How can we help other Hotels in Costa Rica become more sustainable?

At Cayuga, we continue to work hard to become world wide leaders in sustainable luxury tourism.  And we are optimists and think that generally, things are well.  But once in a while we come across things that worry us and we ask ourselves “How can we help change things on a country or regional level?”

Last week we traveled the northwestern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica to start the master planning process for a potential new ecotourism lodging project.  A group of investors that own a spectacular piece of real estate (see picture above) is looking to develop a hotel.   At Cayuga, we offer solutions for developers that want to move away from traditional hospitality models that are exclusively focused on profit maximization and create projects that meet the triple bottom line criteria of Community – Conservation – Profitability.

During this trip, we were reminded, that unfortunately, there are hotels and resorts that do not seem to care at all about sustainable practices at all.  We realize that not all hotels will be as focused on sustainable practices as the ones that we manage in the Cayuga Collection.  But there are good practices in tourism and hospitality that could certainly help mitigate impacts.  Here are some observations, that if changed, would have a big overall impact.

We spent one morning in a meeting room at an all inclusive hotel near the development site. Plastic bottles for water is a big “no” for us.  But on top of this, the water was imported from Nicaragua. Why?

We find it hard to believe that many hotels, especially international brands, still use small disposable shampoo bottles in their bathrooms.  It is so easy to install refillable dispensers.  Hopefully the products are locally produced, organic and biodegradable.

At lunch, we found "Marlin in Green Sauce" on the buffet menu.  Marlin is an endangered species and should not be commercially fished.  Why?  
At lunch, we found “Marlin in Green Sauce” on the buffet menu.  Marlin is an endangered species and should not be commercially fished and served.  There are more sustainable seafood options.  Why?

We know that our hotel and lodge operations at Cayuga are not perfect.  Sustainability is never at 100%.  It is a process. We just finished our action plan for 2017 called Sustainability 2.1 where we have over 100 points that we know we have to fix, improve or change.  But it is about the effort and caring.  Maybe this blog helps motivate more hotel owners, managers and staff to push for changes in their organization.

Guanacaste has had serious water shortages. In our opinion, usage of water should be controlled very carefully. Watering lawns (and cement sidewalks) with fresh water during the hottest part of the day is not a good sustainable practice.
The usage of water needs to be controlled very carefully. Watering lawns (and cement sidewalks) with fresh water in Guanacaste during the hottest part of the day is not a good sustainable practice.

Through our observations at hotels, lodges and resorts, we believe that there is a strong co-relationship between being a sustainable operation and the quality of guest service.  An employee that cares about his or her surroundings also will care about they way they treat other human beings.

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Feeding wild animals on a regular basis is also a big issue.  Hotels have to be more assertive in teaching guests and employees the negative consequences of feeding wild animals.

What can we do at Cayuga or as a country to help other operations become more sustainable?  We would love to hear your opinions or comments on this topic.  Send us a note or comment below.

 

 

 

 

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