Star Rating:


La Mariposa Spanish Language School and Eco- Hotel  Hot
Hotels 5 Green Stars
Eco Stars: 5 star
Stars: unrated
Location: Central America
Country: Nicaragua

La Mariposa Spanish Language School and Eco- Hotel

La Mariposa combines relaxing eco-hotel tranquility with the stimulation of improving your Spanish in their language school. They are situated on a beautiful wooded plateau just outside the Masaya Volcano Nature Reserve and within an hour of Nicaragua's must-see sights. The semi-tropical garden and wild areas attract a range of wildlife including butterflies, hummingbirds, frogs, lizards.

They also have a small animal rescue project - as well as dogs and horses they care for a group of monkeys and parrots. The 8 guest rooms, all with views over the garden, are en-suite; electricity for fans and lights is solar-powered and the showers are solar heated. The furniture is simple but comfortable - and all locally made from sustainable materials. They grow organic coffee, bananas and other fruit and vegetables and produce free range eggs. Guests eat together in the convivial atmosphere of their comedor - where they serve buffet style meals, with the emphasis on tasty and nutritious.

Water conservation and minimizing waste are high on their list of priorities. La Mariposa is well-integrated with the local community. They are non-profit; their income is used to maintain a high level of sustainable employment - all of the workers are recruited from the local community - and they actively seek ways to support the local economy from buying honey from local bees to bamboo from a nearby farm to build a new chicken shed. A range of projects is also funded; including the construction and equipping of a playschool, tree conservation and a small literacy project.

Green Star Rating Results:
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Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5)

Energy Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - All of our electricity is supplied by solar panels - including central fans in the guest rooms, all lighting and other appliances. We purposefully use as few appliances as possible (no dishwasher, no clothes washing machine, no vacuum cleaners!) in order to minimize energy consumption and to maximize local employment. We operate with a family sized refrigerator and no freezer as we prepare all our meals with fresh, locally purchased, in season produce - often bought the same morning. We do, however, have solar powered wireless internet access for staff and students/guests.

Some of our cooking is done outside, in the traditional Nicaraguan way, but instead of an open fire we use a specially constructed low-fuel burning stove, also designed to produce very little smoke. Our firewood is harvested from the prunings of our (organic) fruit and coffee trees. All of our outside lightbulbs are long-life, low energy and have the added advantage of not attracting insects, especially moths, to commit suicide. Our rooms all have solar heated showers. Each room has a written information sheet which asks that students/guests take care in their use of energy and to always switch off lights and fans before leaving the room - our staff regularly check this. We place a high priority on training and education of staff, designing on-the-job forms of training which are appropriate to workers who sometimes cannot read or write well. We also try to minimize fuel consumption in vehicles by using public transport whenever possible.

Water Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - For a number of reasons water supply in Nicaragua, outside the large towns, is often intermittent. Our storage tanks are filled twice weekly by the municipal water authority; but in the dry season it may be that we receive no municipal water for three weeks or more. In those situations we buy in our water supplies, at considerable cost. All staff and students/guests are made super-aware of the situation and the need to be extra careful in the use of water. Awareness is further increased by visits and discussions of our involvement with the barrio of Panama, the poorest neighbourhood in La Concepcion, whose population of some 80 families is not reached AT ALL by the municipal water supply - whenever the Mariposa has the resources available we purchase and donate truck loads of water to the community. Specifically within the Mariposa, we minimize the use of chemicals for cleaning, using instead local products such as lemons for cleaning kitchen surfaces. And damp newspaper is excellent for cleaning windows! Students/guests are provided with organic soap and shampoo as grey water from showers is collected in a special tank and used to water flowering plants and shrubs.

The kitchen water runs off into our wild area where shrubs attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds flourish. During the wet season we harvest rainwater from the roof - this is used to wash clothes and floors; sheets and towels are changed weekly unless students/guests request more frequently. In our small area of land (about two acres) we have planted about 200 trees and also have a tree nursery to provide tree seedlings to local interested people - this planting all helps with water retention. Local knowledge and local plants are always used - for example we have maintained and improved an inherited cactus fence (which sadly many local people are uprooting and replacing with wire fencing); it looks great, is great for wildlife, is much cheaper and longer lasting, and very effective. Future plans include the installation of a latrine to further save water.

Disposal Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - The Mariposa operates according to the following principles: (1) reduce the amount of waste and rubbish generated; (2) re-use whenever possible and (3) recycle the rest! All of our fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs etc are purchased either from local vendors or in the local market and we use our own bags made from recycled rice sacks to reduce the use of plastic bags (a particularly ubiquitous problem in Nicaragua). We buy very little tinned, packaged or processed food - even the beer comes in recyclable bottles! Staff and students/guests are constantly educated about this issue - both in a formal manner and informally. One of the Mariposa afternoon activities for students/guests is a discussion concerning the problems of rubbish generation and disposal (also designed to improve students' level of Spanish) followed by a visit to the local municipal rubbish tip - an activity which never fails to stimulate a lively debate over dinner! In the future, resources permitting, the Mariposa would like to help the children who live close to the rubbish tip and make a small amount of money collecting plastic bottles for recycling.

Food waste in the Mariposa is kept to a minimum - we purposefully do not offer a restaurant type menu but a buffet style service. Anything left over is fed to our chickens, our pigs (Babe and Rosie - who are not for consumption!), rescued monkeys, parrots etc. Any remaining fruit/vegetable waste is simply put around the roots of our coffee trees where it rapidly decomposes into organic compost. We also have a worm project using manure from our own horses plus manure from oxen purchased from a very poor neighbouring family - this also helps with the overall goal of putting as much money straight into the local economy as possible. The worms produce organic compost used on our papaya and other fruit trees. Our furniture - including beds, tables etc - is locally made from the most sustainable wood (especially laurel - a fast growing, easily seeded tree), cane and bamboo. Much of our tableware has been bought in local potteries. We also regularly organise local cleaning brigades in conjunction with the Town Hall.

Eco-Active Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - Much of the staff education at the Mariposa is on-the-job, backed up by seminars and workshops when appropriate. We have constant discussions about the need to reduce water consumption (eg watering specific plants in the garden, not using the hosepipe); to reduce our use of plastic bags and bottles (we serve only fresh fruit juice, never canned or bottled pop); and the need to enhance the amount of produce on our land without destroying its benefit to wildlife - a delicate balance. We also organize formal - but fun - training workshops and we encourage students/guests to also take part in them (we always have to bear in mind in planning workshops and so on that a significant proportion of our workforce does not read or write).

For example - we have held training workshops involving both staff and guests where various items of rubbish are spread out and the task is to think of as many ways of reusing or recycling them as possible. Eco-issues form an important part of the Spanish discussion programme offered by the Spanish school to our Spanish students. The Mariposa is very involved with the local community and we make frequent donations of clothes, shoes, sheets, towels. Many of our guests bring items to donate including medical supplies, children's books and leave behind other useful items. We are constantly on the look out for more environmentally friendly, more sustainable ways of doing things..... as well as the planned latrine we are currently looking for re-chargeable torches for our night security staff. We are gradually replacing all lightbulbs with the long-life variety. Otherwise we don't have many appliances to replace as we tend to use traditional Nicaraguan ways of doing things wherever possible.

Protection Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - The Mariposa Eco-hotel is also a Spanish school and we offer students/guests a fully integrated programme of classes, afternoon and weekend activities designed to get to know the beauty of Nicaragua but also something of the politics, history and culture. The area around us (known as the pueblos blancos or white villages) is particularly rich in handicraft production. We visit families who make hammocks and leather goods in Masaya; maracas made from hickory seeds here in La Concepcion; furniture made from banana fibre in Masatepe; pottery made from local clay in San Juan del Oriente; a small co-operative in the barrio of Panama where baskets and jewellery are fashioned out of recycled newspaper.

We have bought from all of these and so the Mariposa itself is a showcase for local products - a future plan is to open a small non-profit shop within the Mariposa selling a range of local handicrafts. We go to great lengths to seek out local suppliers for everything from beds and furniture (some of which is made by carpenters literally just down the road) to milk and honey from La Concepcion cows and bees! On our trips to other locations eg Leon and Granada we are also careful to support Nicaraguan owned businesses such as restaurants. The central goal of the Mariposa is to provide as much local employment as possible (we pay above average wages and offer good working conditions) - all of our 30 or so staff (including Spanish teachers, kitchen staff and those working on the land and with our rescued animals) are local people and live within 10 minutes walk of the Mariposa. Some of the staff are also involved in our homestay programme. We have a small in-house literacy project for those who cannot read nor write and want to learn. The Mariposa is situated in an area of great natural beauty and we do our part to try and keep it that way. We have been involved in a number of re-afforestation and conservation projects; funding a conservation teacher who works in the 2 secondary schools; planting a tree nursery to provide free tree seedlings to local people; planting as many trees as possible on our land and, in conjunction with the Town hall, on public land; and using the Mariposa as an example for local people and children. We invite students/guests to participate in these processes in whatever way they wish.

Contact Details

La Mariposa Spanish Language School and Eco- Hotel
San Juan de la Concepcion,
+505 - 866 994 55
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