Eco-hotels in Peniche – Portugal
By Tooka Pourgive
02 February 2019
At the end of our 1st semester at ESTM (School of Tourism and Maritime Technology), we visited Surfers Lodge Peniche and Bukubaki Eco Surf Resort, two ecological hotels in the Baleal/Peniche region of Leiria, in Portugal, to find out more about their characteristics. As Baleal is a surf destination, the hotels provide surfing material and lessons as their primary activity.
Unlike traditional hotel lobbies, the entrance to the 4 star Surfers Lodge is a cosy restaurant/bar with a rustic edge. We were served tea and coffee before starting the visit which was a nice and welcoming gesture. The rooms had a similar basic theme with differentiated décor and odd names. We visited the Beatles Suite and the Pink Floyd room amongst others. The most noticeable feature of the rooms are the bulky wooden furniture, built from boat parts. All rooms have a TV, air-conditioning and a private bathroom, very much like a typical hotel. Something very noticeable also is the clear lack of plants in the entire hotel which, with the grey walls and heavy furniture, made it somewhat dungeon-like.
We were also taken to the yoga/game room which seemed to lack space for yoga because of the couches and tables filling up the space, and also the presence of a central plasma TV and gaming devices.
A rooftop swimming pool sets the setting for a pretty nice view of Ferrel city. They use this area to host events as well.
What makes the hotel ecological is firstly their energy source which is electric, solar and hydro. Secondly, it is the use of recycled boat parts for the furniture. Thirdly, they rely on mainly local and organic foods, and they limit the use of plastics.
Bukubaki Eco Surf Resort is a 4 star a glamping (glamourous camping) lodge, set slightly further away from Ferrel. The entrance surely gives the feels of a real camping site with trees all around and rooms built that resemble tree houses. We were invited to also look at their tents, which are cosy rooms with 2-4 beds, with electric heaters. Those residing in the tents have to use the outdoors shared bathrooms. The tree house rooms looked very modern and included private bathrooms and kitchens. There was no sign of repurposed or recycled material anywhere. We were then taken to the yoga room which did look like the right space for its activity, the Finish sauna, and massage room. Finally, we were shown their miniature and recently grown ‘Mandala Garden’. The resort has only one TV in its resting area, because their philosophy is to get back in touch with nature and watching Television isn’t part of it.
The hotel reception sells a range of environmentally friendly products from ecological clothing to cosmetics. I opted for a bottle of peppermint essential oil since I was unable to find it anywhere else in the city, and their natural local honey.
We were told about the hotel’s plans to establish a water recycling system where human waste will be used as compost in the future.
Overall it is a relaxing and stunning place being that it is located in nature. The shared bathrooms and no TVs surely makes it more sustainable as less water and electricity is used.
As students of sustainable tourism, we have certain expectations from green hotels, one of the most important being waste management and reduction. A composting system for all organic matter, and preferably, an onsite organic farm is one such example. The use of sustainable products from bed linens, to plates, and cosmetic products is also expected. The use of alternative green energy sources is a priority which both hotels were conscious of and were working towards.
Offering yoga and organic food is very attractive to the new-age green tourists and encourages them to spend more to stay in such hotels. However, they aren’t likely to divide their waste according to type, if the rooms have only one trashcan; and they are not going to be concerned with the energy source if the weather is cold and they need heating.
Establishing a fully green hotel in a European country such as Portugal is challenging because to remain a 4 star hotel, there are certain standards that they must follow. It is much more costly to have ecological waste management plans and labour to implement it in Europe, than it is in places such as Bali and Costa Rica where labour costs are lower and regulations aren’t as strict.
Ecological resorts are relatively new and require certification of legitimacy. In the future, measures taken to entitle green accommodations will likely become standards for all hotels, and not just an added value. As such, it would be commendable to see such hotels contributing to sustainable development of the region by further engaging their operations with the immediate community in which they are in.