Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, the leading eco-luxury wellness resort in Costa Rica, unveiled its official Sustainability Report for 2020/21 demonstrating extensive socio-economic strategies across three focus areas within sustainability: environmental management, corporate social responsibility, and culture. By turning the concept of hospitality inwards during this time of global crisis, Tabacón has been able to remain an economically responsible partner to its community, staff and suppliers, all while continuing to protect, regenerate, and promote the benefits of natural resources at the core of the Tabacón experience. The detailed report aligns key initiatives against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and lays the groundwork for ambitious sustainability plans in the coming years.
“We are honored to share our Sustainability Report and showcase how the Tabacón family faced the enormous challenges of 2020/21 together with care and optimism, and sustainability as top of mind in each and every one of our actions,” notes Marcel Stittner, General Manager of Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. “These actions have built a strong foundation as we continue our journey and forward focus towards offering carbon neutral stays in the short term and carbon neutrality for the resort by the end of 2023 while improving mindful wellness offerings and promoting diversity and inclusion. As we continue to see successful growth year-over-year for the business, we are determined to leverage our success for the betterment of our community, guests, and beloved Costa Rica.”
Gente Que Fluye – People That Flow
Corporate social responsibility took precedence in 2020/21 and the report outlines the various means employed to support staff during 8 months of closure; going above and beyond the government standards put in place to continue to provide ‘a source of respectable employment’ and contribute to the teams’ quality of life. This included maintaining benefits such as staff meals, voluntarily advancing retirement pay, providing the opportunity for work outside their usual roles, and undertaking a program of maintenance and renovation. For Tabacón staff, a total of 28,476 hours of Occupational Health training took place between September 2020 and December 2021, at which point Tabacón was back to 90% of its March 2020 payroll. Over this period the resort was also recognized for continuing to enhance its internal and external inclusion policies with initiatives like ‘Three Days Pay for Paternity’ and increased accessibility for all resort-wide, including a wheelchair ramp into the main pool that is naturally integrated into the experience.
As a key stakeholder in the establishment of tourism within the La Fortuna region, and a member of the Arenal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, community care extended outside the immediate Tabacón family. Tabacón staff launched into action to prepare and deliver 6,885 lunches to more than 850 families over a 7 month period in 2020, and contributed to the #FeedFortuna online campaign which raised just shy of $20,000 feeding 500 families.
Sustainability in Action
From an operational perspective, the report demonstrates the ways Tabacón has progressed its reduction strategies through a combination of efficiencies and investment. In 2021, Tabacón surpassed its goal of a 5% reduction in energy consumption, achieving a 9% decrease from the last comparable year, 2019. Over this two-year period Tabacón completed its program to become 100% LED and began a Solar Energy Project with the installation of 836 photovoltaic solar panels. Concerted efforts were made in 2021 to reduce the reliance on single-use products such as PPE, and the resort’s Material Transfer Center began to record the amounts of non-recoverable waste to create a benchmark for 2022.
Since Tabacón’s water supply is 100% derived from the natural springs located on-property, with all hot water used in the resort naturally heated by the Arenal volcano, a water usage monitoring system was introduced in 2021. Consideration for downstream water protection and native landscaping was demonstrated during the renovation of the main pool area where Tabacón’s house nursery was able to provide 96% of the 1,036 plants used to surround the pool. The property itself consists of 353 hectares of rainforest, only 7 of which are built on, and is home to an ongoing rewilding program. Since 2009, more than 1500 trees have been planted by guests as part of Tabacón’s Plant A Tree Program and are tagged for guests to revisit. These trees are home to different types of birds, including the green macaw which are endangered species.
La Cultura –Culture
Tabacón has been involved in countless educational and cultural projects in the area for several years and the importance of sustaining and promoting Costa Rican culture is at the heart of its mission. These include the Communal Band of La Fortuna which supports 200 musicians of all ages playing wind and percussion instruments, a dance group dedicated to Costa Rican dance, and the Color Guard. Through the San Carlos Creativo program, Tabacón hosts artist Freddy Acuña twice a month who exhibits crafts that tell the story of Costa Rican legends.
By empowering the Food & Beverage team through supply-chain training, Tabacón has increased the prevalence of home-grown and home-crafted on the menu across the resort’s 2 restaurants and 4 Bars. New food and cocktail (including vegan and non-alcoholic) menus have been designed to reveal tales of Costa Rica’s history, the seven provinces and native foods. These are served with a side of ‘story’ to provide guests with context about their heritage and role in Tico traditions.
Tabacón’s unique access to mineralized thermal springs and the fundamental role of pure water when it comes to health and wellness provided a natural opportunity to welcome people to a safe space; the ‘COVID-Hero’ campaign invited local and domestic travelers to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs with discounted packages, while new spa treatments were designed to provide emotional balance and facilitate mental wellness.
Supporting local businesses, a new Coffee Tasting Experience developed in partnership with La Fortuna’s Cafe Metropoli roasting company explores the history and geographic nuances of one of the country’s key exports. Tabacón also uses Biosfera products exclusively in the spa. This La Fortuna-based company was established by a former employee and inspired by her time working at the Tabacón Spa. The carefully crafted products are hand selected and responsibly sourced representing Costa Rican superfoods including pineapple, coffee, avocado as well as volcanic lava.
Over the last two years, Tabacón’s commitment to sustainability has been recognized by the resort’s inclusion in global sustainability programs. In 2020, Tabacón joined the Virtuoso Sustainability Community and in 2021 was one of the founding members selected to join Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s Considerate Collection of actively sustainable hotels. Both require adherence to criteria that align with environmental, cultural, and social pillars through operational and economic responsibility, and positive impact.
To download and read the full Sustainability Report 2020/21 please click here.