Hacienda Mérida is an accessible hotel.
We have made the commitment and investment to allow everyone to enjoy the beauties of Ometepe and to participate in our mission for sustainable and responsible living. The restaurant/sitting area has ramped access as do the rooms on the second floor (even if you are not staying up here, the view of the lake is beautiful and it's a great place to read). For the day visitor or dorm user, there is a communal bathroom, shower, and sink designed for easy wheelchair use.
Hacienda Mérida's vision is to develop a model alternative education system directed towards sustainable development in Ometepe and other parts of Nicaragua. Bilingual education is taught using the foreign language skills of international visitors. The foundation for long-term, sustainable eco-tourism development is created by educating, and thereby empowering the local population.
Hacienda Mérida seeks to promote united communities and tropical forest conservation, advocate positive behavioral changes and improve the quality of life for the local population and foreign visitors alike.
We have taken many steps to put our mission in action. During your stay here, you will find our emphasis is on healthy living for our visitors. The many vegetables and whole grains in the buffet encourage a healthy, sustainable diet, while the activities we facilitate such as hiking, kayaking, and biking encourage good cardiovascular health. You will also notice that we support sustainable development by encouraging our guests recycle, using few plastic products, and using vegetables from our own garden. Additionally, while you are here, you will have the opportunity to volunteer with some of our projects.
The profits from the Hacienda Merida are used to fund our many projects. One of these projects is the bilingual school. The school is set up as an alternative educational system that the children voluntarily attend before and after school. Here they have educational tools, such as computers, that they do not have access to in the poorly funded public schools. By learning English, these children improve their chances of a good future; they are also given the possibility of communicating regional concerns to the rest of the world, thus giving the local population a voice in the international community. Recently, some of our bilingual students were able to go to the US Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua's capital; here they asked substantial questions such as how the US can improve education in Nicaragua.
We have a number of projects to help animals and wildlife as well. The Veterinary Brigades involve bringing veterinarians and veterinary students from Oregon State University to provide care for dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs and goats on Ometepe Island. These volunteers also offer basic preventative health measures for the animals. This project benefits the community by reducing the chance of diseases spread from animal-to-human and ensures the health of animals that the local population depends upon as work animals and livestock.
One way that we have combined positive behavioral changes with conservation is through Idea Wild, an educational program to inform students of the importance of preserving biodiversity. So far, we have begun the Migratory Bird Project, to educate children about the beauty and importance of birds, and the Fiberglass Sign Project, which display important messages to stop poaching and harassing wild animals and selling them as pets (something which is sadly prevalent on Ometepe Island).
Currently, we are endeavoring to get other hotels involved in responsible and sustainable ecotourism. We hope to unite communities through our mission.