Costa Rican Luxury Hotel Takes Social Responsibility to a New Level - Article Posted on The Huffington Post by Maria Russo - Click Here To Read Article
Social Responsibility Business Approach: a Holistic Vision
On the work of the Policy of Social Responsibility of Gaia Hotel & Reserve, the administration and the owners have defined a strategy of business projection through a model of Local Economical Development for the Aguirre District. This is based on the characteristics of the community, culture and the problems that affect them. Taking into account also that this is a coastal region where the tourism industry has found a way to rapidly grow thanks to the beauty of its surroundings.
It is worth mentioning that the Model of Economical Development has been designed in a way that other organizations can and must be part of it and overall its central engine is the integration of civil society in an organized and legitimate way.
In this manner, Gaia Hotel & Reserve contributes substantially and facilitates the participation and integration of all business men and women, religious groups, ambientalists and with a goal that ends with the foundation of the Commission for the Peace and Advancement of Aguirre, COPAZA, which is an association of integral development at a local level.
Based on the concept of the Model of Local Economical Development promoted by Gaia Hotel & Reserve, it is our purpose to develop and facilitate the economical and social participation of diverse social groups. This occurs through the sustainability programs and concurs with the environmental and social and cultural patterns. In that sense, the model we propose covers the following aspects:
First: SOCIAL ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT, from which Gaia Hotel & Reserve interacts with the adjacent communities promoting the active involvement of civil society working on the values and local culture. Based on this it has developed the following programs:
- Development of association programs with vendors. With this, local vendors are hired with special attention to local artisans for purchases for the Gift Shop
- Human Resources places priority on hiring locals for all job openings
- The hotel is the principal sponsor of a therapeutic clinic that works with alcoholics and drug addicts that want to recover. Inside the hotel there is a group meeting of Alcoholic Anonymous each night of the week.
- The hotel and COPAZA, develop programs and festivals that intend to rescue local values and promote culture and art through dance, music and theater work shops promoting juvenile leaders.
- Programs to develop technological courses with the collaboration of COPAZA and INA (National Institute for Learning)
- Program to develop micro businesses with the finality of promoting productive local markets that fulfill the local business needs and contributes with the participation of locals through the creation of their own businesses and industries.
Furthermore, Gaia Hotel & Reserve cooperates with a series of institutions through logistic support and financial support of specific programs among which we can mention:
- Gaia feels that education is the ticket to a secure future. In October of 2006, the hotel donated a Virtual Library, along with a selection of written educational books, and scholastic materials to the "Escuela Korea", the local elementary school.
- The lack of Government funding often times means that area businesses must carry the burden of equipping our local law enforcement agencies. Gaia's donations of a photocopier, scanner, fax and printer, along with communication equipment and the installation of a complete computer system has given new life to our local Rural Guard Station (our police), which reaps benefits for the entire community. Gaia also includes the training and the availability of our on-staff technical support team.
- The aged fleet of our local law enforcement requires area businesses, including Gaia, to give regular donations of gasoline and repair parts for their ailing law enforcement vehicles.
- Donations and technical support for the paving of the primary road that passes through the heart of Quepos shows Gaia's dedication to improving the initial impression of our small community to international visitors.
- Gaia Hotel supplied the local Municipality with audiovisual equipment, a laptop computer and a projection screen, all necessary tools to help further the communities' ability to provide quality presentations in order to acquire important government funding for our area.
- Gaia Hotel recognizes the problems of drug and alcohol addiction as destructive to not only the family nucleus, but the community as a whole. Therefore, Gaia provides a private conference room where nightly meetings are held for Alcoholics Anonymous, and bi-weekly meetings for members of Al-Anon. These groups have carried their message to the homeless and drug addicted members of our community providing a new hope in their lives.
- Gaia has successfully acquired the land, and is presently hands-on negotiating with the Costa Rican government in the construction of a safe home or half-way home for the rehabilitation and job training necessary for the social reconstruction needed to further our local community and its future.
- Max Teran Valles Hospital has been provided with lectures on the "disease" concept of alcoholism and addiction in order to help train the medical staff to become more aware of these issues and thus better recognize and treat the problems of Alcohol and Drug Addiction.
- Hotel Gaia is the permanent sponsor of additional temporary Police Housing Trailers, to accommodate the added Tourist Police and Law Enforcement authorities which are brought to the Manuel Antonio area yearly to help protect and inform tourists during Costa Rica's busiest tourist seasons.
- Gaia holds regular meetings on how to improve the environmental impact that tourism has had on the Manuel Antonio area, reporting environmental violators and helping in raising the conscience of area businesses for the protection of our natural resources and expanding the natural biological corridors.
- Gaia has been fundamental in establishing a Committee revolving around the basic idea of "Prevention, Security and Peace", which has been furthering the goals of stability and safety in our community. The program initiated and Coordinated by Gaia's owner, Mr. Boris Marchegiani, is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the Mayor's Office, the Municipal Government and an Association of all the local churches. This Committee serves as a liaison with the National Government in order to create alternatives to area youth, thereby furthering the prevention of delinquency, and improving the direct causes of social disintegration such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution, exploitation of women and children, the collapse of family structure, etc.. This is accomplished by offering the opportunities of education, training, culture, sports, information, day care, tourism school, day clinic, rehabilitation center and training coops.
- The local Lifeguards on Manuel Antonio beaches have benefited by the generous donations of Gaia's owners in providing not only monetary support, but also important emergency equipment. Benefits are seen not only for local inhabitants of the community, but also for our international tourist visitors.
- Gaia Hotel supports youth soccer teams with transportation, uniforms, equipment, etc. as a positive example to alternatives against truancy and delinquency.
- Employees of Gaia Hotel donate their time and limited financial resources to generous organizations such as the Roberta Felix Foundation which focuses on helping the poor, physically disabled, special needs persons and handicapped members of our community and the many outlying regions.
Second: Physical Biological Environment, from which Gaia Hotel and Reserve interacts with the environment, promoting the development of the tourist activity, in a sustainable form, promoting the rescue of biodiversity, as well as preserving and strengthening the ecosystems, labor that it realizes from two interrelated perspectives:
Litigation Model of the environmental impact from the perspective of sustainable business management.
On this matter we develop internal programs for increased awareness (to the level of the employees and also the guests) in such aspects like:
- Program of intelligent consumption of energy.
- Program of intelligent consumption of water.
- Reutilization of waste.
- Compost production from waste
- Biological Treatment of waste water.
- Dedication of � of Gaia Hotel & Reserve's land to the conservation of the ecosystems as a natural reserve, and preserving it as a biological corridor, with size equivalent to 12 acres.
Model of environmental conservation and projection to the community. From this perspective, Gaia Hotel & Reserve, takes part in programs like:
- Rescue of endemic species
- Regeneration of forest zones
- Protection of National Parks
- Conservation and protection of maritime zones terrestrial
These programs develop by means of an associative strategy of society, by means of alliances with different organizations, foundations and projects, like:
- ASCOMOTI (The Association for the Conservation of the Mono Titi)
- CST (The program of Certification for Sustainable Tourism of the Costa Rican Tourist Board)
- BANDERA AZUL
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- Kids Saving the Rainforest
- COPAZA (Clearing beaches)
- Green Hotel Alliance
Third : Service Plant or basis, from which Gaia Hotel and Reserve interacts with their Guests, promoting a philosophy, an operational activity and a utilization of resources inside the work of tourist sustainability. From this perspective the work realized by the family GAIA, understands from the outlet the behavior of the employees and shareholders of the eco vision, up to the incorporation of the best technology, related to the consumption of energy resources. For that reason we developed the following programs.
A green declaration that has all the philosophical orientation that regulates the whole operation of the Hotel incorporating concepts of conservation, environmental education, human development, health and social security, as well as the rescue of the harmonic values with nature. This is accomplished by means of:
Fourth : THE EXTERNAL CLIENT from whom Gaia Hotel & Reserve promotes the active participation of its guests, in the internal programs of tourist sustainability, the support of communal, local and national initiatives. For this the Staff of Concierges of the hotel report and motivate the guests about the environment policies and sustainability, programs of recycling, national parks, law of conservation of the wild life among other policies.
- Certificate of Tourist Sustainability. An award that categorizes the companies of the tourist industry, with regards to the level of sustainability that it possesses, being a recognized brand by the World Organization of Tourism.
- Of equal importance it develops our own processes of operation, oriented to the sustainability of the business management. Among others, it is mentioned:
- Treatment of wastewater, by means of biological solutions and the utilization of bacteria.
- Monitoring water consumption in order to minimize usage.
- Monitoring all types of power usage in order to optimize source and minimize usage.
- Utilization of mechanisms to dose or measure the water consumption of an ideal way.
- System of rain water gathering for the use in activities that is not consumed by human beings.
- Devices of high technology to control the efficient consumption of electric energy.
- Lighting system that does not generate heat, providing energy savings.
- Utilization of alternative sources of energy: solar panels and photo cells, saving for every solar collector an average of 2000 kw/h per year.
- Use of "Waterless Urinal" units saving 40.000 gallons of water per year per unit.
- Utilization of a program of purchases of biodegradable products.