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Responsible tourism: 5 hotels making a difference in Central America

  • 5 Central American Hotels making a difference

Supporting and preserving the destinations we visit is more important than ever – and it goes way beyond removing single-use plastics and using solar-powered energy.

Thankfully, many hotels are doing their part to improve the quality of life for local communities, preserve the nature of their destinations, and continue ancient cultural traditions so future generations can enjoy and experience them.

Across Central America, you’ll find a wide diversity of cultures and ecosystems that need protecting. Here are some of our favourite hotels that are doing amazing things to reduce their impact and leave the planet better than they found it.

Bookmark these change-makers for your next trip.

Finca Rosa Blanca, Alajuela, Costa Rica

About the hotel

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Farm & Inn has been owned and run by the Jampol family for three generations. This National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World sits within Costa Rica’s central valley, surrounded by coffee plantations and rolling countryside. Providing easy access to San Jose’s International airport, Finca Rosa Blanca is a great place to begin or end your trip in Costa Rica.

Why it made the list

Huge focus is placed on sustainability, with regeneration projects in place aimed at protecting and restoring local flora and fauna. They’ve planted more than 5,000 native trees over the last 25 years. They also strive to reduce their impact on the planet by using solar-powered electricity, solar-heated water, and a chemical-free pool.

One thing we especially love is their focus on supporting the local community by providing jobs and promoting social education. All of the staff are employed from the local community and they work hard to preserve local traditions for future generations. See more: Finca Rosa Blanca

La Bastilla Ecolodge, Jinotega, Nicaragua

About the hotel

La Bastilla Ecolodge is immersed in the Datanli El Diablo Nature Reserve near Jinotega, where native forest is home to howler monkeys and other abundant wildlife. The lodge comprises several individual cabins, all complete with their own private bathroom with hot water, solar-power, balcony, and comfortable beds.  Visitors can enjoy activities such as kayaking, birdwatching, horseback riding, hiking, and coffee tasting.

Why it made the list

The lodge is an amazing enterprise owned by La Bastilla Technical Centre for Agriculture and Tourism, where 100% of the profits are reinvested into the education of local students who come from low-income families. Students gain hands-on entrepreneurial experience and technical skills that will help support them for years to come. Only 20% of young people in the area attend secondary school so their work has made a huge impact on the lives and futures of those supported by the project. See more: La Bastilla Ecolodge

Chaa Creek, San Ignacio, Belize

About the hotel

Immersed in lush Belizean rainforest on the banks of the Macal River, Chaa Creek is a highly acclaimed eco-lodge that places a high focus on sustainability. This charming property covers a 365-acre nature reserve, with jungle trails galore and plenty of activities to enjoy. Wake to the sound of howler monkeys and keep your eye peeled for other jungle dwellers throughout your stay, including an array of colourful tropical bird species and other monkeys.

The property started life as an overgrown farm, which had been neglected by its owners. Mick and Lucy Fleming were travelling through the region in 1977 when they stumbled upon a man in a bar who was selling the land and they decided to buy it. They started producing vegetables and dairy products and selling them to the local community, travelling along the river by dugout canoe as there were no roads to the property at this time. Gradually, more and more travellers began to hear about the Flemings and they were soon receiving visitors on a regular basis. They built a small guest cottage on site, which was the start of the eco-lodge we see today.

Why it made the list

10% of all of the revenue goes directly into environmental and community projects. They work hard to deliver training on responsible tourism to local communities and visiting guests, ensuring that people share their passion for protecting the natural world around them and the Maya culture, too. Local school children are invited to spend a week at the property every summer and they provide a scholarship to nearby secondary education institutions to help those who otherwise could not attend.

Mick and Lucy also established the BFC (Belize Foundation for Conservation) and have partnered with several local charities to help preserve the region’s flora and fauna. See more: Chaa Creek

El Otro Lado, Portobelo, Panama

About the hotel

A collection of colourful private villas in Portobelo Bay, near the historic fishing village of Portobelo, El Otro Lado is a fun and friendly, family-run property which celebrates the rich culture of this part of Panama. Spend days hiking, enjoying watersports and enjoying delicious Caribbean cuisine as you get under the skin of this unique destination.

Why it made the list

The family that runs El Otro Lado do as much as possible to support the community and they run a foundation that supports development through music, art and dance, as well as tourism. Encouraging tourists to get stuck into local traditions helps to keep the history of Portobelo alive and makes this a magical place for visitors. See more: El Otro Lado

Laguna Lodge, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

About the hotel

Laguna Lodge sits right on the shore of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan and is surrounded by a 100-acre private nature reserve. Soak up views of glittering waters with a backdrop of dramatic volcanic peaks. It’s a peaceful place that provides a window into the culture and nature of the region. Choose to relax or embark on adventures, exploring the lake and the charismatic villages which surround it. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, and even paragliding can all be enjoyed nearby, while the nature reserve is home to an incredible array of birdlife and fauna.

Why it made the list

Laguna Lodge is doing a lot when it comes to sustainability. Not only do they rely on solar energy for the hotel but they have carefully chosen every appliance based on its energy-saving credentials – right down to their lawnmowers, boats, and solar-powered WiFi. The team place emphasis on waste management, energy management, water management, and just about everything in between to help minimise their impact on the planet. Renewable and recycled materials are used wherever possible, and their cuisine is organically produced on-site or locally to reduce the carbon footprint of the restaurant. See more: Laguna Lodge

Want to do your bit while you travel? Talk to us about our favourite hotels striving to do that little bit more.


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