A longtime supporter of conservation campaigns in the Mexican Caribbean, Royal Resorts has taken on a role of environmental stewardship in recent years and is always looking for ways to make more efficient use of natural resources, save water and electricity, switch to eco friendly cleaning products and to reduce its carbon footprint. Here’s a rundown of important green initiatives underway at the resorts.
Using energy-efficient technology
In late 2010, 175 solar panels were installed on the roof at The Royal Sands and now supply 50 percent of the hot water needed by the resort’s 340 villas. Additional panels may be added in the future.
Heat exchangers fitted in the air-conditioning systems enable the resorts to use energy more efficiently by preheating the water for the villas. Fluorescent/PL Energy saver bulbs have been used in the villas, walkways, corridors and offices at the resorts since 1994. LED lights were installed in the resort lobbies in 2011 and in the pool areas. By switching the lights, Royal Resorts now consumes 59 percent less KWH than if it still used standard bulbs.
TV sets in the villas have been replaced with LCD flat screen energy saving models, which use 40 percent less electricity.
The importance of recycling
Over the years, Royal Resorts has switched many of its transactions online to reduce the use of paper and printing costs. It also recycles wherever possible and encourages guests and employees to do the same
There are recycling trashcans throughout the resorts and guests are invited to separate plastic, glass, aluminum cans and cardboard waste and put it in a special bin in their villas. There are special bags for used batteries and they can also be handed in at the gift shop. Behind the scenes, staff also separate scrap metal, paper, cardboard and office supplies and even the cooking oil used in the resort kitchens. All waste suitable for recycling is collected and sold as “trash for cash” to certified recycling companies.
In 2014, 400 tons of recycled materials from the resorts were sold for US$21,000 to raise money for the Royal Resorts Foundation’s charitable causes: conservation, education, the fight against cancer and employee emergency relief.
Switching to biodegradable alternatives
The use of straws, non-biodegradable polystyrene cups and take-out containers has been reduced in the resort pool and beach bars and reusable melamine plates and acrylic glasses are used wherever possible.
Biodegradable bags are used in the resort stores and shoppers are asked if they really need one. Eco friendly cloth bags are available for purchase. Even the resort magazines are printed on recycled paper.
Where possible, cleaning products, polishes and varnishes used at the resorts
are substituted for environmentally friendly options such as ozonated water to clean and disinfect, biodegradable polish and soap that does not lather or produce bubbles but is still an effective cleaner.
Ozone purification pool technology keeps water in the swimming pools clean, and has helped reduce chlorine consumption by 40 percent. And by switching to colored towels, Royal Resorts has been able to cut the use of bleach in the resort laundries.
Resort guests are invited to help protect the planet by not requesting a change of bed linens, towels and beach towels on a daily basis. Water-saving faucets and devices have also been installed in villa bathrooms to reduce water consumption and staff also do what they can to conserve this precious resource.
From planting native species of trees at the Royal Haciendas and Grand Residences to composting organic kitchen waste and the use of eco friendly garden products wherever possible, the Royal Resorts gardeners are going back to the land.
There are herb gardens outside the restaurant at The Royal Caribbean, The Royal Sands and at The Royal Haciendas. Chilies, tomatoes, radishes, chaya and herbs such as coriander, basil, oregano, marjoram and rosemary are grown organically in the small plots and there are citrus trees in the garden at The Royal Haciendas. Apart from providing fresh produce for the restaurants, the flowering herbs also attract bees and butterflies.
As part of a joint project by the Garden and Activities departments, a new botanical garden has also been created at The Royal Cancun. It forms part of a larger environmental awareness initiative at the resort with fun activities for children and families planned to launch later in 2015.
Protecting the beaches
Employees take their turn in keeping the beautiful white sands of Cancun and the Riviera Maya pristine as part of an ongoing Beach Cleaning campaign at the resorts, and also by volunteering for beach clean ups in Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve.
Trash collected ranges from cigarette butts, plastic and polystyrene, bottles and cans left on the beach, seaweed and other waste that washes up on the shoreline.
Spreading the word
At Royal Resorts, the green program includes raising environmental awareness with the goal of turning staff into conservation crusaders in the workplace, at home and in the community.
Throughout the resorts, departments collaborate to recycle and save water and electricity and there are regular Green Team meetings to discuss ideas and implement additional eco-friendly policies.
In 2013, 15 members of staff were given in-depth training on environmental issues to qualify them to give workshops on aspects of sustainability, conservation and social responsibility to their colleagues. This Sustainability Group is now spreading the message through seminars on topics such as:
Environmental education, saving water and electricity, mental health, gender equality in the workplace, importance of education, “green” shopping and good citizenship.
Royal Resorts turtle program
Since 1985, Royal Resorts has been protecting the sea turtles that emerge from the sea during the summer to lay their eggs on the beaches of Cancun. It was among the first resort groups to sign up when municipal authorities subsequently launched a conservation campaign and now participates in the annual statewide turtle program coordinated by SEMARNAT, the Mexican Department of the Environment.
Record keeping began in 1998 and, since then, Royal Resorts has protected 6,524 nests and released 548,756 turtles. Tens of thousands more will be released this year.
Royal Resorts supports conservation in the Yucatan Peninsula
Royal Resorts is a longtime donor to Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Cancun-based conservation group that has done so much to protect the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the wildlife of the Yucatan Peninsula. Conservation is also one of the Royal Resorts Foundation’s key causes and it is participating in a regional program implemented by Amigos and the Mexican National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) to safeguard four million hectares of tropical forest.
The Royal Resorts Foundation is raising money in support of Amigos de Sian Ka’an’s work with rural communities and ejidatarios or small farmers and
landholders to protect the forest instead of clearing it for development. They receive environmental services payments for leaving the land untouched. In addition to conserving the forest and the creatures that inhabit it, such actions increase carbon capture and help to offset the devastating effects of climate change.
The first recipients of environmental services payments were farmers in northern Quintana Roo in Ejido Juarez and San Mateo Ake near El Eden, a private reserve en route to Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve and the island of Holbox. Their land is located in a belt of forest and marshland along a geological fault line associated with the cenotes and underground river systems of the Riviera Maya. As water is plentiful year round, this area attracts a variety of wildlife and the long-term goal is to protect it in order to create a natural corridor linking it to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve; this will help rare species such as the jaguar, puma and ocelot.
Purchasing regional products
Whenever possible, Royal Resorts purchases locally to support small businesses and producers, boost the regional economy, reduce transport costs and conserve fuel. An example of this is the furniture in the villas at the resorts, all made by carpenters in the neighboring state of Yucatan. Organic coffee, chocolate, honey from the Yucatan, locally made handicrafts, herbal cosmetics and sauces are available at Royal Resorts stores and gift shops.
Royal Resorts are certified as green resorts
Royal Resorts is participating in the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative or MARTI. Founded by Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Conservation International and the Coral Reef Alliance, MARTI seeks to protect the world’s second longest coral reef through the implementation of better environmental practices to reduce pollution and minimize the impact of tourism on area ecosystems. Over 100 resorts and other companies in Cancún, Riviera Maya and Cozumel have signed up to this initiative and are working for change. MARTI has already certified all the Royal Resorts properties as being resorts with eco-friendly policies.
In 2013, The Royal Haciendas, The Royal Sands and The Royal Cancun also received the Distintivo S from the Mexican Tourism Board, a distinction awarded to resorts for their work towards sustainability.
Greening Grand Residences
Nestled on a beautiful beach with the Mesoamerican reef just offshore and mangrove forest and a nature reserve in the backyard, Grand Residences is in a privileged natural setting. Planning had to be meticulous in order to safeguard the environment and obtain the construction permits for the resort.
Mexican environmental laws protect mangroves and permits stipulated that Grand Residences had to preserve the surrounding mangroves and that 75 percent of the landscaped areas on the 13-acre site also had to be planted with white and botoncillo mangroves and the remaining 25 percent with native species found in coastal areas such as palms, chaca, sea grape and spider lilies.
A nursery was established at the site in 2008 and the majority of the plants used in the landscaping and reforestation of the resort, including 100,000 mangrove seedlings, were raised there. Mangroves have since been transplanted to different areas of the resort such as the sunken gardens on either side of the decks and also behind the machine house.
The adjacent lot has also been reforested with mangroves and rubble dumped in the wetlands by a former owner of the site was removed, restoring normal water flow. Wildlife is returning to the reforested area and the resort will continue to contribute to the conservation of the ecosystem.
Grand Residences operates with cutting-edge eco-friendly programs to reduce its environmental impact and protect local wildlife.
Ninety percent of all the lighting in Grand Residences is LED, the remainder is PL and energy-efficient air-conditioning, electrical appliances and water heating systems are used. The water is purified using reverse osmosis technology and there is a desalination plant. A state of the art treatment plant also allows waste-water to be treated and disposed of in accordance with environmental norms.