Born in a small town in northern Canada, Ashley Bretecher moved to Costa Rica with her family in 1996. Prior to starting her university studies, she briefly worked for Los Sueños Resort and Marina in 2001. She departed a few months later, studying international relations and languages, intending to return to Canada to continue her studies. While saving for the move, she returned to Los Sueños as an assistant to the receptionist in the marina office. More than two decades later, she is now marina and communications director, as well as tournament director of the prestigious Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown tournament series.
Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: Busy! I oversee the marina, including slip requests and assignments, and I work with our team of about 30 people between the office staff, maintenance crews, and our fuel-dock and forklift teams. I also handle most of our in-house contract work, including real estate documents, bylaws, retail and commercial leases, and others. We manage several condominium associations within the resort. I’m on several boards of directors of condominiums and associations, including the Costa Rica Marina Association, of which I am currently the vice president, and our nonprofit Los Sueños Foundation for Schools. I’m on the National Sport Fishing Commission, which advises the Costa Rican Fisheries Department, Incopesca. I still do all of the closings of our inventory real estate sales and assist our sales team. Additionally, I manage our marketing and communications for the resort. Because we are a vertically integrated business, we handle everything in-house, including our websites, videos, radio commercials, and more; so that’s all done by our staff. It’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s never boring.
Q: How long have you been tournament director?
A: I took over in mid-2005, and did the scoring and assistance before that. So, my first tournament was in 2006 with the Signature Billfish Series. We started the Marlin Invitational in 2008, then we melded the two to create the Signature Triple Crown in 2014. We brought the Ladies Only tournament into the mix in 2019.
Q: Speaking of the Ladies Only, where do you see that going?
A: I think it has the opportunity to grow into another fantastic tournament series. It’s incredible to see how fierce and competitive these ladies are on the water. The format is not the typical hook-and-hand or casual jungle-rules tournament—and it’s every bit as competitive as the Signature Triple Crown. The ladies make it fun with their matching outfits and explosive personalities. They keep us laughing, and they keep the crews on their toes.
Q: Why do you think that the Signature Series is so competitive?
A: I think it’s because the caliber of boats and teams at Los Sueños is just tremendous. However, there is a trend I’ve seen over the years: The teams who fish together win together. The ones who are consistently at the podium are those who have been fishing together throughout the year for 10, 15 and sometimes more than 20 years. They are like well-oiled machines.
Q: Any plans to expand the capacity of the marina?
A: We already have. We went from 116 dry-storage spaces to approximately 160 in 2022. We have also made some modifications to the wet slips that allow for more boats in the water, but for now, we’re maxed out on the number of slips we can add.
Q: What’s your favorite part about living in Costa Rica year-round?
A: The weather and how beautiful the country truly is. There is a hidden secret around every corner and down every road. You can travel every week of the year, and there will always be something new to see or a unique adventure to go on. I love that I have visited nearly every corner of the country, and yet I feel like I could continue for the rest of my life and never see it all, with nearly limitless opportunities for discovery. I also love the scarlet macaws—we see them every single day, and yet not a time goes by where I’m not just in awe of their beauty.
Q: How are property values holding up these days?
A: Very well, fortunately. We have seen the values maintain and increase fairly steadily over the years despite the economic crisis of 2008 and the pandemic. Currently, we are selling inventory lots on which buyers can build a single-family villa for approximately $2 million in our latest project, Playavista.
Q: How do you foster that sense of community within Los Sueños?
A: The marina is the heart of the resort, and that’s what brings most people together. But while we are strongly focused on sport fishing as our primary driver, we have many owners and visitors who don’t necessarily fish. Regardless, it’s a love of the tropics, the animals, nature, adventure and the ocean that brings everyone together. We have events throughout the year aside from just the tournaments—we do a big Fourth of July celebration with a live band, barbecue specials and fireworks, and a massive New Year’s Eve bash at our Beach Club where nearly 3,000 people gather. Although there are a lot of people, it still feels intimate and more like a family celebration.
Q: Any favorite hobbies outside of work?
A: I love tennis, hiking, traveling, reading and writing.
Q: If you had to change careers tomorrow, what would you choose?
A: I’d love to have the time to focus on writing a book. I write poetry and prose and would like to combine that with a semiautobiography. It’s hard to find the space to really dive into the creative process between work, being a mom, and just the day-to-day commitments and responsibilities at this stage of my life, but I do think that it’s important to share our stories, because in doing so, others might find solace, companionship, understanding, or peace. It would mean the world to me if my experience could touch another in a positive way.