Olas Verdes Hotel 🇨🇷 | The Positive Change

We all enjoy travelling, eating delicious foods, staying at wonderful hotels & interacting with others.

But have we ever thought about coupling our wonderful travels with making tourism greener so our future generations can roam the world like we do?

My journey, a journey in search of positivity and environmental initiatives that portray positivity, took me, unexpectedly, to a beach town named Nosara in Costa Rica. While this was unexpected, I took it as a sign from the universe because Costa Rica is known to be a country striving to run fully on renewable energy for a whole 365 days of the year! And wow, was I amazed by Nosara, and in particular, a hotel named Olas Verdes.

Olas Verdes Hotel – A Hotel that strives to make a positive change in a variety of ways!

Olas Verdes Hotel

When doing my research, I learnt that Olas Verdes Hotel is striving to be fully sustainable in a variety of ways and they offered FREE Sustainability Tours (KNOWLEDGE SHARING!!) to educate not only the employees and local population, but the LARGE number of tourists that travel to Nosara every year. My immediate reaction to this Sustainability Tour – 100% YES!

A stay at Olas Verdes Hotel is a guarantee that your trip is contributing to community development programs and to the preservation of the local environment in Guiones Beach, Costa Rica. See how our LEED Platinum hotel has integrated sustainability from the ground up – literally”

– Olas Verdes Hotel

The staff at the hotel (honestly some of the warmest people I’ve met) were extremely proactive in arranging this for me. I had the amazing opportunity to tour the property with Olas Verdes’ General Manager himself, Luis Pardo!

Building a sustainable initiative or property is a trickle-down effect. Our owners were extremely passionate about building a sustainable business which motivated me, which in turn, turned into a bigger passion of mine and motivated my employees!

Luis Pardo, General Manager
What a humbling experience to meet, Luis Pardo, a man with immense experience, knowledge and always striving for excellence in quality of service, hotel standards, sustainability and positivity!

Positive Changes in a variety of ways – How can just one hotel make so many changes, one may ask –

WaterSolarEconomyRecycling
LandscapingEnvironmentCultureEnergy

Water Conservation and Management

Considering a tropical environment like Costa Rica, and in particular, Nosara, there are two major seasons, extremely dry, prone to drought, and the rainy season. Without effective water conservation, and management, a valuable resource like water can run scarce and can be deemed an expensive commodity for a hotel to operate. This is why Olas Verdes Hotel decided to invest in frameworks, structures and simple ideas to conserve water!

14,000 litres of rainwater storage, ultra-efficient water fixtures, greywater treatment and recycling for irrigation (Doesn’t this sound quite similar to Bali Eco Deli?!)

– Olas Verdes Hotel

A couple simple tips and advice Luis shared with me:

  • No cement used (the creation and usage of cement can be detrimental to our environment)
  • Usually in hotter climates, as we learn in school, roofs are flat to collect water – Olas Verdes sloped the roofs of their buildings so the water from rains or natural dew from the forest around help the water pour into the plants around the buildings
  • Olas Verdes takes advantages of local plants that already thrive in this environment, with a slight modification – they design a soil/plant wall around plant beds – What this eliminates is run-off water (water that runs into the creek and ocean while picking up garbage and microplastics). Instead, this freshwater from rains and dew from trees, seeps lower and deeper into the ground serving as nutrition for plants, while also helping store water in their wells!
  • Decreasing water consumption is extremely important – constantly looking for ways to reuse, whether it is for laundry, air filtration or helping preserve our natural surroundings!

Solar Energy – the future of energy production

Again, considering the dry environment when it’s not raining, and the scorching heat, it is important for our world to take advantage of what nature is providing us without harming our environment.

“Our solar PV and hot water systems provide over 20% of our annual energy demand to keep Olas Verdes powered by almost 100% clean energy.”

– Olas Verdes Hotel

A couple simple tips and advice Luis shared with me:

  • Solar panels help with heating water and decreasing the hotel’s energy consumption in terms of operating a restaurant, electricity, and cooling and heating rooms
  • A battery bank provides energy during rainy seasons cutting energy costs immensely
  • Solar panels is one-time cost – can be recovered cost wise in 7 years but are extremely long-lasting, as long as 30 years! Just think of the Return on Investment by using solar panels
Just a small number of solar panels can reap a large number of benefits!

Economy

Always, always be mindful of the local community you are immersing yourself into when traveling, or even moving to another country. It is important for us to understand how blessed we are to have diverse cultures and to be respectful, while also being open-minded and learning from locals, who have rich knowledge on how best to move forward in a a foreign environment!

From design, to development, to operation of the hotel, Olas Verdes employs only locals—from gardener, to general manager. Construction materials, fruits, food ingredients – all locally sourced and local artists created our murals and authentic décor.

– Olas Verdes Hotel

Using as many materials, and ingredients produced locally feeds the local economy, and for Costa Rica, an economy that strives on tourism. The income must stay within the community to continue being a haven for travellers like myself. Luis is extremely proud of his employees who have shown amazing development over the years. It just goes to show that people are constantly looking for the opportunity to learn and shine, while we may overlook certain people because of our ego or what society may deem the right person for the job. KNOWLEDGE SHARING with employees is integral to Luis’ managerial style, because he wants to set up his employees for future opportunities, and wherever they move to, they can share their knowledge and help build a sustainable business.

3 businesses operating under 1 roof – AMAZING!

Recycling and Waste Management

Hotels are one of the industries that produce the most waste in order to keep guests happy. This can include painting buildings routinely, or using cleaning products filled with chemicals, or even construction along coasts or on our beaches! Businesses and hotels in Nosara have left beaches to be pure without any restaurants to eliminate the ease of how much waste can find its way into our oceans.

We strive to be a zero-waste hotel. All yard and some kitchen waste is composted on site, food leftovers are sent to a local pig farm, recyclables are separated and sent to the Nosara Recycling Center, and our biodegradable cleaning and bathroom products are refilled by vendors.

– Olas Verdes Hotel

A couple simple tips and advice Luis shared with me:

  • Olas Verdes Hotel strives to grow fruits, vegetables and other earth-produced ingredients without bringing it from external sources. If it grows, they use it, if not, they make do with what is growing! This is what we need to shift to as a population to decrease our carbon footprint while also becoming accustomed to the fact that not everything is available at all times!
  • Closed economy – animals running around freely, waste sent back to farms for plant growth and the cycle goes on!
  • If we place bins out there with labels and descriptions, most of the time, even if people are not aware of the state our environment is in, people tend to think about which bin to toss their waste into – this is important because it is a form of awareness!
  • Extremely minimal plastic on-premise. Olas Verdes Hotel does not even carry plastic straws!! It helps raise awareness of the problem if someone asks for one, while also helping people realize that we don’t actually need straws.

An amazing thing I saw – a guest asked for coffee-to-go, and then asked for a lid – the restaurant didn’t carry plastic lids so instead covered it with aluminium foil (it’s a step forward!)

Important to label and describe for to share knowledge and raise awareness!

Landscaping and Environment

The hotel grounds blend into the wildlife refuge thanks to our exclusive use of 100% native vegetation with over 130 different species. Native plants require little water, no toxic fertilizers or herbicides, they mitigate erosion and are the optimum habitat for the native fauna.

– Olas Verdes Hotel

A couple simple tips and advice Luis shared with me:

  • We must learn to live within nature and use it to our advantage. It was obvious to Luis a few trees may need to be cut down, but in return they planted 300 trees elsewhere. Using trees for shade, it keeps a very cool atmosphere within the property and within rooms, leading to decrease in energy consumption as guests are less inclined to use air conditioners and instead open their windows
  • Because of nature appreciation, species that were negatively affected elsewhere started visiting Olas Verdes in a natural manner, and now a tree (Wayakan tree) that was almost extinct is growing in Olas Verdes’ backyard!
  • Use the imperfect fruits – they all taste the same but we are all becoming materialistic and seeking perfection in avenues we don’t need to! Decrease food wastage by using all parts of a fruit and using all kinds of fruits!

Culture

I didn’t have the chance to take a tour of all the hotel rooms and accommodations, but something positive I came across while looking through their well-designed website was how they raise awareness of their culture, present and past!

Being immersed in a new culture is a catalyst for wanderlust. Our suites inspire you to explore indigenous cultures and the pura vida nation with decor from five regions of Costa Rica.

– Olas Verdes Hotel
Culture vibrancy everywhere!

Energy

Our local architect utilized passive solar design to minimize the hotel’s energy loads as much as possible. Natural ventilation, shading, and spatial orientation keep you cool while our efficient lighting and appliances keep you comfortable.

– Olas Verdes Hotel

A couple simple tips and advice Luis shared with me:

  • People enjoy and use what they need – Olas Verdes prides itself in not providing useless aesthetics that large hotel chains typically provide (for example: an umbrella in your margarita!) – gather feedback from what your employees see on a daily basis, and from your guests, and implement to cut costs and be sustainable
  • No need to iron sheets or towels or napkins and so on – Do you currently do this at home on a daily basis? Is this something that you define as luxury and why? We must ask ourselves these questions before forming expectations and making these expectations our reality. Not ironing saves Olas Verdes a huge amount of energyUse water-based paint and wood which has been approved by LEED (a worldwide organization helping businesses become sustainable)
  • Large windows – With large windows, it allows for sunlight to decrease the use of lights, while still keeping it cool because of the large number of towering trees and plants
  • Carbon-fibre balcony doors – these doors are known to allow more air to flow through yet blocking the sun rays that could heat up your room!
  • LED Technology (lights) – has saved Olas Verdes tons of energy and cut costs! Long-lasting lights that do not need to be changed constantly. Automated to detect movement so it turns off automatically, in case you forget!
  • Lack of hair dryers – in an environment like Nosara, the use of a hair dryer is absolutely pointless because of the humidity. Olas Verdes Hotel eliminated all hair dryers so guests are not even tempted to use hairdryers – and guests have not noticed this at all! If you turn on all the LED lights, you use half the energy consumed by a hairdryer!
Look at how cool it looks in there even though it was scorching out!

What we can learn!

  • Build a service on experience rather than materialistic aspects
  • Invest in renewable energy whether it’s for your business or your household
  • In today’s world, natural disasters and extreme weather events are becoming a frequent occurrence – investing in the above initiatives can really help a community bounce back through water storage and energy storage
  • Knowledge sharing at whatever capacity possible can make a big difference in people’s lives around us
  • If you are operating a business, or living in a foreign country, PLEASE CONSULT WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY because they are the experts of the environment we live in
  • Strive to buy local – this can really help decrease our carbon footprint and feed the local economy!
  • The trend is upward – tourism is becoming greener and greener – if you’re a traveller, be conscious of the waste you are producing because it seriously negatively impacts not just the country you’re visiting, but our planet
  • We must learn to live with our environment! No to deforestation, no to food wastage, no to pesticides or insecticides, are just a few examples! We must be mindful that our planet is not home to just the human race
  • Don’t judge a person based on experience and what is on paper – it’s more about personality, willingness to learn and to make a change, and how empathic they are
  • There are organizations and certifications out there (i.e. LEED) which can really help individuals and business owners to learn more while gaining certifications and accreditations for your business. We must make use of what is accessible to us out there!
Live with our environment! We are blessed to be part of this world and at this pivotal time! Let’s help make the positive change to preserve our environment while still enjoying nature’s gifts!

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