Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino undergoes regular environmental audits. // © 2017 Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino
Feature image (above): Many Caribbean resorts look to offer luxury without sacrificing nature. // © 2017 Getty Images
Considering that natural beauty is one of the Caribbean’s biggest assets, it’s no surprise that industry players are increasingly working toward protecting the region’s environment.
“The Caribbean tourism product is based on the natural environment, and there is a mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment,” said Amanda Charles, sustainable tourism development specialist for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
Charles says that recent major initiatives include the Supporting a Climate Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Industry Project, implemented by the CTO and financed by the Caribbean Development Bank.
“As part of this project, tourism practitioners and policymakers in the public and private sectors receive training and tools to help mitigate the impact of climate change and enhance the resiliency, sustainability and global competitiveness of the region’s tourism destinations,” she said.
Among the Caribbean islands involved in eco-friendly initiatives is Aruba, which aims to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. Individual properties involved with eco-friendly activities on Aruba include Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, where green efforts include new internet-controlled thermostats; an AquaRecycle system that recycles laundry water; and an annual audit by EarthCheck, which monitors environmental protection standards.
Indeed, a variety of individual hotels recognize the value of protecting the environment and are making it easier for people to travel in an eco-friendly fashion.
To that end, the Hyatt properties have initiated activities including solid-waste management and water and energy conservation. The property’s lifeguard and watersports team, meanwhile, launched a Marine Life Keep & Care Awareness program, which teaches guests and staff how to use the beach in a way that helps protect coral reefs.
Elsewhere in the region, Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino bills itself as the first hotel in the Caribbean — and within the Sheraton brand worldwide — to receive LEED certification. It also features a “cool roof” that lowers building temperatures. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman offers an Ambassadors of the Environment program that introduces guests to nature through expert guides. And the Green Globe-certified Spice Island Beach Resort on Grenada was recognized this past spring by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences for its commitment to environmental standards. The property uses solar rooftop heaters for all hot water; practices composting; and uses 100 percent post-consumer paper for company letterheads and envelopes.
Meanwhile, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has introduced eco-friendly practices at multiple properties. At the Iberostar Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, all organic waste is now collected and processed into fertilizer, and a Zero Straws campaign advocates against providing guests with straws in their drinks. At the Iberostar Bavaro complex in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana, guests can celebrate Forest Day and Earth Day and participate in recycling contests, beach cleanups and eco-tours.
“The natural beauty of the Caribbean’s landscape forms the basis of marketing the tourism product within the region,” said Vishal Vaswani, director of rooms for Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, both of which received Green Globe certification this year. “While we seek to complement the treasures of our region with the hospitality of our people, it is also important that we live with the intent of protecting our environment.”