green lodge, ecolodge, what DEFINES US?
El Remanso Lodge is, first of all, a nature destination, thus the name "Rainforest Wildlife Lodge". People coming to visit us seek to experience a pristine and untouched rainforest and see as much of the local wildlife as possible. We prefer not to use the way we run the lodge (call it green, eco, responsible or anything else) as a selling reason for our guests. Especially not in a time where everyone is trying to jump on the "eco-train" and greenwashing is used by a growing number of those seeking to exploit its marketing potential with little or no regard for ecology.
Running El Remanso with certain ethics and policies is not an option; we feel it is an obligation for us to act in a responsible manner both with the environment and the local community. We are conscious that any lodge creates an impact in its environment, the point thus is about minimizing this impact and making sure that the local habitat is kept protected in time.
So how do we minimize our impact?
100% RENEWABLE ENERGIES
We are proud to be one of the few hotels in Costa Rica to rely 100% on renewable energies for the electricity at the lodge. Our two micro-hydroelectric plants provide enough energy to allow normal use of lights and all types of electronic equipment (110V). To be able to continue with this “no-generators” policy we rely on our well-designed system that helps us to reduce energy consumption. Most of our equipment consumes little electricity: LED light-bulbs, efficient chest refrigerators, and freezers, portable computers instead of desktops are just part of our effort to minimize energy consumption.
In order to minimize the ecological impact of our lodge, we decided from the beginning to build with minimal environmental impact materials. That is, for instance, the use of naturally fallen timber in most of our structures. Our restaurant and bar structure are entirely built with locally grown bamboo. In other constructions, we only use plantation wood such as teak or pine. We do not use glass windows as they represent a threat to birds.
We do not use any kind of pesticides or herbicides in our garden. When it comes to construction materials, a proper and thought-over design also helps to prevent the use of strong chemicals. For instance, our guests have often asked us why we do not use palm roofs for our cabins. The answer is simple: palm roofs need a periodical fumigation in order to keep insects and other animals out. The problem with fumigation is the contamination of micro-habitats next to the lodge, with deadly effect on birds and other creatures around. Therefore we have chosen the use of zinc and tiles with wood insulation for the most comfortable solution for our guests. Our swimming pool does not use chlorine or other chemicals.
Recycling & composting
The first step to improving waste management is, of course, to avoid the waste. At El Remanso we buy most of our food in bulk and use reusable packaging when available (beer, sodas, etc.). As we have pure water directly from its source (which is periodically tested) we do not sell any bottled water to avoid unnecessary packaging disposal. We also encourage our staff and guests not to use disposable plastics. Garbage is carefully sorted out at El Remanso and we separate recyclable materials such as cans, plastic bottles, tins, etc. We have monitored a number of wastes for the past years and have put in place measures to reduce the amount of waste at the lodge. We also have our own compost facility which is the destination for more than 80% of our waste. The produce of the compost is periodically used by our gardeners as nutrients for our plants, thus avoiding the use of any artificial fertilizer. Waste water is collected in septic tanks and then filtered into leach fields.
Responsible water use
Our guests and staff are reminded to use water responsibly. We use 2 springs in our reserve for the water-use in the lodge. The springs and pipes are periodically monitored to avoid any sort of leaks. We avoid sprinkling during the hottest times of the day and have planted local heat-resistant plants. In the cabins, we ask our guests for cooperation in reducing water use of an unnecessary sheet or towel washing.
All cleaning products, laundry detergents, kitchen soaps, shampoos and soaps we offer to our guests are certified biodegradable. At the bar, we use biodegradable bamboo straws and drink sticks.
THE OSA NATIONAL REFUGE
At El Remanso we feel that protection of the rainforest and its inhabitants is one of the most important parts of our mission. That is why we were the first to join an initiative with other landowners around the area to create a National Wildlife Refuge that protects the biological corridor of the Corcovado National Park. In this way, we have put together almost 4.000 Hecs (around 10.000 acres), which will ensure that this part of the world is and will be protected. Our goal at the moment is to keep growing and to put as much land as possible into the refuge, trying to get to the boundaries of Corcovado National Park and protect its biological corridors.
NO FEEDING OF WILDLIFE
We do not offer animal feeders of any kind to artificially attract local wildlife. However, we have used local plants and trees that attract wildlife. Guests are asked to respect the local flora and fauna. It is prohibited to walk off trails or to try to feed any wildlife.
El Remanso only employs local staff. 98% of our workers come from the Osa Peninsula, from the surrounding villages in the Puerto Jiménez area. By staying at El Remanso, guests provide employment to over 30 families in the area.
We use mostly locally bought ingredients in our kitchen, not only to help the local economy but also as part of the cultural experience of local cuisine for our guests. For instance, all fish is bought locally from local fishermen in Puerto Jiménez. El Remanso also supports local producers of vegetables and fruits.
PROMOTING LOCAL ART
Our small gift shop offers exclusively art crafts made by local artisans and we have traditional artisans come to the lodge weekly to offer their works to our guests. Our store is intentionally kept very small and we encourage guests to buy at local gift shops both in Puerto Jiménez and San José.
LOCAL TOUR OPERATORS
All outside tours are operated exclusively by locally run and locally owned tour operators. They work very hard to offer unforgettable experiences for our guests.