Eco Hotels In Costa Rica: A Sustainable Stay At Rancho Margot

Words + images by Lola Méndez of Miss Filatelista. Featured image by Rancho Margot.

Peace, tranquility and learning await ethical travelers at Rancho Margot, one of the top eco hotels in Costa Rica.

Nestled in the verdant rolling hills that surround Arenal Volcano National Park, near El Castillo de la Fortuna, lies a holistic sanctuary for mindful travelers.

Rancho Margot is tucked away from the bustling La Fortuna town center, up windy roads on the edge of Monteverde National Park.

As you approach the eco resort and nearly fully self-sufficient permaculture farm, it becomes vastly apparent that the uphill journey is incredibly worth it.

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Eco Hotels In Costa Rica: A Sustainable Stay At Rancho Margot

A Costa Rica Eco Resort Like No Other

This off-the-grid eco-friendly farm stay is the perfect place to unwind and get back in touch with nature in an environment that is far more relaxing and sustainable than typical Costa Rica vacation spots.

Now, here’s a question for you:

When was the last time you simply sat and admired nature?

Because you won’t find Wi-Fi in the rustic bungalows…

…but there are colorful hammocks tied up along wrap-around patios that overlook the lush rainforest; tropical birds offering a melodic soundtrack.

Off the map travel is sometimes the best travel, and our favorite place to go off the map is in the #CostaRica #jungle Click To Tweet

Yes, Rancho Margot is the perfect place for a transformative trip of the mind, body and soul.

And hey, it still counts as meditating if you do it laying in a hammock with a rainforest breeze wafting fragrant scents of ginger and vanilla over you.

Click here to check rates for Rancho Margot

Rancho Margot

A green bungalow at Rancho Margot. These are some of the most sustainable eco-lodges in Costa Rica.

Eco Vacations In Costa Rica For Your Body & The Planet

With an array of activities — like lake-view yoga sessions in an open-air shala, swimming in a waterfall-adorned chemical-free pool, and soap making classes — you won’t miss scrolling mindlessly through your Instagram feed.

Instead of collecting likes and comments, I collected beautiful stories of kind strangers while traveling and immersed myself in a sustainable paradise. 

On that note, one truly not-to-miss Costa Rica excursion:

A quick hike through the surrounding canopy to a lookout point.

Here, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of the notorious Arenal Volcano.

Now I spend a lot of time visiting eco-friendly accommodations around the globe, and Rancho Margot is easily the most sustainable property I’ve ever visited.

Everything that can be found within the 400 acres of land has a purpose — from plants that form a food forest to living roofs.

For instance:

The gardens placed on top of the buildings are temperature regulators that also bind tiles together.

Moreover, they support the ecosystem and play home to indigenous birds.

Every morning, as I swayed in my hammock, I watched in wonder as hummingbirds fed off of the tropical flowers that surrounded my bungalow.

ecotourism in costa rica horseback riding

Horseback riding in the Costa Rica jungle at Rancho Margot

Rancho Margot’s Mission

⁣⁣In the last 15 years, Juan Sosthiem and Liz Grieco Cunningham — Rancho Margot’s owners — have transformed the off-the-beaten-path cattle ranch into a carbon-negative paradise.

How?

Through innovative initiatives that stem from their dedication to rid the world of chemicals, at least in their own surroundings.

I joined Juan for a tour around his beloved ranch to see first-hand how they’ve managed to create such a genuinely sustainable haven.

Most of the greenery was planted within the last decade, as this land was once mostly tree-less.

Reforestation was the first step toward bringing healing energy back to this space.

Sosthiem explained there was a magnitude of tiny projects over the decade that contributed to Rancho Margot.

He implemented a circular process that led to no waste, and uses his model to show guests, local villagers and students how “adherence to nature’s master plan allows us to create healthy pest- and odor-free environments for our animals.”

food in costa rica

healthy Costa Rican cuisine cooked in the Rancho Margot kitchen

Rancho Margot is an active farm — they raise fish, chickens, pigs and cattle.

Noted Sosthiem:

“The food we produce at the farm is chemical-free. And over time, the healthy food our staff eats has had enormously positive effects. We are sure our guests feel different after just a few days of Ranch food, air and water.”

Click here to check rates for Rancho Margot

A Sustainable Costa Rica Community

Around 50 people from the surrounding communities are employed by Rancho Margot.

Their roles include tending to the farm, maintaining the property, leading guest activities and making nearly everything used at Rancho Margot, from organic cleaning products to wood furniture harvested from local trees.

Workers partake in workshops focused on sustainable living, which also provides empowerment to continue these eco-friendly practices in their personal lives.

#Sustainability creates jobs and involves the whole community while helping the planet. In #CostaRica you can get involved here Click To Tweet

In addition to the livestock, the farm stay produces an abundance of fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants.

Strolling the property with Sosthiem, I was delighted to be offered leaves and flowers to eat.

The Cuisine Of A Costa Rica Wellness Retreat

As a plant-based eater, I love being reminded how much of nature can nourish us.

Actually, one leaf he gave me tasted like roasted peanuts, while another was a type of juicy spinach.

During my stay at this Costa Rica ecotourism property, the local chefs were happy to provide me an assortment of vegan dishes at meal times.

The cuisine served at the open-air restaurant at Rancho Margot is created using the organic produce grown on-site.

yoga in costa rica

A sustainable Costa Rica yoga retreat at Rancho Margot.

Guests are treated to fantastic feasts rooted in traditional Costa Rican foods, all prepared in a clean and healthy manner.

There’s even wood-fired oven pizza with a local, nutritious twist.

It’s no wonder that the food served at Rancho Margot is a major draw for tourists.

Click here to check rates for Rancho Margot

Identifying Real Sustainable Travel

Rancho Margot was recognized as Costa Rica’s first carbon-negative company back in 2012.

Every single detail has been taken into consideration and developed in a way that isn’t just eco-friendly, but also regenerative.

Their dedication to environmental and social sustainability is unparalleled.

Energy is generated on-site through hydroelectricity and solar panels.

Unfortunately, many other green-presenting Costa Rica accommodations aren’t quite as earnest.

Just because a destination claims to be an #ecoresort does not mean it is actually eco friendly. Real sustainability is the priority at #RanchoMargot Click To Tweet

I asked Cunningham how travelers can weed out truly eco-friendly hotels from the properties that are greenwashing.

She encourages travelers to vet properties by asking about their waste management efforts.

Some questions she suggests presenting are:

  • Where do they get their water?
  • How is it treated?
  • Where does the wastewater go?

“Those questions will tell you a lot about a place’s commitment and its operations. If they can’t answer these, that also speaks volumes. These questions go to the core of sustainability for commercial operation.”

Waste at Rancho Margot

At Rancho Margot, waste is just another product that’s reused on this Costa Rica farm stay.

Organic scraps from the kitchen feed the pigs.

The pigs’ waste is then composted to make fertilizer, with liquids placed in three biodigesters to create methane gas.

costa rica ecotourism composting

Worms are a major part of composting at Rancho Margot

This gas is used for cooking.

Biodiesel made from leftover cooking oil powers machinery.

Oil waste from culinary plants is used to create soap and laundry detergent.

There’s a shack for storing plastic waste that’s virtually empty.

Click here to check rates for Rancho Margot

The Future Of Costa Rica Sustainability

When I asked Sosthiem what’s next for his sustainable living project he became very energetic.

It was as if he were about to let me in on a life-changing secret, which is exactly what he did.

“The goal of Rancho Margot is to become a self-sufficient, sustainable, intentional community with anywhere from 50 to 100 families. We want to produce, educate and entertain our guests in the process.”

For Sostheim, the concept of developing a sustainable neighborhood is the natural progression of Rancho Margot.

sunset over arenal volcano

A sunset over Arenal Volcano in the Rancho Margot vicinity

Making A Change In Eco-Friendly Travel and Living

Additionally, I had an earnest conversation with Sosthiem about the state of the world that’s rapidly heating up due to climate change.

“I worry that we’re not transmitting the sense of urgency. Global Planetary Collapse is a very real danger, and the way humanity produces its food in the future can be the biggest part of the solution. It is also our biggest problem.”

Sosthiem went on to explain the efforts he’s making to preserve the environment at a local level.

“We’re trying to raise the level of consciousness of all our guests through our tours, programs and by osmosis, so that they can hopefully become part of the solution and not continue to be passive bystanders.”

Rancho Margot owner says that 'global planetary collapse is a real danger', but this #sustainable #CostaRica resort is working to protect the environment. Here's how. Click To Tweet

We can all follow this direction to empower each other through education.

Click here to check rates for Rancho Margot

Recommended Costa Rica Tours:

What are your favorite eco hotels in Costa Rica? Have you stayed at Rancho Margot? Share your experiences in the comments below! 

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Eco Hotels In Costa Rica: A Sustainable Stay At Rancho Margot

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Lola Méndez

Travel and Lifestyle Journalist at Miss Filatelista
Lola Méndez is a travel writer and full-time globetrotter sharing her adventures on Miss Filatelista. She travels to develop her own worldview and has explored over 50 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities.

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