Sustainable Tourism: Interview with Germán Rodríguez, co-founder of Casartero

The co-founder of this eco-posada located in San Rafael, Mendoza, tells us how the proposal was born, what sustainability means in the hotel industry and what value it has today.

“If we do it a thousand kilometers from Buenos Aires, that's it, you have no excuse.”

Germán Rodríguez

In the rural town of Carnation (San Rafael, Mendoza), among olive trees and vineyards, was where Germán Rodríguez y Virna Lavarino they decided to create Casartero. This is a proposal of sustainable accommodation based on the care of natural resources, the use of renewable energies and the classification and reduction of waste. This initiative seeks to develop in an ethical, responsible and socially committed manner within the hotel activity.

We had the opportunity to talk, via video call, with Germán, co-founder of the ecoposada to learn more about this fascinating venture.

What did they do before Casartero? How did the idea come about?

Neither Virna nor I come from the activity. I was an employee of a tobacco company, that was my only job. Virna had ventured into the gastronomic industry and had a wine bar, but his main job was in his 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 it in a professional, informed manner and aiming for sustainability. Then we went to Hotelga (a tourism and gastronomy fair) and learned about Greener Hotels (it is a hotel sustainability program) which was like our bible when setting up the venture. We looked 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 is a growing trend in recent years, many people do not know what sustainable tourism is about. Could you tell us what it is and what value it has today?

It is the commitment of tourism to the environment. All of us who work in this industry must have this responsibility and promote it. It is said that ours is a smokeless industry, but poorly directed investment can be very detrimental to the planet and future generations. We can't look the other way.

How do you notice this tourism sector in Argentina? Do you have contact with other ventures?

Being inside Greener Hotels we have a lot of arrival. Despite being a microSME, we can access the program and the certification they offer, which is notable. We are in contact with other certified accommodations, we share tips and we talk. After the pandemic, what was sustainability and the environment was valued, but now it is returning to conventional tourism and our way of working lost prominence. In any case, the new generations of travelers are more committed and demanding.

Image taken from Booking.

Do people who stay in Casartero have prior knowledge about caring for the environment? Do you think they leave with more awareness?

Many older people come who have no idea about the subject and leave with a little more. There are people who come just because it's nice and they always leave with something: we plant a seed in the people. On the other hand, those who already understand something about the subject end up strengthening it. If Casartero 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, that's it, you have no excuse. It is attitude, commitment, empathy and responsibility.

From his birth in 2016, Casartero is committed to sustainable principles, among which is the accessibility. Today they have a volumetric model of the complex and a room with Braille signage, and they designed one of their studio units.Containers to make it accessible to people who travel in wheelchairs.

How does accessibility fit into sustainability?

Sustainability cuts across all people: we cannot not be inclusive. This doesn't mean making a difference. For example, now I speak to you from Containers prepared for people with wheelchairs. The idea is that the proposal is exactly the same, following the principles of universal architecture: it works for everyone, anyone can enjoy it peacefully. Inclusion within sustainability is that.

Image taken from Tripadvisor. 

What do you plan for the future? What is Casartero's biggest goal?

We always say that we have to know what our ceiling is. In terms of capacity, our ceiling is this, because it is what we can handle ourselves by being aware of the guest and addressing their expectations and concerns. In terms of service, something new appears every day and whenever we can innovate we will do so. We started with a great challenge that was to get certified and now we want to do it within the “gold level”. We would thus obtain the same certification that large hotels obtain.

What are the values ​​that make Casartero?

The values ​​are what I mentioned: empathy, commitment, responsibility and a lot of love. This was born from scratch and for us it is pure love. We pour it into everything we do and it is something that is palpable.

Behind this eco-posada there are people who are passionate about what they do and do their best. This is how Casartero, a family business, managed to be certified “bronze” by Greener Hotels, a program that has the endorsement of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and positioned itself as a benchmark for sustainable tourism at the national level.