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.

 

stress free life extreme hotel

Beat Off Stress and Anxiety for a Better Life

Beat Off Stress and Anxiety for a Better Life

Stress can kill. A recent report came out detailing the sudden death of an overworked Chinese citizen. Li Yuan died at the age of 24 due to a heart attack caused by overwork and stress. This unforeseen tragedy shows that not taking it easy can prove to be fatal.

In today’s fast-paced atmosphere, more and more people are pushing their limits when it comes to work. Overtime, working on the weekend, high-pressure situations, etc. can all build up. Living this way may supplement your income, but all the tension can take a toll on your body.

Here area a few benefits of a Stress-Free Life that we like to promote here at Extreme Hotel:

1. Healthier Heart 

There is a handful of studies and statistics that link stress and heart disease. The British Medical Journal reports that work-related stress can as much as double the risk of death of heart disease. Furthermore, it has been said that people suffering from high levels of anxiety are about seven times more likely to have heart disease. This is according to “Emotional Longevity: What Really Determines How Long You Live” by Norman and Elizabeth Anderson.

2. Better Immune System

Another negative effect of stress is that it can significantly interfere with the immune system; thus, making the body susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid decreases the efficiency of the immune system by lessening the amount of lymphocytes in the body. Aside from the biological ramifications, anxiety can also promote behaviors that are detrimental to the body. These activities may include smoking and drinking. When you want to squeeze the most out of every day – from surfing at 6 am to catching the last gusts of wind on kite beach at sundown, your body needs to be in peak condition. If you allow yourself to sweat the small stuff, it means you wont be able to get a good sweat on doing your favorite activities from dawn till dusk.

stress free girls

Live for the moment!

 3. Relief from Pain

Reducing stress can mean limiting the amount of pain and discomfort you feel. Pain levels increase due to the muscles tightening whenever a person is experiencing a stressful situation. Also, the fight or flight response of the body in these circumstances produces adrenaline which is, more often than not, unused. This build up of adrenaline can cause symptoms of stress like headaches, muscle pains, skin rashes, etc. So when you’re looking to quicken your body’s recovery rate and reduce soreness the day after a big workout, consider taking it easy – not just physically, but mentally too. Give yourself lots of pats on the back and put a smile on your face to lighten your mood.

half pigeon yoga pose

half pigeon pose

 

There are many ways to decrease the level of anxiety and stress throughout the day. You don’t need to take drugs or medication to do this either. Here are some natural remedies that can help lessen tensions and prevent anxiety.

Simple Ways to Lessen Stress and Stop Anxiety

  • Avoiding caffeine and sugar – It’s near impossible to steer clear of coffee and sugar, especially on stressful days, but these two stimulants are causing more harm than good. Taking these two substances ultimately deplete serotonin, the chemical which makes you feel good. Without it, you are more prone to fits of anxiety and depression.
  • Meditating regularly – Meditation is one of the most popular alternatives to stress reduction. Relaxing the mind and body can help eradicate all the triggers of anxiety, making your day more peaceful.
  • Exercising – Physical activities can help you steer clear from any negative effects of stress. Letting off some steam is vital to a healthy lifestyle. It also uses up all the adrenaline in your system and helps clear your mind of stressful elements.
chicken and veggies

Healthy meals mean low stress on your body

Living worry-free improves the quality of one’s life. Don’t let a busy lifestyle stop you from enjoying yourself. Being too caught up in work can prove to be fatal. You may have all the money and success you want, but vulnerability to heart attacks and other diseases may be too high a price to pay. So take a week, or three, kick back on kite beach and enjoy life in the moment.

Article by Guest Blogger, Ryan Rivera

For more information about stress reduction, visit  calmclinic.com

Recipe: Vegetarian Pastelón

pastelon-4

It’s Harvest Time at Taino Organic Farm! Twice a week the eXtreme team gets their hands on a whole bunch of fresh, organic greens and veggies to cook up or eat raw at the hotel!

The latest harvest brought us a beautiful basket of tomatoes; avocados; cilantro; plátanos; peppers; and leafy, spicy greens. I love cooking for and sharing Dominican food with my fellow eXtremers so I decided to challenge myself by making a traditional Dominican dish using mostly the food we had harvested and little else. Dominican food is traditionally meat heavy so it was a bit of a challenge but I finally decided on one of my favorite dishes—pastelón de plátano maduro. A cross between a shepherd’s pie and lasagna, pastelón combines sweet, ripe plantains with savory ground meat and melted cheese. Mmmm! This is a vegetarian version I put together on the fly using some veggies we had on hand. It’s not quite how my Abuela makes it, but it’s still pretty good!

VEGETARIAN PASTELÓN

serves 6

10 ripe, yellow plantains
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium sized carrot, julienned
1½ medium sized green peppers, julienned
1 small cubanelle pepper, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small white onion, minced
1½ chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
12 slices of cheddar cheese
¾ of a stick of butter
a healthy fistful of cilantro
a healthy pinch of dried oregano
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut plantains into chunks. Fill a large saucepan with water, a pinch of salt, and put over high heat. Add the plantain chunks to the water and bring to a boil.

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt a small pat of butter and a small drizzle of olive oil. Sauté the oregano, cilantro, chicken bouillon cubes, onions, and garlic for one minute until the onions become semitransparent. Add carrots, broccoli, and peppers and sauté for ten to twelve minutes. Lower the flame and cover with a loosely fitting lid for five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the plantains have turned a golden yellow color and are easily pierced by a fork (approx. 25-30 mins), drain the saucepan and reserve a quarter cup of the cooking liquid. In a bowl combine the plantains, the cooking liquid, and the remaining butter and mash until the plantains are a soft, consistent texture.

In a baking pan, spoon half of the mashed plantains and spread it into a thick, uniform layer. Spoon the veggies onto the layer of plantains and spread. Cover in six slices of cheese. Spoon the second half of the plantains and spread evenly. Cover the pastelón with the last six pieces of cheese.

Set your oven to broil and put the pastelón in for five minutes or until the cheese on top has melted.

We suggest you serve your pastelón with a salad of avocado, tomato, diced red onion, and a drizzle of olive oil over some spicy, mustard greens just like we did!

Bon Apétit, or as we say in the Dominican Republic: ¡Buen Provecho!

 

pastelon8

Notes:

-We used broccoli and carrots but you can use cherry tomatoes, corn, or any veggies that don’t release too much liquid or your pastelón will bubble up around the edges.
-We also used the stalks and leafy bits of the broccoli but you can discard these if you don’t like them.
-You can use any kind of cheese you like; we especially like cheddar and Swiss but a bag of grated cheese works, too!
-For a healthier version, nix the butter and chicken bouillon cubes and replace with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Kite soaring high during a sunset on kite beach.

Oceanside Livin’

There is something to be said about life next to the ocean. You don’t even have to be doing water activities or be explicitly dependent upon it in some way for it to have a profound effect. At the Extreme Hotel, everything you do is next to the ocean. You eat next to the ocean, sleep next to the ocean, trapeze next to the ocean, work out next to the ocean, read next to the ocean, talk on the phone next to the ocean. I could keep going – and those aren’t even the activities that you actually do in the ocean (i.e. kiteboard, surf, scuba, snorkel, stand up paddleboard, swim).

Kite soaring high during a sunset on kite beach.

Kite Beach.

 

A lot of the time when I am doing something next to the ocean, I am highly aware of it. It is hard to ignore a beauty so strong, the scent of salt in the air and the feeling of the ocean breeze on your skin. However, even after just being here for over a week as an intern, it is easy to slip into routine and forget that the ordinary was once extraordinary not so long ago. That being said, the amazing thing about living next to the ocean is that it constantly provides perspective – whether or not the rhythm of its crashing waves has become background noise. Something so great, so loud and so vibrant as the ocean is constantly telling you that you are merely a single, tiny human in a much greater universe.

#1Samana view

Don’t worry, it is not insulting. If anything, it’s humbling and inspiring. The ocean makes me feel small and unimportant. And once I feel small and unimportant, I start to take things less seriously. I think that I can try anything, do anything (maybe learn to kitesurf!) because in the end, I am just one small creature in this massive world.