Thursday, February 07, 2008

Allegro Papagayo hotel to start moving guests elsewhere

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guests will be evacuating the Hotel Occidental Allegro Papagayo in their hundreds over the next few days, after the Health Ministry gave the hotel the order to close on Monday afternoon.

Some 600 tourists will have their stay at the four-star hotel located on Playa Manzanillo in Guanacaste cut short, after a scandal emerged surrounding the methods used by hotel management to dispose of sewage and waste water.

“Hotel managers are soliciting a plan of the best way to handle the evacuation,” said Mario Calvo, a health official in Liberia.

The hotel staff of between 220 to 250 people will also have to be evacuated.

Blue flag certification is to be removed from Playa Manzanillo, according to officials of the Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas, who have recently done tests in the sea water outside the hotel.

The blue flag certifies that a beach is safe and clean for recreational use. Manzanillo is the second beach to lose the blue flag in the past three months. Tamarindo beach, also in Guanacaste, lost its certification in November.

Calvo added that the Health Ministry will be issuing a legal complaint against the hotel for acts of contamination.

The hotel has been accused of shipping hundreds of trucks full of sewage to an under-equipped sewage plant in the town of El Gallo, as well as running a sewage pipe from the hotel into a nearby stream

Hotel management was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but staff were no longer telling callers that the hotel was open and functioning normally, as they had been doing for the preceding three days.

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