Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Extreme Hotel Cabarete, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, caters to an eco friendly environment. One of the realities of living next to El Choco National Park is that there are mosquitoes during the rainy season.
Dealing with mosquitoes is a fact of life in the tropics. Chikungunya, malaria, and dengue are a few mosquito transmitted diseases that have been contracted in the Dominican Republic, but there are things that can be done to help manage the mosquitoes without having to poison ourselves with chemicals. All it takes is some creative thinking to ensure that we have a mosquito tolerable environment.
One effective measure that works for us is spraying an organic insecticide around the property as needed.
Here’s a glance at our handy man, Oscar, spraying for us (I know you’re singing “Ghostbusters!” right now):
The harmless spray contains a mixture of organic neem oil, water, and a natural detergent. Neem oil is an incredible moisturizer and is widely used today in popular products such as shampoos, toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, and creams. It also contains vitamin E, essential amino acids, fatty acids, and compounds that offer natural medicinal and insecticidal properties.
In addition to our checmical free mosquito management technique , we offer our eXtreme guests a personal mosquito swat-racket.
There is a technique to using a mosquito racket. Basically the procedure is to close all your doors and windows in your room, checking to ensure that all the seals are closed so no more can get in. Next, use your racket in a gentle swinging manner to clear the room and all the corners of the mosquitoes that have managed to get inside.
These are no ordinary mosquito rackets – our staff ran a trial period of testing out various rackets to see which ones were most effective in zapping away the mosquitoes. We unanimously agreed upon a mosquito racket with wires that only run one way- no crossing! This technology allows air to swiftly fly through the racket instead of being propelled forward and ultimately pushing the mosquitoes out of the way. The end result is dead mosquitoes with minimal effort, and easy sleeping nights with no mosquitoes buzzing around your ears!
Here are a few handy tips for getting the most out of your zap-racket:
1) Close the door behind you! Don’t give insects a chance to fly in as you enter the room. Also, check that your screens aren’t damaged with holes or crooked frames.
2) Make sure the green light turns on when you press down on the yellow activation button. If the green light does not respond, then you need to try rolling the batteries around a bit in order to guarantee that they are receiving proper circuit supply from both ends. If the light still does not respond, then we can switch out your faulty racket with a new one from reception.
3) Mosquitoes love damp, warm areas and are often found gathered in corners of rooms. Sweep your zap-racket slowly around the corners of the room and rest easy as you hear the sweet, succulent zapping sound.
An additional measure we take towards our eco-friendly bug management includes bat housing we installed on the property. A single bat can consume up to 1000 mosquitoes in a night! Citronella plants and Neem trees have also been transplanted onto our property to act as natural insect repellents. You may recognize the scent of citronella (lemongrass) in the air. It is has an energizing citrus aroma used in perfumes, soaps, and incense. We are also continuously inspecting the property for standing water. By eliminating standing water we also eliminate the bug breeding ground that comes with it.
Inside the eXtreme Hotel rooms you will find big fans located directly over top of the beds. These go a long way in reducing the random stray mosquito! Due to the lightweight nature of mosquitoes, the fan makes it difficult for them to maneuver through the air.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to bring an organic mosquito repellent. You can easily concoct your own by adding a few drops of citronella or neem oil to a moisturizer. Your skin will love it after playing in the sun all day!
Planning a trip to Cabarete? Not sure how to get around? Read on! We do things a little differently around here. If you want to truly embrace the Dominican culture, you will love getting to know the moto taxi mode of transportation.
At the Extreme Hotel we attract guests that are looking for adventure and exploration, and as such, transportation becomes an integral part of their trip. The hotel staff value guest safety as a top priority and we will always be available to assist you in setting up the mode of transportation that best suits your needs. One option that many of our guests find exciting, cheap, and easy is the the moto taxi.
Just a stone’s throw from the Extreme Hotel sits a moto taxi stop. Here you will find a few of our true and tested local moto taxi guys that wait around to accommodate our travel pursuits.
Meet a few of our guys!
From left to right we have: Luis, Luis, and Vale
The rates are cheap, the ride is fun, and the best part is that you don’t have to wait around like you would for a bus. Fifty pesos will get you to downtown Cabarete; a hot spot for tourists and locals alike. You will find yourself downtown for dancing, drinks, shopping, socializing on the plushy lounge chairs that pepper the beach in front of the restaurants, dropping in on volleyball pick-up games, and live music events!
Ready to ride the moto taxi wave? There are a few things you should know, since transportation can be very dangerous. However, there are basic principles you can implement to avoid unnecessary accidents.
Moto Etiquette: 7 Key Points to Know Before You Go
1) Get on a trusted moto taxi!
-Don’t let just anyone pick you up. Instead, look for an actual moto taxi stop. The taxi guys operate territorially here and will not allow any sketchy business. If you are desperate for a ride and can’t seem to find a moto taxi stop anywhere, you can ask to see a license before you hop on.
2) Always, always, ALWAYS get on and off from the left side!
-Forgetting this tidbit may cost you a severe burn from the exhaust pipe. Ouch! (Not a memento you want to take from your trip)
3) One word- “Tranquilo!”
-If you feel that your driver is going too fast, don’t be afraid to speak up. The word “tranquilo” will basically command your driver to slow down.
4) Don’t get on the moto until it’s facing the direction you will be going.
-This will help you avoid unnecessary turning into traffic.
5) 50 pesos
-Fifty pesos will get you into town and you can fit a third person on the back for 50 more pesos. Four people is pushing it!.
6) Use the same guy.
-Your driver will want to wait for you if you will need a ride back. If you won’t be spending much time at your destination, ask the driver to wait and he will happily give you a ride back. If you will be awhile you can ask him to meet you at a certain hour to give you a ride back.
7) Lean with it!
-It may feel natural for you to lean the opposite direction as the driver when you are taking a turn; however, the driver will maintain balance easier if you lean in the same direction as him.
Study these seven points and you will learn to love the moto taxis as much as we do!
Happy Travels :)
Everyone wants to make the most of their time abroad, so to help you avoid wasting time worrying whether you have enough pesos in your pocket, I have put together a guide on international ATMs.
First, you must choose how you wish to carry your money. There are typically three options when it comes to traveling internationally:
1. Bringing cash. It’s good to have some cash on hand when you first arrive, as you may have to pay for food, a taxi, etc. Though the exchange rates will not be the best, you can exchange money at your home bank or at the airport (exchange rates are usually better at the airport you fly into rather than out of) to hold you over.
2. Bringing a check card. Be sure to notify your bank before traveling abroad, otherwise they may freeze your account when they see a foreign transaction (this is to protect you from identity theft). Also be aware of which international ATM you are using, avoid stand alone international ATMs and ones that are not bank-affiliated. To be safe, you can also check with your hotel for recommended ATMs in the area. As for transaction fees, it varies depending on the bank so be sure to read on and look for your bank’s fees as well as typical international ATM costs.
3. Bringing a credit card. Credit card companies may charge currency conversion fees when you make a purchase (generally 1 percent from Visa or MasterCard plus an additional 1 – 2 percent), however these fees are typically lower than those you’d pay to convert your own currency at a change bureau. Keep in mind depending where you are going in the world, they may not have technology to swipe credit cards everywhere you’d like to buy something, so you may have to pay an international ATM transaction fee as well.
Guide to International ATMs Fees:
1. Foreign ATM Fee – Most banks charge a flat fee of $2 – $5 each time you use your card at an international ATM to withdraw foreign currency. It is similar to the costs you incur when you use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank. Keep in mind it is a flat fee, so it is best to withdraw larger sums of money at a time. For example, if you withdraw foreign currency worth $200 USD and your international fee is $5, you will be charged $205. If you withdraw $100 twice, you’ll pay $10 in fees.
2. Foreign/International Transaction Fee – There is typically a 1% – 3% fee for using your debit card in a foreign currency. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the converted transaction amount and is essentially the same as a credit card foreign transaction fee. For example, if you make a foreign purchase worth $50 USD, and your bank charges you a 3% fee, you will pay an additional $1.50 as a foreign transaction fee.
If you are in Cabarete, here at eXtreme hotel we recommend you go to either Banco Popular or Scotia Bank to withdraw money. You can find them on eXtreme Hotel’s map of recommended ATMs in Cabarete.
Photos and Guide to International ATMs by Lynsey Wyatt.
How to prepare yourself for flying in to Puerto Plata (POP), Dominican Republic
If you are planning on coming to the Dominican Republic and you are arriving in the Puerta Plata Airport, here are a few tips that will save you some time, money and confusion.
I am originally from Vancouver Island, which is a large island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. To get to the Cabarete, I normally have to do a circus act of flights to arrive. Vancouver – Newark – Miami – Puerta Plata, Vancouver – San Fran – Miami – Puerta Plata, Vancouver-Toronto – Miami-Puerta Plata…you get the picture. It normally takes me around 36 hours from my door step to get to my final destination. To minimize my headache and travel frustration, I have come to abide by this rules.
Tip #1 – Keep Your Carrying Light
Nowadays I understand that its costing more and more to check your bags, but when you’re hustling through airports to get to your next gate, you don’t want to me lugging anything heavy or awkward. I also recommend carrying as little as possible. Don’t try to be a hero and think you’ve worked the system by bringing everything on the plane with you. You’ll end up juggling all your shit and be one taking too much time at security, using up the extra seat at the airport bar or picking up your clutter while the rest of us wait behind you. This would bring me Tip #9 – Pack Smart Food!
Tip #2 – Get your seat in the front of the plane
If you can manage it, change your seat so that you can sit as close to the entrance of the plane as possible. This is important because when it comes to going through Immigration, security or check-ins, the sooner you get off the plane and get there, the shorter the wait. Make sure you also fill out your Immigration papers right away, this will save you time as well. As a side note, I like to board the plane at the very end. I’d much rather stretch my legs and walk around another 20mins then sit inside the sardine tube while negotiating over elbow space.
Tip #3 – BRING FOOD!
As a rule of life, I bring a snack with me everywhere, but I cant stress how important it is to eat good food while travelling. I swear it is a conspiracy by the American government to rid the country of obesity. In case you haven’t flown in a while, you’re pretty much looking at a bag of pretzel rejects and soda pop to keep you going for the next five hours. They provide small snacks to prevent me from going Lara Croft Kungfu Panda on an unsuspecting steward or stewardess when my blood sugar is about to dip too low. I miss those cute little tv dinners, I’ll never say anything bad about them again, I promise.
Tip #4 – Be Prepared to Hit the Heat Wave
Depending on where you’re coming from or how well you handle heat, be prepared to hit the hot wall of humidity once you step off the plane in Puerta Plata. This is why I like to layer. Under my travel outfit, I have the perfect Dominican outfit I can strip down to so that I’m not melting when I’m waiting in line for my bags or to get through customs.
Tip #5 – Have cash on-hand!
There are few things you’ll want to have USD or DOP for. First up, the local cha-cha band greeting you in the POP arrival hallway on your way to customs. Don’t be a dick, give them some change and you’ll have good voodoo during your trip. Next, your Tourist Fee, this will cost you $20. If you stay longer then 14 days, you’ll also have to pay a 500rd fine ($12 USD) on your way out of the country as well. You’ll also have to fill in a form for this (Make sure you have this on-hand with your immigration form which you should have already filled out on the plane). Once you get through customs and you have your bags, you’ll have many official and nonofficial people offering to help you with your bags to get you to a taxi. DO NOT ACCEPT! you are literally 50ft from the exit of the airport where you can get yourself a taxi and not have to pay someone for it. When you first walk-out, you’ll be surrounded by a big “U” shaped crowd of people yelling, chatting and trying to get your attention. Walk straight past them to the road (with confidence and purpose) and grab any taxi. It is a FLAT RATE of $35 to Cabarete. If you are going anywhere else, there is a big board listing the cost to other locations. Normally its $100 to Santiago and $200 to Santo Domingo, but you can always negotiate. Learn more about getting around the Dominican Republic and how to get around Cabarete here!
Hope this helps! Bon Voyage!
Until next time,