Help needed !

16 Feb

http://fr.ulule.com/hoptour-florie

It’s a technological crisis! My computer has been freezing up more and more often over the past weeks and my camera has left this world…Now more than ever I need good quality, operational equipment to document my visits to hotels as well as their sustainable practices, which are collected for Hopineo. It is for this reason that I am launching myself into a crowdfunding campaign. Further details are in the following video and in the text below. Here is the link to give your support: www.ulule.com/hoptour-florie. Thank you!

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Hotel Santa Viviana, Last Minute Invitations

15 Feb

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 :-)

Nature’s most pristine accommodations at 4,300 m.

15 Feb

Florie en haut du sommet du Concavo 5150m Cocuy Colombie

This brand new year arrived bearing a great gift: my friend Isabelle arrived to join me so we could travel together for one month through northeast Colombia. During these “holidays,” I am still going ahead a little with my project by visiting a few hotels along the way (see articles on Palomino and Barichara/San Gil). However this week is to be a total disconnect, and a different kind of challenge awaits us … We reach the Cocuy National Park and off we go on a four-day hike at a height of over 4,000 m above sea-level, including a snowy peak reaching up to 5,150 m ! This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am not about to forget.

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Three Lightning Visits of Eco-Hotels with my friend Isa

1 Feb

Color de Hormiga - Terra Barichara - El Ocaso Eco Hotel

After visiting the Caribbean Coast, I continue through North-Eastern Colombia with my friend Isabelle (Isa). We spend a week in the Santander Region, and plan to make quick last-minute business stops at three hotels in the charming village of Barichara, next to San Gil: Hostel Color de HormigaHotel Terra Barichara, and Eco Hotel El Ocaso. How will the hotels receive me seeing as I am with a friend? Is it at all possible to merge work and touring the surrounding areas while working with the hotels in all of two days?

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Sirena Eco Hotel, Colombia’s Caribbean Beaches

16 Jan

beach palomino colombia

First days of 2015, first steps in South America, first visit to Colombia … what a great bunch of ‘firsts’! My friend Isabelle (‘Isa’) joins me for a 15-day ladies’ trek along the Caribbean Coast, from Cartagena to the Guajira Peninsula, by way of the incredible national park of Tayrona … all of this with the added benefit of a short little ‘hotel business’ mission at the La Sirena Eco-Hotel (in Palomino).

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Tryp by Wyndham Panama, a Departing Gift

8 Jan

Tryp by Wyndham Panama

Villa Marina Lodge, where I spent my last month-and-a-half on Venao Beach, is really part of a larger investment made by a sizeable group of Panamanian investors (Grupo VerdeAzul). To thank me for my help, the manager kindly gave me a fabulous goodbye gift: two nights w/breakfast at one of their hotels during my stop in Panama City. So I am finishing off my visit through Central America at a 26th hotel—a ‘bonus’ this time: a stay at the Tryp by Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall.

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Villa Marina Lodge, the Unexpected Parenthesis

2 Jan

Villa Marina Lodge - Playa Venao - Panama

After having jumped from one hotel to another during the past five months, a break of one-and-a-half months on my way to Panama seems like a great idea. Destiny offers me a lovely present: a little bit of paradise on a Pacific beach, and a quaint little hotel getting ready to re-open (meaning it needs lots of help in marketing and on-line distribution); but mainly, a wonderful team with whom I can share unique moments. I must leave tomorrow … and I am seriously thinking about maybe coming back here at the end of this Hospitality Tour : perhaps to launch my own travel/eco-excursion agency ? Well, we will see what the future has in store … anyway, part my heart will forever remain in Pedasi, at Playa Venao, at Villa Marina Lodge … I could not have imagined closing this first chapter of the Central American Hospitality Tour with a more perfect interlude, so strong in emotions and delightful encounters. I love you very much, Panama!

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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

Finca Exotica Ecolodge Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

If I tell you : Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Pacific ocean… your answer ? Costa Rica of course ! It was easy with the map on your right ! lol  J I am continuing my epic travel throught the eco tourism royaume . This time it is a « permaculture » farm transformed into an ecolodge, I present to you the Finca Exotica.

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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

Aldea Hostel Costa Rica San José

Improvised stop in San José, Costa Rica’s Capital, where I’ve managed to get a Rendez-vous at Rainforest Alliance office to discover more precisely their Eco-label Hostel program. So I’m taping on my computer to find a Youth hotel at the last hour. I was supposed to stay a night, I’ve finally stayed three. I’m getting a second interview, this time with CST Team: Certification for Sustainable Tourism of Costa Rica. I’m getting on with Lucas: co-manager of Aldea Hostel, from whom I propose my usual deal J. So I’m “invited” in return of a express lesson of Revenu Management. Back in past ! It was specifically with this idea that was born the concept of the Hospitality Tour during a trip in south Espana last April (See publication about Hostel Casa Morada in Cadix and Polaroid Hostel (Granada).

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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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