Hacienda San Lucas is a 100-year old property that was converted into an eco-lodge in 2000. Owned for many years by the Cueva family, the hacienda is situated on 300 acres of pristine tropical forest in Western Honduras, and overlooks the renowned Maya Ruins of Copan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hacienda was lovingly restored by hand to its original design using only local materials, techniques and labor.
In contrast to other Central American countries, Honduras is just beginning to perceive sustainable ecotourism as a viable and substantial benefit to the national economy. Hacienda San Lucas has played a major role in this burgeoning awareness.
San Lucas was created and is successfully managed without external incentives or support. In fact, from its inception, San Lucas was treated by many Hondurans with substantial skepticism or indifference. Thus, the pioneering success of Hacienda San Lucas sends a powerful signal to the region that sustainable ecotourism works. San Lucas now serves as a role model for positive change.
The mission of Hacienda San Lucas is to provide our guests a unique and unforgettable experience based on a spiritual commitment to share our family's patrimony of an authentic rural hacienda that is helping the development of neighboring communities. This responsibility includes the care and preservation of the nature and archaeology, as well as personal attention to each visitor, so that our guests feel like personal friends of our family.
THE HISTORY OF SAN LUCAS
The Copan valley is filled with archeological footprints of the ancient Maya. The San Lucas property is home to the ruin Los Sapos ("the Toads"), which a recent Harvard University study deemed an important ceremonial site for the ancient Maya. To this day, the local folk tradition believes that Los Sapos holds special powers related to birthing and fertility (the toad is a fertility symbol in Maya tradition, and this region is home to 12 species of toads). There are also numerous unexcavated ruins throughout the property, which have been protected by the family from looters for many years.
Due to the environmental threats of deforestation and erosion, the Cueva family planted over 4,600 native trees, with the dual purpose of stemming erosion caused by slash and burn agriculture, and to providesanctuary for local wildlife. They have also worked to educate the indigenous farmers about the value of forests. One innovative program paid local farmers in bushels of corn to plant trees (instead of corn) on deforested land.
From the beginning, the Cuevas communicated with local village elders to ensure that San Lucas would benefit their communities and sustain their culture, as long as they respected the archeology and sustained the forests. Toward that end the family implemented a number of programs, including training local men and women to give tours, to make crafts to sell to tourists (such as stone carvings and corn husk dolls), and by utilizing local recipes in the restaurant. Flavia Cueva, the owner, manager, chef, and spiritual force behind San Lucas, is also very involved in the local community, organizing tourism safety programs and hospitality classes. She actively supports the local Rotary Club & Copan Pinta (a children's charity), was a cofounder of Paramedics for Children, is Vice President of the Copan Ruinas Chamber of Commerce, and is a vocal proponent of sustainable development and cultural preservation in municipal meetings. San Lucas Expansion: After just fours of operation, and the amazing encouragementand response to the spirit of San Lucas by so many special visitors from all over the world, it was evident to our family that the time had come for San Lucas to grow.
Construction began in February 2005 on six new rooms, an expanded kitchen, and landscaping carefully designed to preserve the authenticity of the original structure. We used the same local materials and textures as before, and great thought was given to integrating the new buildings into the existing landscape. Special attention was given to the design based on the analysis of an archaeologist from the Institute of History and Anthropology, who worked for several months to ensure that the proposed design would not desecrate or destroy any buried Maya structures.
As before, the construction was completed without electricity or heavy modern machinery. We engaged the services of a renowned Honduran woman architect, our good friend Rosa María Fiallos, who understands the importance of preserving the history and magical ambience of San Lucas.
Our guests witnessed the careful application of age-old construction methods. On November 19, 2005, our family officially blessed the expanded San Lucas by celebrating a mass in San Lucas with over 100 family and close friends who have supported and encouraged us from the start. As San Lucas continues to flourish, the notion of sustainable ecotourism commands increasing respect in Honduras. Hacienda San Lucas, a labor of love for the Cueva family, is a unique beacon of light in the region, a much-needed role model for sustainable development that preserves the unique culture and the beautiful land, and serves the people who live there.
In 2011 the family decided that we wanted to share our legacy and patrimony with those who felt compelled to also become stewards of our Maya heritage, beautiful landscape, and rich biodiversity. Otoch, a property development within the property was launched. Otoch in ancienty Maya language means ¨abode¨, or ¨dwelling¨. It´s aim is to attract lovers of nature and human history. It is a development of fourteen land parcels, less than a mile away (only 500 meters) from the Acropolis. Nestled in the foothills of the mountains that cradle the Municipality of Copan, at 2,450 feet above sea level - lies a plateau of roughly 6.3 hectares within the premises of Hacienda San Lucas - boasting spectacular views.
Please visit Otoch´s page to learn more about this magnificent opportunity to be a protector of history