An eco-resort like no other

Lapa Rios 1aDuring my recent trip to Costa Rica, I visited three eco-resorts. All were based around the idea of sustainability, but how this played out was gloriously diverse.

You wouldn’t call Lapa Rios – the 2nd eco-resort on my “tour” -a luxury resort. Yet its charm and beauty make it a first class green destination.

Unlike Arenas del Mar, the eco-resort I’d visited prior to coming here, there are lots of “not here’s” for guests to know. These include:

  • no TV
  • no hairdryers or curling irons
  • no internet
Lapa Rios in the midst of the surrounding rainforest

Lapa Rios in the midst of the surrounding rainforest

“Why have (piped music),  says General Manager Juan Pinto, “when you have the toucans, the macaws, and the howling monkeys?”

For those used to being  “plugged in”, it’s a system shock, but one guests surrender to.

Located on the southern tip of Costa Rica, known as the Osa Peninsula, the motto of Lapa Rios, says Pinto, is “Experience, Learn, Connect, Relax”.

““It’s important in the tropical forest to learn, to take something (back) with you,” he said.

Surrounded by rainforest – both primary (old growth forests) and secondary (former pastures that have been reforested) – and bordered by a private nature reserve with amazing wildlife and pristine beaches, conservation and sustainability are evident at this beautiful resort.

The exquisite Blue Morpho butterfly perched on a flowering plant in the rainforst

The exquisite Blue Morpho butterfly perched on a flowering plant in the rainforst

All the furniture is made from wood from sustainable plantations. Baskets and dispensers are made by local craftsmen. Footbridges that connect trails on the property are made from discarded railroad ties. All the electricity is generated via solar.

Lapa Rios  keeps pigs on the property (away from guests, of course). What leftover food they don’t eat goes to the  property’s biodigester to produce biogas for cooking.

The food at Lapa Rios was both beautifully prepared, delicious and organic. Buying locally, though preferable, can be challenging, Pinto says. Locals may have some but not all of what the resort needs. They make up the balance from San Jose – a ten hour drive.

But Lapa Rios encourages local vendors and suppliers.

Quality and commitment are equally important with their suppliers, Pinto explained.

If a vendor isn’t doing organic or sustainable practices and they switch, Lapa Rios will buy from them. Or, “if anyone comes with a quality product,” he said, “if it’s a little higher and (they) show commitment, we’ll change.”

Embracing the community is a sustainability trait I also found at Arenas del Mar. Though there’s a great deal more to come – about eco-resorts, the rainforest and sustainable business practices I observed – this expanded view of sustainability is one the U.S. would do well to consider investing in.

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