Solar panels at eXtreme hotel. Every eco hotel should have a sustainable source of energy.

6 Things Every Eco Hotel Should Have

At eXtreme Hotel, our focus is on providing the best accommodations for our guests whilst maintaining a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We think every eco hotel should have these 6 key tools in order to be part of the sustainable tourism industry.

6 Things Every Eco Hotel Should Have:

  1. A sustainable food source. Every eco hotel should have a way to provide healthy, sustainable food options for their guests and staff. Whether that means growing food on-site (check out our aquaponics system!), running a restaurant that gets food from local sources or simply providing directions to the nearest farmers market, food is essential to a sustainable lifestyle. At eXtreme hotel, our very own farm in Los Brazos provides us with year round fresh produce for our staff. Guests also have the opportunity to go on a tour of Taino farm and learn about sustainability and permaculture practice.  You can read more about the benefits of growing and buying local and organic food in my article on eXtreme Hotel’s farm’s website.
    Every eco hotel needs a sustainable source of food. This salad is made from all local and organic ingredients from Taino Farm.

    Every eco hotel needs a sustainable source of food. This salad is made from all local and organic ingredients from Taino Farm.

  2. Solar panels. Hotels are infamous for being some of the most energy consuming buildings. In John Laumer’s article on buildings and CO2 emissions, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Government Advocacy Team estimates that buildings account for an estimated 48% of all green house emissions. In non-solar powered hotels, things like lights being left on, excessive amounts of laundry and keeping water hot in every room takes a constant output of non-sustainable energy. Luckily, solar panels are an energy efficient alternative that also saves money for the hotel and its guests. At eXtreme, all of our energy comes from our solar panels. They give us light, heat our water, power fans to keep us cool and save us money so we can invest in other cool, sustainable projects like our aquaponics system!
    Solar panels at eXtreme hotel. Every eco hotel should have a sustainable source of energy.

    Solar panels at eXtreme hotel. Every eco hotel should have a sustainable source of energy.

  3. Green cleaning. Every eco hotel should have a solar dryer, also known as a clothing line. The sun’s energy can be harnessed without any fancy gadgets and it saves an incredible amount of energy. At the eXtreme hotel, we line dry all of our sheet and towels, saving our electricity and providing our guests with the freshest smelling linens ever.
    Every eco hotel should have a way to harness free energy from the sun! Line drying, solar dehydrators and sun ovens are all great ways to harness this natural energy source.

    Every eco hotel should have a way to harness free energy from the sun! Line drying, solar dehydrators and sun ovens are all great ways to harness this natural energy source.

  4.  A recycling system. In with the old, out comes the new. Every eco hotel should implement recycling and reuse techniques. At eXtreme hotel we not only recycle glass and plastic bottles, we also compost our organic materials including paper products & food waste. In time, our compost breaks down and becomes fertile soil that we use to grow nutrient rich food in our on-site gardens. 
    Every eco hotel should use their food "waste" to create more sustainable food!

    Every eco hotel should use their food “waste” to create more sustainable food!

  5. Hands on learning opportunities. Though you may be spending a comparable amount of money on a small eco hotel as you would for a room in a large commercial hotel, many times this means paying for opportunities like discount kite surfing and yoga retreats instead of a carbon dioxide producing air conditioning system. At eXtreme hotel, we offer kite lesson packages as well as connections to other eco-tourism activities.
    Hands on learning at Taino Organic farm.

    Hands on learning at Taino Organic farm.

  6. Access to green transportation. Though tourism is a vital source of income for many developing countries, it can also be a major detriment to the environment. Rather than renting a gas guzzling car for your stay, eco hotels should have recommendations for greener options of getting around such as bicycles, buses and in our case, a local moto taxi!
    Every eco hotel should offer information for eco friendly methods of transportation.

    Every eco hotel should offer information for eco friendly methods of transportation.

Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

 

 

 

Samana View

Exploring the North Coast of the Dominican Republic on a budget

This past weekend eXtreme Hotel’s Taino Organic Farm decided that we wanted to start Exploring the North Coast of the Dominican Republic on a budget. After a bit of planning and research, the crew headed out on a roadtrip adventure on the north coast of the beautiful Dominican Republic! We decided to head to Samaná to go whale watching, see the Salto de Limón Waterfalls and explore the peninsula.

Samana View

Budget Traveling at its Finest

Renting a car: Samaná is about 180km from Cabarete so rather than taking the usual Gua Gua transportation, we opted to rent a car and drive. To keep it low budget, we got some WWoofers from a nearby farm to join in on our trip and split the cost of renting a Honda Pilot between nine of us. The car rental was $9500 RD for two days and two nights. Including gas to and from Cabarete and Samaná, the car rental and the $1000 RD toll for taking the newer route (I highly recommend doing so as it is shorter, beautiful and not so rough on your vehicle) we ended up paying about $1500 RD each. Tip: be sure to get insurance on whatever car you rent, it’s not uncommon for things to go awry on the roads here. If you’re on a budget and blow a tire like we did, it’s helpful to have backup!

 

New Samana Highway Lookout

Peyton and I on top of our rental Honda Pilot overlooking the North Coast.

Accommodation: After a couple colmado stops for snacks and a few hours of tunes, we arrived at our first stop: our hostel in Las Terrenas. Hostels are a great alternative to a hotel room as they are usually inexpensive and accommodate low budget travelers well (most have communal kitchens and rooms with multiple beds). Our hostel was right outside the center of Las Terrenas, a little place called Fata Morgana.

Fata Morgana Las Terrenas: A beautiful place with cottage style rooms, Fata Morgana was quaint and inviting. The owner and her son were friendly and so were their many rescue animals. Between the friendly critters, the vibrant plants and a hammock in front of every cottage, it made for a relaxed atmosphere. There is some truth in “you get what you pay for”, but if you’re willing to endure a cold shower and old mattress, it’s only $500 RD per person and quite charming.

Fata Morgana Hostel in Las Terrenas

One of the burros in front of a cottage at the Fata Morgana Hostel in Las Terrenas.

Fata Morgana Hostel in Las Terrenas

A cottage with two hammocks out front at the Fata Morgana Hostel in Las Terrenas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whale Watching: From Las Terrenas we drove 45 minutes to Samaná Bay and took a boat out to try and spy some whales. Though it is recommended that you book ahead, for $1000 pesos each we were able to rent a boat for the afternoon. The captain took us out for a few hours and although the waves were too big to see any whales, we all enjoyed the view of the ocean. If you really want to see the whales, my recommendation is to:

  1. Book ahead and go early enough that you are sure to have enough daylight.
  2. Check the weather, if the swell is too big you are less likely to see the whales.
  3. Don’t bother stopping off at the smaller island off the coast, you can get the same souvenirs on the main island for less money and it is quite crowded.

Also keep in mind that you are likely to be soaked with water by the end so bring a waterproof bag for anything you don’t want to get wet

 

A whale emerging from the water in the Samaná bay.

A whale emerging from the water in the Samaná bay.

El Salto de Limón Waterfalls: After stopping off for a quick bite to eat in Las Terrenas and a colmado for breakfast bananas (healthy, local and inexpensive) and water, we headed back to the hostel. In the morning we headed to Casa Nega in Samaná to go to El Salto de Limón waterfalls. There are two options for getting to the waterfalls, you can either go by foot (it takes about 45 minutes to get to the falls) or pay for a horse tour. We all decided to walk as many of the horses are in poor condition and if you’re on a low the only expense this way is a 50 peso fee to see the falls. It also gives you the freedom to go without a guide so you can take your time and stay as long as you please. The waterfalls are breathtaking, it is lovely to swim in and if you are daring you can climb part of the way up and jump into the pool below.

 

Salto de Limón waterfall in Samaná.

Mona jumping from one third of the way up the Salto de Limón waterfall in Samaná.

If you’re looking for an adventurous low budget trip, Samaná is a stunning location with plenty of places to explore. Grab some friends, a rental car and a map and explore paradise!

Samana Lookout

The whole Taino Organic Farm crew and fellow WWOOFers gearing up for an adventure in Samaná.

 

Trapeze Swinger flying trapeze high at Kaicetous Circus at the eXtreme Hotel on Kite Beach.

8 Things I Miss About Life in the Dominican Republic

This past week I have found myself reflecting a lot on life in the Dominican Republic and how it compares to life in my hometown. Aside from being the obvious antidote to the homesickness we all experience whilst traveling abroad, my favorite part about returning home has been realizing all the things I miss about Cabarete, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean lifestyle.

  1. Fresh, healthy and exotic food. Life in the Dominican Republic means having access to incredible food sources. The island is lush and chances are high that you’ll find something new and delicious to try wherever you are. From fresh pesto made from beach almonds and our very own organic aquaponic basil, to sweet smoothies made from tasty tropical fruit like guanabana and abiu, the options are endlessly delicious.
    Life in the Dominican Republic means eating fruit that tastes better than pudding.

    Life in the Dominican Republic means eating fruit that tastes better than pudding.

  2. The variety of activities and things to do. Life in the Dominican Republic is compelling to many people due to the plethora of physical activities available– I must say, I’m definitely one of those people. I mean, really, how many places in the world can you spend your lunch break at a yoga inversion workshop in a beachside yoga loft, listening to the crashing waves and wind blowing through the palm trees? eXtreme Hotel offers everything: from floating down the Yassica river at eXtreme’s organic farm, to activities such as kite surfing, circus arts, snorkeling, paragliding and more adventure tourism.
    Trapeze Swinger flying high at Kaicetous Circus at the eXtreme Hotel on Kite Beach.

    Trapeze Swinger flying high at Kaicetous Circus at the eXtreme Hotel on Kite Beach.

  3. The island atmosphere. Though it’s true that somedays the power may go out, the water may stop running and your moto taxi may run out of gas, the overarching perspective seems to be that todo bien or “all is well.” Perhaps it is the wind coming from Kite Beach that helps to keep moods light and spirits high, or the strong sense of community you develop with people you hardly know, there is something about this island that can put the wind in your sail like no other.
    Kite soaring high during a sunset on kite beach.

    Kite soaring high during a sunset on kite beach.

  4. Dancing at La Bomba on Thursday nights. Because night life in the Dominican Republic means going to a petrol-station-turned-night-club in the middle of the week to embarrass yourself in front of a crowd of Dominicans with rhythm like you’ve never seen before and music that inspires your gringa hips to move like no one is watching.
    Dancing is an awesome part of life in the Dominican Republic

    Dancing is an awesome part of life in the Dominican Republic

  5. Riding a motorcycle to work. As it turns out, frequent use of public transportation is one of my favorite aspects of my life in the Dominican Republic. A morning moto concho (motorcycle taxi) makes for a great way to start the day and occasionally, a good story. Like the time I accepted a free ride in exchange for holding a sack with mysterious contents… that turned out to be a bag full of live chickens. Luckily for me, they were happy to play dead the first half of the ride and wait until I had settled into the peacefullness of the morning to throw fits and dig their dinosaur-like talons into my thigh. Oh the joys of morning motos.
    The island atmosphere is one reason why I miss life in the Dominican Republic.

    The island atmosphere is one reason why I miss life in the Dominican Republic.

  6. Weekend Gua Gua Adventures. Turns out that big white van your mother always told you to avoid is actually a cheap way to explore a beautiful island. Life in the Dominican Republic is always an adventure. Hop on a Gua Gua in Cabarete and be at the beach, in a jungle or atop a mountain in less than an hour.
    Gua gua Dominican Republic

    The farm team in the back of a gua gua headed to the Main Beach of Sosúa on the North Coast of the Dominican.

  7. The weather. No seriously, it’s not a small talk kind of subject around here. It’s impossible not to mention how beautiful it is most days- add in the constant chatter about whether the wind is good enough to kite board and it’s a hot subject (no pun intended). It seems the “bad weather days” are really only there to remind us to appreciate the blessings of paradise.
    Just kidding! Life in the Dominican Republic is still great with the so called "bad weather".

    Just kidding! Life in the Dominican Republic is still great with the so called “bad weather”.

  8. The constant inspiration to learn something new. Whether you are visiting for a short time or quit your job and moved to the Caribbean permanently, you are sure to find an opportunity for growth. Life in the Dominican Republic is laid back but full of potential to broaden your horizons. Whether you come in with no expectations except relaxation or with the intention to learn Spanish, go kite surfing or climb the highest peak in the Caribbean (Pico Duarte), chances are you’ll go above and beyond. In an atmosphere like this it’s simply irresistable not to. Everyone in the community is willing to share their talents and inspire you to cultivate yours as well.
    Jumping into the Yassica River at Taino Farm.

    Jumping into the Yassica River at Taino Farm.

Though nostalgia often gets a bad wrap, I believe one of the sweetest feelings when arriving to a new place is being able to fully appreciate all of the blessings from the last. It also makes coming back a whole lot more exciting. What do you miss about eXtreme Hotels, the Dominican Republic or Cabarete? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

caribbean holiday

5 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job and Move to the Caribbean.

 

You Should Quit Your Job and Move to the Caribbean if you want to spend your weekends road tripping to beaches.

You Should Quit Your Job and Move to the Caribbean if you want to spend your weekends road tripping to places like this.

Six months ago, I embarked on a plane to the Dominican Republic with a backpack, a one-way ticket and a help exchange position at Taino Organic Farm. During my time here I have become an adventure tourism/health/community blogger, plant liberator, Aquaponics intern, event photographer, tour guide, cook, farm hand and social media marketer. I do not make loads of money, spend all day on the beach or get more than a farmer’s tan. However, I have had some of the most amazing opportunities and learning experiences I never would have thought possible before coming here. Without further adieu, I have come up with 5 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job and Move to the Caribbean.

  1. Be inspired to be self-motivated. No one is going to hold your hand here. You won’t have a guidance counselor, therapist or boss that tells you how to live your life. You will however, have plenty of responsibility and opportunities to learn if you are self-motivated. Your specialized college degree is worth nothing if you are not willing to adapt, think outside the box and learn through doing. Living in a developing country offers amazing freedom and opportunities to those who look for them. You should quit your job and move to the Caribbean if you’re willing to put yourself out there and live your dream.
    Living my dream in the Dominican Republic!

    Living my dream in the Dominican Republic!

  2. Diversify your network of friends. In my time here, I have met people from 15+ countries. Everyone has a story and seeing first hand how culture influences individuals has aided me in remaining open to new people and calling my attention to how I have been influenced by my own culture. You should quit your job and move to the Caribbean if you want to meet people who will act as a mirror to yourself, allowing you to improve and connect on a whole new level.
    Friends I met at Taino Farm from the UK, Czech Republic and Dominican Republic.

    Friends I met at Taino Farm from the UK, Czech Republic and Dominican Republic.

  3. Explore a new place. The Dominican Republic is full of beautiful places to explore. From beaches to rainforests to waterfalls, the pictures of my time on the north coast of the Dominican Republic truly don’t do the memories justice. There is more here than just tourist attractions, there are places to create memories of incredible adventures and experience the touch, sight and scent of an entirely new place. You should quit your job and move to the Caribbean if you want to experience a warm breeze in the middle of winter while you gaze at the horizon of the sea with close friends that were strangers just a short time ago. 
    Exploring a mangrove forest.

    Exploring a mangrove forest.

  4.  Find new opportunities. If your hands are shut, you can only hold onto the few things that fit into clenched fists. If you leave your hands open, it’s amazing how much you can catch. By not closing yourself off to opportunity, you begin to see it all around you. The path you take is not paved with the same stones all along, there are diverse opportunities available.
    A photo of myself and Monica Rush from my first event photography gig at the Mojito Bar Cabarete Festival!

    A photo of myself and Monica Rush from my first event photography gig at the Mojito Bar Cabarete Festival!

  5. Gain a different perspective on… well, everything. Whether you’re coming from a desk job in the UK or a yoga ashram in India, living and working in the Dominican Republic is sure to change your perspective. The easy going Dominican way will make you wonder why you ever worried about your retirement fund, while the island will reconnect you to the joy of nature and the world around you. Learning Spanish will help you think on your feet and the language barrier will teach you how to connect and communicate without the aid of spoken communication. Riding a motorcycle to work and running out of gas will make you realize safety is a feeling, not a guarantee and sometimes the breakdowns are more of an adventure than the destination. You should quit your job and move to the Caribbean if you want to immerse yourself in a learning-intensive yet soul rejuvenating environment.
    Move to the Carribean!

    Move to the Caribbean!

 Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

View of the Jarabacoa Valley with a paraglide floating in the distance

Paragliding in the Dominican Republic

Paragliding in the Dominican Republic

View of the Jarabacoa Valley with a paraglide floating in the distance

View from the take off site before Paragliding in the Dominican Republic.

This past weekend I took off on a mini road trip to go paragliding in the Dominican Republic with five other adventurous travelers! Our destination was Jarabacoa in a province called La Vega about 100km from Cabarete. We opted to rent a car rather than take a gua gua as it saves time and gives you a little more freedom to explore. For $45 USD we rented a car from Easy Rider that at first glance appeared to have only five seats, but in reality fit six people and a dog quite comfortably. If you’re cautious to lend out your credit card, Easy Rider does accept cash. While the car did have some electronic issues that caused the headlights to sputter out a few times (not exactly ideal on a dark highway), we booked last minute and it fulfilled our needs otherwise.

Road trip to Jarabacoa to go paragliding in the Dominican Republic.

On the road to Jarabacoa to go paragliding in the Dominican Republic.

After a beautiful two hour drive inland through the mountains, we arrived in Jarabacoa! I looked into two flight schools that offer tandem paragliding in the Dominican Republic, both based in Jarabacoa. Hawk Paragliding had the best reviews on Trip Advisor so I decided to book with them. Because we came in a group of five, they gave us each a $10 discount. One of their guys came and met us at a gas station right as we got into the city and we followed them up into the mountains to the landing site. Once we got there, paragliding in the Dominican Republic became parawaiting. In order to keep the paraglides in the air, there needs to be a combination of wind and thermals. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal for paragliding in the Dominican Republic that day so flights were relatively short and a long wait. Luckily, we were in a beautiful place in good company. After an hour or so, conditions were good enough for our pilots to fly down with their previous group.

Waiting for the wind to change so we could take off into the sky.

Waiting for the wind to change so we could take off into the sky.

After loading everything back in their truck, our group and the pilots headed up the mountain to our flight site. Excitement was running high as we all geared up for our first time paragliding in the Dominican Republic.

Headed up the mountain in Jarabacoa to our paragliding flight site!

Headed up the mountain in Jarabacoa to our paragliding flight site!

We all felt safe and secure with the equipment Hawk Paragliding provided, they are required to abide by safety standards and were happy to answer any of our questions. Everyone wore a helmet and a harness that doubled as a seat that goes in front of your pilot. Once I was all clipped in, I stood at the top of the hill and ran as fast as possible from the top, then woosh! Before I knew it I was flying with the birds over the island. It was a spectacular site and while most of us were expecting an adrenaline packed flight, paragliding in the Dominican Republic turned out to be a very peaceful, tranquilo activity. Though we were only in the air for ten minutes, flights can last up to a few hours depending on the conditions. If you are interested in seeing this beautiful island from a new perspective or want to conquer your fear of heights, I highly recommend Hawk paragliding in the Dominican Republic.

Up with the birds over the beautiful mountain valley of Jarabacoa! Thanks to my Hawk Paragliding pilot for a safe and beautiful flight.

Flying with the birds over the beautiful mountain valley of Jarabacoa! Thanks to my Hawk Paragliding pilot for a safe and beautiful flight.

Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

eXtreme Hotel’s manager, Gigi looking gorgeous as per usual. For more pictures from our photo booth check out the Mojito Bar Cabarete Facebook page! Don’t forget to tag your self and let us know what your favorite part of the event was!

Mojito Bar eXtreme’s Cabarete Festival

This past weekend in Cabarete, the eXtreme Hotel and Mojito Bar Cabarete hosted the first ever Cabarete Festival! Despite the spring showers, it was an extraordinary night full of delicious food, live musical performances, a local mercado, circus acts, fire dancing and much more! A big thanks from the eXtreme Hotel and Mojito Bar Cabarete to our local community and all of our artisans, vendors and sponsors for coming out and supporting the event.

Entertainment was plentiful at the first Cabarete festival, many talented performers had the chance to show their stuff on our stage and the dance floor.

Live music and some fancy footwork by a lovely couple!

Live music by Funghi Tuning and some fancy footwork by Alma Libre Dance School!

Local artisans brought tons of creativity to the first Cabarete Festival! Locally made goodies ranged from bikinis to baked goods to body care products!

Awesome way to take a piece of the first Cabarete Festival home with you and smell amazing.

Raiz all natural products are an awesome way to take a piece of the first Cabarete Festival home with you and smell amazing.

Everyone wants to remember the highlights, so we crafted a light ring and ran our own photo booth!

eXtreme Hotel’s manager, Gigi looking gorgeous as per usual. For more pictures from our photo booth check out the Mojito Bar Cabarete Facebook page! Don’t forget to tag your self and let us know what your favorite part of the event was!

eXtreme Hotel’s manager, Gigi, looking with boyfriend Arturo, founder of Kikaboni.

 For more pictures from the Cabarete Festival check out the Mojito Bar Cabarete Facebook page. Don’t forget to tag your self and let us know what your favorite part of the event was! The highlight for me was the circus performances by Kaicetous Circus, I was so mesmerized by the strength and grace of the performers I didn’t even capture a photo.

These guys killed it on the dance floor and still had time to have some fun with us at the photo booth!

These guys killed it on the dance floor and still had time to have some fun with us at the photo booth!

 

Finishing off the Cabarete Festival Kaicetous Circus’s own, 11 year-old Kai spinning fire poi!

Finishing off the Cabarete Festival, Kaicetous Circus’s own, 11 year-old Kai spinning fire poi!

To end our first ever Cabarete Festival, we figured we needed an epic grande finale. Four fire dancers performed and brought the house down! Thanks to all who came out to the event, we were thrilled to see our community coming together and supporting the local arts! We hope to host more events in the future so keep an eye out on our Facebook page and around town.

Post by Lynsey Wyatt.