The year 2018 was a banner year for the Cayuga Collection. We won awards for our commitment to the local communities that we operate within, opened Isla Palenque in Panama and Senda in Monteverde in Costa Rica, reopened Jicaro Island Lodge in Nicaragua after a challenging few months and joined Virtuoso with Kurà. The Cayuga Collection hotels participated in conferences and trade shows in Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Panama and Las Vegas (and offset the carbon emissions from our flights). We built and launched new websites for our hotels and centralized our sales efforts in San Jose with a growing team of Cayuga Travel Planners. And we managed to do all of this while nearly all of our hotels enjoyed their most successful year of operation since opening.
Sometimes it would be nice to take a break, to give ourselves an “A+” grade (like some world leaders) for our efforts thus far and rest assured we’ve done more than our share to push the envelope on sustainability in travel. But that’s not what we like to call “The Cayuga Way”. We’re always trying to do better, both by our people and by the planet in the pursuit of offering travelers a truly sustainable luxury hotel experience. With this in mind, I’ve made 10 resolutions for 2019, both personal and professional. I hope you’ll join me in making some of these your own in 2019, as they are all worth keeping.
1. Say No to Shoes and Salmon (In the Tropics)In November the Cayuga Collection participated in the Remote LA conference in Las Catalinas and I delivered my first ever keynote speech with bare feet. The casual vibe of the gathering – four days for “doing business by the beach” – aligned with the philosophy of our hotels. I made great connections with travel professionals across the globe and no one judged me for my lack of shoes (and profuse sweating during afternoon meetings. It was hot in that tent!) I spoke on the “Future of Tourism” and shared lessons learned from Cayuga’s 15 years of offering sustainable luxury in Central America. The main takeaways? Neither shoes nor salmon are necessary in the tropics. Read an overview of the talk here: Salmon in the Tropics?
2. Reduce Our Use of Plastics
No surprises with this one; we haven’t offered single-use plastic bottles at our hotels in over a decade and eliminated straws shortly after. But we can and must do better. Now we are seeking ways to reduce or eliminate the plastic packaging that accompanies food deliveries and experimenting with making all of our own condiments in-house from Costa Rican ingredients rather than serving ketchup produced overseas. It’s a process, but being mindful of the waste produced at all levels of the hospitality industry supply chain – including the unglamorous plastic wrap surrounding pallet crates – is every bit as important as the currently trending global movement towards eliminating plastic straws.
3. Find Ways to Save Water Even in a country of seemingly abundant water like Costa Rica, water conservation is a high priority, particularly in regions that experience an extended dry season. While group showering is, ahem, an interesting way to save water, there are more approachable avenues to water conservation. All Cayuga Hotels have small-scale water treatment plants on-site, allowing us to clean our grey and black water and reuse it for irrigating gardens on site.
4. Wear More Lederhosen While traditional German fashion may never gain acceptance in Costa Rica, I’m happy that the local craft beer scene has improved (and support this through making Treintaycinco beers available at each Cayuga hotel.) Bratwurst & sauerkraut may also become more popular…at least among Cayuga Collection employees. A personal highlight in a year full of them was when I traveled to several Cayuga properties in November and grilled up a German feast in appreciation for the hard work of all hotel staff. I’m available for bookings in 2019.
5. Go Back to School Growth and learning are inherent to any form of travel (embarked upon with an open mind) but for travelers who want to add a scientific & educational component to their vacation, we suggest that they head “Back to School” and attend our Lapa Rios Guide School for Guests. Engage your inner David Attenborough as you learn the secrets of the Osa Peninsula’s flora & fauna from our expert guides. Learn more about the experience of our first graduates or check 2019 dates are available for enrollment now.
6. Keep Your Head in the Clouds (Keep Dreaming) Since Andrea and I started the Cayuga Collection 15 years ago, we have dreamed of operating a hotel in the highlands, giving travelers the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s magnificent cloud forests while experiencing the same style of Cayuga hospitality beloved along our Pacific Rainforests & Beaches. Opening Senda Monteverde in December of this year fulfilled that lofty dream. To celebrate, we’re offering opening discounts at Senda Monteverde when combined with a minimum of 3 nights at another Cayuga hotel. Contact the Senda Monteverde sales team at email@example.com
7. Do More Yoga For years, running was my activity of choice but a nagging injury has forced me to focus on less impactful forms of fitness. I’m happy to share that I’ve started doing yoga regularly…every few months…and intend to keep this up in 2019. Fortunately, the wellness teams at our hotels understand that most travelers value a regular yoga practice or fitness routine. We now offer complimentary yoga classes at all of our properties (with complimentary yoga coming to Isla Palenque in 2019) along with meditation (Kurà) and group fitness classes (Arenas Del Mar.) Classes vary by season and from property to property, but our sales team can advise what’s on offer during your clients’ dates of stay.
10. Stay Hopeful As the late Anthony Bourdain said “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart.” Indeed, our hearts were broken earlier this year for the people of Nicaragua and our staff at Jicaro Island Lodge, which was forced to close for several months amidst the political turmoil. But even in challenging times, it’s important to stay hopeful, to believe that things will change for the better and that we have the ability to affect and enact that change. Jicaro reopened in mid-November, once again welcoming guests to their private island retreat on Lake Nicaragua. With every traveler who ventures to Nicaragua and experiences a warm welcome, hope is slowly returning to the country and to the thousands of people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods. Contact the reservations team (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Jicaro Island Lodge for special reopening rates, valid through the end of January.