LAPA Ríos Ecolodge, on the OsaPeninsula in southwest Costa Rica, wasselected Nov. 2 to receive the U.S. StateDepartment Award for Corporate Excellence(ACE). Lapa Ríos co-founder KarenLewis accepted the award, presented byU.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,in a ceremony held in the U.S. StateDepartment’s Benjamin Franklin Room inWashington, D.C.“This award was created in 1999 torecognize the important role thatAmerican businesses play abroad asresponsible corporate citizens,” Rice saidat the ceremony. “All around the world,our chiefs of mission submit the names ofcompanies that exhibit conscience andcharacter and integrity in their businesspractices. This year we received 60 compellingnominations, more than in anyprevious year, from which we have selectedthis year’s two winners.”Lapa Ríos won for the small andmedium enterprises (SMEs) category,while Cisco Systems, based in San Jose,California, won the award in the multinationalenterprise category.Lapa Ríos was selected because of itsenvironmental conservation efforts and itswork with local communities.“When John and Karen Lewis soldall their worldly belongings to purchasea lush and beautiful tract of rainforestin Costa Rica, they did not seek merelyto create a hotel; they sought to developan entire concept of ecotourism, whichthey realized in Lapa Ríos,” Rice said.The Lapa Ríos hotel was commendedfor such community work as buildingthe Carbonara Elementary School andsupporting other local services such asthe community health clinic, road andbridge maintenance, the local policeforce and the local water supply. LapaRíos has also filled its staff with localworkers: all but two of its 50 employeesare from the area.