Going Green


We want to go into more detail about what we summarized in a small paragraph on our website. The creation of a sustainable complex – guesthouse – emphasizing alternative energies, water conservation, composting and recycling was our main goal.

Awareness for the environment, conservation of resources and the fact that every individual can make a difference is not known by the general population, yet. People in our area enjoy the newly available “luxuries” like cars, cellular phones or plasma TV’s. Progress is incredibly fast and it does not give people time to learn about a sensible use.

Our house and land were in dire need not only for renovation and care but lacked any of the installation necessary to start putting our ideas into action. Our weekly irrigation water flooded our property uncontrollably, causing a lot of erosion and the grey water from the house on the surface had no proper use. High consumption appliances (toilets, showers, faucets) and their leakage added to the water waste.

Most properties here have a reservoir for water storage. Like so many others ours had no liner and the water that was supposed to be used during the week was usually gone after a day! The existing rooms were poorly lit and bars in front of the windows made the use of artificial light necessary – day and night. All garden waste – branches, leaves and weeds – were put into piles and burned.


After 15 months of renovation a lot of our ideas and plans are put into action:

  • most of the existing wooden doors and window frames were refurbished and reused including door handles and glass
  • removed a cement parking lot and used the debris for a wall foundation
  • built a cistern to hold part of the irrigation water for use during the week. The holding tank is underground – the area above has a roof with transparent plastic to amplify the heat and is used to dry cloths
  • many feet of irrigation tube are buried in our land to direct water to the right places. Sprinklers are put strategically to reach in difficult areas and to maximize water use all the pluming is new and hot water pipes are insulated to reduce heat loss
  • all our appliances – bathrooms and kitchen – are low consumption
  • the use of biodegradable soap enables us to reuse grey water. Water from the kitchen, showers and sinks is put into tubes and channeled to a leach fields. These fields hold grass and plants that are automatically watered
  • our reservoir has a liner and helps water the coffee plants in the dry season. It holds lots of Tilapia fish and bullfrogs
  • cut out bars in front of the windows and added skylights
  • all lights use compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • green garbage is composted – the humus will be used in our gardens in the future
  • training of our local employees on the how and why, offering a safe and fair work environment and teaching English to them


The coming months will show if our work pays off and can be applied in a hotel type situation. Here a few of the things next on our itinerary:

  • the final installation for our solar system
  • working on a program for guests so they understand why:
    • linens and towels are not washed every day
    • we provide and use biodegradable soap
    • we don’t offer drinks in pet bottles
    • we use cloths napkins instead of paper
  • ongoing training of our employees
  • set up a recycling system for glass

We strive to show sustainable living by example.


The past 4 years showed that our work pays off and can be applied in a hotel type situation. Our vision and ideas have attracted the most interesting people. Many of them have returned to see the development of the Santuario Hibiscus first hand. Our work never ends and we just implemented our first compost toilet.