Expressed simply, sustainable tourism can be defined as:
“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
World Tourism Organization Network
We know that for many travelers, staying at eco-friendly hotels is a priority. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa has always valued the importance of our environment by the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. From the very beginning, we have worked toward the efficient use of resources, and practices which have minimal impact on our natural surroundings.
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is located within the Arenal Volcano National Park that borders the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – an area that is characterized by dense primary rainforest broken only by unpolluted streams and rivers.
When we acquired our property of 352 hectares (870 acres) in 1972 at the base of the Arenal Volcano – including 110 hectares (272 acres) of natural rainforest, 120 hectares (297 acres) of reforested areas, and also pastureland – we adopted environmentally friendly practices from the start. Our policies and programs promoting sustainability still continue today.
Our objective has always been to be a leading hotel in Costa Rica offering excellent service and comfort to our guests, with a strong commitment to environmental protection. Since the year 2000, we have proudly participated in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT). Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa holds a rating of 4 Leaves in the CST Program, which rates and certifies tourism businesses from 1 to 5 Leaves (levels) based on their compliance with natural, cultural and social resource management.
Our sustainable practices at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa include:
- Sustainable maintainance of 270 acres (109 hectares) of our property as natural forest and 400 acres (162 hectares) in reforestation with pine and eucalyptus.
- Use of pristine mountain spring water in the hotel which is certified by a laboratory approved by the Costa Rican Health Ministry.
- Plant our gardens and green areas with species native to the region which attract birds and wildlife. We have identified many shrubs and trees with labels indicating their scientific and common names.
- Use natural and biodegradable products to maintain the gardens.
- Use indirect lighting in natural areas to avoid disturbing wildlife.
- Control the run-off of rainwater to prevent soil erosion.
- Installation of proper sewage treatment plants to prevent contamination to the environment.
- We encourage energy and water conservation practices among our employees and guests by asking that lights be turned off when not in use, that towels be reused, etc. We have installed water saving devices such as low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets, and low energy lighting.
- We use low volumes of chlorine in our pool, and have the pool water quality certified by a laboratory regularly.
- When possible we hang linens and clothing to dry rather than using dryers.
- We recycle and re-use when possible, including using organic waste as food for local farm animals.
- We use fresh products instead of canned goods whenever possible in our restaurant.
- The hotel uses refillable containers for shampoo, soap, etc. in guest rooms, and we use biodegradable cleaning products.
- In our community, we hire local personnel and help the local school with donations of books, building materials and supplies for events, etc. We help the community with road maintenance, drainage systems, and cleaning and dredging of the river.
Tips for visitors to natural areas and parks
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa promotes responsible tourism when visiting Costa Rica’s national parks and protected areas. We ask that visitors please follow these tips when visiting natural areas:
- Always walk on established paths when visiting national parks and protected areas.
- Remember to only leave behind footprints and not trash.
- Remember not to take any flora and fauna, such as: flowers, plants, seeds, rocks, animals, etc.
- Observe but do not disturb animals. Do not feed any animals.
- Support local communities by hiring trained local guides, buying local crafts, visiting local restaurants and hotels, and supporting projects that benefit the communities.
- Be sensitive about local culture and traditions.
- Support conservation programs.
Climate Change – Carbon Footprint – Greenhouse Gases
An individual’s, organization’s, event’s, or activity’s carbon footprint is the sum of its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. In order to estimate the sum of one’s emissions, the gases are transformed into a known unit such as carbon equivalent.
Carbon footprints allow you to have a better understanding of your level of participation in global warming. Once you know your footprint, you should establish a plan to reduce your emissions. We invite you to calculate your carbon footprint and reduce it. You can calculate your carbon footprint using this link.