Central America: Stopped at 25 Hotels

8 Dec

Hospitality Tour - Part 1 Central America

These past six months of gallivanting around Central America comprise the first chapter of this Hospitality Tour through Latin America which is now coming to an end. From Mexico to Panama, I gave a marketing boost to 25 hotels in exchange for room and board. I also took the opportunity to learn all their best practices in ethical tourism in order to share this information on Hopineo. I had fabulous experiences, and met incredible people … Before changing continents and going off to Colombia, I want to share with you a quick retrospective on this first part of the adventure. (PS: A big “thank you” to Helene, Holly, Fernando and all the others who helped me with the translations into english of these blog articles!)

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Central America, through 10 Great Experiences

5 Dec

10 Great Experiences through Central America

These 6 last months rambling around Central America reserved me a wonderful bunch of surprises: budding speleologist, Indiana Jones girl, apprentice mermaid… I share with you a little bit of this magical cocktail of emotions through 10 unique experiences from Mexico to Panama:

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Saladero Ecolodge, Coconut Trees, Mangroves & Rainforest

17 Nov

Saladero Ecolodge, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

After a week in a “tiki-tent” on the peninsula of Osa at the Finca Exotica Ecolodge, I didn’t have to go very far for more adventure: all I needed to do is cross the Golfo Dulce, and here I am three hours later already at Susan and Harvey’s: a small ecolodge only accessible by boat! Have you ever spent, just like this, one short week in a place where there are no roads whatsoever, and where your only neighbors are monkeys in their primary forest and dolphins from the gulf? Welcome to Saladero Ecolodge!

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Finca Exotica, Tiki Tent Stay and Sea Turtles

15 Nov

Sorry, at the moment, this entry is only available in Français. This post will be available in english in a few days. If you would be glad to help with a few translations, write to Florie: floriethielin@gmail.com :-)

Cerro Lodge, from Farming to Hospitality

6 Nov

Sorry, at the moment, this entry is only available in Français. This post will be available in english in a few days. If you would be glad to help with a few translations, write to Florie: floriethielin@gmail.com :-)

Aldea Hostel, Short Stop to Meet Rainforest & CST

1 Nov

Sorry, at the moment, this entry is only available in Français. This post will be available in english in a few days. If you would be glad to help with a few translations, write to Florie: floriethielin@gmail.com :-)

Tenorio Lodge, the French Eco-Touch

28 Oct

Tenorio Lodge Vue de la Chambre - Costa Rica

I’m off again, leaving La Laguna del Lagarto behind, still travelling with the same theme in mind: nature and wildlife, on my way through the northern region of Costa Rica towards the west and its many national parks and sleeping volcanoes. And now, “Welcome to Tenorio Lodge and its Rio Celeste!”. I am warmly greeted by Christine and Franck, a French couple who settled in the area some seven years ago. I learn a lot about Franck’s first-hand experience in building eco-friendly bungalows, and get pointers on how to make real French homemade bread from Christine. Except for the fact that the jam is made from bananas, it would almost feel a little like being back home!

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Laguna del Lagarto, Wildlife Photographers Paradise

20 Oct

Laguna del Lagarto Lodge Costa Rica

‘Bye-bye Nicaragua! I’m now visiting my 7th country on this Hospitality Tour; welcome to Costa Rica! The very model of eco-tourism itself, so they say. Costa Rica even has its own free hotel eco-certification program. What is this really all about? Come and follow me as I go behind the scenes while visiting a few eco-hotels throughout the country. The adventure starts right now as we arrive at a lodge just a few kilometers from the Rio San Juan: the « Laguna del Lagarto » (in Spanish: Alligator Lagoon), a total immersion in the heart of the Rainforest … and where the famous alligators don’t hesitate to show up … and that’s not all!

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Montecristo Lodge, on the Mythical Rio San Juan

14 Oct

Montecristo Lodge Rio San Juan Nicaragua

After a delightful 10-day rest-stop on the very peaceful island of Ometepe, I am off once again, this time to the mythical San Juan River. I spend the night on the ferry on my way to San Carlos, on the south-eastern end of the lake. Then, I get in a second (much smaller) boat, all the while engrossed in Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” (thank you Guillaume; this book ties in perfectly with my present environment!). Three hours later, I meet Agustin, and it is after getting on a third (and even tinier) boat that I finally step into my new eco-lodge, one with the very intriguing name of “Montecristo”…

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Totoco, deep in the Volcano Island Biosphere

28 Sep

Totoco Ecolodge Ometepe Nicaragua

The largest lake in Central America is in Nicaragua. And exactly in the center of this lake you will find a lovely treasure: the quiet island of Ometepe and its two daunting volcanoes. The first is still active, rises 1,600 meters high (almost one mile), and threatens to explode from one day to the next. Therefore, it is on the slopes of the second volcano (very soundly asleep) that Martijn and his fellow investors chose to develop their responsible tourism project, “Totoco“, where I am staying this week. Totoco is an eco-lodge comprised of 8 bungalows, but not only that: it is an organic farm, and a foundation for multiple local development projects … let me explain!

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La Mariposa, Non-Profit Hotel & Spanish School

23 Sep

La Mariposa Spanish School Nicaragua

After visiting the Selva Negra “Organic Farm and Coffee Plantation” Eco-Lodge, I continue on my voyage of discovery to find out all I can about Nicaragua by visiting a non-profit “Spanish-language school” Eco-Hotel: La Mariposa, another great touristic idea with a different style and concept, also (or even more so?) involved in the community. La Mariposa is a non-profit eco-lodge. Paulette, the manager, confesses me that she does not even pay herself a salary. The income earned is used entirely to finance local development projects. Is there a better way to show a greater sense of responsibility?

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Selva Negra, the Coffee Plantation Ecolodge

18 Sep

Selva Negra Lodge Nicaragua

I begin my Nicaraguan journey by introducing a fantastic example of what could be called a most responsible project in the northern part of the country (where it is cool; what a wonderful change! here it is 19°C on average all year long), at 1,200 meters (about 4,000 ft.) of altitude, some 20 minutes away from Matagalpa and less than 2 hours away from the capital (Managua):  the Eco-Lodge Selva Negra.

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Trujillo: Beach + Resort + Eco?

11 Sep

Trujillo Beach Resort Honduras

I continue my journey along the Honduran Caribbean coast. From October, cruise ships will start arriving to the quiet little town of Trujillo. Many foreigners, mostly Canadians, come to invest in mass. Everything is happening right now, the place is changing. This is the first time I watch this so closely, the beginnings of the transformation of a place to receiving increasing tourism … and I must say it’s a little scary…

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Casa Nery, a Small Hotel to become Bigger

3 Sep

Casa Nery La Ceiba Honduras

After a week spent at Tegus (as people call it around here), I finally left the capital to better explore the country! After an 8 hour bus ride, I found myself in La Ceiba, on the Caribbean coast. The man sat by me on the bus told me that in Honduras they say ´in Tegucicalpa we think, in San Pedro we work and in La Ceiba we have fun!´. If the proverb is to be believed, I should be moving on from the ´quiet reflection´ stage and into the ´ let it flow´ stage; but not just yet, not right away at least! To begin this new week, Casa de Nery welcomes me, for the first of my 3 stops in ‘ Honduras, chapter 2′ !

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Casa Xochicalco, a 4* Homestay

28 Aug

Casa Xochicalco Tegucigalpa Honduras

Esperanza is a little bit of a mixture between Paco (Uxlabil Eco Hotel, Guatemala) for its Professor of Philosophy side, and Carolina (Arbol de Fuego Eco Hotel, El Salvador) for the women entrepreneur look alike. Esperanza was the first person to confirm a hotel mission with me (via LinkedIn) as I was still in Barcelona, and my Hospitality Tour was still in its pre-project phase. We had been exchanging e-mails for three months (where I postpone my arrival almost every week… thank you Esperanza for your patience!). But we finally met, here I am! It’s fantastic to move from the virtual correspondence to meet in person. Would to come meeting Esperanza with me? Direction Tegucigalpa, Honduras…

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Arbol de Fuego, towards Energy Self-Sufficiency

22 Aug

Arbol de Fuego Eco-Hotel Salvador

Welcome to Salvador by my side! I just stayed one week in Salvador, but I’ve met the hotel that is considered as the best example in sustainable development by the national tourism ministry. So, despite brief it was an intense stay where I learnt a lot thanks to Carolina and the nice study case of her Eco-Hotel Arbol de Fuego.

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Uxlabil Hotels, from the Lake to the Capitals

14 Aug

Uxlabil Eco-Hotel Atitlan Nicaragua

After Tikal, Florès and Semuc Champey, I have now arrived at my last hotel mission of this Guatemalan journey: the eco-hotels Uxlabil. The stay lasts about ten days and consists of three stages: the old capital Antigua, Lake Atitlan and the current capital Guatemala City. Alright, come on, I will introduce you to Francisco!

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Utopia Hotel, the Imaginary became Reality

3 Aug

Utopia Eco-Hotel Semuc Champey Guatemala

“Project whose realization is impossible, imaginary concept”, such is the definition of  an Utopia in a dictionary. However, Utopia Eco-Hotel exists for real, I promise you ! I’m even writing from there right now… How to do not be charmed, even just for the name ? And if you’re not convinced yet,  type Semuc Champey in Google, that should do the trick ;)

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Jaguar Inn, on Archeologists’ Footprints

29 Jul

Jaguar Inn Tikal Guatemala

I spent a nice week in Belize, between the island of Caye Caulker  and the wild nature of San Ignacio. But I’m back on the road, a crossing of the Mopan river, and here I am in Guatemala ! I’m back to speaking Spanish, once and for all… Or almost. First Guatemalan stage in the two Jaguar Inn hotels, belonging to Edmundo and his sister Natalia: In Tikal, then in Santa Elena (just in front of the small Flores island, on the Petén Itzá lake). Edmundo and Natalia’s dad was Guatemalan and their mom English, so it is a sweet transition towards Spanish-speaking as both of them are bilingual English/Spanish (Natalia even speaks French, she studied a year in Montpellier). Ready to follow archeologists steps besides me on this very famous UNESCO Maya site of Tikal ?

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Ka’Ana Resort, an Eco-Chic Stay

25 Jul

Ka'Ana Resort Belize

After the beaches and the lagoon, a change of scenery is found deep in the nature of the far west side of Belize. There I am received by the Ka’Ana Resort, a small, chic hotel where the accommodation blends right into the tropical forest. Would you like to take a breath of fresh air by my side?

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