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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.
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.
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!
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.
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:
- Book ahead and go early enough that you are sure to have enough daylight.
- Check the weather, if the swell is too big you are less likely to see the whales.
- 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
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.
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!