Every September 27th, the world celebrates World Tourism Day. However, with the emergence of awareness days such as; ‘Lost Sock Memorial Day’ and ‘National Card Playing Day,’ It is understandable that many treat this date as yet another novelty marketing tool. Despite this, World Tourism Day was originally created with a much greater significance in mind. It was a day to reflect on the powerful impact tourism has on the social, political, financial and cultural structuring of the world as we know it.
Granted, the impact of Tourism has not always been positive; with perhaps too many examples of it being increased at the expense of the people and the Earth’s natural resources. However, there are many companies working hard to promote an alternative to traditional tourism. A lifestyle which involves the luxury travelling experience, but without the negative implications on the Earth, and with a greater focus on cultural education and improvement of your wellbeing. This concept has been labelled ‘Green Travel’. Therefore, leading up to World Tourism Day, we have decided to showcase a series of destinations which have become synonymous with the ethos of Green Travel.
In this article, we are exploring Costa Rica as a top eco-destination.
With the Osa Peninsula alone, housing 2.5% of the entire world’s biodiversity, it is no wonder that Costa Rica has pioneered advancements in conservation and Green travel. This stunning country has implemented around 400 tourism services, which all possess a Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST). This ranking is considered to be amongst the most prestigious Hospitality awards for Businesses, Restaurants and Hotels who consistently uphold the highest of standards in Green Travel.
So where do you start in planning your Green Travel adventure? Well, once your flights are booked, it’s no secret that finding the right accommodation for your Green Travelling experience can be the next daunting challenge. Many hotels offer the ‘Barefoot Luxury’ experience. Though if you aren’t careful, the Beach-front, Treetop Super Deluxe Suite that you booked 3 months in advance, might actually turn out to be a Camping Tent on a riverbank. Of course, this could be perfect for some, but probably not what you originally had in mind. Putting your accommodation worries to rest, Greentique Hotels is the only nature-based hotel group in Costa Rica, which offer an impressive range of high-end coastal resorts, rural mountain and rainforest adventure lodges, and cloud forest hotels. With 20 years of experience in providing premium sustainable hospitality, Greentique Hotels immerse you in the heart and culture of Costa Rica through custom tours and excursions; alongside award-winning restaurants and wellness activities.
Pictures courtesy of Greentique Hotels
An equally fitting alternative to Greentique Hotels, is the Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn. This distinctive Hotel is situated in the picturesque province of Heredia; offering you all the amenities of the capital without feeling as though you are trapped in a tourist hub. It has been stated that The Finca Rosa Blanca “was built with the goal of sustainable tourism and acute environmental awareness.” True to their word, staying at the Inn will give you access to a world of unique excursions such as, learning about the medicinal and aromatic herbs at the botanical gardens, climbing the enchanting cloud forest, touring the coffee plantation, and white-water rafting.
Picture courtesy of Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn
Historically, Costa Rica has been shunned by the gastronomy world. One explanation is that that their food was once considered too bland in comparison to neighbouring South American countries. Whereas other nations took their culinary cues from exotic meats and spicy peppers, Costa Rica opted for more subtle tastes originating from herbs, fruits and vegetables. However, with an influx of fusion cuisine, Costa Rica boasts a plethora of traditional, adapted and international dishes. Should you venture to San Jose, the capital, we recommend stopping in at the Park Café. Established by Michelin Star Chef, Richard Neat, this hidden jewel is located inside of an Antique shop. The restaurant is spread throughout the interior courtyard; amongst fine architectural pieces, furniture and designs. Here, you are invited to sample a wide range of flavour combinations in an exciting tapas style menu that changes seasonally.
Venturing further into the gastronomic district of Barrio Escalante, you will come across the delicious Finca Al Mercat. This is a farm-to-table restaurant, which emphasises the importance of locally grown ingredients. Touring their private farm will also open your eyes to a world of little know ingredients that add diversity toe Costa Rican cuisine. Finca Al Mercat is fronted by Head Chef, José Pablo González, a graduate of the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
This leads quite perfectly onto our third recommendation, which is a French-fusion Chic restaurant called Kalú. Head Chef Camille Ratton’s sustainable ethos has escalated the restaurant’s culinary experience to an entirely new level. You can expect to find new flavour profiles, made from the combination of local Costa Rican produce and traditional French cuisine. This includes dishes such as coffee-cured salmon.
Picture courtesy of Kalú
With hundreds of sustainable activities to suit every type of personality, you can choose whether you intend on spending your days exploring the picturesque landscapes and nature trails, or contemplating life’s existential questions from your cloud forest balcony. Although, should you want to an activity that combines both these prospects, then do not forget to plan a trip to the naturally heated thermal springs. Encased by greenery, with the Arenal Volcano in the distance; the thermal springs are made up of five different spring sources naturally heating and mineralising through the volcano. Heated water flows over a sculpted waterfall, which provides visitors with an intense hydraulic shoulder, back, and neck massage. Truly an example of nature telling you to unwind and relax.
There is a saying in Costa Rica, which is “Pura Vida.” You will hear this term throughout your stay, as it is embedded in most aspects of everyday life. The phrase translates to “pure life,” and to locals it is more than just a phrase. It is an ethos that encapsulates the idea that luxury is not just to do with physical price or cost. Luxury is also about enjoying a happy stress-free life, taking time out to go at a slower pace, and bask in the wealth of nature.