Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on April 14, 2008
If you fly into a small airport forty miles from the nearest paved road — an airport that uses a local cow field as an airstrip — you may initially wonder if you’ve been stranded someplace desolate. That is, until you notice the small beach in Nosara, Costa Rica and take a sip of your freshly squeezed juice cocktail. Then you’ll realize that this secluded paradise is the home of the Harmony Hotel.
Located on Guiones Beach, famous for its impressive surf and beautiful surroundings, the Harmony Hotel was recently renovated to combine relaxation with a dedication to preserving a healthy environment, both on the property and in the surrounding community.
Relaxation is great. But to ensure this, all hotels – green or not – must have the proper amenities. And the Harmony Hotel seems to have it all. The property features standard hotel rooms as well as fifteen private bungalows, each with their own wooden deck, rocking chairs, and hammocks. (You know you’re in paradise when there’s a hammock!)
There’s also free WiFi, but you might want to keep that to yourself to keep your boss from interrupting your stay with pesky e-mails. Besides, who wants to stare at a computer screen when you can be looking at a landscape comprised of amazing local plant life? Tree species, whose branches naturally grow intertwined to help mimic a jungle canopy, have been strategically planted to protect the local, endangered Howler Monkey population and provide shade for guests. Naturally, the hotel uses organic products for ground maintenance and employs bio-filters to clean and maintain the ponds.
Walking down the lushly gardened path to the nearby beach, you might think you’re strolling through a rainforest. And once you’ve kicked off your flip-flops and headed for the waves, you can take comfort in knowing the hotel’s beach guard is there to keep your belongings safe (a feature I clearly missed the last time I relaxed on my day off at Venice Beach!).
But it doesn’t stop there. Environmental responsibility follows you inside as well. Each room is outfitted with cans for separating plastic, paper, glass and aluminum, and the hotel has a center that recycles 85% of its waste. Good to know, but it’s a vacation, why focus on the details – blackwater, greywater — when you could be enjoying one of the delicious menu’s many vegetarian options or exotic local fruit?
But of course, if you’re a good green traveler, you’ll realize that your comfort is only part of the vacation. After you’ve rejuvenated your mind and body at the spa, you might want to consider giving back by participating in one of the many programs Harmony offers, such as planting trees or helping protect the local sea turtle eggs and injured Howler monkeys at nearby facilities. You can ask at the reception desk about how to get involved.
Sounds not only like a memorable vacation, but one that reminds you that it’s possible to enjoy yourself without asking the environment pay the price. If taking a vacation were always this guilt-free, it would be my pleasure to be stranded in Harmony anytime!
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