The North American “Addiction” to Air-Conditioned Hotel Rooms

The Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges consists of eight hotels, resorts and eco lodges in the tropics.   The sunshine as well as the hot and humid climate in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is one of the main reasons that North Americans head down here.     Four of the Cayuga Collection hotels feature A/C in the guest rooms and four don’t.   This blog is about how difficult it is to convince North Americans to get over their addiction to air conditioning.  

Bungalow view from Lapa Rios Eco Lodge near Corcovado National Park
Hammock on eco lodge deck at Lapa Rios on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.

It is extremely seldom that we receive a complaint about being too hot by a guest at the hotels and lodges that don’t feature air conditioning in the guest rooms.   The four hotels without A/C (Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Latitude 10 Resort and Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn) feature great architectural design in terms of cross ventilation of the rooms as well as efficient and silent ceiling fans over the beds.

Whenever we work on developing a new hotel, resort or lodge, we try to create guest room experiences that do not require air-conditioning and if we go for air-conditioning, we make sure that the guests have the option to choose.   You have the choice to either turn it on, or leave it off and open up the windows and doors to fresh ocean and rain forest breezes.
Open Air Guest Room at Latitude 10 Resort in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Many guests don’t know what they are missing when they spend time in a closed, tightly sealed air-conditioned room. If you enclose yourself, you don’t hear the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean or the sounds of the tropical rain forest.  And then there is the wellness factor.     Ask any doctor, fresh natural air is much better for you than artificially cooled air.

So where is the problem?   We find that when guests are browsing the websites of those hotels, resorts and lodges that don’t feature A/C, they get worried about being too hot as they make the comparison with living in a big city in the U.S. during the summer months without A/C.   But of course, there is no comparison between being in the rainforest on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica or an office building or apartment in downtown Houston, TX on a hot August day.   It is not unusual that at Lapa Rios or Jicaro Lodge, guests ask for an extra blanket for the night.
Guest Room at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica

Once guests have enjoyed a night on Jicaro Island in Lake Nicaragua or next to the beach at Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa, they realize what a great experience they had and how good it makes them feel to sleep in a natural environment.   They all of a sudden realize that they can hear, smell, touch, see and feel their surroundings!

We have not even touched upon the sustainability part of air conditioning.   Even though we try to use the most efficient and environmentally friendly air conditioning systems, they are contributing to global warming.   So if you want a truly sustainable vacation, try to stay at places that don’t have air conditioning in the rooms.   But if you do like in the case of the Cayuga Collection hotels and resorts like Arenas del Mar, Harmony, Grano de Oro and Kura, try to keep it off.   The cross ventilation or ceiling fans can do the job just as well.
Guest Room at Jicaro Island Ecolodge on Lake Nicaragua near the colonial town of Granada.

So how do we get our point across to those guests that are used to living in air-conditioned homes, offices, cars, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. that it is ok to be in the tropics without A/C?   How do we get them off their addiction to air conditioning? It takes a lot of convincing by our reservations staff at the hotels and lodges.   But what helps most are testimonials by former guests that have lived the A/C free experience.
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica

A piece of advice; the hottest months of the year in Costa Rica and Nicaragua are March, April and May.   If you are very sensitive to heat, we recommend you avoid those months.   But even then, temperatures cool off at night and sleeping is comfortable even without A/C.    

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