What is an Ecolodge?
Costa Rica is known for ecotourism along with many other types of tourism. The ecotourism is without a doubt the best type of tourism (that is just our own company's opinion). With ecotourism comes all sorts of ideas of how to travel with little or no harm to the environment. The most common way to enjoy ecotourism is to stay at a Costa Rica ecolodge. An ecolodge can range from arriving only by raft in Costa Rica whitewater rafting tours to remote ecologdes or being at the populated Manuel Antonio but staying at a place with a real commitment to the environment. To put it simply anyone can really just call themselves an ecolodge and have many pretty plants at the entrance but there is a real science to becoming an ecolodge. It should be noted also that as long as being an ecolodge and a green company is a positive marketing tool, this just means we as a world community, are in the process of taking steps towards a sustainable planet with respect to nature. All hotels should be ecolodges and all tourists should travel in an eco-friendly way. It needs to be to the point where it is not talked about or marketed, it is just done. Bad habits change slowly and people have to be educated. We are seeing this with recycling. Gradually families are doing it along with school, industries etc. Hopefully, it will soon just be a part of life. That is where we have to be with "ecolodges" but until then we can only hope that they just set an example in the direction that our world needs to be moving and continue to give people a "true" eco experience and not try and deceive anyone.
Costa Rica Ecolodges
Costa Rica is a country that makes for the perfect ecolodge. If you want to be on the ocean surrounded by rainforest then there is a spot for your lodge. If you would like to stay in a lodge at an elevation of 10,000ft with the Quetzal bird nearby then there is a lodge for you. With all the ecolodges in Costa Rica there is a standard for what makes you an ecolodge. There are rating services by CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism) who awards leaves from 1 being the least eco-friendly to 5 leaves being having your eco-awareness to the max. Last I checked there were 7 hotels in Costa Rica that had 5 leaves some of them being simple lodges to even a near 5 star hotel in the Manuel Antonio area. The true test of an ecolodge comes after you are certified. This is where the human mind must take a step forward beyond a simple leaf system and actually be eco-friendly for the sake of nature and the sake of future generations. Maybe instead of leaves on websites they should put pictures of our grandkids or even our kids as this has to be a project thinking of them and not just immediate sales on rooms for having 5 leaves as an ecolodge.
What makes an Ecolodge Eco-Friendly
The idea of being an ecolodge is to have little to no impact on the environment. There are hotels that build their entire enfrastructure with labor from the local community and materials from the local area cutting down on importing things from far distance and being less dependant on fossil fuels. This is all in the building process and when the operation gets started is when it becomes tricky. One of the most important in our opinion is food. Many ecolodges have gardens that grow their own food and if you can grow a premaculture garden that would be best and/or atleast organic on hotel grounds gardened by local labor.
Being involved in the local community is always a part of being eco-friendly. This should involve preserving local culture in our opinion and if there are Indians nearby you are in luck because you can make extra efforts to preserve cultures that are in dying need of conservation. Community help can be in a number of different ways but if at all possible should involve sustainable education such as gardening, different impacts on the environment, and most importantly educating to care for present and future generations which ultimately generates the interest of conservation.
Finally the ecolodge itself should operate with as low of impact as possible to the environment in allowing it's guest to feel part of the action through maybe not running water, not having A/C units, planting trees to offset their jet they arrived to the country in, washing towels and sheets as little as possible, and taking their own food to the compose. The ecolodge should operate off of alternative energy such as solar or hydro. The ecolodge should educate through optional evening talks about conservation in the local area and global warming. The ecolodge should be using graywater for plants.
Our company supports ecolodges all over Costa Rica. You must look and investigate to make sure if what you are getting into is really an ecolodge with first priority "green trees" or first priority "green bills". Our Costa Rica Spanish School is what we consider an eco-school and our comapny operates as much as possible with little to know impact trying to offset car rides and many more projects we have going on.