Sustainable Luxury Without Sacrifice

By Christian Gonzalez Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Rosewood Hotels Mexico Region | November 17, 2019

Rosewood Mayakoba

As luxury hospitality operators, we have a responsibility to understand that nature and the environment are not inexhaustible resources. It is not enough to just have "sustainable" practices aimed at helping the environment, but we must ensure that we are creating a value chain that is conscious towards environmental, social and economic sustainability.

This richer understanding of sustainability benefits us all. It drives us to find new ways to make better choices as we build, renovate and innovate. It brings us closer to the communities in which we operate and are a part of. Preparing for a new decade ahead, here are some of the ways we have woven sustainability into all aspects of the Rosewood Mayakoba experience and the areas of opportunity we are forging for an eco-friendly tomorrow.

Nature That Nurtures

Rosewood Mayakoba is a prime model of how sustainable design and execution can be thoughtfully woven together to create a truly luxurious destination. Sitting within a 1,600-acre private development, the resort revolves around the protection of our natural mangroves and is home to hundreds of indigenous flora and fauna.  Guests arrive to their suite via an electric boat, and they use electric golf carts and bicycles throughout their stay.  This seamless integration with our natural environment is one of the most defining characteristics of the resort. Sustainability is in our DNA as a resort development.

Our five-star luxury resort was built to abide by the highest of eco-standards, offering indulgence with awareness, and has earned the Rainforest Alliance Certification.  From energy and water conservation to responsible culinary practices, here are a few of the ways that sustainability today is rooted in being conscious and respectful of our environment and community.

La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen at Rosewood Mayakoba

Responsible Sourcing

It's no secret that locavorism is rampant, maybe even the buzziest when it comes to talking about culinary sourcing. Urban restaurants and resort destinations alike take great pride is supporting local farms and farmers. At Rosewood Mayakoba, we have a dedicated 20,000-square-foot outdoor dining concept, La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen, where we forage over 45 types of organic vegetation. This al fresco kitchen and garden, which serves only food cooked over an open flame in accordance with Mayan tradition, allows us to celebrate organic fruits and vegetables, with a focus on indigenous Mexican herbs and spices.

But, we have found that responsibly sourcing food locally, and even growing it onsite, is just the beginning of how much we can do to ensure that every element of the dining experience is sustainable. What plate is the food served on? Where is the wine from in the glass? Who made the chairs and tables from what materials?

It's essential to take a holistic approach to responsible sourcing, whether you're in the midst of a new build or a renovation of an existing property, and proactively look for opportunities to support local makers and artisans whose products and practices contribute to building a truly eco-friendly experience.

We are newly refurbishing our suites on property and have worked closely with our design partners to ensure that we are using locally fabricated and sourced materials made in collaboration with artisans in the area. Not only does that effort pay off in being more environmentally friendly in terms of the materials we are using and reducing our carbon footprint for shipping those goods, but it also means that we are able to build to our exact specifications to create stunning, original pieces that are luxurious and connected to time-honored local Mexican traditions like pottery, embroidery and weaving.

Mindful sourcing is also something we bring to all our amenities. When guests check in to their room, they are greeted with a hand-crafted bottle of an agave spirit made by one of five master distillers or mezcaleros. This gesture opens the door for guests to learn about the deep history of each master and their distinct approach to making agave spirits and our work with Mezonte, a non-profit organization that supports and preserves the production of traditional agave spirits in Mexico and our partners in creating this proprietary line of spirits.  

Rosewood Mayakoba's new beachfront concept Aquí Me Quedo

Eco-Education

Experiential travel is another buzzword that is pervasive, speaking to what we know is our very limited commodity: time. Finding ways to give our guests unforgettable experiences that live well beyond their time with us on property is fundamental to building meaningful guest loyalty. Here practicing sustainability presents us another opportunity, which is educating our guests about the eco practices and responsible sourcing we undertake.

To engage with guests in a deeper way and offer them a totally unique way to appreciate living on a lagoon, we invite them to meet with our full time biologist who offers daily EcoTours for kids and adults alike to show them the importance of our efforts to minimize disruption to our natural ecosystem, and our many efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

Education can also be festive. At Aquí Me Quedo, our newly opened beachfront oasis this February, we launched our first Yo ♥ Mexico event. This gathering celebrated Mexico's artistic and culinary heritage with celebrity chefs and local artisans, inviting guests to learn by tasting, meeting and enjoying a first-hand experience of the partnerships we have forged in an effort to support our local community.

Proceeds of the event went to Centro Educativo K'iin Beh, a local elementary school funded with support of the resort. Guests could also donate money or time to the school during their stay and Incentive Groups also gave time to donate and build bookshelves and other supplies for the students. These types of interactive education become the treasured memories that bring guest back time and time again.


Waste Not

The movement to eradicate plastic straws has grown like a tidal wave, not only impacting hotels and resorts but spas, bars, restaurants, airplanes, and many more corners where single use plastics are the norm. Buoyed by tremendous consumer and media attention, the push to ditch plastics has opened the door to looking at what other areas for improvement can be made.

At Rosewood Mayakoba, we've found cornstarch and paper wax straws to offer when needed and continually look for new alternatives in packaging and ways to minimize waste. The "Green Operations" program includes recycling but also donating reusable items like glass and aluminum that can have a second life and be used in new capacities. In our fitness center and meeting rooms, we have installed water filters and use recycled aluminum bottles. In guest bathroom, you find large refillable bottles to eliminate use of small, single use plastic bottles. We also provide staff with reusable water bottles for their offices or work stations.

Another area for hoteliers in urban and resort destinations to consider sustainability is water usage. Oftentimes the thought of using low flow systems leads people to think that they will be offering guests a subpar experience but there are other strategies that do not diminish the guest experience at all. All water used at Rosewood Mayakoba, for instance, comes from a natural well and is filtered through inverse osmosis. We recycle gray water from guestrooms and laundry in our in-house treatment plant for landscape irrigation. We additionally use ultrasound equipment to detect underground water leaks. All these systems lead to greater efficiencies and take into account the unique attributes of our environment.

A Shared Sense of Purpose

For all the eco practices you can implement, perhaps the most important is making it known that sustainability is core value of your company. By establishing that shared sense of purpose with your team, it makes it more fulfilling to enact but also allows you to be flexible and empower everyone on your team to be a part of the eco task force. It gives you the ability to act quickly and think creatively of new ways you can improve the environment and your community.

To build a tight knit bond with our community we invest in the future. This summer, we completed our first internship for 20 of our employees' teenage children. With this program we seek to sow the seeds for our community's youth and shape tomorrow's leaders, following the example of their parents. Graduates were immersed in the resort's culture, learning firsthand about leadership, interdisciplinary skills and committed work ethic.

We also listen to our community. Through a survey with our associates, we identified public parks or common areas near their homes which we have been renovating (painting, cleaning, improving garden areas). We invest in these areas as well as have associates volunteer their time to improve these areas in their community.

And, we are nimble to act when our community is in need. Just a few hours south of our resort on the coast of the Yucatán peninsula, there was a devastating fire that engulfed the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. The damage to this UNESCO World Heritage site impacted over three thousand acres of tropical forests. As our neighbor, we instantly knew that we must do something to support the revitalization of this rich habitat, which led to our Chef Juan Pablo Loza, Director of Culinary Operations at Rosewood Mayakoba, joining together with friends in the chef community across Mexico to host a fundraising meal on property.

This impromptu and important gathering became not only a chance to show financial support for Amigos de Sian Ka'an, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainable development, but also a change to educate visitors of the damaging effects of deer poaching.

There is no shortage of ways to be an eco leader in hospitality and there's never been a more exciting time to engage with guests about these practices. With 87 percent of global travelers sharing that they want to travel sustainably (*according to the Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com) there's a tremendous opportunity to shed light on both the back-of-house and front-of-house ways that we are all making strides towards more sustainable operations.

Mr. Gonzalez Christian Gonzalez was born in Mexico City and grew up in Puerto Vallarta surrounded by family and friends in the hospitality industry, catching the hotel bug at a young age. He attended the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, earning a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management, and moved to Seattle shortly after graduation where he worked in the rooms division for the Renaissance Hotel. Mr. Gonzalez's immense knowledge of Mexican culture, coupled with his success at an early age, brought him back to Mexico after he was recruited by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. He then spent five years as a Sales Manager focusing on developing the United States' West Coast incentive market. Following his tenure in Mexico, Mr. Gonzalez was swiftly promoted within the Four Seasons brand, and was transferred to Southern California where he worked on the pre-opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Mr. Gonzalez was an integral part of the team that handled the launch of the luxury resort which included a 40,000 square-foot spa, the largest in the collection, and California Health & Longevity Institute, a 42,000 square-foot 360° wellness facility. Mr. Gonzalez can be contacted at 310-843-9097 or christian.gonzalez@rosewoodhotels.com Please visit http://www.rosewoodhotels.com for more information. Extended Biography

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You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.

13. PRIVACY POLICY

The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

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Coming up in January 2020...

Mobile Technology: Meeting Tech Expectations

What once seemed futuristic is now the norm, owing to the escalating developments in mobile technology, and hotels must continue to innovate in order to meet guest expectations. In a recent study from Mower, 65 percent of guests said they would gladly pay more for a hotel that provides the mobile technology they deem essential. The same study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel, and nearly 7 in 10 want to use smart devices provided by the hotel. And how do guests wish to use all this technology? A majority expressed a desire for mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile payment options. They also want to be able to stream content from their phone to the TV; to make service requests of the hotel staff; to control in-room lighting, temperature and sound; to order food and beverages; and to request a wake-up call - all from their mobile device. Guests also expressed preferences for robust wi-fi and convenient device charging ports throughout the hotel. They also appreciate the use of hotel branded apps which allow a guest to book a room, access loyalty programs, receive discounts and rewards, and even use the app to choose the room, floor and view they prefer. Some hotel apps also allow a customer to track their charges throughout their stay, rather than waiting to receive a bill at the end. Finally, mobile tech lounges are popping up more frequently in some hotels. These lounges offer guests the opportunity to perform tasks like airline check-ins or access to local info guides, but they also provide a place where guests can comfortably get some work done outside their room. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to meet their customers' expectations in the mobile technology space.