Sandos Caracol: an environmentally friendly MARTI hotel

MARTI’s recommended best practices have been implemented with excellent results.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico, May 15th, 2013.- Sandos Caracol Resorts & Spa stands out among the Mayan Riviera hotels that have implemented best environmental practices recommended by MARTI. We had a conversation with Efrain Ríos Castillo, Ecology and Environment Director for Sandos Hotels in Mexico, to discuss their progress in terms of environmental matters and the benefits captured by the company from these activities.

 

Sandos Caracol and MARTI started working together back in 2009. They were able to scope out the company’s intentions and define technics in order to translate those intentions into more environmentally friendly actions. Initially, they worked on biodegradable products handling and solid waste separation. The second step was the use of energy- and water- saving devices, lowering their water and electric bills. Signs were put up in offices to implement the “Turn off Lights, Turn on Life” in-house campaign, raising awareness among employees about how their actions have repercussions on energy savings. Also, key cards are now being used to control the lights in guest rooms.      

For water, a campaign was launched with signs placed at water outlets, including guest rooms, making people aware of the impact they have on the environment when brushing their teeth or taking a shower. Regular urinals have also been partially replaced with water-free urinals, as part of a company-wide replacement program.

 Mr. Ríos stated that MARTI has definitely been a great support to these achievements and that they plan to continue improving in terms of sustainability. With this in mind, they have provided more training, not only at Sandos Playacar and Sandos Caracol Playa del Carmen Hotels, but also at Sandos Cancun.

In the social arena, they have initiated the “Ayúdanos a Ayudar” (“Help Us Help Out”) program, where they collect contributions from the guests who already know the program and heartily participate by brining donations with them every time they visit the hotel; such donations are distributed within Mayan communities.

When asked for the TOP 5 environmental actions by Sandos, Mr. Ríos listed the following:

 1.- The changes made in a section of the hotel, where about 100 rooms were remodeled to zero out LPG consumption for water heating. Today, that entire segment uses a solar panel system to heat water for all those rooms.

2.- Taking advantage of the mentioned-above changes, a greywater/soapy water recycling system was implemented, reducing the amount of water drawn from the wells.

3.-  Lawns have been gradually reduced with the use of mulch; currently, the hotel has approximately 8 hectares of gardened areas that are not only saving water but they are also becoming natural seedbeds. When mulch retains humidity, seeds fall naturally and germinate turning the hotel into a giant nursery with native plants and lots of fruit trees growing everywhere.

4.- Recycling is a way of saving money and also a source of income for the company.

5.- For the community, they are trying to promote fair trade in the region by buying products from local suppliers. The company prefers to spend a few more cents if it is to support the development of local communities.

 As a means to let their guests know about their environmental actions, booklets can be found in all the rooms explaining why Sandos is an eco-hotel; with a description of what is being done and how it is being done. Sandos also takes guests on an Eco Tour as part of their environmental program. During this Eco Tour, they show guests around the hotel as they explain the actions undertaken to preserve the environment.  Derived from this activity, guests are encouraged to plant a native tree and they will receive follow up photos. Some guests that planted a tree more than a year ago, have come back several times after that and witnessed how their tree is growing.

 Additionally, signs with “Eco Tips” are being put up throughout the hotel to inform about global and local issues such as global warming, water scarcity, among others.