We are about to get ready to celebrate our fifth birthday at Arenas del Mar. Right from the beginning, we were looking to create the ” perfect” match between sustainability and luxury. A guilt free vacation at one of the country”™s most exclusive boutique resorts. The construction process was handled in the most sustainable way possible and design took into consideration the natural surroundings. While you have the option to use A/C in your room, the rooms are designed so that you can leave windows open and use a ceiling fan to experience the tropical ocean breezes at night.
By now we have moved beyond the early stages of pure focus on energy efficiency, recycling, and making donations to our community. Here some examples of what we are working on right now.
- Responsible Seafood
In Costa Rica, conservation of our natural resources has played an important role because of the high levels of biodiversity. This consciousness has started to expand into the Oceans that border Costa Rica. We buy fish that is guaranteed to be caught responsibly and avoid endangered species. The areas of Tarcoles and Isla Chira practice responsible fishing where fishermen must adhere to strict regulations regarding their fishing practices, which include the vessel type, fishing nets utilized and fishing hooks. Fishing seasons for different species are established so their reproduction cycles are protected. The net and hook types are designed to minimize by-catch of non targeted species or juvenile forms of the targeted species. We support those sustainable fisheries and by products from them year round to offer the freshest seafood to our guests.
2. Adopt a Community
We have adopted a small rural community called Sabalo and engaged in several projects to help their development. This community is composed of several families that sustain themselves through agriculture. Our goal is to assist SÃ¡balo to become a model agricultural community with a strong focus on sustainability. The starting capital of this project as well as managerial and legal advice is donated by Arenas del Mar. We will also help fix the local school infrastructure and improve the quality of teaching. Another goal is to create an agro tourism tour where guests from Arenas del Mar and other local hotels can go and visit the community.
3. Reduce, Reuse”¦ then recycle.
While recycling is a great thing to do, it is not the solution to the waste problem that we have in our communities. We have moved to focus on the reduction of waste as well as the reuse of resources. We have worked with suppliers to receive products in reusable, biodegradable or recyclable packages or containers; we buy products with less packaging materials and buy in ” bulk” instead of individual packages. We have been able to reduce the amount of ” waste” by over 50% in the past year and strive to continue to focus on reducing and reusing materials.
4. Energy Audit and Benchmarks
Although Arenas del Mar was built with energy efficiency in mind, there is still a lot to do and improve. We sponsored a pilot study to create a tool that would measure energy efficiency and establish national benchmarks for the hotel industry that will hopefully help to improve energy efficiency not only at our resort but everywhere in the country.
5. Carbon footprint
Arenas del Mar hired a consultant to calculate its current Carbon Footprint to align with Costa Rica”™s goal to become a Carbon Neutral Country by 2021. We are currently implementing a reduction and mitigation plan.
6. Wastewater treatment
Costa Rica enjoys bountiful water which has led companies and the population in general to take this resource for granted. Arenas del Mar operates two state of the art wastewater treatment plants that imitate the natural purification processes that occurs in natural wet lands. The treated water is used for irrigation in the natural rainforests that surround the resort, thus drastically reducing the need for fresh water irrigation.
7. Volunteer programs
We operate five volunteer programs where our staff members can have a positive impact in the environment and the community. Those programs include but are not limited to: beach cleanups, maintenance of the Manuel Antonio National Park, help at the municipal recycling center, assistance at the elderly living center, and street cleanups to reduce the danger of Dengue fever in the community.
We are passionate about sharing our experiences in the process of becoming more and more sustainable as a lodging operation. We encourage our guests to take part in a complimentary back of the house sustainability tour. We receive students and even competitor hotels and show them our programs and lessons learned. When it comes to becoming more sustainable, there is really no competition.
9. Our Human Resources
During a recent routine inspection by the Costa Rica Labor Department, the inspector commented how impressed he was with the level of employee satisfaction and working conditions. He said he would use Arenas del Mar as an example of a ” great place to work” that goes above and beyond complying with working and living conditions for its staff. We are proud of our staff and offer them a series of benefits, social guarantees, and incentives that are not usual in the hotel industry. We take employee and guest safety very seriously and train our staff during monthly workshops in emergency procedures.
All of our work and claims in the process of becoming more sustainable are verifiable by third party government programs; the Blue Flag Project verifies our water, environmental education, and overall coastal management programs and security. The certificate for sustainable tourism (CST) verifies the hotel performance in sustainability with a very rigorous inspection and documentation review and grades the company”™s adherence to a sustainability model in a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Arenas del Mar is a 5 leaves hotel.
Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality is a world leader in sustainable hospitality management. We manage and market hotels, resorts, eco lodges and Haciendas in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a focus on high end experiences and sustainability.