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Women Eco-preneurs - Nine International Women Put their Power
behind Eco-friendly, Sustainable Tourism Experiences

July 18, 2012, Victoria, BC – Women account for more than half the world’s population and the majority of consumer purchasing decisions, and are now bringing their influence to bear on environmental issues of sustainability and ecotourism development.

Below are examples of nine female eco-preneurs who combine conservation, compassion and life’s little luxuries to offer new solutions in sustainable tourism and business experiences.

Teresa Jampol, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn
Teresa Jampol is co-founder and co-owner at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn above the beautiful Central Valley of Costa Rica. She is often found harvesting organically grown produce from her gardens, when she isn’t sharing sustainability strategies with other hospitality operators or teaching guests about the local environment and culture. Jampol was instrumental in Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn becoming the first certified sustainable hotel in Costa Rica, and its evolution over the past 20 years into the highest ranking member of the prestigious Sustainable Tourism Certification program (CST.)  With husband Glenn,   Jampol went on to design and build Arenas del Mar Nature and Beach Resort, in Manuel Antonio, which opened in 2008 and is the first five star and five leaf resort in Costa Rica.

Karen Emanuel, Jicaro Island Ecolodge
With a degree in genetics, and a background in music and media, successful London-based business woman Karen Emanuel found herself on an off-the-beaten-track vacation to Nicaragua five years ago.  She discovered Jicaro Island after seeing a notice posted in a restaurant proclaiming "Island for Sale”.  It sparked an idea. In 2010 Emanuel opened Jicaro Island Ecolodge, built with minimum impact to the island and careful attention to water conservation, wastewater treatment and electricity usage.  Since opening, Jicaro Island Ecolodge has been on international “hot lists” introducing Nicaragua to eco-tourists world wide while helping to grow tourism within the region.

Karen Lewis, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge
Twenty years ago Karen Lewis and her husband John liquidated their assets in Minnesota to finance the purchase and preservation of a large tract of lowland rainforest in Costa Rica and build a small, supporting ecotourism project. Their Lapa Rios Ecolodge sits upon the 930-acre Lapa Rios Reserve, overlooking a pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean. The reserve helps buffer neighbouring Corcovado National Park and serves as a wildlife corridor. Their efforts have been awarded Costa Rica’s highest certification in sustainable tourism (CST), and a conservation covenant through The Nature Conservancy and Centro de Derrecho Ambiental y de los Recursos Naturales (CEDARENA) – the Centre of Environmental Law and Natural Resources – ensures this first growth forest will be preserved in perpetuity.

Andrea Bonilla, Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Andrea Bonilla spent most of her youth at her parents' farm where she developed a strong relationship with the environment and local culture. After graduating from Cornell Hotel School in Ithaca, New York, and working in hotel management in Africa and Central America, she founded Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, a sustainable tourism management firm focusing exclusively on small, upscale, sustainable hotels and lodges in Latin America. Bonilla is now managing director at Cayuga in charge of the operation of hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and was instrumental in founding Earth Equilibrium Foundation, a non-profit that funds and creates educational and biodiversity conservation programs where Cayuga Hotels operate.

Megan Weeks Adams, Patagonia Sur Reserves & Patagonia Sur Foundation
Conservation and sustainability have always been Megan Adams' guiding goals.   The Patagonia Sur dream began when she and husband Warren travelled to Chile, fell in love with Patagonia and began purchasing land with the idea of creating a new model around for-profit conservation.   In 2011, Patagonia Sur expanded its original membership model.  Adams designed accommodations, amenities and excursions, creating an overall guest experience that engaged visitors with the smallest footprint possible, while involving surrounding communities in ecotourism opportunities.  Adams has inspired  a series of initiatives, including creating sanctuaries such as the Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute for Patagonia’s rare and endangered flora and fauna, sequestering carbon dioxide emissions through native-species reforestation, conserving local culture with historical restorations and visitor investment, placing 90 per cent of their land holdings into permanent conservation to protect wildlife corridors , natural vistas and ecologically sensitive areas, and hosting workshops to create and train a network of regional environmental educators and hosting eco-camps for local grade school children.

Anne Kutay, Wildland Adventures
Wildland Adventures is a distinguished adventure travel company, founded in 1986 by Anne and husband Kurt Kutay on the principle that culturally and environmentally responsible travel can be a powerful force for change. Prior to becoming vice-president of Wildland Adventures, Kutay worked summers in Yellowstone National Park and spent winters exploring and guiding groups throughout Mexico.  A believer in the value of co-opetition, together with Kurt she also helped launch Trusted Adventures, a partnership of nine distinguished, award-winning, and independently operated companies united under a common mission to provide authentic, transformational travel experiences.

Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures
Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Maureen Gordon spent summers on the beaches of BC’s southern coast and inherited a love of nature from both of her grandfathers, one who owned a saltwater fish tank teeming with sea life, and the other who was an enthusiastic backyard birder. After ten years marketing and managing in the high tech industry, and earlier stints in journalism, publishing and tourism, she realigned her life to spend more time in the natural world. She brought her business and communications skills to Maple Leaf Adventures, a longtime practitioner of ecotourism, and a pioneer in travel in the Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island.  Now a co-owner along with her husband Kevin, Gordon explores BC’s wild West Coast sharing her love of nature, conservation and this unique place with guests aboard the 100 year old Maple Leaf schooner.

Becky Eert, Nimmo Bay Resort
Although Becky Eert only recently joined the team at Nimmo Bay Resort, she has been preparing for the experience her whole life. Spending summers growing up camping with family on Quesnel Lake, Eert fell in love with wilderness and water.  Together with her partner Fraser Murray, she is co-managing the eco-legacy launched over 30 years ago by Murray’s parents. As in-season host, guest relations and operations manager,  Eert brings her  hospitality management experience, love of solitude and creativity to this luxury adventure experience set  at the base of the 5,000-ft Mt. Stephens in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia’s West Coast. Nimmo Bay Resort exists completely off the power grid and for nine months out of the year, runs on green hydro energy supplied by the onsite waterfall that also provides its guests and staff with clean drinking water.

Daniela Cubelic, Silk Road Tea
Daniela Cubelic is a highly acclaimed tea master who received her training from Chinese and Taiwanese tea experts and herbalists. During her 20-year career in the tea industry, Cubelic has become one of North America's foremost tea experts in a city famous for afternoon tea.  In 1992 she founded Silk Roads, a thriving retail and wholesale business in Victoria’s historic Chinatown that attracts visitors from around the world. Cubelic’s sustainable approach, which has become a model for other local businesses, begins at the source by focusing on how the 100 per cent organic ingredients in its products are grown, and partnering with tea farmers around the world to encourage the transition to organic farming practices.  Silk Road uses minimal, eco-friendly materials and packages for all its products. Clients are encouraged to reduce waste through discounts on product refills and the store wraps purchases in recycled paper, promoting the use of recyclable, re-usable gift bags and boxes instead of gift-wrap. 


Deirdre Campbell
Tartan Group
250-882-9199 (cell)

Brian Cant
Tartan Group
250-896-3844 (cell)

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