Bali: Hotspot for Eco-tourism Destination

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The Indonesian island of Bali has always been known as a tourist hotpot. But what not many people may know is that it is also a thriving eco destination. This hub of culture, art and music exudes natural beauty with its many waterfalls, parks and mountains. And in view of growing awareness about sustainability and concern for the environment, more and more people are opting to get a taste of what Bali has to offer in terms of an eco destination. Check out some of these nature-friendly spots in this gem of an island.

1. Dukuh Sibetan
Indonesia’s proneness to natural calamities is well documented. The village of Dukuh Sibetan is located near the foot of Mount Agung, an active volcano. Residents are all too aware of the dangers lurking up in the mountain, especially after it erupted in 1963 and covered the area with sand and rocks. They did discover something unique, however; a fruit native to the region was able to survive the toxic atmosphere. The snake fruit or salak is now the village’s biggest export and farmers have diversified the fruit by growing 14 varieties. This thriving cottage industry has put the village on the map, making it a very interesting place to visit.

2. Ceningan Island
Located around 20kms away from Bali, Ceningan Island is a paradise of sorts. The perfect getaway for those looking for peace and quiet, the island gives visitors a chance to observe how seaweed is planted and harvested. You can book a guided tour that will take you around the area or you can choose to soak in the sun and sea spray.

3. Gitgit Waterfall
Gitgit Waterfall is a delight to behold. Situated in the sub-district of Sukasada which is 300 meters above sea level, the waterfall can be accessed via a road by car or bike. While tourists flock to the area, the spot is relatively quiet and nature lovers can marvel at the coffee and clove trees that border either side of the road. You can buy souvenirs and eats at the shops that line the first half of the road.

4. Ubud Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest at Ubud is a wonder. A nature reserve as well as a temple complex, the forest is home to the crab-eating macaque, otherwise known as the long-tailed macaque. And that’s not all. The forest also houses 115 different species of trees. This green space is a treat to visit as it is very well preserved.

5. Bedugul Botanical Garden
Flora lovers cannot give Bedugul Botanical Garden a miss. This beautiful place is a bed of many different plant and flower species. Expect to find over 1,187 plant species, 524 birch trees, 104 types of cacti and 320 species of orchids. Nature lovers can also visit the herbarium and library which is well-stocked. Students, researchers and scientists can stay at guest houses which isn’t open to the public.

6. Jatiluwih village
Set against Mt. Agung and Mt. Batukaru, Jatiluwih village is known for the ingenuity of its farmers who managed to turn the hilly region into fertile land. Terraced fields, greenery and village folk going about their business make for a quaint and pleasant tourist experience. Safety is not an issue here as the farmers choose to house their cattle in fields rather than in their backyards, with the notion that there is no thievery in the village.

About the author: Rebecca is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she is fond of gadgets. These days she is busy in writing an article on Jessica Mcclintock Wedding Dresses.

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Matava wins Asia Pacific’s First ever PADI Green Star Award 2011

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PADI Green Star Award awarded to Matava , Fiji
Matava has been awarded the Asia Pacific’s first PADI Green Star Award from PADI @ DEMA
MEDIA RELEASE: 1st December 2011
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KADAVU, FIJI ISLANDS – 1st December 2011 – Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco-Adventure Resort is proud to announce that we have received the first PADI Green Star Award in the Asia Pacific region in November 2011 for our sustainable and eco-conscious environmental activities and business practices.

The program helps PADI Dive Centers and Resorts identify practical actions they can take to protect and preserve the environment. Because they choose which conservation actions they would like to implement, PADI Dive Centers and Resorts can completely customize the program for their businesses.

“There’s more to going green than simply jumping on the eco bandwagon,” says Bob Coleman, Vice President of Sales, Retailer and Resort Association, PADI Americas, Latin America and Canada. “Well-organized conservation initiatives can reduce costs while strengthening your brand, especially when you strategically introduce them into your overall business plan. Earning the PADI Green Star Award shows customers that you care about the environment and are taking action to protect it. With today’s environmentally-conscious divers, going green can be an important competitive advantage.”

The PADI Green Star award requires dive operators and resorts to conduct an objective audit of their facility and business practices and assesses performance in water and energy use, transportation, waste management and conservation leadership.

“We hope other dive operations and tourism providers in the Asia Pacific region follow our example and help to protect their local environment and achieve sustainable business practises in a green and clean manner!” said Mr. Stuart Gow, one of Matava’s Directors.

“We are extremely proud to win this award. We have been lucky to win overseas and global awards for our environmental policy in the past year, but it is especially gratifying to be recognised at home by our colleagues in Fiji.” he continued.

Richard Akhtar, Managing Director of Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort said “At Matava, we are of course both happy and proud to receive this prestigious award. We find it even more important that the industry, by rewarding environmental efforts, choose to take a stand for the environment we depend on. We also see it as an important continuing signal to the community which at the same time can serve to inspire the numerous individuals and companies who have been doing so much, and continue to do even more in the field of environmental enlightenment and conservation. This award has highlighted Fiji’s leading role and efforts in this regard especially.”

“At Matava, we are of course both happy and proud to receive this prestigious global award. We find it even more important that the industry, by rewarding similar efforts, choose to take a stand for the environment we depend on. We also see it as an important continuing signal to the community which at the same time can serve to inspire the numerous individuals and companies who have been doing so much, and continue to do even more in the field of environmental enlightenment and conservation. This award has highlighted Fiji’s leading role and efforts in this regard especially in our our region of the South Pacific.”
Mr Akhtar finished by saying “Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco-Adventure Resort has again proved that it is indeed among the leaders in environmentally sensitive resorts worldwide, and this latest award solidifies our position as an example of how resorts can operate AND help maintain and improve the surrounding environment”

The Green Star award was presented to us during DEMA week in November 2011 by PADI’s Project Aware and PADI President Mr Drew Richardson.
For more information go to their website:Matava.

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Waterfall Villas working to save Pristine Watersheds in Costa Rica

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After the recent rains, an overturned rock at the edge of the Cascadas Farallas Waterfalls shows various fossils of an Emu-type prehistoric animal that once roamed the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. Now part of the Baru rainforest, this waterfall and the fossils are protected by the Waterfall Villas Private Wildlife Reserve. Fortunately, here the source of the waterfall is very close – underground and inside of rock bed, and there are no polluting sources upstream – only the otters, tiger heron, and the occasional jaguar wade upstream of the waterfalls usually in the summer months.

The water in the Cascadas Farallas Waterfalls is crystal clear and clean enough to drink, but the Waterfall Villas has recently invested in an ultra-violet filter as a second step to the exsisting carbon filter system to make sure that this water can be used throughout our eco-hotel without any chlorine! This ultra-violet system is now inplace and not using any chemicals that enter into our water is a great benefit to save the waterfalls and all of the wildlife around the Waterfall Villas!

The Cascadas Farallas Waterfall makes its way to the Baru River at the bottom of the mountain gorge also visible from our property, and then it winds like a snake to the ocean, and Dominical Beach. When you wash your hair at the Waterfall Villas you will feel the difference this makes! Not only will you be using chlorine free spring water, but also all of our artesian soap and shampoo is made locally, with no chemicals – only pure local made coconut oils and essential oils. Our Lang y Lang comes from Sabina at Finca Ipe, who lovingly collects thousands of flowers each year from her farm and provides us with this amazing oil that we also use at our Spa.

In Costa Rica, many efforts are being made to save pristine watershed areas such as Cascadas Farallas – part of the Biological Corridor of the Tapir that stretches from the Osa Peninsula to the mountains. ASANA the main conservation group in the area, has now extended its efforts to the Sevegre River, a unique biological zone blessed with many rare birds, and is very close to having this area pronounced a biological protected area by UNESCO. To have an area recognized by UNESCO requires a huge effort in educating the local population, and working with them in grass-roots sustainability meetings.
Some of the 4,000 local inhabitants of the Sevegre River live at the source, where there has been an unprecedented rise in trout farming. Fish farming at the source is lively hood for many people, but trout farming, as cattle farming result in runoff of chemicals. At the source of the Sevegre, this type of farming has required the transplantation of the nests some of the world’s most rare birds – the Quetzals that are prevalent in the area, to make room for artificial pools for raising trout. Fish farming also pollutes at the source of the river. Education about filtration systems, and other alternatives is a huge and slow process.

On the way to the Waterfall Villas in Costa Rica’s South Pacific region, you can visit the source of the Sevegre River in San Gerardo de Dota in the highlands of the Sierra del Muerte mountains. We would like to remind are eco-minded travelers to please try to find places to stay that do not raise trout or at least, have put in the new methods to filter the water. It is important to support real eco-hotels (beyond what certifications they have) that are truly on board with saving both the fabulous Quetzals and not polluting the water systems.

Waterfall Villas is the first corporate sponsor of ASANA committed to the preservation of natural areas in the South Pacific of Costa Rica, in the most dense biological diverse area of our planet. Waterfall Villas offers White Water Rafting in the Sevegre River, a non-obtrusive activity as part of our Adventure Tour portfolio.

To visit their website: Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Villas

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Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development at Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation & Inn in Costa Rica

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Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden
Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development

Introduction
At Finca Rosa Blanca we have a long history of working towards the well being of our surrounding community. We have worked with the area schools, the local food bank, the environmental group “Patrullas Ecologicas”, and the senior citizens home. Through the years we have improved infrastructure for these groups and increased their environmental awareness; we have reforested and improved waste recycling; and we have provided skills training and opportunities for improving income generation. Our latest project of hydroponic gardening will augment interest in more sustainable living while at the same time implement an activity that in itself leads to more sustainable community development.

Requiring relatively small space and minimal materials hydroponic gardens are a source of fresh produce contributing to healthier diets and increasing local food production, which we know helps reduce the carbon footprint. These gardens are simple and fun to establish and maintain, and can even beautify a space.

Project Purpose
Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden involves community members and children in the production of fresh produce for local consumption, and in the improvement of waste recycling in order to increase awareness of more sustainable living and improve nutritional value of local diets. It responds directly to the needs of the Santa Barbara community to develop appropriate solid waste management processes as well as the impoverished community’s need to supplement diet at minimal costs.

How does it work? Produce will be grown by the local environmental group Patrullas Ecologicas. All produce grown by the Patrullas Ecologicas will be donated to the food bank, where many of the children and youth of this environmental group receive one free hot meal a day. In return for receiving fresh produce the food bank and its clients will commit to the improvement of their recycling center so that it may adequately receive the community’s recyclables. These recyclables are sold to the larger companies that process the material and the income earned is re-invested in the operation of the food bank.
Finca Rosa Blanca and its gardening and sustainability teams provide the space and know-how for creating the hydroponics garden and they also provide the guidance for improved management of the recycling center.

Why do this? Buy a Bag, Plant a Bag is a relevant undertaking for sustainable living in our community for the following reasons.

It encourages better solid waste management among the community.

The project will directly help increase the amount of recyclable waste collected in the community. Besides guiding improved management of the facility, Finca Rosa Blanca, with Patrullas Ecologicas will initiate a community wide campaign to teach and encourage Santa Barbara residents to separate wastes and bring them to the recycling center.

It increases social and financial sustainability by teaching the value of active participation in ones well being.

The project aims to increase the social cohesion among the aforementioned community groups by switching the mentality of “living from a handout” to actively participating in one’s well being. Some of the clients of the food bank will be growing part of their food and others will be helping generate funds for the maintenance of the food bank, by ensuring proper and responsible management of the recycling center.
The additional money generated from the sale of recyclables is re-invested in the operation and maintenance of the food bank. Further, the produce for the food bank will enhance the nutritional value of the food served for the community without incrementing costs for the food bank.

It creates the opportunity for others to improve access and consumption of fresh produce

Lastly, Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden also aims to generate interest in hydroponic gardening as a method to improve access and consumption of fresh produce among other community members. Once the gardens have been set up and are functioning, Finca Rosa Blanca will offer, to those that are interested, the technical lessons so as to help individuals of the community set-up their own gardens.

Submitted by Teri Osman Jampol, owner of Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation

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Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort – Proves Luxury and Sustainability go Hand in Hand in Costa Rica

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October 2011, San José, Costa Rica – Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, a luxury boutique hotel located in Manuel Antonio, has set a new high this week after being named Costa Rica’s first hotel with a perfect score of five-star luxury and five-leaf sustainability.

“It is an honor to received this new, five-star designation,” said Hans Pfister, CEO and principle of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, a company that manages a number of luxury ecolodges in Central America, including Arenas Del Mar. “If you pair this luxury rating with our perfect, five-leaf score under the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism, we are demonstrating that luxury and Earth consciousness can go hand-in-hand – and that it doesn’t have to be one at the expense of the other.”

In determining Arenas Del Mar’s five-star rating, inspectors noted that they were impressed at how the hotel blends seamlessly into the rainforest and beachfront setting, not disturbing the nature and wildlife – something that’s been an objective for the hotel since the planning and construction phase.

“Since the start, we imagined Arenas Del Mar to be the perfect blend of sustainability and luxury. Today, I’m pleased to say that we’ve finally turned that dream into a reality,” said Pfister. “and because Costa Rica is already a country that leads the way in terms of sustainable and eco-tourism, earning this top distinction was no easy feat – and, ultimately, is made all the more sweet.”

As Manuel Antonio’s only luxury beachfront property, some benefits of Arenas Del Mar include spacious, air-conditioned guestrooms with private decks, hot tubs and sweeping ocean views; two gourmet restaurants that combine fresh Costa Rican cuisine with a wild rainforest and ocean backdrop; a full-service spa that specializes in massages, facials, wraps and more; and a range of available guided wilderness activities, ranging from early-morning bird watching tours and late-night rainforest treks to sunset catamaran voyages and adventurous whitewater rafting. Arenas Del Mar also offers direct access and tours of the lush and animal-rich Manuel Antonio National Park.

Sustainable highlights for Arenas Del Mar include limiting building mass to just 25 per cent of the total property, using solar panels to heat hot water, tiling roofs with recycled bags once used in banana plantations, using sustainable and Earth-friendly products in the hotel’s Las Brisas Spa, growing thousands of native trees and endemic plants and offering sustainability tours that, amongst other things, allow guests to try their hands at tortilla-making.

Of Costa Rica’s five-leaf rated hotels, four of the total 15 fall under the Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality umbrella: Arenas Del Mar, Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Harmony Hotel and Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn.

Learn more here: Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort. For more information please contact Hans Pfister at hans@cayugaonline.com.

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Golden Buddha Beach Resort in Thailand’s view of Responsible Tourism

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At Golden Buddha Beach Resort we have lived and breathed ecological and community sensitive hospitality for the last 18 years. Initially this was as much by necessity as by design. Located on a remote island with no electrical mains, no scheduled boat service and the only village one hour away has ensured that Golden Buddha has become acutely aware of its environment and its importance. At Golden Buddha we pride ourselves on our approach to responsible tourism. Put simply we define this as: To maximize the positive impacts and minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the local community and environment. Importantly we do not view responsible tourism with the mindset that once we have achieved the badge, stamp or accreditation that we are there. Instead we believe it is an ongoing process of improvement and development whilst finely balancing the objectives of business and responsibility.

The definition of an Eco Resort is generally left up to marketing geniuses. For instance, Blue Bamboo Eco Lodge might say, “Only organic soaps and shampoos are used in our facilities.” All the while consuming huge amounts of energy on air conditioning, water features and paying staff below the minimum legal wages and firing them with a day’s notice. At Golden Buddha we have a period of 6 months with little rain and a lot of sunshine that brings strong interest from international visitors followed by 6 months of the southwest monsoon with lots of rain and storms. These characteristics lead Golden Buddha Beach to use simple, low impact construction for its 25 individual houses and all communal buildings. The luxury must to be provided by nature, not man. Buildings are spaced apart and permitted to comprise no more than 12.5% of any one-rai plot. Building heights are restricted to maintain the spacious feel and emphasise the surrounding rain forests. All buildings are constructed predominantly with plantation sourced tropical hardwoods using local Thai craftsmen. As all power has to be generated on site, it was obvious that big generators and daily transport of large quantities of fuel were going to be both wasteful and expensive. Thus, the decision was made to rule out the use of air conditioning and hot water showers and excessive electricity. This policy continues to this day.

Golden Buddha hires locally wherever possible. This policy is both practical and necessary. Who else knows how the island’s community life works? What is acceptable and what is not? Who else knows the local environment and wildlife better? Furthermore, most people on the mainland think it is a bit peculiar to live in such an isolated environment with few urban conveniences. Currently all the staff at Golden Buddha are from Thailand and 90% are fromthe island or the nearby coastal villages. In addition, where services are available by local businesses, large or small, we use local. The head of the island’s TahPaeYoi village provides all boat services to and from the resort using energy efficient longtail boats powered by 14 hp engines. Small business operators in Kuraburi town provide ground transportation services for our guests. The closest accountant is in Takuapa and we use her services. It is a symbiotic relationship. Yet simply hiring local does not mean one is building responsible tourism on Koh Phra Thong. It takes much more. All of our staff are paid significantly above the legal minimum and we pay their taxes and social insurance. They all get paid legal holidays and vacation pay. Unlike many Thai hotel operators, we try to provide year around employment to staff that want it. When we are not busy with guests, they take their holidays and visit family, and at the resort do maintenance, plant trees and carry out other rainy season tasks. Training is another important contribution to the local staff on the island. Our training is heavy on skills for the hospitality industry and English language. Other training is more specialised such as food management, hygiene, carpentry, diesel engine maintenance, computer usage and sustainable gardening.

Our environmental policies continue to evolve. They are based on 1) good science, 2) practicality, and 3) guest acceptability.We lose a lot of business by not having air conditioning and hot water, but there are plenty of places for those tourists. Instead, we provide healthy food made with fresh, local ingredients. Electric power is provided from 6pm to 11pm in the houses, which is acceptable for most people. We have two generators of different sizes. Except when the resort is at full capacity with guests we use the smaller one at 2 litres per hours of fuel consumption. That saves 4 litres/hour over the larger one, which is generally only used 20 or so days/year, or as a backup. We don’t power water pumps for swimming pools; rather we provide miles of un-spoiled oceanfront beaches and a calm bay for guests to enjoy in just about any weather condition. What works in some places doesn’t work in others. Waste material is a problem everywhere. We would like to see everything that comes on the island go off again. Whereas in some communities’ glass beer and soda bottles are recycled, that is not possible here. As recently as 2 years ago the glass bottles were simply being buried after crushing. In 2008 we realised that beer and sodas in aluminium cans would actually solve an environmental problem for us. Aluminium has commercial value and is purchased locally. We no longer buy any bottles and only get beverages in cans. The result is that our staff collect these from any place they can; from the bar, the houses or those left carelessly on the beach and take them to Kuraburi to sell for some extra money. Another simple waste management problem has been plastic packaging. Two years ago a businesswoman in Kuraburi that sourced all our vegetables, fruits and meat was using a massive number of disposable plastic bags. We cannot recycle them and the only practical thing to do with them is burn them. We don’t have the complete solution, but we have made great strides. We have reusable plastic boxes and coolers, which go back and forth to her business. She packs them up and sends them to the pier and they return to the island. What plastic packaging does come to the island now goes back to the mainland for proper disposal. Since our island is virtually all sand and poor in biological carbon, we are able to benefit by saving all food scraps which are composted along with grass clippings, coconut branches and other natural trash. During the rainy season our staff utilise the compost in our gardens. These vegetables and fish they catch after work make a substantial contribution to wholesome staff meals for almost six months each year.

At Golden Buddha we do care about the environment, our staff and the local community. And, of course,we care about our guests. After all, we are in the hospitality business. Guests want to relax and enjoy the local surrounding without hardship. We are believers in science. It can have bad uses or good uses. Wewill continue to explore ways to use wastewater for our gardens, solar for power and lower energy techniques to purifywater.We are not too sanguine about making ice in the resort. The laws of thermodynamics are not very forgiving and it simply takes a lot of energy to cool water from 25 C to -4 C with current technology. We continue to look for improvements and we welcome all feedback, suggestions and potential partnerships.

For more information contact: myles@goldenbuddharesort.com com or go to Golden Buddha Beach Resort

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Black Sheep Inn Retreat & Learning Center

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September 1, 2011 – Chugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador – Black Sheep Inn, an internationally acclaimed award winning ecolodge, is converting into a Retreat Center hosting workshops and events. The lodge will no longer be operating as a hotel with daily check-ins and check-outs, but instead will specialize in group events, offering the entire facility for 5 days or more.

Groups enjoy Black Sheep Inn’s globally recognized services:
• Worlds Best Hotels – South America STAY LIST – National Geographic Traveler 2011
• Top 10 Eco-Resort – Delta SKY Magazine 2009
• Top 50 Eco-Lodges – National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2009
• Winner – ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006 & 2008
• Skål International Ecotourism Award 2006
• Smithsonian Magazine/Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award 2005
• Finalist for Tourism for Tomorrow Award – World Travel & Tourism Council 2005
• Highly Commended – Best Mountain Environment – Responsible Tourism Awards 2005
• Short-Listed – Responsible Traveler Award 2004
• Top 10 Ecolodges in the World – Outside Magazine 2003
• Eco-Certified – Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism & Ecuadorian Ecotourism Society 2003
• Best Website – Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism 2002

Suggested themes for Retreats include: Yoga or Meditation Retreats; Creative Workshops for Artists or Writers; Eco-Living or Green Building Trainings; Family Reunions, Weddings, Birthdays; Volunteer Vacations with Community-Aid Work; Corporate Team Building and Empowerment or other weeklong events.

Black Sheep Inn’s rural Andean location offers world renowned day hiking, horseback riding and excursions to: Laguna Quilotoa, Rio Toachi Canyon, cloud forest in the Iliniza Ecological Reserve, indigenous markets, and local cooperative workshops producing handcrafted furniture and Swiss-style cheeses.

Eco Permaculture Features include: solar panels, adobe construction, composting toilets, recycling, roof water collectors, gray water systems, organic gardens, community education & aid work, reforestation, erosion control and more.

If you are organizing a vacation, event or workshop please send an inquiry to: info@blacksheepinn.com or blacksheepinn@yahoo.com

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6 Eco Lodges get perfect scores in the Eco Rating at Eco Tropical Resorts

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I am thrilled to post 6 eco lodges that have scored 5 out of 5 on our Eco Rating. I’ve even added a link in the menu because these 6 lodges deserve recognition! Two are in Costa Rica, two are in Fiji, and one in Honduras and the other in Dominica.
They are:
Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Finca Exotica in Costa Rica
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
Finca Exotica Ecolodge

Mango Creek Lodge in Honduras
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
MangoCreek Lodge

Matava in Fiji
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
Matava

Nakia Resort and Dive in Fiji
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
Nakia
Resort and Dive Fiji

Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge/3 Rivers Dominica
Eco Rating 5 out of 5
Rosalie
Forest Eco Lodge

All of these lodges are awesome!

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The Gina Cronin story: American Woman Prevails Against Odds, Realizes, Shares Dream of Green Living

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Coming from a Cleveland, Ohio area suburb, I had been dreaming of a more sustainable, green lifestyle for years. I wanted to enjoy a comfortable life style while being environmentally responsible, self sufficient and energy independent – determined to find a way to make it a reality.

After much soul searching and researching, with the help of Google and the Internet, I eventually found a piece of suitable land, but it was in Panama, a central American country I knew little about – nor did I speak the language or have experience at the time. But I was determined not to let that stop me.

On my first visit to the property that is now known as the Rancho de Caldera eco-project, I knew right away that I was home; the fact that I was in another country, didn’t speak the language, or know anyone didn’t seem to matter.
It felt right to be here then – as it does now. I felt an immediate connection to the natural green environment and the awesome beauty there. With invaluable help from Chris McCall and the construction team, we endeavored to create a beautiful, serene and comfortable eco-resort for nature lovers, horse back riders, Yoga fans and bird watchers, while being environmentally and socially responsible and mindful.

True to our values and vision of sustainability, we have arranged to operate the entire project (eco hotel, restaurant, orchards, gardens, horse ranch and agriculture) off the grid all year, thanks to a combination of solar panels, hydro-electric generators and wind generators that provide all our electrical power needs. We’re also implementing strict ‘green’ policies and continue to focus on sustainability. And I was convinced that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. I wanted to offer people an oasis, a retreat, a tropical getaway where they can come and enjoy a truly relaxing ‘siesta for their soul’.

Meanwhile, our innovative approach to luxurious yet sustainable hospitality has received international recognition. We’ve been certified by Green Globe International, one of the world’s premier green certification institutions. Accolades, awards and endorsements from other international green travel and conservation groups followed, including from Sustainable Travel International, TripAdvisor and Rainforest Alliance.

Thus, today I have realized my dream to create a beautiful oasis of serenity where visitors and guests can immerse themselves in a natural environment that nurtures the soul, energizes the body and almost overwhelms the senses with its abundant natural beauty. When people ask about my personal philosophy and key to a happy life, I tell them I believe that it is the simple things in life that bring the greatest
pleasure: great food, natural living, communion with family and friends, comfortable living quarters and beds and gentle, responsible interaction with our natural surroundings.

Those interested in learning more about Rancho de Caldera and Madre Tierra – our restaurant – are invited to contact us with any question, visit our website and/or visit our Rancho de Caldera project in person, in the beautiful green hills of Boquete, western Panama, near the Costa Rica border. Panama City, the countries main airport, is less than three hours flight time from Miami, FL.

For more information: Rancho de Caldera

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Small Hotel of the Year goes to Table Rock Jungle Lodge in Belize

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BTB Honors Key Pioneers at its 11th Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony

Belize City, Belize – June 8th, 2011 — The evening of Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, was witness to the spectacular as the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), with a gathering of distinguished guests such as the Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow; the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr.; and a host of tourism stakeholders, took the time to honor the Belize Tourism Industry’s top performers and leaders at the 11th Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony.

The Tourism Awards Ceremony recognizes and honors those organizations, industry partners, and individuals who have all made outstanding contributions to the industry. These awardees are those who have taken the time to mold Belize’s natural tourism product into outstanding experiences that serves to draw millions to our shores.

Table Rock Jungle Lodge, located on the Macal River in the Cayo District, was awarded this year’s prestigious Small Hotel of the Year Award. This category recognizes a licensed hotel with 20 rooms or less that captures the true essence of local hospitality at its very best, represents cultural and/or natural heritage authenticity, and achieves consistent customer service excellence across the board. The bulk of Belize’s 700 hotels fall into the Small Hotel category.

In addition to being selected Belize’s Small Hotel of the Year, Table Rock Jungle Lodge has also been honored with receiving this year’s Belize Green Business Award, 2011 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, and 2010 Travelers’ Choice Award (Trip Advisor).
For more information about this lodge: Table Rock Jungle Lodge

About Belize
As one of the last unspoiled places on earth, Belize offers travelers the richly rewarding authenticity they seek in a Caribbean getaway. With direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, this tropical paradise is nestled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the country’s unique charms. Belize offers a land rich in natural beauty and steeped in the history and culture of its Maya past. Renowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize’s pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush unspoiled landscapes and superb diving truly make it Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret. For more information on how you can Be One With Belize, visit www.travelbelize.org.

See video and photos of Belize’s 11th Annual Tourism Awards here:

http://www.ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2011/june/09/san-pedro-receives-top-honors-tourism-awards
http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/55772
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/news/btb-honors-pioneers-at-11th-annual-tourism-awards/
http://www.guardian.bz/all-politics/3367-11th-annual-tourism-awards-ceremony

Whether you’re looking for Caribbean extend stays or Antigua vacation hotels from sandals, let Eco-Tropical help!

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