30 May, 2013

Eco-Friendly Hospitality Practices in Latin America

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
 
According to the TripAdvisor 2012 Industry Index, cost reduction is the number one reason for implementing eco-friendly hospitality practices. The survey received more than 25,000 responses from hoteliers around the globe of which 66% chose cost savings. Other reasons mentioned were because it is an industry trend (51%), guest demand (29%), marketing and public relations purposes (25%), because the competition has it (13%), regulation (7%) and to increase room rates (3%).
 
At Grand Velas Resorts in Mexico, we are dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment by following several eco-friendly green hotel practices. The TripAdvisor 2012 Industry Index discovered that the top five global eco-friendly practices include: energy efficient light bulbs, 79 percent; towel/linen reuse, 62 percent; energy efficiency plan, 56 percent; have green cleaning programs, 52 percent; and use water-efficient toilets and showerheads, 52 percent. In addition to following these common practices, Grand Velas Riviera Maya utilizes unique eco-friendly features, including solar panels and ReverseOsmosis Desalting Plants.
 
We strive to exist harmoniously within our environments. Grand Velas Riviera Maya is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, an unconfined flat lying landscape. Sinkholes, known locally as cenotes, are widespread in the northern lowlands and played a large role in inspiring the design of the hotel. Surrounded by 86 acres of jungle, mangroves, fresh water cenotes (a deep natural sinkhole characteristic of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula) and expansive beachfront, Grand Velas Riviera Maya was designed around its environment. During the building process, it was important to us to help protect the native flora and fauna of the region so we reforested the surrounding areas with over 18,000 trees. Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s sister resort was also designed to allow guests enjoyment and appreciation for its natural surroundings. Just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and spanning over 190 miles along the Pacific coast of Nayarit, Riviera Nayarit sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountain range. In addition to views of the mountains, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit offers guest views of the Banderas Bay, as well as the humpback whales that migrate to the area in the early part of each year. At Grand Velas Resorts, guests take advantage of unique opportunities to experience the resorts’ natural landscapes and wildlife, while also enjoying an incomparable luxury all-inclusive vacation experience
 
In addition to coexistence and appreciation, we use several different fueling and electric alternatives to stay true to eco-friendly and conservation principles. In fact, Grand Velas Riviera Maya does not depend on any oil-based source of fuel. Solar panels are installed on the roof of the resort in an area of 7,513 square feet, generating over 191 million kilocalories per year, equivalent to 222 million+ kilowatt hours (KWH). In addition, co-generation electricity plants reduce dependency on local and country-wide energy sources, and a state of the art air-conditioning system reduces contaminating emissions and minimizes the consumption of energy. At Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, we rely on daylight as much as possible to illuminate our lobby, an expansive 125 meter high palapa (an open structure with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves). This saves us approximately $8,500 USD per year. We have implemented practices that not only conserve energy, but also guarantee reasonable profitability.
 
The Grand Velas Resorts also strive to eliminate the need to rely upon local and regional natural resources. Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s two Reverse-Osmosis Desalting Plants operate self-sufficiently. In addition, for every liter of potable water, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is able to re-use 2.54 cups for general purposes, while 1.69 cups are returned to the subsoil, aiding in the conservation of the environment. The resort also manages to save 30% of all water used in the entire laundry process, as the laundry facilities include a water treatment plant that efficiently filters soapy waters to then be used in the rinsing process.
 
The residual water treatment facility receives and processes all the water from the entire resort, which is then used for the watering of all exterior gardens and surrounding mangroves and jungle. This saves us approximately $138,500 USD per year.
 
Commitment to the local environment is also an essential element of our resorts’ culinary practices. Our leading chefs, including a Maître Cuisinier de France and Mexico’sChef of the Year” in 2012, are committed to buying as much as possible locally. Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit even features a Huitlacoche Signature Margarita, sourced locally, which combines the corn truffle with tequila, resulting in a slightly salty, very flavorful and unique drink served on the rocks. Having received numerous culinary honors throughout the past several years, our resorts look forward to continued success while maintaining this commitment to the local communities that support us.
 
Also community sourced is artwork. Grand Velas Riviera Maya has 491 suites – all over 1100 sq ft – and Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit 267. All of these suites boast custom-commissioned artwork by local master artisans delivering bold punches of tropical color. Not only does this support local artists, it also creates a unique experience for our guests, in which they truly immerse themselves in the local culture.
 
Over the past several years, our guests have also been getting involved through several unique activities and programs offered by the resorts. Grand Velas Riviera Maya takes part in the Federal Sea Turtle Conservation Program, protecting the eggs from laying to hatching with hotel guests invited to assist in the release. Another opportunity for guests to educate themselves, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s Green Escape Package gives travelers the chance to see and learn about the property’s natural cenotes and wildlife, including the different types of birds that inhabit the property. Additionally, at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, we invite local Huichol Indians to come and conduct jewelry making classes for hotel guests. Just outside the resorts, travelers can discover the beauty and thrill of Mexico’s landscapes. At Grand Velas Riviera Maya, adventure-seekers will enjoy exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of nearby Chichen-Itza, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, zip-line tours through the Yucatan’s vibrant jungle and kayaking and Mexico’s best nature reserves. At Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, guests enjoy tropical jungle tours and expeditions, whale watching in Banderas Bay, deep-sea fishing charters and even cultural experiences in a nearby pueblo, where guests get a taste of Mexican customs, local history and long-standing traditions.
 
Our resorts’ world-class Spas are also very much influenced by native Mexican culture and known for their signature Mexican treatments. Designed by lauded Mexican architecture firm Elias and Elias, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Spa features the sleek and modish interiors that fuse the serenity of the Caribbean with the vibrancy of Yucatan cultures. As Mexico has a rich history of healing practices, from the Mayan culture to the Aztecs, ancient civilizations of the region have left a great legacy; the knowledge of herbs, medicines and sacred plants have been passed down from generation to generation, and today forms an essential part of Mexican folklore and culture. Based on this knowledge, the Spa offers an extensive menu of locally authentic services, known as the Journey through Ancient Mexico Spa Collection. The popular collection includes a signature Mayan Spa Experience that features Mayan Cocoa and Shawl experiences, nature inspired treatments with cocoa, coffee, vanilla as well as innovative fish exfoliation treatment. The resort was named a “Best Spa” in the world by Virtuoso and also earned a SpaFinder Readers’ Choice Award.
 
In addition to respecting authentic Mexican culture, the Grand Velas Spas also support their respective local communities. This year, Grand Velas Riviera Maya and Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit have both offered several Personalized Spa + Yoga Experience Retreats. The retreats combine Yoga and other personal fitness regimes, healing Spa treatments, focus on one’s Inner Being, and a menu of gourmet Spa cuisine, all within the pristine natural beauty of the “Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare” Mexican resorts. The unique luxury experiences are led by renowned instructors, including international Ayurveda authority Mas Vidal and Kundalini yoga and gong healing expert Harijiwan. Both resorts show appreciation for the surrounding areas that make the experiences so unique by donating a percentage of profits from the retreats to charities in the community.
 
Everything from our water treatment process and solar fuel to community support and rigorous protection of our current environments helps us obtain our green certifications and awards year after year. For our high scores on the application of good environmental practices and the promotion of sustainable development, Grand Velas Riviera Maya has received the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) and is GreenGlobe and EarthCheck certified. In addition, both Grand Velas resorts have been awarded Clean Beaches by the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico since 2009, a special distinction that only few resorts have received. While we are proud of these recognitions, Grand Velas Resorts truly do benefit from eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Not only are our operations more economically efficient, but we also provide our guests with an opportunity to experience the true beauty of Mexico’s natural landscapes, as well as its rich culture.
 
With more than 30 years of hospitality experience, and most recently as Managing Director of Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Fernando Garcia Rossette was appointed Managing Director for the Grand Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya and Rivera Nayarit, as well as Casa Velas, a boutique hotel and ocean club on the Marina Vallarta Golf Course in Puerto Vallarta, in October 2011. As the opening General Manager of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya in 2008, Mr. Rossette was responsible for overseeing about 1,500 employees at the resorts three ambiances, spa and food and beverage outlets. Having been the opening general manager for Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, its sister property, Mr. Mr. Rossette was attracted to the post for the challenge of opening the next iteration of the Grand Velas brand which he feels is set apart by the breadth and depth of its ultra-luxury facilities and services. Mr. Rossette can be contacted at 877-418-3059 or contactcenter@grandvelas.com

 
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