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May 12, 2020 2
Reading Time: 8 minutes

This blog was last updated on March 23rd, 2021

At Mashpi Lodge, your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us

As the world starts to adjust to a new normality, we have adapted the way we do most of our everyday activities. Today, after 67 years of leading the tourism industry in Ecuador and South America, we face our biggest challenge yet: restarting operations while maintaining both our client’s and staff’s health and safety. While navigating this challenge, it is clear that our efforts to resume traveling need to be collective. We want the experiences we offer to keep inspiring people while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

This challenge has required the retailoring of each process throughout our client’s entire travel experience in Ecuador: domestic flights, ground transportation, accommodations at both land and sea, activities, visiting sites, food, beverages, and so on. Each service provider must take on new duties: learning how to evaluate and identify health risks that can pose a danger to travelers. Protocols and procedures that are required to reduce the risk of contagion along every step of the operation rely heavily on the collaboration of airports and airlines, ground transportation providers, hotels, restaurants, and their personnel in the destinations we offer.

Take a look at our reinforced health and safety protocols!
We’ve prepared a video with all the protocols we’ve changed, included, or reinforced to offer you a safe and wonderful stay.

For explorers to feel that their experience is safe, they must also acknowledge their share of responsibility when it comes to evaluating potential risks to both their health and everyone else involved in their journey.

We have come up with a risk assessment approach that will allow us to keep traveling to iconic destinations safely while preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The following principles guide this roadmap:

  • Health and safety
  • Physical Distancing
  • Sustainability

Taking these three principles into consideration, we’ve come up with the following resolutions:

  • We have made the necessary adjustments in our products to provide even more ample spaces for them to comply (if not exceed) with universally accepted recommendations.
  • All standard custodial and hygienic procedures will include the latest outcome-based technology and know-how while maintaining our environmental responsibility —for instance, sanitization based on UV filters, the use of ozone-cleaning systems, and so on.
  • Necessary steps during the travel process shall be taken care of prior to departure rather than on arrival. Health screening measures should be implemented to ensure that passengers have the required clearance to travel between destinations.
  • We’re overseeing that all the partner hotels, restaurants, ground transportation services, airlines, and airports included in our regular operations count with their own health and safety protocols, distancing measures, and a rigorous observation process of environment-friendly actions.
  • The protocols we had before the COVID-19 outbreak in distancing, health and safety, and environmental preservation have been fine-tuned, enhanced, or kept untouched under the new circumstances. Some new measures should only be in place for as long as deemed necessary, while other adjustments may well become a new norm.

The tourism industry is vital in places like the Galapagos Islands, especially in consideration of the great work that is undertaken by the Galapagos National Park (GNP). Recovering from the economic impact that has been experienced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that needs to be faced. For the GNP to continue monitoring the Galapagos Marine Reserve, sponsoring various scientific research projects, eradicating invasive species, and restoring the populations of endangered fauna, they need the resources provided by tourism. Given this, everyone involved in the tourism industry is working towards rebuilding travelers’ confidence and sense of security in sanctuary destinations like the Galapagos Islands.

If we truly believe in the sustainability of our tourism model, we must be ready to do everything we can to help the traveling experience recover from the significant hit of this pandemic. Part of that process begins with recognizing and embracing the power of travel and its ability to inspire people, from all over the world, while actively contributing to the conservation of the destination.

Main adjustments in the travel stages of Metropolitan Touring’s explorers

  • Domestic flights
  • Ground transportation
  • Vessels
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants in general
  • Visiting sites

Domestic flights

As per current information, airports involved in our services are implementing screening processes to ensure that only COVID19-free personnel and passengers access their terminals. They will observe all IATA guidelines regarding international biosafety protocols. For example, they’re evaluating to provide airport staff with approved personal protective equipment (PPE).

Electronic, contact-free procedures will be prioritized to replace current formalities, and personal interactions will be limited to the strictly necessary. To guarantee physical distance, waiting areas, counters, and screening points are undergoing adjustments.

Metropolitan Touring is actively participating in the national task force that is endorsing new standards to become COVID-19 compliant. This logistical network involves local and provincial governments, airports, hotel associations, and domestic airlines.

Ground Transportation

Our vehicles and the staff involved in transportation (guides, luggage-handling staff, and drivers) will be subject to an updated set of protocols that include: always providing our guests with hand sanitizers, using personal protective equipment (PPE), adjusting our available spaces to guarantee recommended spacing, and so on. All staff will be subject to regular health screening via checkups, and vehicles will be subject to regular, rigorous disinfection protocols. As an added measure, luggage will be handled by a separate team traveling in support vehicles.

As for our transfer vehicles, even though they already have limited and low capacity, we will maximize our guest’s personal space during transportation or visits.

Vessels

Medical officers aboard our vessels (Santa Cruz II, Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II) will have an even more vital role to play while resuming operations. Their medical knowledge will be key in the screening of crewmembers and passengers upon boarding the ship, as well as supervising the proper use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). They will also make sure that hand sanitizers and disinfectants are available for guests at all times and monitor the use of additional, novel gear and environment-friendly chemicals to be implemented during this COVID-1 9 period.

Personal space for guests and crew in public areas will be increased by enabling separate shifts for all meals, scheduling disembarkation processes, and consequently boarding of groups. The ample space we had available before COVID-19 will be raised much above the conventionally accepted minimum of 28.3 sq ft (6-foot radius around each person).

 

VESSEL AREA AVERAGE PERSONAL SPACE

(in sq. ft/guest)

COMPARED TO 28.26sq ft /guest
CABINS between 68.7 and 161.9 between 2.4 and 5.7 times
DINING AREAS average 39.6 1.5 times
LECTURE AND BRIEFING AREAS average 43.8  1.6 times

We will continue to operate with a reduced guest to guide ratio (11.2 guests for every guide) in the Galapagos Islands.

Our inflatable crafts (dinghies) are cleared for a specific number of passengers; nevertheless, we’ve always used this equipment bellow the maximum recommended capacity. Taking this into consideration, tailoring the occupancy to current needs has not been a challenge for us. Our occupancy exceeds the recommended space allowance during operation and will enable physical distancing during transportation and activities.

Hotels

The numerous team members at each of our hotels (Casa Gangotena, Mashpi Lodge, and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel) will participate in a strict screening process upon entering each facility. In addition to this, they’ll be undergoing medical evaluations at regular intervals. Proper physical distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks, and gloves will be standard. Each hotel’s dining and bar areas will have proper disinfection stations for our guests. Also, since the focus of our products has always been oriented towards boutique, non-massive facilities, ample spaces are guaranteed. Ventilation systems will incorporate ultraviolet filters and ozone-based cleaning equipment. Along with this, personnel will be trained in the proper use of handheld screening devices.

It is important to note that each of these new additional and essential processes carries the environmental seal of approval for use in natural settings that are highly sensitive, like the Chocó Bioregion and the Galapagos Islands.

Restaurants in general

À la carte meals will replace buffets, making for a safer option while ensuring timely delivery. Personal space between tables and among users will be guaranteed. To minimize direct contact, our staff will adhere to the proper use of PPE, hand sanitizers, and physical distancing measures. As an additional feature, we will offer room service in our hotels and encourage our guests to opt for it.

Metropolitan Touring Hotel’s dining areas provide a personal space ratio 1.8 times higher than the international suggested a minimum of 28.3 sq ft per guest. Thus, physical distancing lies above 51.4 sq ft per guest.

We will oversee that partner restaurants also comply with this figure and other COVID-19 biosafety protocols we endorse.

Visiting sites and attractions

All our visiting sites are part of well-preserved sanctuary destinations that comply or exceed with the recommended distancing norms and standards. For example, in the Galapagos Islands, according to National Park rules, visiting sites can’t exceed a total of 16 guests per guide and six groups at a time. In Mashpi, we will continue to operate with an average rate of 4 guests per guide during activities. Also, during our land tours, we will continue to avoid tourist traps and overcrowded visiting sites.

Enclosed visiting sites we regularly use are undergoing their own set of disinfection and distancing measures before we approve of its use.

Travel requirements for Ecuador

Please, click on the button that pertains to your case for more information.

UPDATE FOR COVID-19-RELATED REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL GUESTS

We would like to let you know that the Ecuadorian Government has updated the regulations regarding travelers arriving in Ecuador. These apply from today, Monday, March 22nd onwards. All travelers over 2 years of age must use one of the following three options to enter the country:

  • Documentation that certifies they have received the full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • A negative PCR test certificate, taken up to three days before arrival in Ecuador, or
  • A negative antigen test certificate, taken up to three days before arrival in Ecuador.

Health officials will also check travelers for symptoms related to COVID-19. Suspected cases will be required to have an on-the-spot antigen test. If the result is positive, travelers will need to isolate for 10 days in accommodation of their choice and at their expense.

In the event that the antigen test result is negative, the passenger may continue with their trip. All travelers must complete a Health Declaration form.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact your Destination Expert who’ll be happy to assist you.

UPDATE FOR COVID-19-RELATED REQUIREMENTS FOR ECUADORIAN RESIDENTS

We would like to let you know that we have updated our requirements for guests at Mashpi Lodge. We request all guests over 12 years old:

  • Show documentation of having received the full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • Show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours before arrival.

We are aware the price of the PCR test increases the cost of visiting the wonders of Mashpi. We are therefore pleased to reimburse you $40 in the form of the equivalent sum for drinks at our bar, massages in our spa and for riding the Dragonfly cable car. Please check the availability of these services when you arrive at the lodge. Following the recommendations of our medical advisors, guests who have already suffered from COVID will not be able to visit the lodge for 30 days following their positive test. They will still need to show proof of a negative PCR test.

Your Destination Expert will be only too happy to answer any questions you may have and assist you. Please be aware that the use of face masks is mandatory.

In conclusion…

We believe that enhancing our already existing protocols and incorporating new ones according to the situation we’re currently facing will help us mitigate biosafety risks. We also know that there’s no definitive measure that can be implemented to lessen these biosafety risks completely, that’s why we will continue to monitor the situation closely and readjust anything we need to for the sake of our guests and staff’s safety.

Of course, these procedures will likely be modified as needed, as we continue to learn from and adapt to the challenges faced in mitigating the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As we work to improve our process, we hope to greatly reduce risk wherever possible and further nurture confidence in expedition travel.

Mashpi Lodge and Metropolitan Touring’s final goal is to create a safety corridor in which our guests can arrive to and depart from in all the destinations we offer. We want our guests to feel safe and confident from the moment their trip starts until they’re back home, reminiscing about the experience they just had with us.

 


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March 27, 2020 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

CLOUD FOREST LOCAL FRUIT CAKE RECIPE 

The inspiration behind this dish was the amazing fruit called Limón mandarino, otherwise known as Rangpur lime. A hybrid between a lemon and a tangerine, it tastes somewhat like both: the aroma and tartness of a lemon and the juiciness of a tangerine.  A type of mold grows on the skin so it doesn’t quite look like its more well-known cousins, with their shiny green and yellow skins. This fruit has a rough texture that sometimes gives the impression that the fruit is going bad, but the truth is that this in nowhere near the truth, the softer the lemon gets, the juicier it is inside and the mold on the surface has no negative effect on the fruit, it just makes it harder to sell in the market.

We invite you to delight on this amazing recipe, knowing full well that it’s going to be hard to top from home.

8-10 portions

 

Ingredients

300g Wheat flour

180g Brown or dark sugar

3 free-range eggs

175g Avocado/coconut oil

2g Ishpingo (Amazonian cinnamon) or cinnamon powder

150 gr Local seasonal fruit puree

4g Baking powder

2.5 gr Salt

30g Lemon juice

Directions

  1. Sift the dry ingredients and base (flour, salt, baking powder and ishpingo or cinnamon powder)
  2. Mix the black or brown sugar with oil and seasonal fruit purée with a whisk.
  3. Add eggs to the oil mixture, one by one. Beat at medium speed with a mixer.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and keep stirring until a creamy texture is achieved.
  5. Put waxed paper at the bottom of the pan and bake at 170ºC for 30 minutes. Allow cooling and remove the wax paper.
  6. Cut the mix into portions and spread a dab of brown-sugar buttercream. Top everything with green aromatic leaf powder. We use sun-dried lemon tangerine leaf powder from the Guayabillas

 

*Our version of this purée is made with a mix of local seasonal fruits such as salak, pineapple and roasted banana. The texture should be thick and without any big lumps.

Most kinds of ripe fruit can be used for this purpose. For better results, aim to balance the sweetness and tartness of the fruits.

 

Buttercream

Ingredients

150g Egg whites

140g Brown or dark sugar

350g Unsalted butter cut into pieces and at room temperature (previously made brown butter)

2g Good quality vanilla essence

50g Lemon leaf powder

1g salt

Directions

  1. Prior to preparation, place blender glass and whip in the fridge to cool for one hour. Brown the butter carefully. Place in a separate bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Dissolve the brown sugar in the egg whites in a bain-marie (the water should not touch the pot or be allowed to boil) until it reaches 65ºC.
  3. Put the mixture in the bowl of the cooled mixer, mix to lower the temperature, once it reaches 30ºC, beat until a shiny meringue with stable peaks forms.
  4. Change the whisk for the shovel accessory and start adding the butter in small, steady drips (the mixture must be cold to avoid melting the butter).
  5. Keep whisking at a steady pace.
  6. Once the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture, whisk at a higher speed to achieve the highest creaminess possible.(This buttercream can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. Prior to use it must be tempered and whipped)
  7. Clean the lemon leaves and dry them at 45°C.
  8. Grind to a fine powder. Keep in an airtight container.
cake recipe Mashpi Lodge
Cake recipe from Mashpi Lab’s kitchen. Try it at home!