For some, a traditional morning begins with a desperate reach for coffee, a wrangling of barely awake children, or a mad dash out the door to join in the morning traffic. For a Tico family parked on the sands of Playa Santa Teresa, this morning, like every morning was approached with a much different intent.
Just before 7AM, the sun still hadn’t passed the eastern hills, making for a cool start to the day. The three straddled their shared motorcycle seat, fitting like matching puzzle pieces. The father, with his grade school son and daughter, dressed in matching uniforms, balanced with ease and skill. Each looked out to the western horizon, taking in the views of the Pacific turquoise waves, which reflected the first of the morning rays and mist, while the local surfers were well on their way.
They returned, as I did that next morning for what seemed a daily routine that marked the beginning of their day, allowing for a moment to perhaps meditate, to pray, to stop and take inventory. While their day would prove to be challenging, overcoming the living and working conditions of a Third World Country, they seemed to relish and embrace in the fortunes that became apparent from the views. Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Central America, and unarguably one of the most beautiful in the world. While our family of three may not be rich in accumulated wealth or material things, they did seem to acquire something of much greater value. Each morning they came for a daily withdrawal of la Pura Vida (pure life), which in this part of the world could trade for more than gold.
Being such a precious commodity, Costa Rica and its people (like our Tico family), have been on a crusade to protect its rainforest and natural resources. At times, it seems the world, whose smallest transgression can offset their entire eco-system, are working against them. As a devoted community, they protect and conserve this small nation, which sits between some of the largest crime and poverty, so that we as travelers may share in such natural wonders.
Contributing to the cause is the local tourism industry, who have been actively working to educate tourist on best practices by leading by example. Such crusaders include Florblanca – a luxury eco-boutique hotel on the northern stretch of Playa Santa Teresa. Peaking through a tropical jungle, this small 11 Villa oceanfront property, has made huge efforts to accommodate both their guests and natural environment. Here, through sustainable efforts and local initiatives, they have committed themselves to protecting their fragile eco-system, which has been recognized and awarded the Certification for Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica.
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Valid efforts from Florblanca include, actively participating in the local Recycling Program and using its organic waste for the production of compost and vermicompost, which is used to enrich the soil of the property’s onsite biogarden that is treated with organic fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide. The use of paper is limited to those that are unbleached and recycled or that made with sugar cane bagasse. UV lamps purify the water throughout the hotel, offering clean drinking water for guests from any tap. Today 75% of the hotel’s wastewater is processed through biological filtration, while plans are currently being made to address the remaining 25%.
Costa Rica has recently been praised for achieving 75 days of using only reusable energy, which is afforded by solar, geothermal and wind power, as well as mindful efforts to minimize the use and need of electricity. By installing solatube technology, which lightens rooms with natural light, and using solar heaters for higher electric consumption used in kitchens and laundry rooms, Florblanca reduces their dependency on electricity.
This gorgeous eco-property also makes efforts to maintain their natural habitat to support the local wildlife heard in the trees or nesting on the beach shores. A variety of monkeys, birds, insects, amphibians and mammals, share their home with guests of Florblanca. Their focus doesn’t stop at enriching the experience on property, but that as well of the local community. They promote local businesses, while employing locals for their own. The Nectar Restaurant on property serves fish from the local fisherman’s village, organic coffees and teas, and available produce and meats sourced locally and grown organically.
Florblanca has hopes that the generous and caring attitude of Costa Rica, inspires their guests to give back by participating in their “$2 Check Out” program. Guests can elect to donate $2 to a number of local charities and initiatives, which include Biojardinera Escuela de Santa Teresa (Biofilter, Santa Teresa School), which builds biogardens for schools who desperately need water resources during the struggling months of water shortages.
The efforts made by Florblanca to accommodate and enhance their natural environment and local community, are extensions of their founding mission to offer their guest a premium travel experience with the utmost first-class amenities and services, which includes their award-winning Spa Bambu, highly-reviewed and visited yoga studio, superior Villas and stunning manicured grounds.
I had the pleasure of staying at this stunning property, where staff call you by your first name, cater to any trivial request, and enlighten you with recommendations for excursions and dining in town. It’s here on my morning walks, that I came to meet our Tico family on the beach. Thanks to the valiant efforts of businesses like Florblanca and the people of Costa Rica, there is an abundance of a Pura Vida to be shared by locals and tourist like me, for which I’m grateful.
With only 11 luxury villas availability goes quick, especially in the high-season and festive months, such as November and December. So, be sure to book early at Florblanca. Pura Vida!
Alexandra Avila, Traveling in Heels