Saladero Eco Lodge

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Secluded 480-acre finca nestled between the lush Piedras Blancas National Park and the calm waters of Golfo Dulce. Hear howler monkeys and toucans, kayak in the mangrove, snorkel at the coral reef, watch the dolphins, explore the rainforest by foot or on horseback. Rating Explained: The first 5 sections of this application each correspond to the 5 Criteria for Ecological & Socially Just Tourism

The maximum rating score we can award in each section is 5, and the minimum 1. When a criterion is fully met in our view we award 5 suns, when it is nearly met 4 suns, when it is partly met 3 suns, when it is not at all met but effort is being made to meet it 2 suns and when we feel that it is not at all met and no effort is being made to meet the specific criterion, 1 sun and when we feel that the the specific criterion is being directly violated by the operation 0 suns. You may add a comment with improvement suggestions to the Lodge at the bottom of the page.

For detailed information on the free Rating System please see here.

Name of Property (Country): Saladero Lodge (Costa Rica)


Lodge Address: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Number of Rooms:

3  (Three) Cabins.

Minimum & Maximum Double Room Rates:

USD 225 (same all year) 

Name of Applicant (Title & Role):

Harvey & Susan Woodard (50% Owners, Managers)

Official, Legal Proprietor(s):

Corporation Geosa S.A.
Year of Construction / Operating Since: 1975 to Present / 2008

Rated on:

 9 November 2011
1. POLITICAL CRITERIA:  Rating: 3 out of 5

1a. Who is/are the legal owner(s) of the Lodge? (please state official name if owned by a company)

Corporation Geosa S.A. Owners Harvey and Susan Woodard, Erika Boetsch and Philippe Darlac

1b. Who is/are the legal manager(s) of the Lodge?

Harvey Woodard and Erika Boetsch

1c. Since when has the facility been under the current ownership & management?

We purchased the property in 2005 and then spent 2 years rebuilding and repairing the buildings. The previous owners were expats.

1d. If owned by a family, since when has the family been residing in the area, and for how many months each year?

I have owned property in this area of Costa Rica since 1993 but moved down permanently after we bought Saladero in 2006.

1e. How are decisions taken and by whom? (Please provide details)

Financial decisions are made with the concurrence of all owners. Daily decisions regarding the operations
Of the lodge are made by me and my wife Susan. We live here and operate the lodge. The other owners and
Not participating in the operations.

1f. Who has access to the Lodge's facilities and its land and for what uses?

450 acres are primary rainforest and limited access is provided with guides using two nature trails.
30 acres are planted with many tropical fruit trees and plants and are are accessible to anyone visiting or staying in our cabins. We have student kayak campers in the summers, guests in the cabins and tour boats with birdwatchers

1g. Who took the initiative to build this Lodge?

All of us.

1h. How did the (nearest) local community participate in the decision-making process concerning the founding and creation of this Lodge and how does it participate in its running?

The local community consists of a few Costa Ricans living in isolated areas of the Golfo Dulce in a very rustic manner but close to nature. Golfito is the nearest large town to buy groceries and they will make a boat trip every two weeks, sharing the cost of the gas with neighbours.
They actually did not share in the decision making process or creation of the Lodge. This is a work improvised area and they were very happy to find work close to home. We provide steady work with all required benefits for locals that would otherwise not have any income. Our employees enjoy working with tourists and enjoy the work we give them. We feel more like a family than anything else.

The local Costa Ricans have houses in a remote area accessible only by boat. Gas is too expensive for them to be able to go to town (Golfito, 12 km away) every day for work. Their work skills are such that they would not be able to obtain a job that could justify the expense.
In the past they have subsisted by fishing and growing most of their own food. Two of them worked at another lodge about halfway to town. That lodge closed 5 years ago.
Our caretaker and his family, wife, two girls and one son, live on the property. Prior to working at Saladero he fished locally and barely subsisted.

Everyone in this area lives apart from each other. The school house is about a 20 minute walk down the beach from Saladero.

1i. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?

My wife and I want to become tourism professionals. We had other occupations (building contractor and bank manager) before moving to Costa Rica and opening this lodge. We are able to apply much of what we already know towards the business but are continually learning about our environment, the rainforest, why it is important and we are eager to impart this to our guests.


Photo 1i1: My wife, Susan gives English classes to our caretakers children, Susi and Kimberly, as well as our cook/cleaner Paulina when we don't have guests.


Photo 1i2: The second photo is a group picture of employees. We have 3 full time and one part time employees. Our business has improved every year, even in a recession, and we plan on hiring at least one more employee during 2012.

2. ECONOMIC CRITERIA -  Rating: 3 out of 5

2a. Number of rooms:

 3 (three) Cabins. 

2b. Number of beds:

 7 (Seven) beds. Beach House has one king bed and two queen beds. Tree house has one queen bed and one bunk bed. Mariposa has one queen bed and one bunk bed.


Photo 2b: The Mariposa, our most basic cabin. Shared bathroom about 150' away. View of the Golfo Dulce to the front, our gardens surrounding and to the rear primary rainforest of the Piedras Blancas National Park.

2c. What is the total area of the land of the property?

480 acres.

2d. What is the total covered area of the Lodge including rooms and common areas (in sq. metres)?

320 sq.m.

2e. What is the total building footprint (in sq. metres) – i.e. part of the land covered by buildings


2f. How many employees are there (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

4 (four) of which:


2g. How many employees are from the (nearest) local village?

4 (four)

2h. If applicable, do employees or the community own any shares or share part of the revenue?

No. But tips are common. If guests ask how much is appropriate we will make recommendations.
Normally it depends on the number of days they stayed and how they felt about the service.
90% of our business has been from mid December to the end of April so they received tips for 1/3rd of the year. Employees that work closer to guests receive more tips. Our cook/cleaner makes the most. I am guessing, but probably about 8 or 10% of her income is tips. The caretaker and gardener maybe 2%.
This coming year we will be open all year and even though it is not very busy in the off season they will be able to increase this percentage.

2i. What was the total turnover (total sales) in 2010?
(please state in your local currency)

12,500,000 colones (USD 25,000)

2k. What were the total profits in 2010?

USD 15,000

2l. How are profits distributed, and who decides about it?

We are a new business so profits are reinvested into the business.

2m. Are there any national and local taxes to be paid or are you exempt?


2n. What was the total amount of taxes paid in 2010?

Business use of the maritime zone – 1,600,000 colones or $3,200
None from the business. Profits did not exceed expenses.

We have a general overhead of about $25,000 but have been making capitol improvements of an average of $15,000 to $20,000 the last two years.

Our goal each year is to improve gross income and profit from the cabins to help out with the overall expenses. So the $15,000 was net profit from just the cabins/tours and was reinvested/applied to the overal expenses for the year.

2o. What percentage of consumables are locally sourced, how many are nationally sourced, and how many are imported?

Locally sourced (veg/meat/eggs/cheese) 80% (by Volume)
Nationally sourced (beans/rice/can goods) 18%
Imported 2%

2p. Do you cultivate food for the guests?

Yes. Papaya, bananas, plantains, yucca, cashew, avocado, mango, pineapple, lemon, lime, breadfruit, coconut, Cas, Guanabana, araza, chickens, eggs.


Photo 2p: Our pineapples are a variety of white rather than the more yellow commercial variety. They are a little sweeter.

2q. Do you have any agreements with local producers?

Yes. Cheese from a local farmer, eggs and chickens when we need to purchase.

2r. Have ever you received any funding, state, national, private or international and for what purposes?


2s. What is the minimum (low season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?

We are remote so we include 3 meals a day, afternoon salsa and all natural juices for $165.(two people per day at the Mariposa cabin).

2t. What is the maximum (high season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?

Our rates are the same all year. Two people at the beach house with food would be $225. (two people per day)

2u. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?

We can also provide specialty meals for vegetarians.

3. ENVIRONMENTAL CRITERIA -  Rating:  3 out of 5

3a. Lodge Siting (how was the lodge location chosen):

Close to the beach yet surrounded by primary rainforest.

3b. Policy followed during construction:

No trees were cut and generators were only used when necessary.

3c. Lighting:

High efficiency bulbs.

3d. Heating:


3e. Cooling:

Ceiling Fans at the Beach House.

3f. Cleaning:

Use non toxic cleaners.

3g. Water Management:

Grey water is directed into dry wells. Black water goes to septic tanks.


Photo 3g: Prior to our purchase of the property, grey water was channeled into a creek leading into the Golfo Dulce. We installed dry wells.

3h. Cooking:


3i. Waste management (in detail please):

All food scraps are composted as well as most paper products. All recyclable materials (glass/plastic/metal/aluminium) are taken by boat to the recyle center at Pto Jimenez. Any non recyclable materials are taken to Golfito landfill.

Non recyclable materials consist of anything that I cannot recycle at the local center. They only take glass, plastic, metal and aluminum.
No. I don't have a picture of us taking recyclable materials to town. I will be glad to take one when we get back to Costa Rica in a week or so when we return.

3j. Insect, pest control:

Although we live in the rainforest, we have surprisingly little problems with insects in our buildings. The only pest we spray for is termites.


3j: Our Harris Pelton hydro electric supplies 200 watts continuous. Outstanding during the rainy season when the solar panels are struggling.

3k. Energy Sources, Use & Saving Measures:

All electric supplied is through solar panels and mini-hydro. Besides the normal use of energy saving lighting we also unplug all devices when not in use.
We also have passive solar hot water showers.

3l. Noise Protection:

Not required. We hear one plane at a distance per day. Only birds and animals.

3m. Name, population and distance of nearest settlement (in km or miles)?

Golfito, 6,000+- people, 12 kilometros

3n. Is the Lodge accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest settlement:


3o. Is the nearest settlement accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest International airport, or nearest major city.

Golfito is accessible by bus and plane from San Jose the capitol.

3p. Distance from nearby village / city:

30 - 40 minutes by boat.

3q. Architectural Features:

All cabins built from local sustainable harvested hardwood.

3r. Construction Materials:


3s. Landscape Management:

Maintain 30 acres of many tropical fruits and trees.

3t: Do you organise or promote tours involving hunting or sport-fishing?

No hunting. Sport fishing for catch and release.

3u: Do you measure consumption per guest at your lodge? If yes, please explain how, and provide data

Yes we do.
Energy. We are 100% renewable energy and monitor our usage daily.
Water. 100% spring water is filtered naturally with a sand filter. Drinking water is UV treated. Pipe lines are inspected for leaks at least once a week.
Waste. We monitor all purchases to improve our percentage of non recyclable waste. To do this we buy fresh and locally. We buy in bulk when we can. We recycle. We serve local water, not bottled. We provide all guests with stainless steel drink containers while here to help eliminate plastic water bottle use. Cleaning products are biodegradable. We compost. Soft drinks and beer are provided in returnable glass bottles. . We shop with reuseable supermarket bags and plastic cartons.

3v. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?

Most of the property is undisturbed primary rainforest, 450 acres.

The other 30 acres are planted with tropical fruit trees and plants. There is a lot of room for more cabins and we might consider two more at some time in the future. We feel that a maximum of 5 cabins would provide enough income to pay expenses and still keep it a unique destination.

We don't believe a lot of cabins is a great idea. People like it here because it is remote and pristine. We want to keep it like that. It also gives us the time to treat guests to a more personal experience.

4. SOCIAL CRITERIA -  Rating:  3 out of 5

4a. Do you provide health insurance and pension to your employees?


1.We have employee insurance to provide income for any loss of work due to injury.
2.We pay into a pension fund that the employee is entitled to either when he or she retires or if they leave our employment.
3.Part of the Securo (social security) we pay each month on behalf of each employee supports the government health system that is provided to all Costa Ricans.

4b. Are your employees entitled to paid leave? If so, how many days each year?

Yes. Two Weeks.

4c. Are your employees entitled to maternity leave? How many months? Is it paid?

Yes. For up to 6 months. It is paid through the social security system.

4d. Do you pay your employees above the minimum wage? (Please state minimum wage, and explain)

We start off at minimum wage and promote according to ability and performance.

4e. What is the total you paid for wages last year? (excluding wages paid to yourself and members of your family)

We start off at minimum wage and promote according to ability and performance.

4f. What is the average wage (per annum), the highest wage, and the lowest wage?

Highest 3,000,000 colones or $6,000
Lowest 1,500,000 colones or $3,000 part time
Average 2,150,000 colones or $4,300

4g. Average and maximum working day, and work hours per week: Are there maximum daily and weekly work limits in Costa Rica? If so, please state these.

Average/maximum 9 hours
Work hours per week 45

I don't know the maximum work limits in Costa Rica. I do know that the normal work week for most Costa Ricans in tourism and agriculture is 6 days a week and 10 hours a day. They are paid through lunch and breaks. Actual working time is 9 hours a day and they are paid 1 1/2 normal rates over 48 hours.

4h. Do you employ your staff all year round? (If not, please explain arrangement)


4i. Do you employ immigrants? Are they offered the same remuneration & benefits?


4j. Do you employ trainees? Please explain what type of tasks they perform, how much they are paid, how many hours do they work and how do you source them?


4k. Do you use volunteers? Please explain what tasks they are given?


4l. Do you offer concessions to elderly visitors, students, young visitors, or nationals?

Children from 6 -12 are 1/2 price for room and board.

4m. Is there infrastructure for people with special needs at your Lodge?


4n. What measures are in place to protect the local (or the indigenous) population from some adverse impacts of tourism?

We do not have a huge influx of tourists in this area and I have not seen any adverse impacts on them. If anything tourism is a very positive influence.


Photo 4n: The Maestro (teacher) walks the beach with two of his students to school. When it is high tide they take a dug out canoe.

4o. Do you undertake any poverty reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to poverty reduction?

Sorry. This is a new phrase to me. Poverty reduction initiative. Less poor people. As a direct thought to help other people probably no. As a business decision providing income to local people in need, yes.
I do feel good about providing good employment to people that need the job and the income.

4p. Do you undertake any inequality reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to inequality reduction?

We are all equal as persons.

4q. Do you undertake any injustice reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to injustice reduction?

We, fortunately, do not need any injustice reduction.

4r. What is the minimum, maximum and average age of your current employees (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

Minimum 38, Maximum 65, average 55.

4s. How many employees do you have (excluding yourself and members of the family)?

3 full time, 1 part time

4t. Is everyone accepted as guests or are there any restrictions?

Children under 6 are not accepted and we are not handicap accessible.

4u. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?


Photo 4u: The local one room schoolhouse. Last year we built new desks to replace the termite rotten ones and repainted the inside.

At present 3 students attend the school. Two of them are our caretakers daughters.

5. CULTURAL CRITERIA-  Rating: 3 out of 5

5a. Are you located within a village or city, or is there a village or city nearby? (please state name and distance in km or miles)

Golfito 12 km away.

5b. Do guests interact with the local community and how:

We have a local self taught naturalist we encourage guests to visit. She does not speak English but manages to communicate very well how she lives and describes the animals and plants in the rainforest. Our workers engage with the guests as well. Guests are invited to visit our local school house. It is our pet project doing repairs and maintaining.

Olga lives about 20-35 minutes away walking on the beach, mangroves and through the rainforest. The schoolhouse is about 20 minutes walking on the beach.


Photo 5b: Here, Olga, our local naturalist, explains how to catch large fresh water shrimp in the river with a banana leaf. They have large claws and can pinch.

5c. What type of information is available to guests at the property:

Many books with information on the rainforest, birds, natural history of the area and fauna.
Clarification: It is not a library. Just bookshelves with about 20 or so books about the rainforest, birds and animals. 

5d. What type of activities are available to guests at the property:

Snorkeling, kayaking, birdwatching, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, botanical gardens, chocolate tour, canopy tour and relaxing.

5e. Local guided tours for guests organised by you:

Mangrove tour by kayak, Snorkeling, rainforest exploration, Canopy tour, chocolate tour, botanical gardens, horseback riding.


Photo 5e: Our most popular tour is the Rio Esquinas Mangrove estuary. Almost cathedral like and ethereal, the only sounds are of the animals.

5f. Events / presentations held at the facility so far:


5g. Specific programme for children:

Coconut opening, drinking, toasting and eating. Learning to kayak and snorkel. The rainforest class takes place walking through the property, under the coconut palms, on the beach and in the water on kayaks. Later in our kitchen we open/drink/grate and toast the coconut. I attached one photo of a student group.

5h. Academic Research and Academic Publications produced or assisted by the property so far:

None at the present. Friends of the Osa are planning to install cameras next year to monitor/view the cats in the Piedras Blancas National Park.

5i. Is the local community at all involved in the operation of the Lodge and how?

Our workers are always helpful and have positive comments on how to make Saladero a more memorable place to visit.

5j. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?



There are many entities with different agendas concerning tourism in this area of Costa Rica. The Nature Conservatory has donated 6 million dollars to purchase private properties to incorporate into protected areas for this natural bridge between the parks.

The political part of the government wants to build an international airport not far away in Sierpe. The environmental part of government and many local business owners are trying to stop the new airport based on the environmental damage done to the Guanacaste area when the new international airport in Liberia was built. It looks like southern California with all the high rise hotels etc. There is a shortage of water and the infrastructure was outpaced by new construction.

In the Osa/Golfo Dulce area we are fortunate to have a large majority of people and lodge owners that agree that too much tourism will damage the delicate natural environment. Many have created conservation easements on land that they own to protect from future development.
Some organizations making a difference are Friends of the Osa and the Corcovado Foundation

We are in Piedras Blancas National Park. We have privately owned titled land that was incorporated into the national park. Corcovado is 5 miles west across the Golfo Dulce from us.


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I hereby declare that all my answers are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and understand that I and/or my company will not have the right to veto or 'hide' our Rating, which will be decided in the manner specified at if we find it unfavourable. I also understand that this rating application is valid for a maximum of 3 Years and a minimum of 1 Year. I may request a new rating application only after 1 Year from the day that my previous rating application was published online. By submitting this questionnaire I indicate acceptance of all Rating terms, conditions and procedures as stated at, and understand that these may be modified at any time without notice.

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Your Name: Harvey Woodard
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  14th October 2011 Rating:  3 out of 5 / Rating Date: 9 November 2011