Costa Rican resort wins ‘green’ stars

December 4, 2009

Costa Rica´s Tabacón Grand Spa and Thermal Resort recently became the first hotel in the world to be recognized with the international Seven Stars Green World Award for its ecological initiatives.

The award, given to a hotel or resort that has shown a commitment to environmental protection by providing innovative solutions in the hospitality industry, was bestowed on Tabacón for a series of environmental initiatives introduced in the past two years.

“Tabacón´s team has taken voluntary steps to establish international leadership in the direction of a sustainable, secure and peaceful future for our world,” said Thorsten Buehrmann, president and CEO of Seven Stars and Stripes. “Tabacón is not only carbon neutral but is also demonstrating social responsibility by providing funds for improving the quality of education and increasing the environmental awareness of the local population.”

A little more than two years ago, Tabacón – which is located at the base of Arenal Volcano and is renowned for its thermal hot springs – hired a team to measure its carbon footprint and set a plan to try to reduce it. They planted 1,200 native trees on the resort´s 750-acre property through a reforestation program, replaced inefficient bulbs throughout their resort with fluorescent lighting, and cut back on their solid waste through a series of recycling programs.

“We feel responsible for leaving a better world,” said Iván Hernández, a manager at Tabacón. “A lot of hotels and businesses are going green as a marketing technique. That´s not our motivation. We want to make sure we are a responsible and productive member of the local community.”

In late November, the Environment Ministry recognized that Tabacón had achieved carbon neutrality as part of Costa Rica´s 2021 carbon neutral plan. A recent report showed Tabacón was responsible for 792 metric tons of carbon emissions, but with its protected property (mitigating 1,400 tons of carbon released) it has a positive balance of 608 tons.

Hernández said the resort is not satisfied remaining at those levels. He said Tabacón is continually experimenting in ways to lower its carbon footprint by reducing travel between the resort´s San José offices and Tabacón, swapping out inefficient air conditioning systems and changing energy sources.

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