It’s What It’s All About

Iguana Lodge prides itself upon its sustainability. We are proud of all our contributions to our community and our natural environment that we care about so much. We have followed both the Costa Rican and global tourism sustainability guidelines in establishing and operating Iguana Lodge.

Costa Rica has a Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST) Program that helps environmentally and socially conscious customers who visit Costa Rica assess the true “sustainability” of touristic endeavors, as well as set-up guidelines for the tourism industry to follow.

Beyond Costa Rica the world wide community has set forth guidelines for touristic operations. The World Conservation Congress in October 2008, launched The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) which are a set of 37 voluntary standards that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.

Iguana Lodge believes that both the CST and GSTC are what tourism should be all about. When we moved here and opened our hotel it was with the clear vision of creating a sustainable, environmentally and community friendly, business and lifestyle.

Because of Iguana Lodge’s beachfront location it is impossible for us to acquire our CST certification. (Long story here folks, but no beachfront resorts on the Osa presently have “concessions” due to a variety of bureaucratic issues, and without a concession, the CST is unavailable.) Our concession is due any day (we have been waiting 16 years…hah!). It has been a very long process. We remain hopeful.

Never fear, despite our inability to obtain our CST, we have proceeded as if the CST is available to us. We have fully complied will all requirements, have submitted our paperwork, and eagerly await our concession to obtain our certification.

In short:  Iguana Lodge believes that both the CST and GSTC are what tourism here is all about.  That’s why we moved here – to live in a beautiful place in a sustainable manner.  Iguana Lodge has always comported itself in this manner, irregardless of the existence of these standards.  For example:   Protection of nature?  We are all over it.  Cultural integrity – We believe in it.    Recycling, biodegradable soaps, composting, etc?  Again, we have that covered, in fact, we take it for granted.  Community involvement?  We are a mainstay of this community.

The GSTC’s four main points of focus:

  1. Demonstrate effective sustainable management
  2. Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts
  3. Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts
  4. Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.

The CST’s four main points of focus:

  1. Biological-physical: How does a property impact and/or protect its surrounding environment?
  2. Services and Infrastructure: How does the property’s operations (including product use and disposal, water and energy management, etc.) affect the environment?
  3. Social-Economic environment: What impact does the property have on nearby communities to promote/provide education to its staff and community and to work with community service providers?
  4. External client: How does the property promote and teach responsible tourism with guests who visit?

Costa Rican’s CST is a complete, and rigorous, certification system, which is the only certification endorsed by the Costa Rican government, and awards hotels “leaves” on a scale of one to five based on their sustainability achievements (much like the Mobile star rating which evaluate hotel services).
Iguana Lodge has worked carefully to obtain their Costa Rican certification.  However, at present it is impossible for Iguana Lodge to obtain this certification due to our beachfront location.  (Long story here folks, but no beachfront resorts on the Osa at present have “concessions” due to a variety of bureaucratic issues, and without a concession, the CST is unavailable.)  Our concession is due any day. It has been a very long process. We remain hopeful.

Never fear, despite our inability to obtain our CST, we have proceeded as if the CST is available to us.  We have fully complied will all requirements, have submitted our paperwork, and eagerly await our concession to obtain our certification.

IGUANA LODGE’S SUSTAINABLE TOURISM OUTLINE

  1. Demonstrate effective sustainable management.
    1. Iguana Lodge has implemented a long-term sustainability management system that is suitable to its reality and scale, and that considers environmental, sociocultural, quality, health, and safety issues, and can be viewed in its entirety in the Iguana Lodge offices.
    2. Iguana Lodge is in compliance with all relevant international or local legislation and regulations (including, among others, health, safety, labor, and environmental aspects).
    3. All personnel receive periodic training regarding their role in the management of environmental, sociocultural, health, and safety practices.
    4. Customer satisfaction is measured and corrective action taken where appropriate.
    5. Promotional materials are accurate and complete and do not promise more than can be delivered by the business.
    6. Design and construction of buildings and infrastructure:
      1. comply with local zoning and protected or heritage area requirements;
      2. respect the natural or cultural heritage surroundings in siting, design, impact assessment, and land rights and acquisition;
      3. use locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction and furnishings, such as use of local bamboo, suitta, and fallen trees;
      4. provide access for persons with special needs.
    7. Information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings, local culture, and cultural heritage is provided to customers, as well as explaining appropriate behavior while visiting natural areas, living cultures, and cultural heritage sites.
  2. Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts.
    1. Iguana Lodge actively supports initiatives for social and infrastructure community development including, among others, education, health, and sanitation.
      1. Iguana Lodge built and maintains the Puerto Jimenez Public library.
      2. Our Todo es Posible program has sent over seventy high school seniors to university.
      3. Iguana Lodge has been named (several times) the Volunteer of the Year at the Puerto Jimenez High School.
      4. Iguana Lodge, through Lauren, teaches English to all 5th and 6th graders in the Puerto Jimenez Public Elementary School.
      5. Iguana Lodge participates in environmental education efforts throughout the Osa.
        Iguana Lodge has its own road grader, and assists in attempting to maintain a variety of roads at no cost (grader service is free of charge, however, often the roads require road material, which we do not generally supply).
      6. For years we were the energy provider to all our neighbors, but now we are on the grid, which is a greener option given Costa Rican’s renewable water resources.  We do pass through to some of our neighbors free power.
      7. Iguana Lodge provides an on-grounds recycling center for our neighbors.
      8. Iguana Lodge is the leader of the Blue Flag beach project on this beach.
      9. At The Pearl of the Osa Restaurant, we provide free bathrooms and showers, as well as sun shades and chairs for the community as a whole to enjoy.
    2. Iguana Lodge only employs local residents. Training is offered as necessary.
    3. Local and fair-trade services and goods are purchased by Iguana Lodge, when available, for example, Iguana Lodge purchases various vegetables from a local organic hydroponic farmer, purchases sustainable bamboo furniture from a local supplier, etc.
    4. Iguana Lodge offers the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture (including food and drink, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.), such as offering the Samaritan Chocolates (a local chocolate production company) as welcome gifts to our guests; our Pearl of the Osa restaurant always permits local entrepreneurs to display and sell their products to our customers at no charge; we often invite local dance troupes and musical troupes to perform; Aida Bustamonte, The Cat Lady, and others are encouraged to give their presentation to our guests.Moreover, Iguana Lodge distinguishes itself purposely from many other resorts on the peninsula, by opting to not offer many tours or taxi services of their own, so that local tour companies and individuals can run their tours and operations out of Iguana Lodge, and thus work for themselves, and make a much better living wage.  Iguana Lodge encourages their guests to enjoy a variety of tours with local Costa Ricans, such as Jacobo’s zip line, Robleto’s kayak tour, Henry’s dolphin viewing expedition, etc.
    5. Iguana Lodge has implemented a policy against commercial exploitation,  including sexual exploitation of all.  No prostitution is allowed ever on the premises, even though it is legal in this country.  We run a family friendly operation.
    6. Iguana Lodge is equitable in hiring women and local minorities, including in management positions, while prohibiting child labor.  Many of our employees are women, including those in management.   Child labor is not an issue.
    7. The international or national legal protection of employees is respected, and employees are paid a living wage.  Costa Rican law mandates a minimum wage which Iguana Lodge exceeds at all times.
    8. The activities of Iguana Lodge do not jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as water, energy, or sanitation, to neighboring communities.  In fact, Iguana Lodge enhances these, such as providing free energy to some neighbors who can not afford power, and providing an on-grounds local recycling center.
  3. Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts.
    1. Iguana Lodge follows established guidelines or a code of behavior for visits to culturally or historically sensitive sites, in order to minimize visitor impact and maximize enjoyment.  On the Osa, one of the main points of preservation is the forest.  Iguana Lodge encourages tours in a variety of forest areas owned by local residents, thereby putting money into the hands of local land owners who choose to protect their forest areas as opposed to cutting their trees for cash.In each room guests can review policies for traveling inside the National Park and throughout the Osa.
    2. Historical and archeological artifacts are not sold, traded, or displayed, except as permitted by law.
    3. Iguana Lodge contributes to the protection of local historical, archeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and does not impede access to them by local residents.  Iguana Lodge is a strong supporter of our local cemetery (the old and new one), and declines to advertise on the cemetery walls, even though almost every other resort on the peninsula does so.  It’s way too tacky.
    4. Iguana Lodge useIs elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage in its operations, design, decoration, food, or shops; while respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities.
      1. Iguana Lodge cherishes the local art of the dance, and has for years sponsored Friday Night Pasta Night to foster continuation of the old dances, such as the salsa, cumbia, bolero, etc.
      2. Moreover, we incorporate in our menus local dishes, flavors and ingredients.
      3. We actively work with local and international biologists and scientific groups to increase knowledge of the biological diversity of the Osa and the Golfo Dulce – which often in part consists of providing complimentary lodging and meals to groups of this sort.
      4. Iguana Lodge is one of the foremost supporters of both the Wild Cats Conservation Project run by Aida Bustamonte and the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Carol and Earl Crew.
      5. Iguana Lodge consistently contributes to a variety of NGOs and other organizations promoting forest and gulf protection
      6. Iguana Lodge, by constructing our rancho out of suiita, a local leaf which grows in the forest of the Osa, preserves the local weaving techniques used by the Boruca people.  This is method of supporting local architectural methods.
  4. Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.
    1. Conserving resources
      1. Purchasing policy favors environmentally friendly products for building materials, capital goods, food, and consumables such as biodegradable shampoos, soaps, and laundry items; local and organically grown produce; bamboo, suiita, etc
      2. The purchase of disposable and consumable goods is measured, and the business actively seeks ways to reduce their use, such as refusing to offer disposable glasses, plates, and utensils, purchasing in bulk in reusable containers, reusing containers in their garden nursery, etc.
      3. Energy consumption should be measured, sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted, while encouraging the use of renewable energy.  This is done by Iguana Lodge, meanwhile, we employ an environmentally friendly power system, and although we are on the grid (which we believe is more environmentally friendly than other methods in our particularly situation), Iguana Lodge does not offer air conditioning but fans, uses environmentally friendly light bulbs, urges their guests to conserve energy by turning off their lights, along with a variety of other energy conservation programs.
      4. Water consumption should be measured, sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted. This is done, meanwhile, we employ various systems to try to limit the amount of water consumed, such as only changing linens every other day, and giving our customers the option to opt for even less frequent washings.
    2. Reducing pollution
      1. Greenhouse gas emissions are minimized.
      2. Wastewater, including gray water, is treated effectively and reused where possible.
      3. A solid waste management plan is implemented, with quantitative goals to minimize waste that is not reused or recycled, such as purchasing materials in larger not smaller containers, sending our left over oil to a recycle center, recycling our left over food products both through compost and local pig farmers, recycling all items possible (and operating a local recycling center for our neighbors).
      4. The use of harmful substances, including pesticides, paints, swimming pool disinfectants, and cleaning materials, is minimized; substituted, when available, by innocuous products; and all chemical use is properly managed.  Swimming pool is an environmentally friendly salt system, not a chlorine system
      5. Iguana Lodge implements practices to reduce pollution from noise, light (particularly in regard to protecting turtles on the beach from light pollution), runoff, erosion, ozone-depleting compounds, and air and soil contaminants.
    3. Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and landscapes
      1. Wildlife species are only harvested from the wild, consumed, displayed, sold, or internationally traded, as part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilization is sustainable.
      2. No captive wildlife is held and we actively promote liberation of wildlife that is held illegally by our neighbors, workers and community (such as parrots, etc).  In fact, Iguana Lodge promotes visits to the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary to our guests and workers where education is offered regarding the preservation of wildlife on the Osa.  Meanwhile, when wildlife is in danger of being harmed or captured, Iguana Lodge works in conjunction with the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary to put the animals in a safe environment.
      3. Native species planting has been implemented, and a large program exists to educate the community and other businesses about the existence and importance of native species, as well as avoiding the introduction of invasive alien species.  Iguana Lodge has one of the largest native species planting projects in the country.
      4. We contribute to the support of biodiversity conservations, such as Blue Flag Program and our sea turtle protection program that was instituted years ago, and only recently disbanded due to the difficulties of acquiring permits.   By using suiita for our roof in the Rancho, we actively promote conservation of the forest, as suitta can only be grown in dense forest, hence landowners who wish to grow suitta must keep their forest intact, and the purchasing of this product motivates landowners to do this.  Likewise, we employ the use of bamboo and fallen logs in much our construction, both of which are ecofriendly activities.
      5. We do not permit nor encourage improper wildlife interaction at the resort or while on tour.  Guests in their room receive guidelines regarding proper wildlife interactions.

 

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