FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand and Nature

Introducing the richness of nature into the lives of our guests

FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand and Nature

By Bronwen Evans owner of Faasai Resort and Spa

In today’s technology-driven world nature is idealized and sanitized so it can be a shock for urban dwellers to discover its uncomfortable, dirty, and even scary side. Yet it is so much more worthwhile when we do experience it on this deeper level. 

FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand with Bronwen Evans FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand-Fruit tree Harvested fruit at FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand

At our farm we have three large cows with beautiful big horns. Since they are our pets they are very tame and as a treat we give them fruit which we often bring to them in our old red truck. Their favorite is bananas and when I take visitors to our farm  the cows run up excitedly and the visitors feed them from the truck. They lose interest once the food is gone and go away. However, they are so boisterous it is scary and exciting for the visitors and one day, a little girl was afraid to get out of the truck. But a couple of days later she was still talking about the cows and wanted to go back to see them again!

Feeding truck at FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand Lake at FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand-Our Cows

Apart from being our pets the cows are also a supplier of what I call “black gold” – manure. We mix it with rice husks, leaves and shredded wood to make a rich compost and I often ask volunteers to help with this task.  A few months ago, young couple from England, who were taking time out from their jobs as a chef and cocktail mixologist, found themselves mixing up a different kind of brew at our farm. If literally shoveling shit wasn’t bad enough they also got attacked by hornets and ran away screaming and tearing their clothes off in a panic. But later in a blog they excitedly recounted these experiences as if they had had the most exciting adventure in their lives. Another couple working at our farm wrote a blog describing the horrors of nature including a snake spotting and being attacked by ants.   Eight years later they are still nostalgic about their time with us and want to come back.

People do form very strong attachments to our place. Apart from the exotic Thai culture and our family atmosphere – I also think it is due to the power of nature.

At the resort we have 14 guest rooms, plus staff quarters, our own house, and a restaurant and spa which are spread out over about 3 and a half acres of land. Our gardens include many original and indigenous trees such as a magnificent Bodhi tree and the native monkey jack, an avenue of flame trees, teak trees, rare agarwood trees and many types of beautiful flowering and fragrant trees, as well as fruit trees, herbs, ornamental plants, fish ponds and fountains.  The resort backs onto a forest-covered hill which goes down to the sea. While we follow other eco-friendly actions such as using solar power and recycling at the resort, we consider our most important activity to be nurturing the eco-system, preserving local plants, and providing shelter and food for wildlife. Already we have over 100 species of birds visiting us, three varieties of squirrels and wild chickens, together with numerous other small creatures such as frogs, lizards, bats and honey bees.

Our organic farm and nature reserve of around 15 acres is around the corner from the resort and there we have a small lake and ponds fed by natural springs, patches of bush, as well as the food crops we cultivate. Our main crop is the tropical fruit trees which grow so well in our region  – rambutan, mangosteen, longkongs. We are also growing durian, a famous delicacy very popular with Asians, but our trees aren’t yet mature. We also have mangoes, rose apples, jackfruit, papayas, bananas, herbs, rice and seasonal vegetables, bamboo shoots and many wild foods that we gather.

In Conclusion

We have been here 14 years and every year there are new things to discover and new trees coming into fruit. It is hard work, but we are very glad to be growing healthy, tasty food and to share it with others along with an appreciation of the richness and complexity of real live nature. FaaSai Resort and Spa-Thailand and Nature is it’s cornerstone.

FaaSai Resort and Spa to go to their website. Their listing on our website FaaSai Resort and Spa.

Costa Rica Retreats at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Upcoming Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

January 23 – 30, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Adventure – Led by Basia Going
Enjoy yoga in the morning on our newly constructed yoga deck under the palm trees overlooking the ocean. Another session for breathing and meditation is held in the evening. Spend the rest of the time surfing, hiking, riding horses, or just chilling in the hammock doing absolutely nothing.

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

January 31 – 8, 2016 – 8 nights – Advanced Therapeutic Thai Massage – Led by Christopher Ray and Kate Lewandowski
This is an intensive workshop for bodyworkers that includes training in That massage in the incredible environment of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Thai massage training is 45 hours. This leaves lots of time for other natural pleasures including yoga.

February 8 – 14, 2016 – 6 nights – Wild Yoga Journey – Led by Rebecca Wildbear
This is a daily yoga journey that is playful, gentle and invigorating. It is a daily morning asana practice. Open to all levels of physical ability.

February 13 – 20, 2016 – 8 nights – Goddess Within – Led by Sara Hilgendorf and Stacie Finucan
This is a woman only yoga and massage therapy retreat. Enjoy something special and spiritual as you journey towards better self awareness.

April 9 – 16, 2016 – 7 nights – Two Feet One Word Yoga – Led by Tami Ellis
Begin the day with meditation and Vinyasa Flow Yoga and every evening with Yin Yoga.

April 16 – 23, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Retreat – Led by Ame Wren
We will begin each morning with a rockin’, sweat-inducing and muscle-loosening Vinyasa yoga class. The evening practice will serve to cool you down (think yin, restorative, meditation) and prepare you for the best sleep you’ll ever have.

All retreats include food and lodging and the amenities offered by Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. For more information on any of the retreats please go here: Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. Information about each of the teachers is also available through that link.

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Sri Lanka Eco friendly resorts

Five Eco Resorts in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is indeed a wonder of Asia. With its diverse flora and fauna, it makes a great touring destination. It’s no wonder that Lanka is one of the hottest travel destinations of the season. From exotic beaches to thick green forests, Lanka has it all. So without further ado, here are the top five eco resorts that will make your trip a memorable experience –

  1. Back of the Beyond Kahandamodera –

Located near the picturesque beaches of Tengalle, this resort combines leisure with pleasure. It’s a perfect spot to lay back, enjoy the silky smooth sand, and the tranquil peach as the ocean waves ripple to and fro. The villas offer you privacy as well as comfort. Each villa is split into two eco-friendly units, a three bedroom bungalow and a one bedroom cottage. Both come equipped with a ceiling fan, mosquito nets and neat bathrooms with hot and cold water facility. The bungalow boasts a separate dining area and an outdoor sleeping area. It offers stunning views of countryside as well as the sea, and is capable of housing roughly ten adults and three kids. It has to be booked as an entire house. The cottage can house three adults and is built apart from the bungalow and hence can be booked separately. The resort has a resident chef and staff to aid the tourists. The place gives an earthy feel, and has a friendly outdoor feel to it that makes it homely.

  1. Boulder Garden, Sinharaja –

It’s the Holy Grail for nature lovers. As the name suggests, the hotel is quite literally carved in jagged stones, and rooms are essentially caves in the rocks. Fret not; the USP of Boulder Garden is it’s unique combo of nature and technology. The rooms are modeled to resemble cave like structures, but they provide all the essential services. Natural light is used efficiently; the open rooms allow maximum sunlight in the rooms. It’s famous for its rustic, natural environment, and even has a rock-set swimming pool. It serves as a base camp for those interested in exploring the neighbouring rain forests.

  1. Kalundeva Retreat, Dambulla –

A perfect place to explore the cultural triangle, Kalundeva Retreat is situated among lovely green mountains and misty lakes. It’s a two chalets and a three-bedroom bungalow retreat. Each room is air conditioned and has a plasma TV of its own, although those lovely paddy fields and mesmerizing sunsets outside are far more inviting. It has a panoramic view of paddy fields and lakes, and serves as a perfect base to explore the Dambulla Cave Temples and Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

  1. Kulu Safaries, Yala –

They offer you the luxury to actually live in a national park, something that’s very rare and rewarding experience. Wake up to the melodious chirping of exotic birds, enjoy the sunrise, and feast on the local cuisine – it’s a complete package. Yala National Park houses a wide range of animals and birds, so if you are patient enough, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful sighting of the Sri Lankan Big Four – the elusive Sri Lankan leopard, elephant, bear and wild buffalo.

  1. Madulkelle tea and Eco lodge, Kandy –

Housed in lush green Knuckles Mountains, Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge offers you a humble yet cozy abode. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city, the lodge has quality canvas tents. Each tent comes with a double bed, attached bathroom and wooden furniture, panning out into an outside terrace that overlooks the famous tea plantations. The separate dining building has a library, dining hall, and several indoor leisure activities. Adorned in traditional English furniture, it has an open fire place which perfectly complements the homely ambiance. Close to the Sri Lanka’s culture capital Kandy, it is a great place to stay and explore the northern country.

To see some of our Sri Lanka Eco Resorts, please click here:Eco Resorts in Sri Lanka

Apply and acquire your Sri Lankan Visa and be assured to enjoy your stay at one or more of the beautiful Sri Lankan Eco resorts.

Thailand Eco Lodges promoting Ecotourism

Beyond Borders: Rethink ASEAN Ecotourism

Workshop for ASEAN – Promoting Ecotourism

By Bronwen Evans, owner-operator of Faasai Resort and Spa: FaaSai Resort and Spa
In addition to its natural beauties, Southeast Asia has warm weather, cultural diversity, amazing eco-systems, easy accessibility and affordability. Little wonder that it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It is about to get even more popular, as next year it will join together in a new common market – the ASEAN Economic Community.  This means more roads and rail networks will go in and (in time) a single visa will be available for travel within the region. Obviously this will attract more tourists and this may disappoint ecotravelers who come to Southeast Asia because they are looking for authentic local experiences in quiet and unspoilt destinations.

Rice threshing the old fashioned way

Surin Laopha the owner of Faasai Resort threshing rice the old-fashioned way

It is heartening therefore to see that ASEAN is embracing the concept of ecotourism and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport, recently hosted a workshop for regional tourism leaders called Beyond Borders:  Rethink ASEAN Ecotourism

The workshop was supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism (DASTA) in Thailand and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT I) designed and facilitated the programme, with Jaranya Daengnoi and Peter Richards the lead facilitators.

The programme was very practical and in addition to talks by industry leaders there were field trips to ecotourism operations in south eastern Thailand.

The field trips were to the Jumrung Community, Rayong Province, a community initiative which offers visitors a chance to experience eco, agro and educational tourism; Huai Raeng Community in Trat province, a community-based initiative which offers boat trips to mangroves and homestay; and Faasai Resort and Spa, a small family-owned eco-resort which offers similar local trips, hands-on experience in the resort’s organic farm and “forest cuisine” – dishes based on locally-grown herbs such as Siamese cardamom.

Sites of Kung Wiman

Workshop attendees visited sites of Kung Wiman, near FaaSai Resort

 

All the places have a focus on agricultural tourism, supporting local communities, learning and sharing, and supporting cottage industries. There is also a unique Thai element to all three as they emphasize Thailand’s concept of the “Sufficiency Economy”.   This is not merely “sustainability” in the commonly understood meaning, but stress ethical values and “sufficiency” – living within your means, sharing resources, living as part of a community and cultivating resilience to external shocks.  This draws upon Buddhist traditions of kindness, tolerance and simplicity and the concept was developed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Religion is an important part of Southeast Asian culture, and there is much common ground between Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, which have many devotees in the region. This was certainly evident in the people attending the workshop. When I spoke about values-based tourism from a Buddhist perspective, the Muslim members of the group were very receptive and enthusiastic about the idea and talked about their own heritage and experiences as we visited the sacred Bodhi tree at the resort.

While the group discovered many commonalities between eco-tourism practitioners in Southeast Asia, they also shared knowledge about how to develop successful ecotourism ventures. Ideas included creating memorable experiences, designing special packages to attract long-stay travelers, students or special interest groups,  using online media effectively through story-telling and developing social networks and communities of interest.

Thankfully, governments are coming to appreciate the value of this kind of small-scale tourism. It attracts travelers wanting to get off the beaten track and have a more authentic experience while it is low-impact and ensures that the money spent by tourism mostly remains in the local community.

White Water Lake

White Water Lake – the sanctuary and organic farm operated by Faasai Resort

Mr Pasit Poomchusri, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Tourism in Thailand, led the workshop, which followed on from previous initiatives aimed at capacity-building within the Thailand tourism industry.  He sees good ecotourism potential in Thailand’s coastal eastern provinces, Rayong, Trat and Chanthaburi. These destinations offer a good alternative to travelers. They are only a few hours’ drive from Bangkok and have many resources such as sea and mountains, marine and forest parks, biodiversity, strong local communities, delicious food and agri-tourism.

As a local operator, I find it very encouraging that the Thai government is giving such support and encouragement to small eco-enterprises and I feel enthusiastic about the possibilities for ASEAN operators to work together in the area of ecotourism.

Bronwen Evans is a New Zealander who, together with her Thai husband Surin Laopha, is the owner-operator of Faasai Resort and Spa, an award-winning eco resort at Kung Wiman in Chanthaburi, Thailand.. To see their listing on Eco Tropical Resorts please go here: FaaSai Resort and Spa.

ElefantAsia working with Kingfisher Ecolodge in Laos

The population of wild and tamed elephants in Laos, once called “A Million Elephants” kingdom (Lane Xang), is dangerously dwindling and too little is done to avoid this horrible situation.

For this reason the people at ElefantAsia deserve a big THANK YOU and all possible help anyone can give for the cause of Asian elephant preservation.

At Kingfisher Ecolodge we decided to support their Elephant Reproduction Project in Khiet Ngong village, to which we are linked not only by the short distance that separates our lodge to it but also by a “business” partnership and love for these pachyderms. Sadly, they are more and more oppressed by human presence and bad consciences.

ElefantAsia, founded in 2001 by Sebastien Duffillot and Gilles Maurer, is a small NGO project entirely funded by private donations and the help of volunteer veterinarians from around the world. It is the only organization trying to do something real to preserve the endangered species. They may be the very last chance for survival of the Laotian elephants.

People can also help through an “Adopt an Elephant” project that can be found on their website or, for the most generous ones, there is even a “Baby Bonus” program where you can become the sponsor of a newborn/calf elephant thus becoming a little like a caring parent to him.

We, at Kingfisher Ecolodge, can guarantee that the staff at ElefantAsia is really concerned and involved in this project, as we have seen it with their dedication, and all donated money is used to treat and preserve this wonderful animal, the last largest terrestrial mammal on planet Earth.

We invite everybody to visit their website, rich with information on the Asian elephant and in particular about the Lao situation. Maybe, one day, you will be able to meet eye to eye with the docile mastodon in the Land on a million Elephants.

For more information about this lodge and the great things they’re doing with the Laotian elephants: Kingfisher Ecolodge

Ayurveda Retreat in Costa Rica at Finca Exotica

April 2-April 5: Basics of Ayurveda
April 7-11: In-depth intro into Ayurvedic living

Ayurveda or “The Science of Life” aims to avoid and treat illnesses by maintaining the balance in the body, mind and consciousness …
Learn basic practices to enhance well-being and energy for the mind and body through Ayurveda, an ancient approach to health care that originated in India. We will discuss the Ayurvedic daily routine and cleansing of the senses to promote physical, psychological, and spiritual thriving. Ayurvedic wisdom teaches us to connect with our deepest selves, the source of all healing. The fresh spices and herbs available on the farm like turmeric, lemongrass and ginger will also provide us the perfect resources to experiment with cooking and an Ayurvedic diet. Our guide through this experience will be Jonathan.

Jonathan Dahari-Lanciano
An Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, Jonathan leads experiential workshops on Ayurvedic principles and practices, at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. With additional training in Ayurvedic bodywork therapies and a background in Physical Therapy, Jonathan combines the science of Ayurveda with his knowledge of body mechanics to guide clients and students toward health and balance. He passionately spreads the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda in his signature style: down-to-earth, friendly, and thorough. This year, he also contributed to the book The Everything Guide to Ayurveda (2011).

PACKAGE DEAL: For those interested in an educational and experiential vacation, we are offering 4 days and 4 nights or 5 days and 5 nights stay with all meals included, an invigorating and enlightening schedule of activities including Ayurvedic theory and practice, tours of the Corcovado National Park and a 3 tiered waterfall (for the 5 day package), daily yoga classes and a tour of the farm and our sustainability.

RATES: 4 day package in a cabin – $700/ tiki tent – $520; 5 day package in a cabin – $885 / tiki tent – $660
If you are interested in more information please visit our website
Finca Exotica Ecolodge
or contact Jodi at jodi21@gmail.com.

Bali: Hotspot for Eco-tourism Destination

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.

Waterfall Villas working to save Pristine Watersheds in Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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.