At Royal Resorts helping protect the environment is part of everything we do; at our resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya we are constantly looking for more ways to conserve natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. As June is World Environment Month, we thought we would give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of our green initiatives. They include beach cleaning, recycling, water and energy conservation using energy-efficient technology, switching to biodegradable products and spreading the conservation message to the workforce and in the community.
Recycling rules at Royal Resorts
At Royal Resorts we recycle plastics, glass, aluminum, cardboard, paper and other waste and we invite our guests to join our campaign. There are recycling trashcans throughout the resorts and special bins in the villas and suites so that guests can separate plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard trash. All materials suitable for recycling are collected and sold as “trash for cash” to raise money for the Royal Resorts Foundation’s charitable causes: conservation, children’s education, cancer screening and treatment for women on a low income, physiotherapy for children with motor and neurological disorders and employee emergency relief. In 2016, 350 tons of waste were recycled, representing US$12,000 to help protect nature and transform lives.
Switching to biodegradable products
Where possible, cleaning products, polishes and varnishes used by the Housekeeping and Maintenance departments have been replaced by eco friendly options, another example of Royal Resorts helping protect the environment. Biodegradable garbage bags are used and the trash bins in public areas are made from recycled plastic. By switching to colored towels, the Laundry has also been able to reduce the use of bleach. Resort guests are invited to join the campaign to protect the planet and save water by not requesting a change of towels and beach towels on a daily basis. By reusing villa towels, guests helped save 186,252 liters of water in 2016.
The washing up liquid and dishwasher soaps in the villas are biodegradable, as are the bathroom amenities. Made from honey, they are produced in a Mayan community in the Yucatan as part of a sustainable development project. The coconut candies left in the villas as welcome gifts for Royal Resorts members are made by adults and children with Down Syndrome.
Rather than being thrown away, partially used bars of soap are collected and donated to Tierra de Animales, a Cancun animal welfare group. They are used to bath the stray dogs and cats at the home. The same goes for old towels, sheets and mats that no longer meet the quality standards of the resorts but are still usable. Some are donated to the Old Folks Home and Hospice in the Ciudad de la Alegría, local churches and women’s shelters. Others are given to Fauna Digna, a Cancun NGO that nurses injured wild animals and birds back to health before releasing them into the wild.
Royal Resorts restaurants and bars take up the green cause
Royal Resorts helping protect the environment encompasses the restaurants and bars, where staff have taken up the green cause. Polystyrene cups and take-out containers have been replaced in the resort pool and beach bars by reusable melamine plates and biodegradable glasses and bags. At The Royal Sands alone, this means 500 fewer polystyrene plates a day. The next stage is to eliminate all plastic cutlery in the pool and beach bars.
Another example of Royal Resorts helping protect the environment is its campaign to reduce the consumption of drinking straws, which when discarded on the beach, are both unsightly and a hazard to marine and bird life. Accordingly, straws are no longer put in drinks on the rocks unless the customer expressly asks for one. Straw consumption has been reduced by 40 percent but there’s still a long way to go.
Cloth napkins have replaced paper napkins in all the restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, thus saving paper and reducing the amount of trash generated.
Bottled beers have been replaced by canned beers in all the bars and the aluminum is subsequently recycled.
In the resort kitchens, new eco friendly products are used for disinfection and cleaning instead of chlorine. Used cooking oil is collected and sold to a local company to be utilized in making bio fuel. All the proceeds from this sale go to the Royal Resorts Foundation. And to eliminate the grease that accumulates in deposits in the kitchen sinks and floors, Royal Resorts works with a biotechnology company to dispose of it safely and in an environmentally friendly way.
Food & Beverages employees attend regular training courses on sustainability and environmental protection. At The Royal Sands alone there are 200 staff in the restaurants, bars and kitchens, just imagine, that is 200 people spreading the green message to their families and communities, it’s a small village.
Royal Resorts helping protect the environment by using energy-efficient technology
When it comes to choosing technology for the resorts, the Corporate Engineering department always looks for the products with the best proven energy saving performances available in the market. Examples are the high efficiency boilers for the swimming pools and centrifuges for the air-conditioning system that are also heat exchangers pre-heating water from 20˚C to 35˚C, and saving energy by reducing consumption of diesel, LP gas or electricity.
Solar panels installed on the roof at The Royal Sands in Cancun heat 50 percent of the water used in the resort’s rooms and suites.
By using energy saving bulbs in villa and walkway lighting at all the properties, Royal Resorts now consumes 59 percent less KWH than it would if it still used standard bulbs. The LCD flat screen energy saving TVs in the villas also use 40 percent less electricity than older models. The latest models of dishwashers and refrigerators are energy efficient appliances.
Water-saving faucets and devices have been fitted in villa bathrooms to reduce water consumption. Elsewhere in the resorts, ozone purification technology was installed to keep water in the swimming pools clean, reducing chlorine consumption by 40 percent.
Green shopping at Royal Resorts
Biodegradable bags are used in The Royal Market resort stores and shoppers are asked if they need a bag. Eco friendly cloth bags are also available for purchase. In addition, shoppers at The Royal Market can pick up a variety of regionally sourced organic coffees from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz, honey, sauces and traditional candies made by communities in the Yucatan.
Going online to save paper
Resort magazines and villa stationery are printed on recycled paper and over the years, Royal Resorts helping protect the environment has taken steps to switch many of its transactions online to reduce the use of paper and printing costs.
Keeping our beaches clean
Royal Resorts employees take their turns in keeping the beautiful white sands of Cancun and the Riviera Maya pristine as part of an ongoing Beach Cleaning campaign at the resort. An example of this is the 40-strong Food & Beverages Beach brigade at The Royal Sands that meets every Wednesday to collect cigarette butts, plastic and polystyrene, bottles and cans left on the beach, seaweed and other waste that washes up.
Royal Resorts is also participating in the White Flag Beach Cleaning Initiative with City Hall Zofemat beach coordinators and other hotels along the stretch of shoreline between Playa Marlin and Playa Ballenas. This program includes beach cleaning, maintenance, turtle conservation and sustainability measures.
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, Royal Resorts garden staff are going back to the land.
There are herb gardens outside the restaurants at The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Sands and a larger Botanical Garden at The Royal Cancun. All the chives and basil used in the resort kitchens comes from the gardens, in addition to rosemary, coriander, mint, chilies, chaya and lemon grass. Apart from providing fresh produce for the restaurants, the flowering herbs also attract bees and butterflies.
In 2015, Royal Resorts participated in a palm planting program on Cancun’s beaches. Coconut palms were planted on the open ocean side of the island to anchor the sand and help reduce coastal erosion in the long term.
Royal Resorts and Grand Residences are participating in a Riviera Maya reforestation initiative spearheaded by Experiencias Xcaret to restore the highway between Cancun and Xcaret. Native species of tree such as cedar, ceiba, ciricote and akits are being planted in the central division and over time will beautify the area and provide food and shelter for a variety of birds.
Royal Resorts is a Cancun turtle conservation pioneer
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 to date Royal Resorts has protected 6,932 nests and released 629,826 baby turtles. Tens of thousands more will be released this year.
Spreading the green message
At Royal Resorts helping protect the environment also means spreading the green message. The environmental education program has the goal of turning staff into conservation crusaders in the workplace, at home and in their community. A Sustainability Team drawn from departments across Royal Resorts gives workshops and seminars on conservation, sustainability and corporate and social responsibility and departments regularly meet to discuss additional eco-friendly policies that they can implement in their area to do their bit to protect the planet.
Employees now say that they separate their trash for recycling at home and spread the message in the community, encouraging their families and neighbors to do the same. They are more conscious of the need to save energy and water and some have gone even further, making compost and cultivating vegetables and fruit trees, installing solar panels or stoves and participating in urban park and reforestation projects. One bartender at The Royal Sands has even become involved in beekeeping in his home village and now has 60 beehives. Another is reforesting 40 hectares of land in his home village with native trees such as cedar, breadnut, guayacan, maculis or pink poui, ciricote and balche.
Protecting the Mayan Jungle for the future
Royal Resorts helping protect the environment also means supporting local conservation causes. Royal Resorts has been a long-term supporter of Cancun conservation group Amigos de Sian Ka’an. In partnership with Amigos, the Royal Resorts Foundation is helping to fund initiatives to protect the Mayan Jungle, the rare species that inhabit it and the fragile network of underground rivers that flows deep in the limestone beneath our feet.
Through an environmental services payment program coordinated by Amigos de Sian Ka’an, 22 landowners in Ejido Juarez and four in the area of El Eden reserve in northern Quintana Roo are receiving grants in return for preserving the forest on their land for posterity instead of clearing it for agriculture, cattle ranching or urban development. To date, 400 hectares of forest have been saved using this system. Not only is the forest protected for wildlife, it represents the capture and storage of 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by water production, water treatment plants and pumping in the Benito Juarez municipal district where Cancun is located.
Participating landowners recognize that it is crucial to protect the jungle and their enthusiasm has spread to eight other ejidos where landowners are also interested in joining the program.
El Eden reserve is of vital ecological importance in the area. Straddling a natural fault line, it is a zone of jungle and marshland peppered with cenotes, underground rivers and lagoons where water is plentiful year-round, attracting wildlife. It is home to forest and wetland birds, whitetail deer, peccary, spider monkey, jaguar, puma, ocelot and anteater, among others.
Despite being endangered as a result of deforestation, uncontrolled growth, ranching and poaching, jaguars and pumas still inhabit the territory. El Eden Reserve has been identified as a breeding area for jaguars and it is thought that females seek it out as a refuge to give birth. Using camera traps attached to trees along jungle trails, biologists are studying the big cats’ movements through the forest and those of the animals they prey upon such as deer, peccary, agouti and ocellated turkey.
The goal is to expand the environmental services program in the north and center of the state, linking larger areas of forest to the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve and creating natural wildlife corridors for threatened species like the jaguar. Quintana Roo has the largest population of jaguars in Mexico, estimated at around 800 of the estimated 4,000 that still roam the country. Protecting this emblem species, once held sacred by the Maya and the Aztecs, is a priority for Mexico’s environmental ministry and conservationists and the project to create a natural corridor in northern Quintana Roo was given an extra boost recently at the COP 13 biodiversity summit in Cancun in December.
The cenotes and underground rivers of the Yucatan Peninsula are breathtakingly beautiful and a hidden treasure for biologists, archaeologists and cave divers. The only source of fresh water in the area, they are also fragile and under threat from urban development and pollution. Amigos de Sian Ka’an is mapping the network of underground rivers, studying threats to the aquifer and cenotes and working with government authorities, universities and the private sector to develop a water management policy to protect them.
Royal Resorts are certified as green resorts
Royal Resorts helping protect the environment also includes participation 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 of 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.
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