A conversation with Kenneth Hidalgo at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel
Kenneth Hidalgo is a contributor at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel in the areas of management and sustainability efforts. We spoke about the strategic efforts the property works on continually to support the community and involve its guests in give back and culture programs in the nearby region.
What percentage of Rio Celeste Hideaway´s employees come from the hotel’s surrounding areas?
93% of our contributors come from the towns of Guatuso and Upala, in the surrounding areas of the property. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that 50% of administrative positions are held by women.
What measures were taken to support the community after it was affected by Hurricane Otto in 2016?
Our property’s infrastructure was affected by Otto including the cutting off of electric power. Nevertheless, the nearby town of Upala was the hardest hit. Our company sent bottled water, toilet paper and fruit the day after the natural disaster. Furthermore, daily for a week, we sent food prepared in our kitchen to the community in Bijagua, where it was distributed among people staying in shelters who had lost their homes.
Does the hotel use local products from the area to prepare its meals at Kantala Restaurant?
Large part of our suppliers are locals. A couple of notable examples are Isaac Gonzales who provides us with sugar cane juice extracted from his own plantation and processed in his mill. Ana Contreras owns a small dairy farm, and she produces the yogurt we use for our breakfast buffet. The delicious homemade jams we serve are also made by Ms. Contreras. The cheese and eggs we use come from small businesses in the area run by families from the town of Bijagua.
Does the property use eco-friendly products?
100% of the products used by the laundry department are certified ISO 14001, an international environmental management standard. Additionally, the amenities used in the guestrooms (soap, shampoo and conditioner) are eco-friendly. We also use biologic catalysts to accelerate the breakdown of organic waste and generate the least impact possible during the water management process.
Are there cultural tours available in the areas surrounding Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel?
The Guatusos or Malekus, one of the the 8 indigenous peoples of Costa Rica, live in the districts of Guatuso and San Carlos. The settlements of Margarita, Tonjibe and Sol (called “Palenques”) are very close to our property. The “Palenque” Sol hosts the Maleku Ní Uríjifa Tafa ranch. With the objective of supporting and preserving the Maleku culture, we motivate our guests to visit this ranch, where indigenous leader Jiyun Hiqui will tell them about their history, traditions and customs. They will also be able to practice archery with a traditional bow and arrow, and create handcrafts guided by Hiqui.
What new projects are you working on to further Rio Celeste Hideaway’s effort to support the community and the environment?
One of the projects we are working on is partnering with past guests who have identified with the property and beautiful surrounding area to assist the local La Paz school, where 7 local children attend.
We are also working on a carbon emission offset program with a company based out of Holland. Their link would be embedded on our website and clients can calculate their carbon footprint including air, then donate to reforestation and other projects. This would further our progress with the local Sustainability Certification provided by the Costa Rican Tourism Board.
Visit Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel, not only a beautiful property surrounded by lush cloud forest and next to the amazing Volcan Tenorio National Park, but a company committed to sustainability and support of its neighboring communities.
Article by Katie Widdowson