Nicaragua’s Environmental Pioneers Envision Sustainable Tourism In Tandem with Upscale Eco-Lodges

21 May 2013
Eric and Carolina Poncon

The owners of Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge on 4,500 acres in Playa Ocotal State, Nicaragua, announce plans over the next two years to create a second boutique lodge destination on a 5,000-acre coffee plantation surrounded by primary growth rainforest in the north of the country.

Eric and Carolina Poncon envision their second upscale eco-lodge as yet another step in fulfilling their vision of putting their family lands to productive agriculture, forestry and tourism use – but only if it’s done sustainably.

Instead of building mega resorts, which Eric Poncon says is not in the family’s DNA, their goal is to create self-sufficient, low-impact lodges that showcase each particular region through its land-based pursuits: agriculture, coffee and forestry.

“If we wanted to have a more profitable, faster-return business we could have gone into real estate development. But that’s not in our collective vision,” says Poncon.

Their concept surrounding the new lodge is to create meaningful community connections that positively impact guests, workers and their families, and local services and schools. The message is always about sustainability. This is being accomplished already at Morgan’s Rock.

The new lodge will access what Poncon calls “a significant-scale farm, where we generate sustainable hydro energy, produce certified coffee and maintain Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests.” There are schools on premise and 100 houses for workers. As with Morgan’s Rock, there will be some 15 stylishly appointed guest bungalows created by regional artisans from local materials.

“We would love to showcase this region and share it with guests,” Poncon says. Engaging guests in what sustainable farming is about and the implications of sustainable coffee are themes dear to his heart.

And then there are some coco plantations the family owns which open up possibilities of agricultural immersion for guests in these destinations sometime in the future.

“Our DNA is planting trees, conservation, preserving the land for the kids,” underscored Poncon, whose parents emigrated in 1973 from France to work on agricultural development projects. Coffee sales, marketing and distribution engage Eric Poncon in part today. Tree farming and furniture making also fall under the family’s aegis.

Poncon wants people to see his country as it is today, “very authentic, very natural still. Its attraction is the authenticity.”

By choosing to create luxury boutique lodges throughout the country, the family will continue to expand spheres of influence around each lodge community and assist in disbursing the benefits that come with sustainable and responsible tourism.