Responsible Tourism

a vision of sustainable practices
SDH Sustainable Tourism


The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development. Sustainable tourism is not only a response to demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future (Definition of Sustainable Tourism, CST 1997).


It is a program that seeks to categorize and certify each tourism company according to the degree to which its operations comply to a model of sustainability. To this effect, four fundamental aspects are evaluated:

Physical-biological parameters

Evaluates the interaction between the company and its surrounding natural habitat.

Infrastructure and services

Evaluates the management policies and the operational systems within the company and its infrastructure.

External clients

Evaluates the interaction of the company with its clients in terms of how much it allows and invites the client to be an active contributor to the company’s policies of sustainability.

Socio-economic environment

Evaluates the interaction of the company with the local communities and the population in general.


All the members of Costa Rican luxury resorts, Small Distinctive Hotels, are committed to the environment that surrounds their hotels, contributing with a balanced development in their communities. When you visit our hotels make sure to support and participate in our programs and efforts, it is part of your experience in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica luxury resorts, Small Distinctive Hotels, participates actively in all related with sustainability. Part of our philosophy is to support social, environmental and cultural programs as a group. Besides Small Distinctive Hotels verifies that all its members work in getting the Sustainable Tourism Certification and improving their sustainable labor.

One example of the projects supported by Small Distinctive Hotels:

It is important to mention that each luxury hotel in Costa Rica’s Small Distinctive Hotels has its own projects in their communities

Casa Luz: Casa Luz, the “House of light” is near San José, Costa Rica. It is a haven for adolescent mothers who come from extreme poverty and have been sexually abused and exploited. The first stage of Casa Luz is to provide a secure home for young mothers in crisis, so that their lives and the lives of their children will improve.

It is important to mention that each luxury hotel in Costa Rica’s Small Distinctive Hotels has its own projects in their communities

Resposible Travel

“Responsible Tourism is tourism that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit”. (


Responsible travel is about to minimize your impact and maximize your connection with people and the environment. It’s about making a positive contribution and having the most rewarding and inspiring travel experiences of your life. Responsible tourism takes into consideration: environment, social/cultural and economical aspects.

  • Environment: travel that minimizes negative environmental impacts and, where possible, makes positive contributions to the conservation of biodiversity, wilderness, natural and human.
  • Social/Cultural: travel that respects culture and traditions and fosters authentic interaction and greater understanding between travelers and hosts.
  • Economic: travel that has financial benefits for the host community and operates on the principles of fair trade.


  • Offset your carbon emissions caused by your international flights to Costa Rica. Visit:
  • Look for sustainable hotels certified by Costa Rica´s Ministry of Tourism (CST).  For more infroamtion visit 
  • Support Costa Rica’s impressive national park system by organizing a visit or tour.
  • Buy local produce and support locally-run hotels and tour operators.
  • Be mindful of the amount of water and energy that you use while on vacation.  Take advantage of linen and towel reuse programs.
  • When visiting natural areas, make sure not to leave trash behind.  Participate in recycling programs whenever possible.
  • Reduce your ecological footprint by using public transport, biking or walking.
  • Practice your Spanish!  It is a great way to get in touch with local cultures and customs.
  • Let hotels and tour operators know how they can improve their sustainability policies.
  • Plan your route to minimize carbon emissions, travel by train & public transport where possible and minimize internal flights or choose environmentally friendly airlines.
  • Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language.
  • Remove all excess packaging – waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries.
  • Ask your tour operator or hotel where you’re staying, whether there are local conservations or social projects that you could visit on your trip and how you could help support them.
  • Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artifacts.
  • Respect and participate in local cultures, traditions and holy places.
  • Use public transport, hire a bike or walk when convenient, it’s a great way to meet local people on their terms and reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
  • Always try and use local energy and water as efficiently as possible in line with local practices.
  • Check that any soaps or detergent you use are biodegradable.
  • When driving, stick to marked paths and roads. Be aware when driving at night that animals can scare easily from headlights and loud noises at and may be prone to leaping onto the road.
  • Eat where the locals do, not only will this give you a better insight to the cuisine of the area you’re visiting, but it will also help to support the local economy.
  • Use water pitchers instead of bottled water.
  • Use mugs and biodegradable cups instead of recyclable plastic.

Sustainable Practices


Small Distinctive Hotels group invites you to do your own efforts since your house at any part of the world, check and implement these tips to minimize your environmental impact…

  • Use non-disposable items such as dishes, flatware, glasses, cloth napkins and others.
  • Try to eat more raw food and cook less to maximize nutrition and use less energy.
  • Use all natural, non toxic and biodegradable cleaning solutions.
  • Install grey water diverters so that waste water from your washing machine or sinks can be recycled into the garden.
  • Divide your rubbish into glass, paper and PET plastics that can be recycled, organic material that you can compost and use to feed the garden and true waste that can only go to landfill.
  • Install energy efficient light globes, particularly in parts of your house where the lights are on most often. Try to use natural lighting as much as possible.
  • Donate and recycle old computer and other electronic products.
  • Buy cleaning solutions only in the amount you expect to use, and apply them only as directed.
  • Drive only when necessary. Driving less reduces the amount of pollution your automobile generates.
  •  Select products made from recycled materials.
  •  Get involve, join a local community group working on streams or sustainability.
  •  Use reusable or refillable supplies, such as: pens, pencils, tape dispenser, batteries.
  •  Do not dispose of toxic substances down drains or in the regular garbage system.
  • When washing dishes or rising fruit, don’t leave the tap water running.
  •  Turn off the lights when you are not using them.
  •  Purchase products with less packaging, avoid single serving and buy in bulk.

More information we recommend you to visit: – – –

9th Floor
Torre Mercedes Building
San Jose, Costa Rica

Phone: +506 2258-0150
Fax: +506 2258-0153

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