expats, the travel bug has begun to itch their feet once more. Doug wants to loop the world in a tricked-out van. Rebecca wants Jon to see other countries. At some pointvthe family plans to lease their eco-lodge and travel once more up the Andean spine, over to Asia, westward through Europe and down into Africa. Afterward, they’d come back to their “green house” refreshed and invigorated.
The Greenshields seem like travel superheroes. But for them, it’s the next great adventure. A year or two on the road equates to time for learning, exploration, and teaching their child about the world. When asked about La Casa Verde, they grow serious. “We’ve worked really hard to make our hotel just as we wanted it. We wouldn’t just abandon it to anyone. The people who lease it from us would have to share our values. Otherwise, no way.” Spoken like true parents and entrepreneurs.
Update: This article first appeared at Suite101. Since its first publication, La Casa Verde continues to be the #1 Hotel in town.