Central and South America is considered by many to be the greenest region in the world.
The open-air pavilion at Casa mono Loco at Los Suenos offers views of Herradura Bay.
But of all Latin America, the green crown has to go to Costa Rica, which has been pumping out eco-friendly resorts long before Al Gore made green into gold. Los Sueños Resort & Marina may well be one of the destination’s best. The resort has 12 restaurants, two spas, a casino, marina, Cuban cigar shop, art gallery, championship par-72 golf course designed by Ted Robinson Jr. and an oceanfront beach club.
Los Sueños has been held up as an example for environmental sustainability within the tourism industry by both government and private-sector agencies.
The land was a working cattle ranch when the developer purchased it in 1991. At that time, about 50 percent of the 1,100-acre parcel had been cleared for cattle grazing.
After two years of intense analysis, including an environmental impact study overseen by U.S. consultants, the developer and his partners came up with a master plan. Their goal was to preserve the existing 600 acres of virgin and secondary rainforest as a permanent nature reserve and develop only those areas that had been cleared by the previous owner. This land-use plan was registered with the municipal government and cannot be altered even if the ownership of the resort changes hands in the future.
One of the first projects for the resort was the construction of a large-scale sewage treatment plant to treat wastewater from the Marriott Hotel, condominiums, villas and private home sites on the property. Considered one of the most sophisticated facilities of its kind in Central America, the company’s plant has a capacity to treat raw sewage from 5,000 people, which will sufficiently meet the requirements of the community at full build-out.
Concurrent with the development of the infrastructure of the resort, Los Sueños hired a local biologist to spearhead a reforestation program to bring native fauna back into the areas that had been rendered inhospitable by cattle farming.
To date, more than 17,000 fruit and nut trees have been planted, resulting in the return of many native species of birds and animals to the gardens that line Los Sueños’ fairways and residential communities. A recent analysis carried out by leading Costa Rican naturalist guide and biologist Willie Alfaro Cervantes revealed that there are more than 300 avian species that can be spotted along the property’s fairways alone, not to mention the countless species that inhabit the rainforest reserve.
Because of the high incidence of wildlife sightings on the resort’s 18-hole golf course, the Pro Shop now trains each of its caddies as naturalist guides to point out the resident monkeys, sloths, pizotes, iguanas and birds to golfers as they make their way around the course.
The Central Garden at Casa Mono Loco offers a tranquil setting for guests at Los Suenos.
Resort to Beef Up Green Efforts
Recognizing that the preservation of the local fishery is paramount to the future of the resort and marina, Los Sueños is an active supporter of The Billfish Foundation (TBF).
With the help of TBF’s Dr. Russell Nelson, the resort hosted the country’s first circle hook seminar and invited members of the local fisheries ministry, INCOPESCA, to attend. Los Sueños has elected directors from all major fishing ports in Costa Rica and will have a presence before INCOPESCA. In fact, in response to the conservation efforts, INCOPESCA adopted a new resolution that mandates the use of circle hooks when targeting billfish in Costa Rican waters. These hooks reduce mortality in recreationally (or accidentally) caught fish that are to be released back into the water.
Los Sueños Resort is currently working with TBF to lobby the Costa Rican government for the reduction or elimination of the long-line fishery, which is the principal threat to billfish species. Los Sueños has also spearheaded the formation of the first countrywide sport fishing association for both recreational and commercial sport fishing.
Los Sueños has accepted an invitation to join with several multi-national organizations in Central America to promote and support new conservation laws to protect billfish and other species from commercial exploitation and over-fishing.
Relaxing at the Resort
As for accommodations, the resort’s Villa Firenze has been described as the finest Italian palazzo in Central America. It features four master suites, each with a flat-screen TV, private en-suite bathroom and private swimming pool.
One of the four bedroom suites at Villa Firenze.
Casa Mono Loco has an open-air living pavilion with an excellent view of the rest of the resort, as well as Herradura Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It has two guest bedrooms (the Coral Room and the Dome Room) and a detached master pavilion with views from the terrace and an open-air rain shower.
While staying here, it’s not uncommon to be visited by monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans and other wildlife. Casa Mono Loco is within Los Sueños Resort, but on a private street, tucked into the rainforest preserve.
A covered terrace at Villa Firenze.
Some other excellent villas at this resort are the Altamira Villa, Bella Vista Hemingway II and the Best Terrazas de Marbella. The Altamira Villa has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and more than 6,000 square feet of space. This villa offers great views of the Pacific Ocean and marina. Each master bedroom has its own flat-screen plasma TV and a private en-suite bathroom. Three bedrooms have king-size beds and the other has two queen-size beds.
The Bella Vista Hemingway II condo has three bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms and is just a two-minute walk to the Beach Club or the Bella Vista pool with waterfall.
The Terazzas de Marbella also has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. This villa and three other resort residences share an infinity pool and spa.
Mark Mead, CEO of Mead Brown, Costa Rica Vacation Rentals, handles most of the reservations at Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Agents can call 888-744-6599 or e-mail [email protected].