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Nature is the New Luxury
To aid in the achieving of the United Nations Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals by protecting and conserving assets of nature and culture through sustainable tourism.
To provide a luxury, low volume authentic eco lodge which stewards cultural and biological diversity preservation by integrating sustainable, environmental and socially responsible development and management.
To promote tourism to our destination and maximize benefits to our Mayan community.
To mitigate our effect on global warming and move further to becoming carbon neutral.
To convey a better understanding of climate change and individual carbon/water footprints.
To inspire sustainable, healthy and peaceful lifestyles.
Green Transparency – Conservation of air, water, soil, flora & fauna
Renewable energy 180 solar panels producing 20 kW of power. Energy saving led and compact fluorescent/low wattage bulbs, solar garden security lights. Electric meters monitor consumption. Solar hot water heating. www.thelagunalodge.com is hosted on a carbon neutral server. WiFi is provided by a solar powered tower on top of Laguna Nature Reserve. Fireplace is fueled with naturally fallen brush wood and non-recyclable construction wood. Natural lighting and ventilation through large opening windows, high ceilings and natural building materials. Solar pumps for water supply. Natural gas stoves and dryer. Pressure cookers. Grow organic produce and purchase locally. Eschew in room appliances. Clocks are water powered. Lawns cut with manual mowers. Batteries are rechargeable. Sports activities are low impact. Boats use efficient 4 stroke motors. Employees arrive by foot or public boat. The lodge provides an electric golf car in Santa Cruz for staff use. Source from local providers and small sustainable suppliers.
Rainy season planting. Watering in the early morning or late afternoon. Landscaped with edible plants, bananas, papayas, coffee and large hardy succulents. Grey water goes to the garden. Rain water is collected in rainy season. Sheets and towels are replenished with reuse option. Water pressure reduction. Toilets set at low water levels with half flush option. Low flow shower heads. Rain and lake water is cleansed through filters, ultra violet light and reverse osmosis. Water meters and water calculators for measuring and monitoring.
Reusable bags, wooden and cardboard boxes are used to bring supplies. Bulk buying and emphasis on fresh un-packaged produce. Food waste is composted for the produce garden. Plastics, paper, metal and glass are taken to re-cycling centers. Lodge staff collect rubbish along the lake shore. Printing is reduced and scrap paper used on both sides. Staff instruction on reduce, reuse, recycle techniques. Weigh inorganic waste to measure consumption reduction. Complementary purified water in suites and at refilling stations and reusable bottles are available. Seedlings are grown in used cardboard containers. Biodegradable plastic bags and use is restricted. Beverages are in glass bottles. Baskets for guest laundry. Used soap treated and donated.
Non-toxic biodegradable phosphate and chlorine free detergents and natural cleaning agents. Smoke and fragrance free rooms, unscented candles. Natural and organic toiletries and spa range. Organic spray aromatherapy. Bathroom tissue is unbleached. Organic cotton bathrobes, and bathrobes and room slippers are made of locally woven fabric. Unbleached paper and recycled paper for printing. Naturally made corn and coffee papers. Linseed oil and water based varnish used for wood preservation. Finishing materials are low/zero VOC and are lead free. Pool is cleansed with salt silver, copper and ultra violet filter. Landscaping and organic food production using natural insecticides, mulch and compost. Natural foods without preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colors or flavors are served. Insect screens in food preparation areas. Natural fruit extract control. Relocation of larger insects.
More info on Chemical use in Farming
Tsampoj Organic Gardens
Maintain organic gardens producing avocados, vegetables, salad greens, fruit, native plants, herbs, and coffee. Picked daily by our gardeners and delivered on foot to the lodge. Adobe clay is excavated here and blocks handmade and dried in the sun. They are used for lodge construction and the smooth clay for wall finishing.
Low Carbon Cuisine
It is not just local and organic provenance that matters in the food chain but our food choices themselves. Sustainable plant sourced food choices are uniquely effective in reducing greenhouse gases and pollution while preserving biodiversity and water. Zotz restaurant serves modern sustainable meat/fish free and plant based cuisine. Produce is predominantly local, natural, and organic. Gourmet menus use local ingredients and traditional recipes. Artisan cheeses, free range eggs, and the lodge gardens fresh organic produce feature in the menus. Organic and carbon neutral wines are included in wine choices. Guests mayvisit the organic gardens and join food preparation demonstrations. Ordering fixed dinner ahead of time and al a carte breakfast reduces wastage.
Natural, Renewable and Recycled Materials
Locally produced cotton towels, handwoven local wool blankets, hypoallergenic bedding and pillows. Hand blown recycled glass and stoneware. Bamboo table mats. Stainless steel kitchen utensils, appliances and equipment. Individual cotton hand towels in restaurant bathroom. Reduced use of paper napkins in favor of hand woven local cloth napkins. Paper is from recycled sources. Electronic mail and white boards for daily information. Local fabrics woven on backstrap looms feature on dining room upholstery and table cloths. Handmade adobe blocks are made at the lodge gardens, and smooth clay used for wall finishing. Wood for construction is from sustainable forestry and some trees were cut on lodge land and replanted. Recycled wood, railway sleepers and reclaimed lumber. Stones washed down in a flood were purchased to clear a disaster area. Local wood fired terracotta tiles and slate. Palm and bamboo are from sustainable plantations on the pacific coast. Local reed mats and cane. Recycled glass and local ceramics. Indigenous antiques. Guests may take behind the house tours to see renewable energy systems and adobe making demonstrations.
Boats run on energy efficient 4 stroke motors. Most employees walk 15 minutes from the local village located on a mountain side in the next bay. Goods are purchased locally. Organic vegetables and eggs delivered on foot. Tour vehicles are diesel.
Work experience exchanges with leading lodges. Attend eco-tourism conferences TIES Norway, presented at TIES Quito 2015, and keynote speakers Global Eco Rottnest Island 2015. Members of the Association of Private Nature Reserves of Guatemala. Enter international ecological awards recognizing contribution to environment, community, innovation.
Finalist position in the World Travel and Tourism Councils Tourism for Tomorrow awards, Environment category 2015, Finalist position in The National Geographic World Legacy Awards, Earth Changer category 2016. Promote visits of government bodies, embassy staff, tour operators, journalists and television/documentary producers. Affiliated with international luxury travel operators, major ecological websites. www.thelagunalodge.com and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/lagunalodge shares ecological information.
Technology and Development
Monitor, evaluate, review operations. Incorporate latest technologies and developments. Benchmarking for further improvement.
Contribution to Local Economy and Cultural Heritage Preservation
Laguna Lodge has incorporated sustainable, ecological, environmental and social principles. Reflecting local and national heritage our designs and use of indigenous materials blend both traditional and contemporary ideas.
Purchase from environmentally conscious service providers. Local indigenous Mayans have been commissioned or have supplied us with antiques, carvings, wooden furnishings, intricate weavings, and paintings. They have provided other services such as the sewing of curtains, carpentry, cushions, and supply of thatch and reed matting. The lodge displays Mayan artifacts found during construction or from the lake area. Lodge décor showcases fabrics woven by men on pedal looms and by women on back strap looms. Paintings, hand carved furniture, masks and sling shots. Foods are from local artisan suppliers. Local woman are supported to sell backstrap loom weaving directly to our guests. Construction and lodge staff are all indigenous and use traditional clothing and Kaqchikel language. The Mayans are masters with rock work and adobe block work from which the lodge is constructed. Tours take guests to visit working villages where organic coffee plantations, traditional weaving and plant based fabric dying can be observed. Guests may partake in Shaman ceremonies, weaving demonstrations, and tortilla making. Mayan guides provide interpretive experiences. Global Code of Ethics in Tourism is promoted in suite manuals.
Employee Education/Gender Equality and empowerment
We employ 100% indigenous Kaqchikel staff of which more than 50% are woman. We provide long term employment with opportunities for personal and professional development in the fields of construction, organic gardening, reserve management, managerial, secretarial, culinary and other services within the lodge. Staff receive information on ecologically sustainable concepts. Notices are posted in staff areas as reminders to reduce-reuse-recycle. Teachers give English lessons and health professionals provide information.
Guests may visit the nature interpretation room. Room manuals have mission/action statements and explain conservation and energy saving measures that guests may participate in. Suites have reading books on Lake Atitlan its geography, culture, history and ecology. Books may be purchased. DVD library has a wide range of ecological documentaries. www.facebook.com/lagunalodge and www.thelagunalodge.com offers current information for a sustainable future. Guests may plant a tree from our nursery. Back of house renewable energy tour and adobe block making demonstrations. Mayan guides are available to provide an interpretative experience on the nature reserve and cultural and sustainability tours. A Zotz Restaurant Vegan and Vegetarian recipe book will be available on-line shortly. In season guests may pick organic coffee on Laguna Lodge Nature Reserve. Guest positive lifestyle feedback via in-house comments book, on-line reviews and social media. Green traveler tips are given in room manuals in the Global Code of Ethics.
Other Carbon Offset
Carbon calculators & Food emissions calculators aid in measuring output.
Native trees are seeded in our nursery and planted on the reserve in wet season. Planting of trees is available for guests and visitors. Laguna Nature Reserve conserves 40 hectares of tropical dry forest with carbon stock of 27.19 tonnes per hectare. Low room volume allows green space of 2 hectares per person.
Laguna Nature Reserve
Laguna Lodge protects over 100 acres of bio-diverse ecosystem which is home to endemic bird species including the endangered belted flycatcher. The nursery grows seedlings with an emphasis on native endemics. All proceeds from admissions are put back into the reserve for the maintenance of trails, limiting the spread of invasive species, training of nature guides and protecting and preserving flora and fauna. Visitors are asked to stay on the trails and bring back rubbish.
Admission: Indigenous from Santa Cruz La Laguna: Complimentary
Laguna nature reserve is a member of the Association of Private Nature Reserves of Guatemala. Guatemala has 44 legally protected areas with 60 more under study. The Lake Atitlan basin is a multi-use area protected by The Guatemalan System of Protected Areas and The National Council of Protected Areas.
This beautiful and mountainous land begins at the lake front of Laguna Lodge and sprawls behind the lodge to escarpments and high altitude tropical dry forest. Laguna Lodge is the gateway to 100 acres of safe walking on this bio diverse land. Situated in Tzantizotz which in local Kaqchikel is Point of Bats, it begins at the lakes edge at 1,565m (5135ft).
The top of the reserve is at 1,963m (6,440ft) with some of the last remaining primary forest on the lake. Sometimes the top is in cloud cover. Well maintained paths for every fitness level traverse old Mayan trails. Palm thatched resting pavilions offer panoramic views of the entire lake. The trails encompass large cliffs and ancient Mayan ceremonial rocks. To protect the biodiversity of this unique ecosystem native flora is replanted. Organic coffee is grown on the lower slopes of the reserve. Bird watchers will see a plethora of birds many of them endemic. An interpretation room may be visited before setting of on the trails with a map available at reception. The Association of Private Nature Reserves of Guatemala has been documenting the flora and fauna. Images of local residents, a Margay and a Fox were captured using a wildlife night sensor camera. The Birding list of sited birds is being added to www.thelagunalodge.com/laguna/naturereserve
The Margay (Tigrillo) is in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is Near Threatened.
The reserve is also home to the Belted Flycatcher which is Near Threatened.
Laguna Lodge Logo
The Logo is the plumed serpent, called Quetzalcoatl in ancient Nahuatl and Kucumatz in local Kaqchikel. This represents the resplendent Quetzal which from a distance looks like a bright green snake flying through the air. Feathers of the Quetzal were worn by the ruling elite as a sign of their association with the god Quetzalcoatl. In Mayan mythology Quetzalcoatl is the god of nature, life, light, maker, heart of the lake and sea.
The Quetzal was named a symbol of conservation by pioneer Guatemalan conservationist Professor Mario Dary Rivera. In 1979 he created the first Quetzal reserve in the virgin cloud forest of Baja Verapaz. He was assassinated while protecting what was left of the nation’s natural habitat.
Laguna Community Care
Medical experience with a desire to help created Laguna Community Care.
It is funded by the lodge and by guests wishing to donate in a professional capacity, monetarily or with donated items.
LCC is not a non-profit or foundation so we do not receive salaries or financial benefits of any kind. All funds donated are used directly for care and go a long way.
To provide medical aid to reduce suffering and poverty and to promote basic education, gender equality and empowerment.
LCC asks skilled professionals to donate or reduce rates for appointments and treatments. We donate stays at Laguna Lodge to health professionals who in return donate consultations and treatments We facilitate the meetings and coordinate between the medical provider and those being treated. We arrange family involvement, explain the options available, provide transportation and after care. Meals are sent to the village from the lodge for the very ill/elderly. If guests wish to meet and sponsor an underprivileged child or family, we organize the meeting in the village or sponsor from our photographs and descriptions. We provide funds after sudden illness or death, and home repairs. Provide information on family planning and aids education.
Pantufla project – Room slippers are collected and given to the infirm and the elderly.
We are pleased to receive donations of milk/fortified formulas, vitamins, pain relief of all types, saline eye drops, antibiotic cream, gauze, sterile pads, bandages, Ensure nutritional supplement, blankets, warm jackets and woolens. Children’s reading books in Spanish, pens/pencils, laptops/ipads. Lodge refurbishment materials are repurposed and redistributed.
Due to poverty and lack of educational and medical infrastructure indigenous peoples lack resources to know what is causing and how to obtain help for their illness. Encountered are cases of cataracts and other eye diseases which cause pain and partial to complete blindness. We explain the options available and arrange family involvement, appointments, transportation, and after care. Obras Sociales de Hermano Pedro hospital in Antigua facilitates the work of the late American Surgeon Doctor John Cheatham and the Mathis foundation. The facility has the latest equipment and well qualified doctors and nurses administering treatment. In most cases the person’s sight is restored and they can once again leave their homes in which they have sat blind, in some cases for years.
LCC donates luxury stays at the lodge that are auctioned at charity events supporting environmental and social causes such as CREST and Sprout Up. These charities give part of the proceeds from the auction to LCC.
Lodge postcard sales are directly donated back to LCC.
Please read more and see photos at www.thelagunalodge.com/laguna/lagunacommunitycare
We greatly appreciate any donations which we are pleased to receive at the office for Laguna Community Care.
Matiox! Gracias! Thank you!
There are 12 million people in Guatemala of which nearly half are of Maya descent. There are 21 Maya ethnic groups, Xinca, Garafuna, and Ladino. Positioned around the lake are 12 indigenous villages. Laguna Lodge Nature Reserve is situated in the municipal of the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. The municipal has the village of Santa Cruz, the aldea of Tzununa and six caserios including Jaibalito under its jurisdiction. The population is approximately 3,000 persons, mainly indigenous Maya Kaqchikel and few Ladino. The village is situated high up on a mountain slope approximately 100 meters higher than lake level and within walking distance from the hotel. Originally the village was in the valley below before flooding caused a move to higher ground. The village is one of the most isolated on the lake as there is no road access and it can only be reached by boat or foot. There is a small road from the main dock to the village used by small vehicles to carry supplies. Agriculture is the principal economic activity. Black beans, maize, and squash are grown for local consumption, while citrus, avocado, and coffee are mainly sold in Panajachel or Sololá.
Chickens are kept by some households. Fish and crab from the lake are caught by the local fishermen and the excess sold in the local market. There is a small cottage industry of weaving and sewing. Dry goods such as soap, rice, beans, snack foods and drinks are supplied by small shops or the front window of a home. Adobe is produced for construction. Most of the houses are made from adobe and have metal roofs with earthen floors while cement blocks are increasingly being used. The Maya Kaqchikel live on the northern side of the lake and speak Kaqchikel one of 21 Mayan languages. In the Mayan book of creation the Popul Vuh, the Kaqchikel lineage are called the Bat House, the bat motif is still seen in traje. The women of Santa Cruz wear traditional tops (huipiles) and long wrap around skirts (cortes) a shawl (perraje) and a headband (tzutes). As Santa Cruz is a poor community there clothing is simple in design. Most women weave their own huipiles and perrajes using the colors and designs of Santa Cruz. The huipiles are red and embroidered with geometric shapes on the back and a small collar of embroidery around the neck. The cortes are dark blue or black joined with a colorful seam. Inhabitants are poor, health services are minimal, and illiteracy is as high a 70%.
Traditional cultural identity is strong. The areas geographic location and the past political situation has allowed relatively slow modernization however western styles and ideas are being progressively incorporated by the younger generation. Due to Spanish colonialism Christianity was forced upon them. Religion plays a large part in the village with large followings in catholic, protestant and evangelical churches. Mayan traditional beliefs are immersed with the Christian belief system. On the plaza there is a colonial church built in the 16th Century, dedicated to Santa Helena of the Cross, the town’s patroness. Spanish is taught in schools and is the national language. Due to lack of schooling some indigenous do not speak Spanish and many only have a basic understanding of it. Boat services are owned by locals from Santa Cruz. Expatriates contribute to the village economy by providing employment in construction and within households. Tourism is increasing and creating employment while NGOs are aiding in community development.
Flora & fauna
The biological kingdoms of temperate North America and tropical South America converge in Central America and the two largest oceans on the planet are separated thus creating extraordinary biological diversity with one of the richest life systems on Earth. Guatemala with its extreme geographically and varying altitudes has plant and animal species in 14 specific life zones. 14% of these are found nowhere else in the world.
It is also home to the Earth’s richest flora with an estimated 8,000 species of vascular plants.
Flora of Atitlan
Tropical dry forest, coniferas and latifoliadas, rain and cloud forests, mixed forest, with 798 plant species of which 61 are endemic. 160 of these are flowering plants. Trees include the oak, cedar, pine, conifer, chaparral, avocado, jicote, matasano, kapok, wild fig, acacia, alder, chichicaste, guachipilin, palo de la cruz, palo de jiote, ceibillo, castilian cane, water reeds. Bromiliad and epiphyte such as fern and orchid. The cacti, agave, maguey, nopal, pitahaya, and tuna.
Guatemala has over 214 species of reptiles of these 12 are endemic. (17 turtle, 3 crocodile, 75 lizard and 119 snake). 113 species of amphibians of which 4 are endemic. (2 caecilian, 33 salamander, 77 frog, and 1 toad). 250 species of mammals including marine mammals of which 4 are endemic. 669 species of birds of which 5 are endemic and 134 migratory birds. Guatemala has 220 species of fresh water fish of which 30 are endemic. 808 species of fauna, many of which are endemic are in danger of extinction. 130 of these are in noted in The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. (CITIES)
Fauna of Atitlan
The regions rich and unique biodiversity includes 116 species of reptiles and amphibians of which 12 species are endemic.141 species of mammals of which 7 are endemic. They include the puma, squirrel, pig, deer, deer mouse, margay, gray fox, armadillo, spider monkey, opossum, bat, coatimundi, central american ringtail cat, northern racoon, kinkajou, rabbit, coyote, weasel, skunk, and otter cat.
Birds of Atitlan
236 bird species of which 12 species are endemic. This area is a key migrational corridor for neotropical migratory birds as well as a refuge for resident endangered species such as the resplendent quetzal and the horned guan. Many migrants such as the hummingbird, tanager, and oriole are essentially tropical having originally evolved in the neotropics and only later extending their range into North America in search of food and better nesting grounds. Other birds include the pink-headed warbler, yellow warbler, brown-backed solitaire, blue-throated toucanet, azure-rumped tanager, pied-billed grebe, ruddy duck, american widgeon and american coot, red-tailed hawk, melodious blackbird, brown pelican, yellow-throated tiger heron, southern house wren, clay colored robin, buffy-fronted wood partridge, wild pigeon, common raven, baltimore oriole, blue-gray tanager, rufous collared sparrow, brown capped vireo, little hermit hummingbird, golden-fronted woodpecker, chestnut-sided shrike vireo, white bellied emerald hummingbird, thicket tinamou, fulvous owl, singing quail, grey-necked wood-rail, anhinga, northern jacana, seagull, kingfisher and road runner.
Fish of Lake Atitlan
Mojarra are native to the lake. Tilapia and silver carp were introduced as were the predatory largemouth black bass in 1958 which caused a reduction of the native fish population and led to the extinction of the giant grebe. Crabs are found along the shores.