Sustainable development has become a way of thinking and living aimed at satisfying current needs without negatively affecting future generations. It also requires awareness of how our actions affect the environment and our surrounding communities. This means that the development of a country cannot be based on the uncontrolled exploitation of its natural, cultural or social resources in order to meet the basic needs of the people since such resources are the only platform on which future generations will be able to meet their needs. Education is a key factor for the success of a life style based on sustainable development.
What is CST?
The Certificate of Sustainable Tourism --CST-- is a program of the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), which is designed to categorize and differentiate tourist businesses according to the degree to which they meet a standard of sustainable development relative to the utilization of natural , cultural and social resources and are based on the following four factors:
Evaluation of the interaction between the business and the environment with special attention to the implementation of policies and programs related to sustainable development and protection of the environment.
Evaluation of the business' practices relative to the handling of waste materials and the utilization of technologies to save electricity and water.
Evaluation of what management does to invite its clients' participation in the implementation of the sustainable development policies of the company.
Evaluation of the interaction of the company with surrounding communities. This section of the evaluation may include, for example, an analysis of how tourist companies respond to the growth and development of the region by creating employment or other community benefits.
Having a continued awareness of environmental problems and of the role that citizens, especially private businesses, must play to solve them, Hotel Bougainvillea has been working diligently toward environmental sustainability.
As a recipient of the Certificate of Sustainable Development granted by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, we have implemented a program for the transformation of social attitudes in order to reflect our philosophy.
Our sustainable development policies
• Utilizing natural resources in the best possible manner
• Honoring the socio-cultural authenticity of the communities
• Engaging in economic activities that are viable long-term and provide fairly distributed socioeconomic benefits to everyone who participates in the hotel activities. Such benefits include stable employment opportunities, as well as social benefits and services for the surrounding communities, thus contributing to the reduction of poverty.
• Creating the Bougainvillea Foundation to carry out actions intended to reduce school abandonment and to offer a better learning experience for children.
• Following up on the activities related to sustainable development
• Communicating relevant information such as rules and regulations related to sustainable development to different groups
At Hotel Bougainvillea, the conservation of natural resources has allowed us to reduce as much as possible the impact of the business operations on the environment. Our physical plant has gone through important changes in order to fully meet our commitment to sustainable development.
Listed below are some of the practices that we have implemented:
• We compost part of the organic waste from the kitchen and the restaurant.
• We inform and train the hotel personnel regarding the gathering of recyclable material such as glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum, and other materials. This effort includes the separation of such materials in our gathering center, as well as working in cooperation with the recycling program of the municipality of Santo Domingo de Heredia and the ADOGA Association (Asociación Domingueña de Gestión Ambiental), a Santo Domingo association devoted to environmental matters.
• We send organic waste materials to a pig farm
• We purchase products in bulk to reduce waste
• We utilize biodegradable detergents for washing and cleaning
• We use soap/shampoo dispensers in our guest showers in order to reduce plastic waste
• We use natural fertilizers from the compost area for the maintenance of the gardens instead of products such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
• We use paper sheets on both sides and shred paper when it is not used anymore
• We use recycled paper in the sales areas
• We have implemented an energy-saving program that includes efficiency lighting, electrical panels which balance current surges, and solar panels to heat the water in the swimming pool
• We use damaged towels as rags to clean floors
• We replaced plastic laundry bags with reusable cloth bags
• We properly dispose of technology-related materials
• We have a program of reforestation of green areas in a farm located in Sarapiquí
• We have implemented a non-smoking policy for the majority of guest rooms and common areas
• We have implemented a system to air dry towels
• We provide support to local artists and companies by buying their products for the hotel and for sale in our souvenir shop
• We urge our guests to save water and energy by reusing towels and sheets and turning off lights when not needed
• We inform our guests about the natural attractions of Costa Rica and how to act when visiting them
Activities with the Community
We firmly believe that business enterprises and society are interdependent and that they should participate in achieving common goals relative to sustainable development. For this reason, Hotel Bougainvillea has established connections intended to improve the quality of life of the surrounding communities by contributing to the well-being of their people. As a result of our social commitment, we presently employ 88 people, 80% of whom are from nearby communities such as Santo Domingo, Santo Tomás, and Heredia. Most of these employees have been working for the Hotel for many years.
As evidence of our social commitment we can point out that Hotel Bougainvillea is the main sponsor of Fundación Debra de Costa Rica, a non-profit organization devoted to improve the quality of life of children who suffer from Epidermolisis Bulosa (EB). In addition, the van der Wielen Paskel family created the Bougainvillea Foundation in April 2008 in order to facilitate the coordination of all the social assistance of Hotel Bougainvillea. The foundation's main goal is to promote and support the education of children and young adults of limited resources. They are given the opportunity to engage in academic and technical studies leading to the improvement of their own and their families' socio-economic conditions.
Every year since its creation, the Bougainvillea Foundation has been granting scholarships to 50 elementary and high school students from the province of Heredia.
On September 30th, 2010 the Ministry of Finance authorized this foundation to accept donations and made such donations deductible from income as per regulation # ATH-415-10.
Thanks to our financial support, institutions such as the Santo Tomás Public School and the Cristóbal Colón School have been able to add classrooms and improve their buildings. It is important to point out that both schools are recipients of the Bandera Azul (Blue Flag) ecological award.
Additionally, we donate bedding and other items to Hogar Casa de Pan in Cartago and to Hogar María in Santo Domingo de Heredia.
Hotel Bougainvillea has signed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children and Young Adults from Sexual Exploitation by Commerce and Tourism in Costa Rica. We have made a commitment to work with the Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism on the prevention of all forms of prostitution and sexual exploitation. For more information, please visit http://paniamor.org
Friends of National Parks is a membership program created for ProParques, Fundecor and SINAC. Through this program we demonstrate our commitment to the national parks of Costa Rica.