The co-founder of this eco-posada in San Rafael, Mendoza tells us how the proposal came about, what sustainability means in the hotel industry and its importance today.
“If we do it a thousand kilometers from Buenos Aires, then that’s it, you have no excuse.”
In the rural town The carnations (San Rafael, Mendoza), between olive trees and vineyards, was where German Rodriguez And Virna Lavarino They decided to create something Casatero. This is a suggestion from sustainable accommodation based on the conservation of natural resources, the use of renewable energy and the classification and reduction of waste. This initiative strives for ethical, responsible and socially committed further development within the hotel activity.
We had the opportunity to speak via video call with Germán, the co-founder of Ecoposada to learn more about this fascinating endeavor.
What did they do before Casatero? How did the idea come about?
Neither Virna nor I come out of the activity. I was an employee of a tobacco company, that was my only job. Virna had ventured into gastronomy and ran a wine bar, but her full-time job was working in her family’s business. When we met and became a couple, we both had the idea of leaving Buenos Aires and we knew that tourism was a possibility. We wanted to do this in a professional, informed manner and with sustainability in mind. Then we went to Hotelga (a tourism and hospitality trade show) and learned about Greener Hotels (a sustainability program for hotels), which was like our bible when we started the company. We were looking for different places to settle, but we needed the land to generate something for us and we found that in San Rafael next to Paco and María (neighbors) who make this place magical.
Although it has been a growing trend in recent years, many people do not know what sustainable tourism is all about. Can you tell us what it is and what its value is today?
It is tourism’s commitment to the environment. Each of us working in this industry must bear and promote this responsibility. Our industry is said to be a smoke-free industry, but poorly targeted investments can be very damaging to the planet and future generations. We can’t look away.
How do you notice this tourism sector in Argentina? Do you have contact with other companies?
Since we operate at Greener Hotels, many guests arrive. Even though we are a micro-business, we can access the program and certification offered, which is remarkable. We are in contact with other certified accommodations, exchange tips and chat. After the pandemic, there was an emphasis on sustainability and the environment, but now it is returning to conventional tourism and the way we work has become less important. In any case, the new generations of travelers are more engaged and demanding.
Do the people who stay in Casatero have prior knowledge of environmental protection? Do you think they will go home with more awareness?
A lot of older people come who have no idea about the subject and leave with something more. There are people who come because it is beautiful and they always leave with something: we plant a seed in people. On the other hand, those who already understand something about the topic will strengthen it in the end. If Casatero can work on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in Los Claveles, a thousand kilometers from Buenos Aires, half an hour from the center of San Rafael, surrounded only by olive trees and vineyards, then that’s it, you have no excuse. It’s about attitude, commitment, empathy and responsibility.
Out of his birth in 2016Casatero is committed to sustainable principles including: Accessibility. Today they have a volumetric model of the complex and a room with Braille signage and have designed one of their studio units.Container to make it accessible for wheelchair users.
How does accessibility fit into sustainability?
Sustainability affects everyone: we cannot be non-inclusive. That doesn’t mean making a difference. For example, I’m talking to you now about Container prepared for wheelchair users. The idea is that the proposal is exactly the same and follows the principles of universal architecture: it works for everyone, everyone can enjoy it in peace. That is inclusion in the context of sustainability.
What are you planning for the future? What is Casartero’s greatest goal?
We always say that we need to know what our ceiling is. In terms of capacity, our cap is at this limit because we can manage it ourselves by being aware of the guest and responding to their expectations and concerns. When it comes to service, there’s something new every day, and whenever we can innovate, we will. We started with the big challenge of getting certified and now we want to achieve this within the “Gold Level”. This would give us the same certification that large hotels receive.
What are the values that define Casatero?
The values are what I mentioned: empathy, commitment, responsibility and lots of love. This came out of nothing and for us it is pure love. We incorporate it into everything we do and it is something that is noticeable.
Behind this eco-posada are people who are passionate about what they do and give their best. This is how Casatero, a family business, did it Certified “Bronze” by Greener Hotelsa program supported by the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism and positioned itself as a benchmark for sustainable tourism at the national level.