Treading lightly and acting responsibly toward Nature
Cala Luna is a hotel unlike others across the globe. Because we cherish the beautiful and delicate Earth on which we are located, we are dedicated to protecting the natural ecosystem that embraces us, and graces us with such awe-inspiring surroundings.
As part of our mission to tread lightly upon the Earth, we have adopted a number of sustainable practices at our beachfront boutique hotel. We wish to explain these practices to you through our Sustainability Tour. Our hotel’s owners and caring staff strive to live and work under the mantra of Symbiosis.
Sustainable tourism in Costa Rica means selecting a hotel that believes wholeheartedly in eco-friendly actions and mentalities. At Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas, we live by the philosophy of sustainable living and Symbiosis every moment of each day. When you arrive, ask to join us on our Sustainability Tour to see and learn firsthand what we are doing to tread more lightly upon the Earth.
Using water and food in a less impactful manner
The owners of Cala Luna have put in place a series of practices that minimize the hotel’s impact upon the land. Our cycle of sustainability begins with our philosophies toward food. We procure and serve food that is often organic and local. Not only is this healthier for you, our guest, but it also generates less packaging that would end up in the waste bin, and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Further, organic growing practices are less harmful to naturally occurring plants and animals that some view as detrimental, but we know are vital to Costa Rica’s delicate ecosystem. Hence, many of the foods on the menu in our restaurant are organic; some ingredients come from the garden right on our hotel’s property and other foods (including honey, preserves, fruits, herbs and vegetables, and many meats) are produced on the nearby fincas where our owners live.
Any food waste from our restaurant, including leftovers and trimmed fruits and vegetables, plus lobster shells and pretty much everything else, is saved and taken to La Senda – the ranch where one of our owners lives – and used to feed chickens and pigs, or used to fertilize soil. We also have three compost centers onsite at the hotel, the product of which we use in our garden.
Speaking of gardens, in all parts of the hotel property where vegetation occurs, we use a mulching system. Dried leaves are left on the soil to protect the dirt from the sun’s strong rays, which requires us to apply less water, which is very scarce during the dry months. In addition, we have two “gray” gardens on Cala Luna’s property – one near the laundry and one near the kitchen. These reuse gray water from our facilities to nourish native plants which grow there. Naturally occurring microorganisms help break down the biodegradable products we use in our laundry and kitchen. Between the two gray gardens exist six cisterns, where microorganisms and hay filter out kitchen grease and our biodegradable laundry soap. Later, this hay is turned into compost.
Within our hotel rooms and private villas, our housekeeping staff use biodegradable cleaning products. We wash linens and towels every other day, unless our guests request otherwise, to cut down on the amount of water we consume. Our staff also manually sort waste from our rooms and villas so we can recycle as much paper and plastic as possible. Even in our offices, staff are encouraged to use each sheet of paper three times to minimize waste.
Overall, our entire property is organic. The only exception is during government-mandated fumigation times, which are necessary to control mosquito populations for the benefit of everyone’s health.
An important note about ants
As a guest, you will notice the abundance of small and medium sized animals that live on our premises. Depending on the season, a variety of tropical and colorful butterflies and birds flutter about, as well as grey and green iguanas (a large one lives next to the organic vegetable garden, and every so often, hosts a private party over there), white and brown squirrels, raccoons, howler monkeys (they especially love the new green leaves of the papaya trees), porcupines, different types of bats, mangrove crabs (you may sometimes find them in your swimming pool or bath tub) and the smallest of all: our very controversial ants. They fail to respect boundaries and use the smallest opening to wander into your room.
Fortunately for Guanacaste, of all the ant species, only those that do not bite enter homes. These include the almost invisible brown ant, the tiny transparent ant, the small black ant and the bigger red ant. Depending on the season, an eruption of winged male ants occurs. If the ants become disruptive to your stay at our hotel, we can fumigate them with no harm to you. However, we can never guarantee that this will keep the ants out for good. The ants that live in the gardens are of the migrating sort – they come and go, and only a complete six-month thorough (but devastating for most other insects and caterpillars) fumigation of the property could eliminate them completely.
Ants have been living on earth for more than 110 million years and the total biomass of all the ants in the world is approximately equal to the total biomass of the entire human race. There are approximately one million ants for every human on earth.
How light pollution affects you and Costa Rican sea turtles
One of the biggest threats facing Costa Rica’s native sea turtle population is that of light pollution. As our coastlines become more and more developed by tourism and towns, leatherback sea turtles are less likely to return to the beaches where they were born to lay eggs and produce the next generation of these majestic and ancient creatures.
When you arrive at Cala Luna, you may notice that at night, there is minimal lighting on the property. There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, since our owners opened the hotel in the mid-1990s, they worked hard to ensure the hotel would not disrupt the natural migration and procreation patterns of the leatherback sea turtle population at our beach, Playa Langosta.
However, we still believe in doing our part to encourage turtle populations to continue returning to Playa Langosta and Playa Tamarindo, which they still do.
But another reason we keep our lighting low after the sun sets is for our guests – to see the reason why, all you have to do is look up. With less lighting coming from below, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the breathtaking sky up above, hemmed in only by the silhouettes of rustling palm trees overhead. The Costa Rican sky is littered with a million stars. We’d rather keep your focus on that than any artificial distractions.
Social sustainability: giving back to our community
We fully agree with the mantra that begins with “It takes a village…” Hence, Cala Luna is a member of the organization Pack for a Purpose, which helps distribute useful items like school supplies and clothing to children and families living right here in the Tamarindo area of Costa Rica. For more information on how we contribute, please visit our Giving Back page.