Last year we went on the hunt for some qualified interns to help us determine whether sustainability and luxury can be offered with one not compromising the other. What we were looking for was a pair of fresh eyes, someone who can look at what we are doing at Cayuga and determine whether our philosophy and commitment is realistic.Our job description was very tough! There were only two questions to ask: ” why should Cayuga choose you?” and, ” what do you bring to the table compared to other potential applicants?” Our deadline for hiring was Earth Day, April 22nd, 2013.
Although the experiences the interns would have to be able help us define the right marriage between a luxurious and sustainable guest stay were many, we went out of our way to ensure they were not too onerous. The duties included:
- Staying in the best categories of rooms, bungalows, casitas or villas at the hotels and lodges to explore opportunities for improvement;
- Eating three daily meals at Cayuga’s restaurants, with a focus on ensuring as many fresh local ingredients as possible were included in the menu and helping to develop new specialty cocktails;
- Participating in community work such as beach cleanups, working at local schools and recycling centres, and volunteering with local charities ““ all supported by Cayuga for many years;
- Engaging in conservation projects such as planting trees, tracking wild cats and improving conditions in national parks ( part of our ongoing guest experiences focusing on conservation) ;
- Participating in tours and activities offered by Cayuga hotels and lodges, including rainforest and waterfall hikes, canopy tours, river rafting, horseback riding, mangrove kayaking and surf lessons;
- Experiencing spa and wellness services, such as volcanic mud scrubs;
- Participating in cooking classes, typical dance classes, Spanish classes and other activities that showcase the local culture.
- Participating Cayuga Collection Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua were: Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Pensinula, Arenas del Mar Beachfront Resort in Manuel Antonio, The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Latitude 10 Beachfront Resort in Santa Teresa, Kura Design Villas in Uvita, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn in Santa Barbara de Heredia, Grano de Oro Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica and Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Lake Nicaragua.
Los Angeles residents, Kaitlin and Jose were chosen as our interns and they did an amazing job last summer. They worked hard ( seriously!) traveling around Costa Rica staying at Cayuga properties, and kept a record of their thoughts and recommendations with a regular blog.
So what did they find?
Luxury and sustainability are possible, but it takes a change in attitude of travelers to make it happen. What we need are travellers to hold the tourism industry to a higher standard, not to accept green-washing practices, and challenge the status quo. You can read the full manifesto by our fantastic sustainability interns on Huffington post or on our blog.
This year, we set out to look for the perfect Eco Honeymoon. We are looking for three couples that will help us find the balance between luxury and sustainability on a honeymoon. Applications accepted until May 1st.