Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Name of propertyLapa Rios Ecolodge
Person completing this formMillay Kogan
PositionSustainability Coordinator
Address of propertyOsa Peninsula
CountryCosta Rica
Phone number including country code and area code(506) 2735-5130
Web siteLapa Rios Ecolodge
E-mailmariajose@cayugaonline.com
Type of propertyEcolodge
Number of rooms or cottages16
Maximum number of guests34
Eco membershipsMember of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and the Costa Rican Association of Ecotourism (CANAECO)
Eco ratings, certifications, awardsFive leaf certification from the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST)
Eco Rating Eco Tropical Resorts: 4.6 out of 5.
  • Do you have a written environmental or social sustainability policy?     YES/NO

If yes, please attach.

  • Do you have a written environmental management system?              YES/NO

If yes, please attach.

  • Describe the property – aim, size, facilities, amount of land owned and leased  (150 words max)

Lapa Rios Ecolodge is situated in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica on a 1,000 acre private reserve.  The lodge itself contains 16 private, upscale bungalows with a full service restaurant and maintains a conservation easement elaborated by The Nature Conservancy and Cederena to ensure that this private reserve will be preserved into perpetuity.

  • Describe the location, including distance to nearest town and size of town (100 words max)

Lapa Rios Ecolodge is located in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.  It is approximately forty-five minutes from the nearest town of Puerto Jimenez.

  • Describe WHY you made the decision to develop an eco resort (100 word max)

Originally, Lapa Rios was built by John and Karen Lewis as a private nature reserve. A Minnesota couple driven by a vision, John and Karen liquidated all their assets to finance the purchase of a large tract of rainforest and to build the small supporting tourism project. Today, Lapa Rios contains 16 private, upscale bungalows with a full service restaurant and maintains a conservation easement elaborated by The Nature Conservancy and Cederena to ensure that this private reserve will be preserved into perpetuity.  For the past seventeen years, the privately financed Lapa Rios Ecolodge is more than just a beautiful rainforest hotel or eco resort next to the beach. With almost 60 employees, Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project that strives to show both its guests, its employees and the surrounding community that “a forest left standing is worth more than one cut down”.

Introduction to the Butterfly Club’s Eco Rating

The Butterfly Club Eco Rating has five equally-weighted categories:

  • Energy;
  • Water;
  • Recycling and waste;
  • Land and nature conservation; and
  • Community.

Each category has five levels, designated by one to five butterflies.  Through self assessment, resort operators completing this rating will determine their own levels within each category based on their responses to items listed below.

Two categories – energy and water – have similar rating systems with Levels 1 and 2 addressing conservation of existing resources, and Levels 3, 4 and 5 addressing creation of renewable energy or capturing water.

Level five in every category also requires written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record consumption; (2) test and apply additional conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific targets.   We require a copy of your policies if you achieve level 5 in any category.

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge Energy

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_x__  use natural air circulation and fans, not air conditioners
_ x__  use natural light during the day
_ x__  minimize use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines and equipment
_ x__  use “on demand” or solar heating for hot water
_ x__  air dry clothes/linens
_ x__  wash dishes by hand
_ x__  use energy efficient appliances and electronics
_ x__  use low wattage fluorescent light bulbs
_ x__  change linens, tablecloths, napkins upon request
_ x__  switch off lights when not used
Other energy conservation activities? Please list:
Biogas-powered stove fuelled by leftover food from the hotel kitchen.

Level 1 = four or fewer energy conservation activities

Level 2 = five or more energy conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – renewable energy: Indicate proportion (%) of energy from each source:

_3__solar (for heating hot water)
___  wind
___  hydro
_95_  generator (uses a biodiesel blend)
___  public utility
   2_    Biogas
Other energy sources? Please list:
100% TOTAL
How were these proportions developed?

Level 3 = renewable energy is employed and is less than 1/3 of all energy

Level 4 = renewable energy constitutes 1/3 – 2/3 of all energy

Level 5 = renewable energy constitutes 2/3 or more of all energy.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record energy consumption; (2) test and apply additional energy conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific energy targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Energy Level 5 (required).

Your Energy Level (select 1 – 5) =   3

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge Water

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_ x_  low flow faucets and showerheads
____ low water use toilets
_ x_  change linens, towels, tablecloths, and napkins upon request
____ use table mats that can be wiped and not laundered
_ x_  use biodegradable laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap
_ x_  treat swimming pool with chlorine-free processes
Other water conservation activities?  Please list.

Level 1 = three or fewer water conservation activities

Level 2 = four or more water conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – capture and treat fresh water and manage waste water. Capture water: Indicate proportion (%) of water from each source:

100  spring
___  river
___  rain
___  reuse gray
___  public utility
Other water sources? Please list.
100% TOTAL
Fresh water treatment: how is captured fresh water treated?
_x_  naturally.  Indicate method: charcoal, ultraviolet light, other? List:
___  chemically.  List chemicals used:

Waste water management:
_ x__  septic tanks
___  cesspools
___  other? List methods:

Level 3: Water is captured (from springs, rivers, rain or prior use) and constitutes less than 1/3 of water from all sources.  Water is treated chemically.  Water disposal does not minimize damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 4:  Captured water constitutes 1/3 to 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 5:  Captured water constitutes more than 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests.   In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record water consumption; (2) test and apply additional water conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific water targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Water Level 5 (required).

Your Water Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge Recycling and waste

Check all that apply:

_ x__   use durable service items, e.g. cups, glasses, dishes, tableware, storage items
_ x__   buy fresh and local to reduce packaging and emissions from transportation
_ x__   purchase in bulk to reduce packaging
_ x__   recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminum
_ x__   minimize emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines & equipment
____   zero waste in the kitchen
_ x__   serve local water, not bottled water
_ x__   cleaning products are biodegradable
_ x__   compost organic matter
Other methods to recycle waste? Please list.

Level 1 = four or fewer recycling activities

Level 2 = five recycling activities

Level 3 = six recycling activities

Level 4 = seven recycling activities

Level 5 = eight or more recycling activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record recycling and waste; (2) test and apply additional recycling and waste conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific recycling and waste targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Recycling and Waste Level 5 (required).

Your Recycling and Waste Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge Land and nature conservation

Check all that apply:

_ x__   minimize tree removal when building
_ x__   use only botanical (plant-based) herbicides & pesticides in garden & grounds
____   maintain organic gardens as food source for resort
_ x__   use biodegradable cleaning products
_ x__   minimize external illumination
_ x__   take additional specific actions to preserve the local habitat.  Please list actions and projects:

Lapa Rios Ecolodge currently owns a 1,000 acre private reserve that is used solely for the use of conservation.

Level 1: one or two land and nature conservation activities

Level 2: three land and nature conservation activities

Level 3: four land and nature conservation activities

Level 4: five land and nature conservation activities

Level 5: six or more land and nature conservation activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record land and nature conservation activities; (2) test and apply additional land and nature conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific land and nature conservation targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Land and Nature Conservation Level 5 (required).

Your Land and Nature Conservation Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Lapa Rios Ecolodge Community

This category addresses policies and activities regarding staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the community.

Check all activities that apply:

_ x__  hire staff residing near the resort     _100__% local nationals
_ x__  use local suppliers                           _100__% purchased goods produced locally
_ x__  re-invest resort income locally        _60__% income re-invested locally
_ x__  pay above local prevailing wage
_ x__  pay into local social security
_ x__  provide health insurance or coverage
_ x__  use regular staff meetings to educate staff about sustainable processes throughout the resort, in the garden, with waste disposal, etc
_ x__  provide educational awareness programs for staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the local community
__x__  provide sustainable transport to work for staff
_ x__  take additional specific actions to support the local community. Please list actions and projects.

Level 1: one or two community activities

Level 2: three to five community activities

Level 3: six to seven community activities

Level 4: eight to nine community activities

Level 5: ten or more community activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record community activities; (2) test and apply additional methods to support the community; and (3) work towards specific community targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Community Level 5 (required).

Your Community Level (select 1 – 5): 5

YOUR OVERALL ECO SCORE (add your level for each category and divide by 5and enter the result with the decimal point, e.g. 3.6):   4.6

We have three final questions which are not part of the eco rating: 

  • Please describe your single most important eco achievement:

Winner of five leaves from Costa Rica´s prestigious Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST).

  • Indicate additional sustainable practices that you plan to institute within the next 6 months.

In the next six months, we will be looking to implement a number of sustainability practices, including the improvement of our biogas and recycling systems, working to achieve Costa Rica´s Carbon Neutral certification, offering assistance for a local jaguar conservation project, and much more.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add to this eco rating?

Set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Ecolodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean, making it an ideal destination for travelers from around the world.

Originally, Lapa Rios was built by John and Karen Lewis as a private nature reserve. A Minnesota couple driven by a vision, John and Karen liquidated all their assets to finance the purchase of a large tract of rainforest and to build the small supporting tourism project. Today, Lapa Rios contains 16 private, upscale bungalows with a full service restaurant and maintains a conservation easement elaborated by The Nature Conservancy and Cederena to ensure that this private reserve will be preserved into perpetuity.  For the past seventeen years, the privately financed Lapa Rios Ecolodge is more than just a beautiful rainforest hotel or eco resort next to the beach. With almost 60 employees, Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project that strives to show both its guests, its employees and the surrounding community that “a forest left standing is worth more than one cut down”.

Environmental Stewardship

Lapa Rios Ecolodge strives to serve as a model for tourism operations around the world, proving that the incorporation of environmental protection policies and procedures can and should form part of daily operations.  Our work includes (but is certainly not limited to):

  • The conservation and protection of 1,000 acres of primary rain forest

 

  • A commitment to use locally grown, renewable resources (including suiita and caña blanca) in the construction of the lodge itself
  • The use of biodegradable cleaning and personal care products for both guests and employees

 

  • An extensive waste management and recycling program
  • A biogas system powered by leftover food scraps from the employee kitchen

 

  • Landscaping that has incorporated the use of plants native to the Osa Peninsula

Working with Local Communities

The philosophy behind Lapa Rios Ecolodge is strongly rooted in education and community development, as we believe that the inclusion of local individuals and groups is integral to the success of any project in conservation and sustainable development.

Over the years, Lapa Rios Ecolodge has spearheaded, and contributed to, a number of different projects to support and develop the communities and its residents in the surrounding community, including (just to name a few examples):

  • Maintaining a policy of hiring and training local residents to fill positions within the operation of the lodge itself.

 

  • The building and ongoing financial support of the nearby Carbonera School, which currently educates local children and maintains a strong focus in environmental education and awareness.
  • The maintenance and upkeep of the nearby Corcovado National Park, including the yearly salary of park rangers that work to assure the protection of flora and fauna.

 

  • Promoting the concept of sustainable development and conservation worldwide, among students (both local, national and international), local community members, government officials, the international press and much more.

The Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST)

Over the years, Lapa Rios Ecolodge has worked extensively with the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST), a certfication system that awards tourism operators for their work in sustainable tourism. This complete, and rigorous, certification system administered by the Costa Rican ministry of tourism awards hotels “leaves” on a scale of one to five based on their sustainability achievements (much like the Mobile star rating which evaluates hotel services).  The CST bases its judgments on four factors:

  • Biological-physical:  How does a property impact and/or protect its surrounding environment?

 

  • Services and Infrastructure:  How do the property’s operations (including product use and disposal, water and energy management, etc.) affect the environment?
  • Social-Economic environment: What impact does the property have on nearby communities to promote/provide education to its staff and community and to work with community service providers?

 

  • External client:  How does the property promote and teach responsible tourism with guests who visit?

Lapa Rios Ecolodge is currently the only hotel in Costa Rica to have received a five leaf rating (the highest rating available) two consecutive audits in a row, and is reknown throughout the country, and the world, for its commitment to certified sustainability practices.

The Sustainable Guest Experience

For guests that stay at Lapa Rios, a number of activities are offered that promote a constructive interaction between nature and the local community, including:

  • The Living Green Tour, a free guided tour offered by our onsite sustainability coordinator that explores the sustainable operations of the lodge itself, highlighting best practices and sustainable innovations.

 

  • Nature tours offered by local guides that focus on indigenous and local interpretations of flora and fauna.
  • Tours of the nearby Carbonera School, allowing guests to interact with local school children.

 

  • Tours of local farms that have implemented sustainable and organic agricultural practices.
  • Typical nightly dances performed by a local dance troupe.

 

  • A volunteer tree planting programs that allow guests to contribute to the reforestation and conservation of the Osa Peninsula.
  • The opportunity to participate in and support scientific investigations taking place in the Osa Peninsula, including a program that uses camera installations to monitor and track jaguar populations residing in the Osa Peninsula.

For more information on sustainable tourism at Lapa Rios Ecolodge, visit www.laparios.com.

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