We received an email quite some time ago from Emiliana Garcia, ‘director of sustainability’ (hopefully I haven’t botched the translation too badly) for the Harmony Hotel in Costa Rica. I’ll be honest, when I first read the message I assumed it was yet another person who was hoping we’d promote their business. Don’t get me wrong – we love letting our readers know about cool ‘green’ businesses, but we also want to feel like we are at least dealing with a real person who is genuinely interested in what we’re doing – not just some drive-by promo-hound (particularly irritating when their business has virtually nothing to do with sustainability or related themes) .
Anyway, in Emiliana’s case, because she seemed friendly I decided to request more detailed information, knowing full-well there was a decent chance that would be the end of it. Well as it turns out, she DID write back providing me with lots more info and some photos – I’m glad she did!
Here is the information she provided…
Nestled into the sleepy coastal town of Nosara, Costa Rica, 40 miles from the nearest paved road, high standard of sustainable living meet the creature comfort of low key beach at the Harmony Hotel. Here, comfort meets effortless sustainability. Guests can enjoy the rare luxury of knowing that the beauty they see goes further than grass deep.
The hotel’s many natural treats are sure to enhance our guests’ experience of green living. An awareness of our interconnectedness within nature is shown in our practices which include permaculture, worm farming, a recycling program, use of biodegradable products, biodegradable guest room amenities and gray water purification irrigation system.
In our constant striving to be in tune with the local ecology, the Harmony applies the practice of permaculture to almost everything we do. We hope that by cultivating an awareness of our role in the local ecology that we can work with nature, rather than against it, and as a result foster a deeply satisfying sense of life in harmony for our guests.
We have tried to design our landscape with both our human guests and our animal neighbors in mind. As a result, we have made basic decisions, such as what species of plants to cultivate, based not only on aesthetics but also on their adaptation to the local climate and their contribution to biodiversity.
Native plants, which make up 50% of the plant life in our landscape, are an obvious choice because they not only preserve local character, but also have been fine-tuned by nature to survive both the long dry season and the deluge of rain in the wet season. They also provide food and shelter for the local animal population. The non-native portion of the plants in our landscape are also climate-appropriate and attractive to birds, butterflies, bats, iguanas, humans and other fauna in the local ecosystem.
The desire to create an animal-friendly environment has likewise influenced our overall landscape plan.
Our concern for animal habits and needs is also prominent in the re-design of the once leaky, old pool next to the spa. We transformed it into a living aquatic system by choosing to include shallow areas for herons, egrets and other wading birds plus deeper areas amongst vegetation for protecting fish and turtles from predation.
Using organic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers – such as compost from the restaurant waste – is another method we employ for collaborating with the local ecosystem. This practice increases the soil’s fecundity. It also keeps harmful chemicals from destroying the healthy bacterial necessary for soil balance and from leaching inorganic chemicals, which won’t ever break down, into the plants that feed the local animal kingdom. Plus, composting food waste for fertilizer utilizes waste in an efficient, productive way that gives back to the earth, from which the food originally came.
Our amenities not only vitalize your skin and hair but also serve as a bio-compatible, ph-balanced nutrient for the specific wetland plant life that your shower feeds as a part of our greywater wetland system. Moreover, in keeping with our goal of generating as little waste as possible, we offer you them in a luxury within post-consumer recycled glass containers that the Harmony housekeeping staff keeps clean and refills regularly.
In an effort to promote environmental sustainability and community development we strive to purchase as much organically grown and locally produced food. Harmony Hotel uses a technique called worm farming which transforms all of our organic waste into a fertilizer that is then used to maintain our landscaped gardens and to support the growth of legumes and herbs (which we use in both our restaurant and our spa).
The Harmony Hotel is a sustainable operation with a relaxing, healthy environment with comfortable rooms, excellent dining, melodies mixed with the sound of the ocean.
For more information, be sure to check out the www.harmonynosara.com