In November 2013, we published a blog about our struggles with the CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism) in Costa Rica. We received a great response to this blog and have had excellent work sessions with some of the leaders in sustainable hospitality in Costa Rica on this topic. Our hope is to present a reform of the current norm in the next months to make it a much more agile and useful tool. We will keep you updated on those efforts.
This week, our attention was directed to the website of the Green Hotel Association where we found this statement about their take on certification. We especially liked the part of investing in the guest experience. This is something we strongly believe in at the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges. But we think that a strict, but simple certification tool could possibly add value to the guest”™s efforts to select a hotel or tour operator that is truly sustainable.
” Green Hotel Association does not certify, nor do we recommend certification. Certification is very expensive and very time consuming. The certifying entity will want you to recertify every year or at least every other year””again spending thousands of dollars and many long hours.
First of all, there are over 800 different green certifications offered around the world so far. If a guest doesn’t understand what a particular certification logo means, what’s the point? That logo or piece of paper posted in the lobby can’t possibly make any difference to the guest.
We believe a much better choice is to use the money you would spend on certification to improve the quality of the stay with amenities such as organic cotton bed and bath linens, all natural amenities, etc. Instead of hanging an expensive piece of paper on the wall that is quickly outdated, encourage your guests’ and clients’ wonderful memories by enhancing their stay.
If you were certifying paint that you would be selling for 15 or 30 years, certification would make sense. However, a hotel is a living, breathing entity that is changing daily, and may have high staff turnover. Rather than have someone come in and tell you what to do (and you still have to do it), a much better choice is to work with and educate management and staff so they learn to recognize what needs to be done greenwise. Changes and/or corrections can occur immediately to move your organization more quickly toward green improvements and lower costs.”
In the end, this is about finding that balance between documenting all the sustainability actions and efforts and actually doing them. We think that the current Certification that we use (CST) is a bit too bureaucratic and not focused on rewarding outstanding practices and projects. But if reformed, it could be a valuable tool not only for our hotels, but also for Costa Rica as a destination.
We welcome your comments at [email protected].