Where Preaching Meets Practice: Harmony Hotel’s Sustainable Underbelly

Our Cayuga Collection Interns Kaitlin and Joe spent a few days at the Harmony Hotel in Nosara on their way from Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua to Latitude 10 Resort in Santa Teresa.  Find below their impressions about their stay with us.  They were quite impressed…

The Harmony Hotel RecyclingLike in many well-positioned hotels in Costa Rica, you arrive at Harmony Hotel with a kind greeting by the staff, are handed a delicious pineapple, mint, and coconut smoothie, and ushered into a chic lobby adorned with greenery and mid-century modern style chairs. But behind this trendy exterior, lies a surprising sustainable underbelly: Harmony Hotel lives up to its moniker as a true eco resort.

With the advent of ” green washing,” it is difficult for travelers anywhere these days to know what”™s truly an eco-hotel (or eco-tourism) and what”™s not. Fortunately at Harmony Hotel, guests are able to take a ” sustainability tour,” which we did with our knowledgeable guide, Vanessa, who showed us how Harmony Hotel is in ” harmony” with its natural surroundings.

Leaving the hotel”™s main lobby was a bit like rolling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz: first Vanessa showed us the hotel”™s water filtration and reclamation systems, the latter of which recycles waste water for irrigation of the hotel”™s grounds. This was followed by an introduction to the most extensive recycling and composting program we”™ve ever witnessed in a hotel. This program takes biowaste from the hotel”™s restaurant and allows it to become soil, which is then used in the hotel”™s greenhouse (where a lot of the hotel”™s vegetables and ornamental plants are grown) as well as on the grounds. In addition, photovoltaic cells provide the energy to heat the hotel”™s water and the owners also maintain a farm locally that provides 80-90 percent of all produce used on site.

Growing trees in milk bagsWhat was most impressive was how well-developed and fully integrated this system is, such that even plastic and aluminum bottle caps are ” recycled” for use in local school art programs and projects (thus further connecting ecological practices with social ones!).

Even more important is the fact that Harmony Hotel”™s sustainable practices were initially instituted as part of a retrofit of an existing hotel structure. Such retrofitting eliminates the need for ” green field” development, which in practice is the destruction of virgin land in order to build new structures. So while the sustainable practices the hotel uses are commendable, it”™s even more commendable that this was accomplished by utilizing existing structures, further reducing the impact on the local environment.

 

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