Friday, March 28, 2008

Allegro Papagayo Hotel allowed to re-open halfway

By Peter Krupa
Tico Times

The Allegro Papagayo Hotel has re-opened almost two months after it was closed by the Ministry of Health for dumping wastewater into a nearby estuary.

Health Minister MarĂ­a Luisa Avila said the hotel received permission on March 19 to allow up to 300 people on the property, a number that includes both guests and employees.

The hotel has 300 rooms.

Avila said the hotel's water treatment plant – which has an approved capacity for 300 – has been repaired and that the Ministry of Health will be sending inspectors during the week to make sure it is in working order.

Full occupancy of the hotel would require a second water treatment plant, Avila said. While the hotel has submitted preliminary plans for a second plant, construction on it has yet to begin.

Allegro Papagayo, part of the Spanish-owned Occidental Hotels & Resorts, was closed by the Health Ministry on Jan. 31 after inspectors found hidden pipes that were dumping wastewater into an estuary that is attached to Culebra Bay.

The hotel had also been shipping raw sewage from its overloaded wastewater plants and dumping it in septic fields outside of the small town of El Gallo de Liberia.

Complaints against the hotel had languished before the Environmental Tribunal for a year before the Health Ministry moved to shut it down.

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