Lapa Rios: Founding Member of the Long Run

The Long Run Initiative is the flagship initiative of the Zeitz Foundation.  It was founded in2009.   It is built around Long Run Hotels, Resorts and EcoLodges around the world and reaches out, into every aspect of our day to day life by putting The Long Run philosophy – acting today for a better tomorrow – into practice.

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula is a founding member.  Set in a private nature reserve spread over 900 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula is a pioneer in Ecotourism. It is a great example where Luxury and Sustainability can co-exist.

Lapa Rios is more than just a beautiful rainforest hotel or an eco resort near the beach. Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project, demonstrating the belief of owners John and Karen Lewis that no matter how you slice it, a rainforest left standing is worth more than it is cut down. Lapa Rios has received worldwide awards for social and environmental excellence and is a featured sustainable tourism pioneer in many international publications and research projects. It has been recognized and recommended by the Rainforest Alliance, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Forbes, National Geographic Traveler, and TripAdvisor.

By staying at Lapa Rios, guests support the conservation of the rain forest and provide direct employment and income to more than 55 families in the area. The ecolodge employs community members, is committed to environmentally sound practices, and has been awarded Costa Rica’s highest sustainable tourism certification (CST).

Seventeen newly remodeled spacious bungalows hidden within the rainforest were hand built to provide eco-luxury accommodations that celebrate relaxation, nature, and the local culture. Private, large decks have outdoor showers, and hammocks allow guests to enjoy the astounding views and rainforest activity that surrounds them. A stone-laid floor massages your feet as you shower under soft, rain-like cool water, providing the unique sensation of showering under your own private waterfall. The main lodge and the Brisa Azul restaurant soars 350 feet above sea level and, with the Boruca inspired design, the conical structure allows air to circulate keeping a cool environment with natural air from the Gulf.

Lapa Rios is 12 miles south of Puerto Jimenez at Playa Carbonera and the best way to reach it is via domestic airline into Puerto Jimenez.

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Conservation

The Lapa Rios Wildlife Reserve was initially established to conserve and restore a significant area of lowland tropical rainforest in the Osa Peninsula, the most bio-diverse region of Costa Rica (responsible for conserving 2.5% of the biodiversity in the world), as well as to provide livelihood opportunities to the local communities and to improve awareness about conservation and sustainable environmental management, through support to basic education in local schools and by the provision of job training opportunities.

This conservation initiative happened at a time when the Osa Peninsula’s forests were being gradually degraded as a result of human population pressure and unsustainable land use practices, which was resulting in loss of forest connectivity, especially with the nearby Corcovado National Park. The preservation of the Lapa Rios Wildlife Reserve therefore not only protected a significant area of primary rainforest (approximately 80% of the reserve is old-growth forest), but also began the process of restoration of degraded areas which had previously been converted to cattle pastures. Today, there has been a dramatic recovery of the forest, and vigorous secondary forest growth now covers most previously degraded areas.

Alongside and complementary to its role in rainforest conservation, Lapa Rios has also been a leader in demonstrating best environmental management practices for its ecotourism operation, cooperating with NGO’s to make research around flag species like wildcats population in Costa Rica and endemic flora.

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Lapa Rios Puma
Lapa Rios is a 1000 acre reserve protecting some of the last remaining low land rain forest on the Pacific Coast of Central America.

Community

Since its inception Lapa Rios had a direct impact on the community. It started on the construction of the Carbonera School in 1991, maintaining the relationship to date with that institute, supporting with educational materials and infrastructure. This project expanded to six more schools in the area, impacting more than 600 children from nearby communities.

Hiring staff and local suppliers generates sustainable growth as well as training students of technical colleges in tourism and hospitality enables them to develop skills to work in their own business or work with Lapa Rios, mentoring students and visitors is important to the educational preparation towards sustainable tourism.

Inspired by native food, our cuisine uses 75% fresh local products, creating employment and healthy recipes for our guests.

Seeking to support the local economy, Lapa Rios is open its doors to Caminos de Osa, a group of entrepreneurs from the Osa Peninsula looking to strengthen their businesses by learning best practices from more experienced companies. This know-how allows the quality of services and sustainable measures to improve standards in the area and align the interest in conservation projects and low environmental impact.

Lapa Rios has long-standing relationships with Carbonera, through its support of the local school since 1991, and with Puerto Jimenez – a major neighboring community that is 12 miles from the lodge. It reaches out to the community through a number of projects such as setting up recycling centres, and activities such as the “building for the future” project for local schools and the “Lapathon”.

Its strong commitment to high standards in sustainable management also significantly contributes to raising employees’ awareness and understanding about the importance of sustainable development transforming their values and beliefs in this respect which in turn positively affect their families’ lives and behaviour at home. By promoting locally-run tours and services to its guests, through sourcing the majority of its fresh produce locally (75%) and through providing skilled and unskilled career opportunities to local residents, Lapa Rios further improves the livelihood benefits for its communities.

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Lapathon
The annual Lapathon Race is a great fundraiser for the local community. This year, Lapa Rios donated medial equipment worth 5,000 US$.

Culture

Lapa Rios recognizes the importance of promoting local culture and traditions, not only to its guests, but more importantly to its surrounding communities. Guests come in contact with the rich Cost Rican culture in many ways, ranging from the artists and craftsmen that visit the lodge to traditional cooking workshops and a variety of local dishes which are included in its daily menu. Continuously seeking to create an even greater platform for intercultural exchange, Lapa Rios plans to host various cultural events that showcase local culture through art and music.

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Soccer
Sharing experiences with guests. Soccer is the National Passion of Costa Rica and a big part of culture.

Commerce

The economic success of Lapa Rios’s ecotourism operation is a key aspect of the long-term sustainability of the entire project. To this end Lapa Rios is working on several initiatives to further strengthen the foundation for the future development of the reserve and the eco-lodge. These include the development of new ecotourism activities designed to increase the attractiveness of the destination to visitors.

Lapa Rios has recently developed a Sustainability Master Plan which aims to provide a framework on which any future development of the Lapa Rios’s ecotourism product will be based. The master planning process was led by ecotourism and architectural specialists and involved a wide range of Lapa Rios’s stakeholders including the owners, the managers, Lapa Rios staff, and other experts. The master plan sets out a comprehensive vision for the future development of Lapa Rios’s ecotourism product, including ambitious proposals for additions to the existing eco-lodge, as well as new ecotourism products.

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Aereal view of our rain forest eco lodge
Where the rain forest meets the Ocean. Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula.

 

Lapa Rios is part of the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges as well as one of National Geograpic‘s Unique Lodges Program.

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