Gone are the days of last-chance tourism where travelers haphazardly country-hopped to “dying” tourism spots due to an Instagram-driven itinerary. Such a travel lifestyle left a lasting impact on destinations — most of the time, not for the better. The rise of regenerative travel and Eco-Friendly tourism over the past few years has made its glaring necessity even more evident – the idea of leaving the land better than we found it.
Major destinations and properties worldwide have adapted greener initiatives, and more wanderlusters consider themselves eco-conscious travelers. This has led to a paradigm shift within the hospitality industry, where it seems a light bulb has gone off to quickly adapt to this ‘new’ lifestyle. It goes without saying some properties, in an attempt to get with the ‘trend,’ may have taken shortcuts — a dangerous strategy that may cost them and the environment even more.
These sorts of shortcuts are known as greenwashing, and more travelers are becoming savvy enough to spot them when booking their vacation. Doubts arise whether a property is truly eco-friendly or whether it simply has great marketing. The question therein lies, how do we spot a real eco-resort from a greenwashed one?
According to GLP Films, the environmental-first marketing agency, there are certain things to keep an eye out for when booking your stay. Typing in “eco-friendly Belize hotels” may not be enough for the well-informed traveler, which is why properties need to be conspicuous and forefront in their sustainable practices. The Lodge at Chaa Creek, having been Belize’s first ever Eco-resort, is one such property that makes its conservation efforts known from the get-go.
This includes both in the booking process and for the duration of guests’ stay. But what exactly does Chaa Creek do? GLP Films insists properties must give concrete evidence of their green policies. To give you an example of what it should look like, here are just some of the ways Chaa Creek takes action for a better world.
Since its inception in 1981, Chaa Creek has vowed to be solely guided by the principles of responsible travel. That meant giving back not only to the community around us, but the environment surrounding the accommodation as well. Our mission is displayed proudly across our website and other online presences, to give guests a clear sense of what our motives are. And that is to “bring Belize’s unique ecology, history and culture alive in an atmosphere for affordable luxury.”
This is how the Chaa Creek Cares program was born. The entire ethos of this program is to provide tangible benefits to enhance guests’ vacations while being committed to regenerative travel. We do this by placing 10% of all room revenue directly into community and environmental projects. So each guest will be aware that every dollar out of the ten they spent at Chaa Creek went into supporting Belize’s vibrant communities and exotic environment.
On Vibrant Communities
One of the ways Chaa Creek remains authentic and supports the local economy is that its staff of 160 includes sons and daughters of the neighboring townsfolk. We also host a Pack-a-Pound program where guests are encouraged to share one pound of their luggage space for materials to be donated to a local school. On the topic of kids, Chaa Creek also sponsors an Eco-Kids summer camp. This weeklong cultural exchange camp gives 24 Belizean school children a chance to explore the nature of Belize while learning the importance of leaving no trace behind.
On Exotic Environment and being Eco-Friendly
A Natural History Education Center sits on site as well as a Blue Morpho Butterfly Centre where guests can educate themselves on the flora and fauna that makes Belize special. The property is also home to a Medicinal Plant trail, another environmentally aware activity many guests delight in when staying at the Lodge.
Both Inside and Out
When it comes to earning the title of “Eco-resort” properties must be willing to adapt not only externally, but internally as well. At Chaa Creek, the reduce, reuse and recycle program is taken quite seriously, complete with a bottle crushing method for non-reusable bottles and jars. The Eco-lodge also produces its own water using a state-of-the-art high filtration system, and provides guests water refilling stations throughout the property. These examples, coupled with energy-efficient lighting, using solar power for the The Belize Rainforest Retreat, and encouraging guests to conserve water and electricity when possible show the lengths Chaa Creek would go to to sustain a truly environmentally friendly resort.
Eco-Friendly Farm-to-Table Dining
When it comes to the culinary scene, Chaa Creek extends its regenerative efforts via its highly visited Maya Organic Farm. Spanning a massive 33 acres, the farm forms an integral part of the reserve. What makes this farm-to-table method a cut above others is its integration of traditional Maya farming methods. Using an advanced irrigation system, the method uses resources all supplied by nature. The farm supplies produce for both the Lodge at Chaa Creek and the The Belize Rainforest Retreat. To add to the exciting experience of witnessing Maya farming, guests are able to try horseback riding on the farm!
These are a mere sample of the efforts Chaa Creek practices daily to conserve – and leave behind – a better world for the future. In it’s four-decade standing, the eco-resort has also strongly encouraged others in the industry to do the same, providing benchmarks and sharing information as a whole. Here’s to hoping all resorts follow in these footsteps, so we may continue to enjoy the beauty of Belize in all its glory for many years to come.
Looking to plan a green vacation? Contact The Lodge at Chaa Creek and get help from their Belize specialists.