WorldFootprints_logo

Sustainable Hotels in Costa Rica: 5 Eco-Conscious Choices

Costa Rica is a top eco-conscious destination with many properties implementing sustainable initiatives to keep their environmental impact to a minimum to preserve the biodiversity of the country. This movement is a natural extension of the country motto, Pura Vida!

Costa Rica is one of the only countries in the world with a sustainability certification program for accommodations. It details a rigorous set of standards for monitoring properties’ management of natural, social, and cultural resources. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) oversees the certification program.

Some properties focus on natural building materials and avoiding deforestation, while others have banned plastic or installed solar panels. Many places deserve credit for the work they’ve done thus far to make their businesses greener. Here are five accommodations that are working to be environmentally and socially sustainable:

Rancho Margot – La Fortuna/El Castillo

Rancho Margot is an innovative eco-resort and working ranch that is nearly fully self-sufficient. It was recognized as Costa Rica’s first carbon-negative company in 2012. The holistic sanctuary makes almost everything in-house. More than 50 local workers produce everything, from the organic food served in the open-air restaurant, to soap, and the furniture. Everything has a purpose here, from the vegetable garden to the living roofs that naturally regulate room temperature and bind roof tiles together, while creating an ecosystem for indigenous birds.

The off-the-grid eco-friendly lodging creates no waste. Organic food scraps feed livestock, whose waste creates fertilizer and methane gas used for cooking. Biodiesel from cooking oil powers machinery and is used to create artisan soap and laundry detergent. Energy is generated through solar panels and on-site through hydroelectricity, which also powers the chemical-free pool and a few solar panels.

A cabin at Rancho Margot. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
A cabin at Rancho Margot. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Cala Luna  – Tamarind

Cala Luna is an eco-boutique hotel that offers tourists luxury with mindfulness. The hotel has been awarded the highest sustainable tourism certification from ICT– level five. The wellness retreat is installing one of the largest solar panel projects in the hotel industry in Central America to operate as sustainably as possible. They’re on the path to reach carbon neutrality and 100% solar power by 2019.

Beyond renewable energy, they approach environmentalism and social sustainability by operating an organic farm, employing locals, and producing their own bamboo straws. They’re constantly striving to elevate their ecological practices to reach their sustainability goals, which include a long-term project to phase out single-use plastic bottles for the biodegradable toiletries, trash bag liners, and laundry bags. The poolside restaurant offers fine cuisine that is sustainably sourced, including seafood and bio-dynamic wines to compliment their farm-to-table produce and meats.

Finca Rosa Blanca – Santa Bárbara de Heredia

Finca Rosa Blanca operates all aspects of its hotel and organic coffee plantation sustainably. The property, which is certified by ICT, Rainforest Alliance, and National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, is slightly off-the-beaten-path, but still less than 30-minutes away from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. This small-scale hotel is as single-use plastic-free as possible with reusable items everywhere, from the kitchen to the toiletries in the guestrooms.

At Finca Rosa Blanca, sustainability is a top priority. Every detail has been taken into consideration, from the solar-powered pool to the organic farm. Their employees are from the area and they work in their local communities on solutions for recycling, water quality and health problems. Their dedication to environmental and social sustainability is unparalleled, as they’ve led the way in implementing sustainable policies that benefit the environment and community.

Coffee plantation.
Coffee plantation.

The Retreat – Atenas

The Retreat sits on a crop of unique white quartz that’s said to promote healing, which makes it a top wellness destination in Costa Rica. Tucked in the mountains between Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and the capital city of San Jose, The Retreat honors the environment and has a positive impact on the local community.

Nearly all of the employees are from the local community and they help to maintain the organic permaculture garden, which grows produce for farm-to-table cuisine, typically served raw. Occasionally, locally and sustainably sourced fish and meat are also prepared at The Retreat’s restaurant.

The hotel uses only organic and chemical free products–from cleaning supplies to spa treatments. Soon they’ll be swapping out all the chemicals from their infinity pool, which boasts mountain views.

Occidental  – Tamarindo

Occidental Tamarindo is an all-inclusive property that’s conscious of its environmental impact and is making improvements daily. They’ve been awarded the prestigious five leaves certificate from ICT and the Programa Bandera Azul Ecologica (Blue Flag Ecological Program) certification for their efforts to conserve in the Las Baulas National Marine Park where they’re located. The resort prides itself on creating a safe environment for the leatherback turtles that nest on their beach. They operate beach cleanups with staff and guests at Punta Del Madero Beach, where volunteers collect debris and trash.

While Occidental has earned an impressive number of sustainability awards, they still have a long way to go in resolving their single-use plastic use. The property uses a shocking amount of plastic. Fresh fruit is put daily in guest rooms in plastic containers rather than reusable bowls. The guest rooms also have plastic laundry and trash bags as well as toiletries. At the buffet-style restaurant and bars, there are plastic straws and coffee lids. Those examples and others, where properties are striving, but have not yet achieved plastic reductions, show that visitors should always investigate the eco-claims of properties.

Pura Vida - Costa Rica

 


go___________

Capt. Tucker and Hercules. Photo: Kathleen Walls

Cajun Culture in Lafayette Parish

In Southern Louisiana, French Canadian migrants settled and intermingled with the existing community to create a unique ethnic group, the Cajuns, whose culture continues to thrive today. Visitors can learn more about the Cajuns through a visit to Lafay…

Read more »
View of Lake Chelan. Photo: Eliza Amon

No Roads Lead to Stehekin

Tucked in the rugged North Cascade Mountains near the Canadian border, is a town unreachable except by ferry, foot or flight. Remote as Stehekin is, the Washington town is a hub for nature lovers looking to hike, kayak, ride horses or fish in a nationa…

Read more »
Exterior of the Royal Bathouse in Tbilsi. Photo: Sarah May Grunwald

Visiting Tbilisi’s Natural Baths

The Georgian capital Tbilisi’s name derives from a word that means warm place. The word applies to both the glorious sulfur baths on which the city was founded, as well as the generosity and warmth of the Georgian people.  A trip to the baths allows vi…

Read more »

Visiting Panama’s Embera People

Our wooden longboat plied the Chagres River deeper and deeper into the Panamanian rain forest. Soon the boatmen, one wearing a loincloth and the other a beaded skirt, were poling us through channels so narrow that it looked like the river had disappear…

Read more »
uzbekistan-bike.jpg

Cycling in Uzbekistan

In many ways Uzbekistan is a fantastic country to cycle through – the friendly hospitality, exotic culture, stunning architecture and, of course, the excitement of exploring faraway lands, well away from the beaten tourist trail. Tashkent Mosque. Uzbek…

Read more »
Burundi village

A Burundian Lesson in Hospitality

It’s evening in the small African nation of Burundi, and the waning sun throws shadows over the city of Bujumbura. In the old Land Rover, we bump and jostle our way through the crowded dirt roads of the capital. Before we left the mission station where…

Read more »
Statue honoring the underground railroad along the Riverwalk in Detroit.

Heartbeat of Detroit

I didn’t know a single thing about Detroit when I moved here a year ago. Most people plan where they want to move but when your spouse is in medical school, you don’t always have the luxury of choice or time. The sudden relocation to the city was a sur…

Read more »

Three Stops on the Trail of Tears

The rich culture and heritage of the Cherokee people and the story of their forced removal from their homeland is sometimes lost amid undifferentiated accounts of indigenous people in the United States. Three stops along the Georgia section of the Trai…

Read more »
Amazon River at night

Adventures on the Amazon

I stepped back into the dark brown muck and leaned on the tree behind me to get a better photo of the anaconda slithering in my direction. I was motionless for a mere two seconds when Ericson Pinedo, our local naturalist, jerked me back by my arm and q…

Read more »

Eau Claire’s Artistic Wonders

The American heartland city of Eau Claire is enjoying an artistic renaissance. Sitting at the junction of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers in Wisconsin, Eau Claire is French for “clear water,” and water is a defining physical feature of the city. Its…

Read more »

Greece By Sea

“Ferries are for wimps,” our guide Tim’s t-shirt read. It was a motto befitting my tour groups’ plan to spend a week swimming 5km a day between and alongside the Sporades, a cluster of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. I’d traveled to Greece with four f…

Read more »
Arch leading into Tehran

Discovering Iran by bicycle

I’ve travelled almost 20,000km by bicycle through over 15 countries. Often one of the first questions I’m asked when people discover this is, “What’s been your favourite country to cycle through?” Without hesitation I always answer, “Iran.” Photo:  Hav…

Read more »
Voralberg, Austria

The Tastes of Vorarlberg

In August 2015, I left Canada for greener pastures, departing on a ten month exchange year to Austria. My year spent abroad was unique in many ways, I lived with a host family, attended Austrian school, learned German and explored my surroundings. One…

Read more »
hong-kong-skyline.jpg

Visiting Hong Kong on a budget

Hong Kong is a world famous travel destination that caters mostly to urban adventurers. Although a holiday in Hong Kong can be costly, there are a few inexpensive options you can enjoy without breaking the bank. Hong Kong is an important economic and t…

Read more »
Viewing the Burundi landscape from two angles

A Trip to Burundi

Ask any average Westerner, and they likely won’t be able to point out Burundi on the map. Although this tiny country is virtually ignored when it comes to East African tourism, that’s no reason why it shouldn’t be on your travel bucket list. What makes…

Read more »
Robben Island.  Photo:  Tonya Fitzpatrick

On Freedom’s Trail in South Africa: A Personal Journey to Places Shaping the Rainbow Nation

From the new Morgan Freeman film, Invictus, to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Games, South Africa has become a lead actor on the world’s stage. What is most striking about this beautiful nation is that the South African natural landscape is as compelling as the journey through the places shaping the country’s transformation from apartheid to a multicultural democracy.

Read more »
Changdeok Palace.

The Seoul of South Korea

Despite its small size, South Korea packs a mighty punch with diverse tourism offerings that are set in beautiful surroundings.  But within the capital city of Seoul, travelers are treated to journeys from South Korea’s ancient past to present time. Ph…

Read more »
Acadia National Park

Exploring Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is one of the fifty-eight National Parks in the United States and it is in the state of Maine.  The park’s original name in 1916 was Sieur de Monts National Monument before it was changed to Lafayette National Park in 1919.  The cu…

Read more »
Phoenix airport code sign

36 Hours in Phoenix

Phoenix is one of the most interesting cities in the United States. Competing with Philadelphia for bragging rights as the 5th largest city in the States, it is large enough to encompass as much art, culture, sports, and humanity as anyone could ask fo…

Read more »
Galapagos turtles

Touring the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are considered to be part of Ecuador and these islands are along the equator in the Pacific Ocean.  The Galápagos Islands consist of eighteen main islands, three smaller islands and one hundred and seven rocks and islets and toget…

Read more »