Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol

Name of property Hotel Finca del Sol
Person completing this form Sheri Peters
Position Owner
Address of property 350 meters east of the crossroads in Santa Cruz, Ometepe Island – Province, Rivas
Country Nicaragua
Phone number including country code and area code 505-8364-6394
Web site Hotel Finca Del Sol
E-mail hotelfincadelsol@gmail.com
Type of property Bed and Breakfast / Eco Farm
Number of rooms or cottages 3
Maximum number of guests 10
Eco memberships Global Sustainalble Tourism Council
Eco ratings, certifications, awards Eco Rating at Eco Tropical Resorts 4.0 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)

Hotel Finca del Sol is a unique property in Ometepe Island. It is an independently owned business with three private eco-cabins constructed using eco friendly materials.

The cabins have been constructed using clay, stones, sand, bamboo, local wood, grass and palm leaves within a 10 kilometre radius.  The carbon impact was drastically reduced, as we grew and used what we could from our farm and the local communities.

Each cabin and the kitchen /reception area has it’s own solar system – providing 100% of the energy.  They all use composting toilets, whereby the composted material is changed through the anaerobic process into a usable organic product and given to the plants as a natural fertilizer.

The property is 12.5 acres, and has approximately 20% of 3rd generation forest growth, with a maximum of 10 guests on the grounds at one time – reducing our environmental footprint on Mother Earth.

Finca del Sol is an Organic farm.  On the property we raise tropical sheep, grow rice, beans, corn and a variety of fruits and veggies.

Our guests have the opportunity:

  • Interact in the community, as we are encouraging locals to provide things like food / guide services / bike rentals /massages
  • Learn about composting, solar energy, farming

Our vision is:

  • To help the local people participate in tourism – by promoting local restaurants, guide services, etc…Allowing everyone to benefit from tourism, promoting self sufficiency, and sustainability.  Make it a better world by allowing all those interested in participating
  • To demonstrate and share eco principals – preserving nature, making an adobe oven, composting, organic gardening, etc…
  • Describe the location, including distance to nearest town and size of town (100 words max)

Hotel Finca del Sol is located in the national park in the village of Santa Cruz, where approximately 500 people make it their residence.  Getting around to tourist attractions – via bus, foot, bike or motorbike are all possible.  We are a 10 min walk from the beach and on the hillside, just steps from the trailhead to Volcano Madaras.

Ometepe Island is very unique, featuring two volcanoes in a fresh water lake. A variety of bird life, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, squirrels can be viewed in the forest surrounding you!  Natural wonders within a 10 kilometre radius include the river Istiam and all its wildlife (including crocodiles), a stop at the mineral springs ( el ojo de agua)and the cloud forest on Volcano Madaras.

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

It was a pretty personal decision – We came face to face with a community of people who live off the land, and it impacted us, to make a change, to live closer to earth, recognizing where some of our food comes from and some of the bone breaking labour that is involved. Ometepe Island and this rural community is beginning to see the signs of tourism & development.
It is our philosophy, that modern day life takes advantage of the little guy.  Giving someone a job is great, but what about an opportunity to strike out on their own?
If all the hotels have their own restaurants / bars /bike rentals and guides, how can the average Nicaraguan person participate?

We wanted to give a hand up and lead by example. Wouldn’t it be a perfect world, if we could all share?  When the profit would be enough, and then the other guy could make a profit too?  Wouldn’t it be great if everybody could make a living and have a little extra in the bank for a rainy day?

It is our goal  to help the local people participate in tourism – by promoting local restaurants, guide services, etc…Allowing everyone to benefit from tourism, promoting self sufficiency, and sustainability.

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. 

We do not have anything written down, as Finca del Sol is a small enterprise, owned and operated by one couple.  We are quite aware that in large companies, it is normal procedures to write down policies that staff / management can follow.  As we participate in every area of work within the construction / maintenance / B&B, and organic farm in addition to heading up the small staff we have here at hotel Finca del Sol – it seems unnecessary at this point in our business.  Certainly if in the future we decided to embark on a larger scale tourism developmental project, directed with managers and more staff, it would / will become necessary and we would implement it.

Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol 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
___  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 or LED light bulbs
__X_  change linens, tablecloths, napkins upon request
__X_  switch off lights when not used
Other energy conservation activities? Please list:

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:

_100%  solar
___  wind
___  hydro
___  generator
___  public utility
Other energy sources? Please list:
Wood burning oven – we made an adobe, wood burning oven.  We burn this oven using the left over wood on the forest floor, pruned branches – to make bread, granola and toast coffee for our guest.

100% TOTAL
How were these proportions developed?

We are living in an area of the world where there is a lot of sun!  With that in mind we decided to operate on 100% solar energy.

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).

Each cabin, reception and our home has its own individual system.
We have a small freezer and a washing machine that are also run off solar energy.  We do not have a refrigerator.  We prepare fresh food each morning, and have a cooler, where we can store butter / jams and homemade yogurt.

Upon check in each guest is shown the solar system in the cabin & responsible to monitor their personal consumption.  We discuss how to read the charge controller, how to tell how much “juice” is left in the battery, what can and cannot be plugged in.  We ask our guests to manage their own system so they get a feel for what living with solar power is like.

We encourage guests to turn off lights thru interactive sign inside the cabins.

Our average electrical usage is less than 15 Kw a month for the entire B.& B.

Our hot water is supplied thru a passive solar water system.  While mainly experimental at this time, a series of irrigational tubes, heating each day in the sunshine…..the pressure of the water has been a drawback in getting it down to the cabins we hope to be able to work out the kinks and be able to offer it within the next year.

Your Energy Level (select 1 – 5) =  5

Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol Water

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

_X_  low flow faucets and showerheads
__  NO  water use toilets (Dry daily change, composting toilets are used)
_X_  change linens, towels, tablecloths, and napkins upon request
__X_use table mats that can be wiped and not laundered
_X_  use biodegradable laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap
No pool__  treat swimming pool with chlorine-free processes
Other water conservation activities?  Please list.
We have only waterless composting toilets.  The dry toilets halve the water consumption per cabin.

We have asked our clients to conserve water, explaining we are connected to a community water system – that feeds our village and a few others.  If we abuse the water, it affects everyone.  We can go 6 months without rain per year – so everybody needs to care for one another.

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:

100% of the water at Hotel Finca del Sol is from a volcanic spring in the cloud forest on Volcano Madaras.  Water is collected, run thru a clay filtration system in order to filter any debris or bacteria.  Many people just drink from the tap – however in each cabin we use  bacterial clay filters, ensuring the water is safe to drink.

___  chemically.  List chemicals used:

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

Greywater from the showers and kitchen is run to a series of water loving plants.

We have only waterless composting toilets.  The dry toilets halve the water consumption per cabin.

The Composting Toilet system creates a couple of hundreds of kilos of organic compost per year that is used to fertilize plants and crops.
We have planted indigenous plants, which can survive the dry season without any need of irrigation

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): 4

Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol 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, aluminium
__X_   minimize emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines & equipment
__X_   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.

  • We are reducing the need for more plastic bottles disposed in the environment, by providing clay filtered spring water.
  • The bottles left by the guests get washed and reused
  • We sell wine in paper cartons as opposed to glass bottles to minimize the amount of waste we are producing.
  • We DO NOT use plastic soda bottles and do not sell them or any other plastic bottled beverage.
  • Glass beer bottles are returnable
  • We ask our guests not to buy any soda and beer in aluminium cans – as the glass bottle get all reused while aluminium cans need much more energy to be recycled.
  • The restaurants that deliver dinners here, sell sodas / rum in returnable glass bottles
  • The restaurants also deliver food on ceramic dishes, and pick them up the following day – reducing the amount of plastic / aluminium / cardboard waste generated and therefore disposed.
  • We provide recycling bins in each cabin ( organic and non organic) to collect and Aluminium is donated  to a fellow in the community, and he is in contact with someone who buy it – the money he collects is used in his family
  • Compost toilet & kitchen organic waste is used in the compost, and after the aerobic process breaks down into compost, it is fed to the plants to enrich the soil.

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): 4 

Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol Land and nature conservation

Check all that apply:

_X__   minimize tree removal when building
___   use only botanical (plant-based) herbicides & pesticides in garden & grounds
_X__   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.
__X_   Landscaping with native plants
Please list actions and projects:

20% of our property is dedicated to forest land – leaving the natural habitat for birds, monkeys, sloths, squirrels, iguanas and a variety of insects and other critters. While we have some walking path thru our property (naming local flora) – the majority is untouched in order to preserve the delicate balance of the forest.
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): 4

Eco Rating Hotel Finca Del Sol 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                                _50__% purchased goods produced locally
__X_  re-invest resort income locally            ___% income re-invested locally

We have donated time & money into our local community water project – helping to ensure everyone gets clean drinking water within their household.

_X__  pay above local prevailing wage
___  pay into local social security
___  provide health insurance or coverage
__  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

We have written a list explaining to our guests, how we are eco friendly – how they can choose to help locals by supporting their business – restaurants – guide trip – rentals by giving a hand up, encouraging a variety of enterprise. We educate guests into the fact that we are making an effort on their behalf to buy locally and provide money into the local communities, promoting others allow them to have money in their homes, helps with children going to school, economic development

___  provide sustainable transport to work for staff
__X_  take additional specific actions to support the local community. Please list actions and projects.

We do no accept volunteers and hire only local staff in the farm and housekeeping of the cabins, providing work within the community.

All guide trips, food delivered via local restaurants, bikes delivered and massages given to guests – are paid directly from the guest to the Nicaraguan providing the service.  This ensures transparency, and local people in our community have a wonderful opportunity to participate in tourism and make money for their own hopes and dreams.  We charge a nominal fee to the guest staying at Hotel Finca del Sol – covering our costs, and never charge any commission to the local person providing the service.  This put money directly in the pockets of local Nicaraguans.

___  Have enrolled your staff in any personal green training/certification schemes such as ecohelpline.com green leaf certification.

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): 3

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):   4.0

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

  1. Please describe your single most important eco achievement:

It’s very difficult just to list one, so let’s just talk about our environmental impact.

While building Hotel Finca del Sol we looked primarily to use materials we could find locally.  Cabins constructed using clay, stones, sand, bamboo, local wood, grass and palm leaves for thatch.  The carbon impact was drastically reduced, as we grew and used what we could from our farm and the local communities.

Each cabin and the kitchen /reception area is running on 100% solar energy – giving us an almost zero energy impact, and with the composting toilets we are drastically reducing the amount of wasted fresh water.

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

While mainly experimental at this time, a series of irrigational tubes, heating each day in the sunshine…..the pressure of the water has been a drawback in getting it down to the cabins we hope to be able to work out the kinks and be able to offer it within the next year.