2016 – Sustainability Trends Revisited

In December 2014, we published a blog called 10 SUSTAINABILITY TRENDS FOR ECO-LUX HOTELS.  A year has gone by and we were curious how “accurate” our predictions where for this year.  Here is a point by point review and some outlook into 2016:

Iseltas de Nicaragua
The Isletas in Lake Nicaragua near the colonial town of Granada are a new and  upcoming tourist destination off the beaten path.  Cayuga’s Jicaro Island Ecolodge is one of Nicaragua’s “hot” destinations.
  1.  Off the beaten path beats tourism clusters

We suggested that more off the beaten path destinations like Nicaragua or the Osa Peninsula would see a boom in 2015.  From our experience at Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Lake Nicaragua and Lapa Rios Ecolodge near Corcovado National Park, we feel this is definitely the case.  Both lodges had record years and our guests wrote rave reviews about their experiences.  Nevertheless, travel to “cluster” destination like Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Tortuguero, Tamarindo and Monteverde also continue to be popular.  Visitors to the different destinations have very distinct guest “profiles”.

  1.  Culinary experiences conquer eco-tourism

We predicted that high quality sustainable culinary experiences would be an important factor of differentiation.  Our guest chef events at Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio and recent menu upgrades at other lodges confirmed that the availability of high quality food and beverages is a key factor in a guest’s decision making process.  Premium craft beers, bio dynamic wines, responsibly caught seafood, hormone-free poultry and grass-fed beef are just a few examples of items that are highly valued by our guests.

Manuel Antonio and Playitas Lunch
High quality culinary experiences are key in the decision making process of couples and families alike.
  1.  Sustainability actions beyond towel change and efficient light bulbs

We thought that sustainability in the hospitality industry would go beyond topics like energy efficiency and recycling.  We were wrong.  The main focus of most hotels is still on efficient infrastructure and equipment.  Few hotels really go the extra mile and walk the talk of true sustainability.  Here is the link to the blog we wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.

  1.  Personalized interpretation of nature and culture

Here we were right on.  Our guests are “craving” tours with our naturalist guides and we have added additional tour offerings and guides at most of our lodges.  And the trend is definitely towards personalized and private tours and not being part of cookie cutter packaged tours.  We are sure that this trend will continue to thrive.

guided tours in costa rica
Our highly educated tour guides will take you into the rain forest not only to see wildlife, but to interpret it as well.
  1.  Eco lodge meets Design Hotel: Opposites attract

We predicted that guests would feel very comfortable having very “different” lodging experiences within one vacation.  We were surprised how many of our guests combined very distinct hotels such as Lapa Rios Ecolodge with Kura Design Villas or Arenas del Mar Resort with Latitude 10.  We learned that it is more about the “mood” and not so much about the style of the hotel in general.  It is probably like going to a high end seafood restaurant one day and a gourmet burger joint another.  We see people searching for diversity in their experiences.

  1.  Agro tourism experiences are still hot

Very related to the culinary trend mentioned above, we see a continued interest in agro tourism experiences.  The best example within the Cayuga Collection is Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn where interest in coffee tours has tripled in the past year.  Cacao tours and chocolate making experiences are also getting more and more popular here in Costa Rica.

Coffee Harvest
Coffee Harvest is a great time of the year to visit Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn.
  1. The smaller and more intimate, the better…

We suggested that the seasoned traveler would try to avoid “crowds” at all cost and seek our small hotels and lodges instead of large resorts.  We don’t have data to prove that this is actually the case, but guests tell us how much they enjoy the personalized service and getting to know the staff at our small hotels and lodges.  We will continue to observe this trend further.

  1. Kids become drivers for eco experiences

Our prognosis for family travel was that kids would be pushing their parents to have high quality experiences in nature.  We certainly have seen a strong increase in families at our hotels and lodges, but have not been able to determine clearly if it is the kids or the parents that drive the decision making process.  But one thing is for sure, kids age 6 to 14 are our most loyal and raving fans.  They LOVE the real nature experience of wild animals, rain forests, gushing waterfalls, secluded beaches, etc.

  1. Wellness beyond a massage and facial

We predicted the wellness experience to become much more “integrated” taking into account nutrition, an exercise routine for body and soul, a connection with the natural surroundings and an appreciation of a sense of place.  If we look at this this article about 10 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2016,wellness trends in 2016 we might have been a year ahead of ourselves…

wellness in eating
Wellness goes way beyond a massage in a closed room. Exercising and eating well while on vacation is every time more important to our guests. This is the vegetable garden at Kura Design Villas in Uvita.
  1. Savvy guests will start to ask the right kind of questions

We expected that guests would not be fooled by mediocre eco-certifications or phony green labels.  We are not sure about this.  What we do know is that when we take our guests on our back of the house sustainability tours at the hotels and lodges, they are very well educated about sustainability and ask us very good questions.   And we are getting more and more comments on review sites like Tripadvisor about our sustainable practices.  But we don’t know if that is also the case for more mainstream hotels and resorts.

Let us know what you think.  What was your experience in 2015?  What do you see for the new year?  Send us a note to [email protected] Happy New Year 2016 to all of our readers.  

Happy New Year 2016.
Happy New Year 2016.   Best wishes and we would love to see you in Costa Rica or Nicaragua this year.

The Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges is considered a world leader in sustainable hospitality.  The Cayuga Hotels redefine the symbiosis of luxury and sustainability through the concept of ExperienceLearn,Connect and Relax and create legendary and authentic service experiences for guests, sustainable development for the communities where they operate.

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