This week I attended a wonderful seminar by Canaeco- the Chamber of Eco Tourism in Costa Rica- on sustainability marketing. The surprising take-away from the workshop was that not many people make their holiday decisions based on environmental concerns and sustainability practices. However, because of Costa Rica’s very public commitment to environmental issues on a world stage, it has become EXPECTED by visitors to our country. At Manuel Antonio Vacation Rentals, we are committed to making our vacation rental homes in Costa Rica more green and eco friendly, not as a marketing tool, but because we understand that without a commitment to having a small impact on our local environment, it will eventually have a massive impact on the natural wonders that visitors come to experience and the viability of future tourism. We have begun several initiatives over the last 6 months to make some lasting and effective changes to how we run our luxury villas. Of the 15 homes on our website, we personally manage 6 of them, and are therefore able to implement some important changes. We hope to lead by example and encourage all of the home owners of vacation rentals in Manuel Antonio to follow in our footsteps. We haven’t quite reached 50 shades of green yet, but we are well on our way:
1) We have implemented recycling programs in all of our houses, drastically reducing the amount of waste produced by each home. Since some of our home can sleep up to 15 to 18 people, encouraging recycling of items such as beverage bottles has had a big impact.
2) We have introduced environmentally friendly cleaning products in the homes. We use either biodegradable products or good old-fashioned standbys like baking soda and vinegar, as well as olive oil and lemon.
3) We have joined the wonderful local environmental group Titi Conservation Alliance monotiti and have a member on the Board of Directors. The TCA has been instrumental in halting the loss of the endangered Titi monkeys and is striving to not only preserve their natural habitat here in the Manuel Antonio area, but expand it, by creating a biological corridor extending form Manuel Antonio national Park to the Cerro Nara mountain range. This means that our Titi population in Manuel Antonio will no longer be isolated from other Titis. We encourage our guests to donate to this cause upon check out. A tip, if you will, for the monkeys!
4) We have signs throughout each of our homes encouraging our guests to be conscious of water usage. We ask that people hang up and re-use towels. Only towels left on the floor will be replaced and washed by the housekeepers. Again, in a vacation villa that sleeps up to 18 people, this reduces a huge amount of water and electricity usage every day. You would be surprised at how many towels people can go through between trips to the beach and taking dips in the pool, not to mention the showers!
5) We are educating our staff as to the importance of sustainable practices in our vacation rental homes in Costa Rica. Sometimes, we can be met with resistance when faced with years of habit, but we are winning them over!
6) This high season our goal is to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles by our guests. We hope that each home will have metal water bottles for guests to uses during their stay so they will not buy the cases and cases of bottled water which has become common place.