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Meliá's Costa Rica Golf Course Receives the "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" Ranking

GUANACASTE, Costa Rica  (March 7, 2002) - Meliá Playa Conchal Beach & Golf Resort and its championship Robert Trent Jones II-designed Garra de Leon (Lion's Paw) Golf Course has earned the distinction of being the first in Latin America to receive the distinguished "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" ranking.  The certification is awarded by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System (ACSS), the educational division of Audubon International.

Don Johnson, Superintendent CGCS of Garra de Leon Golf Course, has led the effort to maintain this course and obtain sanctuary status.  Johnson is also being recognized for his achievement in Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International.

For a golf course to receive the official Audubon certification, a course must demonstrate that it is maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of categories.  These categories include:  environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, and water quality management.

"At Meliá Playa Conchal, we are delighted to receive this certification as an environmentally friendly golf course," said Richard Pfeifer, Managing Director.  "By receiving this honor, we are showing our continuing efforts to maintain and preserve Costa Rica's environment and its beauty."

Situated on 2400 lushly landscaped acres in the pristine Guanacaste Province - named for its majestic Guanacaste trees - Meliá Playa Conchal emphasizes the major natural elements of the existing environment.  The famed tropical forest surrounds the resort, and the topography is dominated by hills and valleys providing guests spectacular views of the Pacific, and the surrounding mountains and volcanoes.  With meeting facilities of more than 5,000 square feet, a lively casino and disco-bar, the challenging Garra de Leon Golf Course, 11 restaurants and bars, Central America's largest free-form swimming pool and Costa Rica's most beautiful white-sand beach, the Meliá Playa Conchal offers convenience, luxury and eco-adventure at its best. 

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, sponsored in part by the United States Golf Association, provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat, and protect natural resources.  Golf courses from the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, and Europe have also achieved certification in the program.

Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts is one of the world's most successful hotel companies with its four brands - Meliá Hotels, Tryp Hotels, Sol Hotels and Paradisus Resorts – with over 350 hotels in more than 30 countries worldwide.  Sol Meliá's 2002 expansion plans include new properties in Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Mexico and throughout Asia Pacific and Europe. 

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