Category Archives: Green Hotel

GreenSpot’s Costa Rica Top Tips

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Costa Rica

Continuing our 10th anniversary celebration this month, we’re sharing some hand-picked Costa Rica travel tips with you from our award-winning Costa Rica expert, Irene Edwards. So feel free to take notes, or better yet, give us a call so we can help you connect all these dots together. We’d love to assist you in designing an itinerary that is personalized just for you.

Where to Stay

At GreenSpot we’ve pre-selected a collection of properties that we can personally recommend based on their ability to deliver an unforgettable experience while demonstrating a commitment to environment and local communities. Just a few examples include:

If it’s eco-luxury you’re after, look no further than El Silencio Lodge & Spa. Nestled within lush cloud forest, and 90 minutes from the San Jose airport, El Silencio is perfect for those who wish to splurge on a pristine jungle setting. The 16 breathtaking bungalows feature panoramic views of the Pacific, and the two-bedroom villas offer private balconies and outdoor hot tubs.El Silencio masterfully demonstrates how beautiful design, luxury and comfort do not need to come at the expense of local resources. The restaurant at the lodge is one of the best in the country, with many ingredients coming from their own on-site organic garden.

For exceptional value, the Sunset Ranchos at La Paloma Lodge on the Osa Peninsula are one of our top picks! Imagine falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves and waking up to the lively chatter of the jungle. Catch the sunset from the comfort of your own private balcony or do a little wildlife viewing from your windows. The detached bungalows sleep 5-6 people, with beds and baths on each level, so the two-story layout is perfect for families, or for sharing with friends. This allows the value of this spectacular lodge to stretch even farther!

Costa Rica ecolodge

Where to Eat

Not far from San Jose, in the hills of Santa Bárbara de Heredia, you can find El Tigre Vestido restaurant, which is not only beloved by locals, but a real perk for those staying at the Finca Rosa Blanca hotel. Most of the produce is grown on-site and the hotel now offers a culinary program called Sabor!, which includes private cooking classes, various insider tasting opportunities (such as cheese, meat, and chocolate), guided nature hikes, and an innovative coffee-themed dinner, utilizing coffee from the hotel’s plantation.

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If you’re looking to indulge, try Kapi Kapi (a Maleku word meaning “welcome”).  This classy establishment is located near Manuel Antonio National Park and specializes in fresh seafood. Using fresh-caught seafood from Quepos, just down the hill, Kapi Kapi’s takes traditional Costa Rican flavors and gives them a French and Asian influence. Be sure to ask about the catch of the day!

Another fresh and healthy option is Nectar at Flor Blanca, located on the beautiful Nicoya peninsula. This oasis of wellness is surrounded by pristine beaches, so you can watch the ocean waves crash along the beach as you dine.

What to Eat

For those with a bit of an adventurous palate, who would like to try the best of Costa Rica’s traditional dishes, don’t miss San Jose’s Mercado Central (Central Market). Traditional dishes to try include olla de carne and a beef stew prepared with sweet potatoes, squash, chayote, and corn.

For a typical Tico lunch with the locals, ask us about a visit to Dona Mara’s house for the best carne en salsa! Learn how to make traditional tortillas and experience lunch prepared over a wood burning stove.

If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to seek out the chocolate cake at the Hotel Grano de Oro, located in the outskirts of San Jose.  You’ll be dreaming about it for weeks afterwards.

What to Do

Osa Peninsula, home to Corcovado National Park is still one of our favorite spots in Costa Rica. The peninsula’s remoteness leads many travelers to easier-to-reach rain forest. We believe the abundance of wildlife is superb in this area due to majestic old-growth trees, making it worth the extra bit of effort to get here.

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The Turrialba region is often overlooked, however there are many good reasons to prioritize it in your itinerary. The region is relatively close to San Jose (2.5 hours) yet you will feel a million miles away, with rural traditions alive and well, where Pre-Columbian ruins can be found at Guayabo and the Turrialba Volcano is located (currently Costa Rica’s most active).  This is also home to the Pacuare River, which is excellent for Class II, IV, and V rapids. You could also visit plantations and farms that produce sugar cane, coffee and macadamia.

Other simple pleasures, such as taking a walk in the park are worth a mention. We love to remind our travelers that this is a great way to immerse yourself in local life. Costa Rican towns are built around a central square and this is where everyone goes to stroll and socialize – especially on Sundays after church. Grab a bench in the central square and watch traditional life pass by. The friendly Costa Ricans will likely stop and engage in conversation.

If you are looking to decompress and truly unwind, consider making your trip a wellness retreat! Named one of the world’s healthy blue zones, wellness packages are increasingly popular in Costa Rica. You might consider starting your day with yoga on the beach, then go for a hike in the pristine natural environment, followed by a relaxing massage in the evening.

Spa Costa Rica

 

What Not to Do

Monteverde Cloud Forest has become more developed over the years with hotels, restaurants, tour offices and shops, making it less attractive and no longer worth the effort of getting there. Once a prime spot for cloud forest adventure, Monteverde has more recently been listed as people’s least favorite Costa Rican experience. Furthermore, the road to get there has not been improved, making it a bumpy, long trek to reach it, which can be tiring for families with young kids.

We hope these tips have inspired you to consider making Costa Rica your next holiday destination spot. Helping you plan a trip that is just right for you and your travel companions is what we love to do most, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Ecuador: Why 2016 is the Year to Go

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Why 2016 is the year to go

Have you been postponing those New Year’s resolutions? What about the one where you finally book that trip of a lifetime? Procrastination is not usually your friend, but if you’ve been putting off a dream trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, waiting until now might have been a blessing in disguise.

Ecuador has always had a lot going for it, but the destination has stepped up its game in recent years, and last October it was named South America’s leading tourist destination at the World Travel Awards!

Here are a few reason why we think Ecuador is a 2016 hotspot:

Better Accessibility with New Flights

Starting in February, discount airline Jet Blue will fly nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to Quito. Also, Ecuador’s premier airline, TAME, recently introduced nonstop flights from New York to Guayaquil. Flying to Ecuador only takes a few hours from the southern USA. You can get there easily from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Atlanta and New York. And if you’re headed to the Olympics in Brazil this year, you could seamlessly make Ecuador a stopover!

Quito’s Renovations

Ecuador’s capital city is complimenting its UNESCO heritage charm with some 21st century renovations. A handy new metro system* is opening this year, conveniently carrying people from the bus station to all of the important and historic districts across town. Coupled with a new, conveniently located airport and revamped train station, there is a fresh glow to Quito’s old-world appeal. Many colonial treasures remain in the heart of this city, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and volcanoes that call out to adventure enthusiasts.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Increase in Galapagos Penguins

Unlike their cold-water-relatives, Galapagos penguins are special because they have adapted to the warmer climate of the islands. Expert conservationists created shady nesting sites for this extremely rare and most endangered penguin species, and this has resulted in a doubling of their population. If you’ve ever wanted to see them, or perhaps even swim with them, you now have twice the opportunity!

Galapagos Islands cruise

Galapagos Islands Family Cruise

The Cultural Experience you Crave

There is a growing desire for more authentic and meaningful holiday experiences like the ones we offer at GreenSpot. This means travelers are seeking out destinations with significant cultural draw. Ancient traditions are alive and well across Ecuador. Stumbling upon authentic cultural encounters is as easy as strolling through a bustling market. Strike up a conversation with weavers who are making Panama hats – which are not only a hot fashion trend, but are in fact Ecuadorian.

authentic Ecuador town

Colorful Ecuador

Go Green in 2016!

For Ecuador, ‘going green in 2016’ is not just a catchy rhyme. Their Ministry of Tourism has recently adopted sustainability standards for the country’s tourism sector. This means that the country recognizes the importance of working toward sound tourism policies and will actively protect Ecuador’s heritage so that future generations can benefit from it. Also, responsible-minded travelers have plenty of award-winning, green hotels to choose from in Ecuador.

Ecuadorian hacienda

Ecuadorian hacienda

Contact us to discuss your 2016 dream trip to Ecuador.

*Updated January 25, 2016: Sadly, like many transportation and construction projects, we have received news that the completion of Quito’s new metro has been delayed.  However, it is coming and we will keep you updated!

An Earth Day Gift for You – 5 Tips for Responsible Travel

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Earthday

It’s been many years since the terms ecotourism and sustainable travel first developed. Since then, the complex relationship between travel and responsibility to our planet, has grown in importance. Some even declare it an oxymoron to put the two together – opposites, like oil and water. Well, pardon us if we disagree.

Not only are there ways that tourism can benefit everyone, but the concept of  responsible travel is becoming more mainstream.

waterfallThe economic and social benefits of tourism are more obvious, particularly in developing countries, because (if done correctly) tourism can create jobs and increase the country’s revenue. It can also improve infrastructure and cultural understanding between guest and host. The environmental benefits are sometimes less obvious. However, tourism has helped promote awareness and conservation of natural resources and wildlife.

We thought that Earth Day would be a good opportunity to provide you with a list of a few things that you can do on your next trip, to be a more responsible traveler. This is not a comprehensive list. Travelers can do various little things to tread lightly and create a positive impact on the destinations they visit.

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  • Support local economies by buying local handicrafts and food that has not been imported.
  • Travel by public transportation within the destination, or better yet, walk or bike.
  • Respect the culture and engage with the local people.
  • Use natural resources sparingly.
  • Don’t buy bottled water – bring your own canteen instead.

*Bonus tip! Contact us to help you select sustainable hotels and local guides for a memorable (and responsible) holiday!

We would love to hear what responsible efforts (big or small) have you made while traveling.

Hotel Terra: Green Luxury in Jackson Hole

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If you are looking to get away to the Jackson Hole area, consider checking out this luxury hotel that is also hip, sustainable, and inspired to be extordinary.  Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, was planned and built with the concept that it would be both healthier for its guests and for the land it inhabits. This eco-boutique has succeeded in becoming part of the global movement to change the way the hospitality industry interacts with our planet’s limited natural resources.

The 72 room, 6-story Hotel Terra in Teton Village, is built on a half acre site – slope side to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and at the gateway to Grand Teton National Park. Eco skiers will find this alternative, low-impact, not your ordinary ski resort, to their liking.

Hotel Terra is one of only six LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified hotels in the U.S. You won’t get your linens or the fluffy towels changed everyday, but they are all made of pure organic cotton. This is a place that will actually allow you to fling open windows, make organic fair-trade coffee, and shower with natural soap. In addition, you will enjoy heated slate bathroom floors, rain showers, supersized tubs and iPod docks. You will sleep on natural mattresses that integrate un-bleached, un-dyed cotton and recycled springs and you can wash your hair with organic shampoo. What else could you ask for in a green hotel?

Clothes hangers are made from sustainably harvested bamboo, reclaimed skyscraper glass that was molded into soap dishes, along with sink and shower fixtures that save water. To continue this fusion of old and new, the structure was partially built with lumber from old barns and farmhouses and the roof sports reused shingles. The hotel hopes to eventually offset 100% of its energy usage with wind biomass and other renewable energy sources.

Hotel Terra Jackson Hole offers the exceptional amenities and services expected from boutique hotels, combined with environmentally sustainable building and operating practices.

For more information visit: http://www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com/ or call 800-631-6281, or 307-739-4000

Our Favorite Hotel of the Week

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“Serenity and peace combined with stunning natural beauty” are the words that have been used to describe the setting of this eco resort.

Spot: Jicaro Island Ecolodge

Location: Granada Isletas, Nicaragua

The Good Stuff: Set on a private tropical island with only 9 two-story casitas, Jicaro Ecolodge is an upscale nature resort. An ideal setting for a variety of travelers who want to experience adventures, romance, and rejuvenation.

What We Love: A secluded island getaway, Jicaro is the perfect upscale alternative to hotels and resorts in downtown Granada.

 Green Cred: Water is heated with solar panels; focus on reduce, recycle, reuse; all staff are from the local area and food and other products such as food and furnishings are sourced locally as well. Use of organic and biodegradable soaps, cleaning detergents and spa products; Chlorine free systems to clean water in the pool, Energy efficient lighting and illumination throughout the island.

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Nope, that's not a painting on the wall. It's the view from your bed while visiting one of our favorite hotels in Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano region.

The precise location is secret though! Contact us and we'll be happy to take you there.
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