10 Sustainability Trends for Eco-Lux Hotels in 2015

It is always risky to make predictions for the future, but based on our observations and conversations with guests at our sustainable luxury hotels and lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we feel very confident that we will see the following trends and developments evolve for 2015.

1.  Off the beaten path beats tourism clusters

Nobody wants to go where everybody else has been already.  Exotic destinations like Nicaragua are going to see a boom in 2015.  There are also destinations like the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica that have been spared from mass tourism and will be very attractive for the discerning traveler looking for something unique and special.

2.  Culinary experiences conquer eco-tourism

For many years culinary experiences have not been a priority for ecotourists.  But today, a solid wine list and locally grown and raised food is a must for anybody trying to attract the high end eco market.  Premium craft beers, bio dynamic wines, responsibly caught seafood, hormone-free poultry and grass-fed beef are just a few examples of how culinary trends have conquered sustainable gastronomy.

Fresh and high quality ingredients that are sourced locally are a great base for preparing gourmet meals for guests.


3.  Sustainability actions beyond towel change and efficient light bulbs

We are tired to hear hotels “rave” about their eco-credentials when mentioning energy efficient light bulbs and a program of not changing linens every day.  In order to impress guests and make a true difference in their communities, they will have to go beyond.  How about getting rid of all plastic drink bottles or serving only responsibly caught seafood? How about moving from recycling to “refusing” products and educating clients about consuming local products only.

4.  Personalized interpretation of nature and culture

It is not enough of an experience to just walk through a tropical rain forest, a coffee plantation or a local farmer’s market.  Travelers are hungry for “interpretation” and want to learn.  Highly educated guides at hotels and lodges that will be able to interpret nature and culture to guests will be in high demand.  We see the request for private tours skyrocket at our lodges.

5.  Eco lodge meets Design Hotel: Opposites attract

We find it fascinating how our guests love to have very different experiences within one trip.  Take a rain forest eco lodge where the focus is on putting on rubber boots and getting out to explore the tropical flora and fauna and combine it with a design hotel which is more of a place to “lounge” by the pool and relax.  Many of our guests combine those experiences as they are so different, yet complimentary.

6.  Agro tourism experiences are still hot

Agro tourism has been on the radar of ecotourists for a few years.  The possibility to experience agricultural projects that exist in harmony with nature is a very attractive feature.  The most popular experiences involve wine and beer, but there in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the coffee plantation experience is in strong demand.

While staying at a Plantation Inn, you can pick your own coffee, roast it and then prepare specialty coffee drinks like a barista in the restaurant.

7. The smaller and more intimate, the better…

If there is something that the seasoned eco traveler dislikes, it is crowds.  Therefore they seek out small hotels, ins and lodges of 3 to 16 rooms maximum.  It guarantees personalized service and special attention by management that is often harder to achieve in bigger hotels.  Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa in Costa Rica is a great example of a hotel that feels like staying over with friends, just that your “friend” is Jose Pablo, the General Manager.

8. Kids become drivers for eco experiences

What better place to take your kids than to a national park or a private rain forest reserve. A vacation could become a biology or geography field trip.  We have found though, that often it is the kids that push their parents to take them to those natural places off the beaten path.  We might be underestimating the interest of the internet generation’s interest in real nature experience.  Watch out Disney…

Guided Rainforest Hike with Edwin Villareal at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. Kids absorb the information they learn on those hikes like sponges.

9. Wellness beyond a massage and facial

Many travelers are bored with spas and mainstream wellness offers that are available in the market.  What’s special about a massage in a closed in air-conditioned room?  We find that guests are exploring the idea of wellness more and more through their nutrition, an exercise routine for body and soul, a connection with their natural surroundings and an appreciation of a sense of place.

10. Savvy guests will start to ask the right kind of questions

The well traveled and highly educated guest that we welcome at our hotels and lodges is no longer fooled by some kind of an “eco-certification” or a green label.  They know what makes a difference and will ask the right kind of questions.  If forces hoteliers to look more carefully at their supply chains and secondary impacts on the environment and the communities that they operate in.

It is no longer good enough to just recycle. We need to avoid creating plastic trash by getting rid of disposable plastic bottles for drinks in hotels and resorts.

The Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges is considered a world leader in sustainable hospitality.  The Cayuga Hotels redefine the symbiosis of luxury and sustainability through the concept of Experience, Learn,Connect and Relax and create legendary and authentic service experiences for guests, sustainable development for the communities where they operate.

Getting involved in local communities is a key component of sustainable hospitality and can be a great attraction to guests if done correctly. Another example of “interpretation” of the experience.

Courtesy: http://blog2.cayugaonline.com/

BMW i3 wins 2015 Green Car of the Year award

Beats Out CNG, Hybrid And High-Efficiency Gas Finalists

Sebastian Blanco

The popular little BMW i3 (popular in the US, at least) was named the 2015 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show today. The award doesn’t just take into account a car’s green credentials but also its “availability to the mass market.” While the i3 is a bit expensive, starting at $41,350, it is becoming available at BMW dealers across the country, which cannot be said about a lot of other new plug-in vehicles released these past few years.

The other finalists this year were the CNG-powered Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel, the Audi A3 TDI, the Honda Fit and the VW Golf. The BMW i3 with range extender gets a fuel economy rating of 117 MPGe and 39 miles per gallon (in gas mode) with a 72-mile EV range. The EV-only version gets 124 MPGe combined (137 in the city and 111 on the highway) and has an EV range of 81 miles.

Green Car Journal has handed out the award every year for ten years now, naming the Honda Accord Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid the winner last year, the Ford Fusion models (plug-in hybrid and hybrid) in 2013, the Honda Civic Natural Gas in 2012 and the Chevrolet Volt in 2011.

Milestone Carbon Fiber Electric Car Wins the Auto Industry’s Most Important Environmental Award at Los Angeles Auto Show

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2014) – BMW’s i3, an innovative electric car built with a lightweight carbon fiber passenger cell and an aluminum drive module, has been named Green Car Journal’s 2015 Green Car of the Year®, which was announced at the LA Auto Show. Green Car of the Year® finalists also included the Audi A3 TDI, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and VW Golf.

The Green Car of the Year® award is an honor widely recognized as the auto industry’s most important environmental accolade. Green Car Journal, the leading voice in the intersection of automobiles, energy, and the environment since the publication’s launch in 1992, celebrates the high-profile award’s 10th anniversary at the L.A. Auto Show this year.

“BMW’s i3 is a milestone vehicle in many respects and illustrates the automaker’s expansive vision of future motoring,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “It is purposefully designed with a small environmental footprint and zero emissions, offering the best features of an electric vehicle with the functionality of an available on board engine-generator that nearly doubles its battery electric range.”

The first all-electric vehicle to win Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year®, the i3 benefits from BMW’s years-long ‘project i’ initiative that focuses on future mobility and strategies for sustainable transportation. The result is a unique approach that finds the i3 embracing technologies, materials, and construction methods breaking new ground for a mainstream model. While the i3 is designed as a battery electric car, its optional REx gasoline engine-generator enables extended driving range with electricity created on board easing potential range anxiety.

“Unlike other manufacturers that build vehicles and then create advanced powertrains to go in them, BMW rethought the whole process of building a car from the ground-up, using new materials and techniques,” said noted TV personality and avid car collector Jay Leno, pointing out one of many strengths the i3 had going into the competition. Leno has been one of Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year® jurors since the award program launched in 2005.

Along with Leno, the Green Car of the Year® jury includes leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, and Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation and former CalEPA Secretary and Chairman of the California Air Resources Board. The jury is rounded out by a smaller number of Green Car Journal editors.

The magazine’s extensive vetting process considers all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as the field of nominees is narrowed down to five finalists that significantly raise the bar in environmental performance. Vehicles that are all-new, or in the early stages of their model lifecycle, are considered and finalists must be on sale by January 1 of the award year. Availability and market significance are factors to ensure that models have the potential to make a real impact on improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gases, and promoting transportation efficiency.

As finalists for 2015 Green Car of the Year®, the Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and Volkswagen Golf are additionally honored with Green Car Journal’s 2015 Green Car Product of Excellence™.

About Green Car of the Year®

The GCOY award is an important part of Green Car Journal’s mission to showcase environmental progress in the auto industry. Since 1992, Green Car Journal has focused on the intersection of automobiles, energy, and environment. Today, the magazine is considered the premier source of information on high fuel efficiency, low emission, advanced technology, and alternative fuel vehicles. CarsOfChange.com presents ‘green car’ articles online along with a focus on infotainment and connectivity. Green Car of the Year® is a registered trademark of Green Car Journal and RJ Cogan Specialty Publications Group, Inc.

About the Los Angeles Auto Show and Connected Car Expo

The Los Angeles Auto Show was founded in 1907, and is the first major North American auto show of the season each year. Press and Trade show days for the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show will be held on Nov. 18-20. The show will be open to the public Nov. 21 – Nov. 30. The Connected Car Expo (CCE) is the automotive industry’s most authoritative showcase of new mobility solutions and will take place on November 18, and continue in conjunction with the 2014 LA Auto Show® Press & Trade Days. The LA Auto Show is endorsed by the Greater L.A. New Car Dealer Association and is operated by ANSA Productions. To receive the latest show news and information, follow the Los Angeles Auto Show on Twitter at twitter.com/LAAutoShow or via Facebook at facebook.com/LosAngelesAutoShow and sign up for alerts at www.LAAutoShow.com. For more information on CCE please visit http://connectedcarexpo.com/

Courtesy: http://www.autoblog.com

This Indian solar power plant will = almost all of the solar power installed in the US in 2010

By: Zachary Shahan

© Make in India

The Indian solar power market is heating up, really heating up. As I wrote in November, the Indian government is aiming to invest $1 billion into renewable energy in the coming few years, and it has raised its 2022 solar power capacity target from 22 gigawatts to 100 gigawatts. That would be 50 times more solar power capacity than it had at the end of 2013, when the total was a little more than 2 gigawatts.

For some more perspective, the US solar power market has just passed 16 gigawatts.

By just about any standard, adding nearly 11 gigawatts of solar power capacity a year is huge. One way that India is planning to reach its targets is by developing what it calls “ultra mega solar power projects.” One of these first projects is a 750-megawatt solar power project planned for Madhya Pradesh. (750 megawatts is almost as much solar power capacity as the United States added in all of 2010.)

The project has just received a commitment from the World Bank to provide a 50% soft loan. “The rest will be borne by the joint venture of Centre and the state,” Madhya Pradesh Energy and Mining Minister and New and Renewable Energy Minister Rajendra Shukla told reporters in India.

“A team of World Bank team has visited Gudh and found the tract of barren land for commissioning the project most appropriate.”

Tremendous support for solar power from the current Indian government, particularly the relatively new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is critical to this solar power growth. However, the increasingly low cost of solar power is also an essential factor. As I wrote a month and a half ago, solar power projects have been offering electricity prices lower than natural gas and coal in India, the UAE, Chile, Brazil, and the US (and I’m sure other places as well). And that’s with prices locked in for a couple of decades or so. It’s almost guaranteed that coal and natural gas prices will rise considerably in that time.

For decades, it seemed that cost-competitive solar power was just beyond the horizon. Those days are over. Solar has arrived.

Courtesy: http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/

Desolenator Churns out Clean Drinking Water using Solar Power

By Nick Lavars

Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun.

At a time when the planet’s population is set to grow substantially and rising global temperatures are adding further uncertainty to the supply of fresh water, considerable effort is going into advancing desalination technology and making it cheaper and more accessible.

In 2010, IBM commenced work on a solar-powered desalination plant to bring fresh water to the Saudi desert, while later in that same year MIT revealed designs for a portable system powered by photovoltaic panels. Only yesterday we wrote about the Odyssée desalinator, an all-in-one system that uses wave-power to produce clean drinking water on the spot.

Now the developers of the Desolenator are promising the lowest cost per liter compared to any other available system of its scale. Their solution takes the form of a mobile, flat-screen television-sized unit with a top, slanted surface covered by an array on photovoltaic panels. Complete with all terrain wheels for mobility, the team says that the Desolenator is built to last 20 years.

The device is claimed to be more dependable than traditional desalination systems that rely on reverse osmosis, a technique where specialized membranes are used to filter out undesired particles. Part of this is because it has no moving parts, but more importantly, it is entirely energy independent.

Speaking to BBC Radio last week, Desolenator founder and CEO William Janssen detailed how the system works. While photovoltaic panels are used to convert sunlight into electricity, his design focuses a little more on the heat that they provide instead. “What we did is we actually insulated the solar panel, we put double glazing on the top and we put foam all around, so the solar panel would get even hotter,” said Janssen.

After bumping up the temperature of the panels, a thin film of water is then run across its surface to soak up the heat. This heated water is then directed to a separate vessel where the electricity that is generated by the system is used to bring it to boiling point with a spiral heater. This creates vapor which is collected and distilled into clean water. Janssen says in its current form, the system can provide around 15 L (3.96 gal) of water per day.

Janssen’s team has a functioning prototype and is now looking to raise US$150,000 on Indiegogo. Funds will be directed toward building more units for testing, fine-tuning the final design and ultimately mass production. Early pledges of $450 are available and will have a Desolenator sent your way in October 2015 if the campaign runs as planned.

Courtesy: http://www.gizmag.com/

Solar Power Picking up Pace

By: Lindsay Carroll


The use of solar power could be greatly encouraged by a resolution passed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Silvia Razgova / The National

DUBAI // Experts have welcomed a new ruling that will allow residents to install solar panels on the roofs of their homes and businesses and sell the energy generated back to the emirate’s power grid.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council, passed the resolution on solar energy distribution in Dubai on Monday, which is hoped to greatly encourage the use of solar power across the emirate and the region.

The move will provide a “stable and reliable” framework with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) that allows residents and businesses to “securely and reliably” generate solar power that can be fed into the electricity grid, said Vahid Fotuhi, president of the Middle East Solar Industry Association.

“I think this programme, in particular, incentivises large energy consumers – which is business owners, warehouse owners – to make use of their rooftop space and to install solar panels, which would then generate electricity and offset their consumption of electricity from the grid,” said Mr Fotuhi.

This gives businesses the option to utilise solar power as it becomes “commercially attractive”, he said.

Dubai generates 95 per cent of its electricity through burning gas, so the new scheme would help reduce the emirate’s reliance on fossil fuels, said Mr Fotuhi.

“I think this is the beginning of a very exciting chapter, not just for Dubai, but for the entire Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

The ruling sets out conditions for users, who must bear all solar-power connectivity costs, obtain necessary approvals and licences, and comply with metering requirements set by Dewa.

Other conditions include electricity bills never going negative and the fact that users cannot sell more to Dewa than they are using.

The ability to sell extra electricity back to Dubai, likely at the same price it is bought – 44.5 fils per kilowatt hour – is a “dramatic step”, said Daniel Zywietz, vice chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council.

“This is the democratisation, if you want, of solar power,” said Mr Zywietz. “There is a lot more participation by the public in the energy sector.”

The move allows companies to simply decide whether to install solar panels rather than having to go through a tender process, he said.

“I would imagine, number one, that this will stimulate the roll out of solar power in Dubai itself,” Mr Zywietz said.

A similar programme in Jordan has also stimulated solar power use, but this would be the first such scheme in the Arabian Gulf, he said, and could cause an “explosion” of solar power in Dubai that other countries could follow.

The Dubai programme will significantly help the environment, diversify the emirate’s energy sources and set a “great example for the region”, said Mr Zywietz.

“Let’s hope that more follow this example.”

The decision constitutes a “step forward on the path of sustainability” and encourages consumers to take advantage of the programme, towards the rational use of energy resources for a clean environment,” said Saeed Al Tayer, chief executive of Dewa.

The authority has in recent years implemented various measures to cope with increasing demand for power.

Courtesy: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/