At the Hotel Bougainvillea we have been working diligently to achieve a culture of environmental sustainability.
What is sustainable development?
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.
At Bougainvillea Hotel, the conservation of natural resources has allowed us to reduce the impact of the business operations on the environment.
Here are some of the practices 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 recycling of 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 local 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.
- 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 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 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.
- We use recycled paper in all office areas.
Our Social Responsibility
When we started our first hotel in 1965, (Amstel Hotel), we borrowed $5,000.00, and had to make deposits in the bank almost every day to be able to pay our bills and our rent.
The first five years were not easy, and several times we entertained the idea of giving up. Then, the seventies came with a boom in tourism, and we were able to start thinking of employee’s benefits.
We started our first “Asociación Solidarista” (a system here in Costa Rica, similar to a “Credit Union”) where our employees save 10% of their salaries, and the hotel matches this amount. That way, we have been able to finance housing for most of our employees during the last 50 years.
In 1983 we were able to construct our own building, the first Hotel Bougainvillea in San José, with tax benefits the government was offering at that time for new hotels.
In 1989, with tax benefits also, we were able to build the Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo de Heredia, and one of our first thoughts was that we needed to remodel the school next door. That was our first project with the community.
We have also founded the DEBRA FOUNDATION, to help families with children affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a very rare and severe skin disease.
When we started having grandchildren, we decided to sell the first Bougainvillea, and keep only the one in Santo Domingo de Heredia, so we could dedicate more time for our grandchildren.
When Costa Rica’s Tourism Board (ICT) started a program called Certificate of Sustainable Tourism, we decided to form our Fundación Bougainvillea (FB), to be able to better orchestrate our Social Responsibility Program.
Under the “umbrella” of the Fundación Bougainvillea we have several institutions that receive our support in different manners:
- FUNDACIÓN DEBRA DE COSTA RICA
The FB is the main sponsor of this foundation; our main help consists in raising funds for this foundation, help these families with medications, special lotions and bandages, as well as financial and emotional support. Also, we host meetings and special parties for the children affected by EB.
- HOGAR CASA DE PAN
This is a home, headed by doña Melba and her family, where they “adopt” children in high social risk. FB, through its “godparents” program, is the main sponsor for this special “foster home”.
Anampe is an organization in nearby Santo Domingo, where they provide day care and education for adults with severe learning disabilities. We help with logistics to obtain funds from government institutions, and help raising funds to supplement other expenses for this day care center.
Funvida is an organization whose aim is to help needy elderly people in Guararí de Heredia. We are helping them obtain funds for their work, and are also providing help with the logistics to obtain government funds.
- HOGAR INFANTIL DE SANTO DOMINGO
Initially created as a home for abandoned children, as a stop before they were adopted. Over the years we have donated funds to this program, but now we are more involved and are in the process of changing the purpose from children’s home to, to a program to assist the local Costa Rica Social Security Clinic (Costa Rica has a state health program called CCSS, which stands for “Costa Rica’s social security fund”) in offering medical attention to children and teenagers going through psychological problems.
Another day care center for disabled adults, we help them with logistics to obtain funds from government institutions.
- FUNDACIÓN TIERRA FÉRTIL
FTF is an organization which works with children of a socially challenged area, in Guararí de Heredia, helping them on weekends to develop their social and learning skills.
We also help several schools in the area with fundraising programs for maintaining their garden and buildings.
Our employees are also committed to help in our community, and we are working on having our guests participate in these programs.
How do we raise funds?
Apart from donations from the Hotel Bougainvillea, we organize a monthly concert in the “Casona” in our garden.
We organize raffles, bingos, rummage sales, etc.
We ask friends and clients for donations to be able to continue our work.
How can you help?
1) Cash donations
2) You can bring some of the creams we use for our EB children and can only be bought in the United States.( Aquaphor and/or Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Skin).
3) Bring second hand clothing and shoes in good condition.
4) Bring new underwear and or socks for boys and girls 0-12 years old.
5) Help raise awareness of conditions such as Epidermolysis Bullosa and Ichthiosis. You can find more information at www.debra.org.