At Cayuga Collection’s luxury hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, pigs eat whatever guests don’t and the leftovers-rich manure is used as biofuel for staff cooking; this is done to reduce the use of propane gas. This is just one example of the innovative thought leadership of this company, and in December 2016 National Geographic announced Cayuga Collection as one of the finalists for the prestigious World Legacy Awards, which honour the companies, organizations, and destinations that are driving positive transformation of the tourism industry.
A pioneering hospitality management company, the Cayuga Collection blends sustainability and luxury at its eight hotels, lodges, and resorts in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. To Cayuga, sustainability is about more than reusing your towel and passing on plastic; it’s also about providing a distinct sense of place by respecting and incorporating local culture and customs.
“We are thrilled that our longtime client, the Cayuga Collection, was selected as one of three finalists in the Earth Changers category, which recognizes ‘cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon emissions reduction,’ says Tartan’s president, Deirdre Campbell. “Cayuga is a perfect example of a client who is so busy innovating that it is hard for them to share their knowledge. We see this nomination doing exactly that—sharing their expertise so others may benefit and be inspired.”
Cayuga’s notable environmental initiatives include not using fresh water for garden irrigation (instead their treatment plants re-use wastewater to irrigate green areas), heating all the water through solar panels, and replacing plastic water bottles and straws with reusable glass bottles and bamboo straws. Sustainability is part of Cayuga’s DNA and the company’s innovative practices set the bar for others internationally. Each property has a dedicated, “experience & sustainability coordinator,” who oversees efficient operations, liaises with the local staff and community, hosts nightly presentations, and runs popular back-of-the-house tours that show guests how the wastewater is treated, how the pigs are fed, and other sustainability measures. By walking the talk, Cayuga remains at the cutting edge of green hospitality.
Cayuga supports a number of initiatives such as the Earth Equilibrium NGO—which it founded and financed—that provides environmental education to more than 500 children in the areas surrounding the hotels and lodges. It offers direct year-round employment to more than 400 locals. Cayuga also piloted the global “Dock to Dish” program in Central America—connecting its chefs with local fishermen, only using responsibly caught seafood. Together with Osa Conservation, the company aids scientific research at Lapa Rios in Costa Rica, with its 1,000-acre corridor of private Pacific lowland reserves, to protect endangered peccaries and wild feline populations such as puma and jaguar.
“For us it’s a great honour to be among the finalists. There are so many awards out there, some of which are ‘pay to play.’ With National Geographic, it’s different,” explains Hans Pfister, co-founder and president of the Cayuga Collection.
“I was impressed with the quality of the process, as the organization sends someone to each place to verify the information listed in the applications. We had a visit by the auditor in November; she visited five of the eight Cayuga Collection properties and dug deep, talking to our staff and getting behind the scenes to understand how we operate.”
The five winners of the World Legacy Awards, one per category, will be announced at an awards ceremony during the ITB Berlin Convention on March 8.