Our 40th Birthday Present To The Planet

November 30, 2021
Chaa Creek 40 birthday present to the planet

As we celebrate our 40th birthday, we ask you to join us in also celebrating the rise of sustainable, regenerative tourism in Belize and worldwide

Birthdays are always a good time to look back over the years and review the highlights of your life.

It’s an opportunity to learn from the negatives, and accentuate the positives.

Here at Chaa Creek, one constant positive over the last forty years has been the success of our ongoing commitment to environmental and social sustainability.

It’s something we enjoy sharing with our guests, and we’d love to have you join us in person to see sustainability and regenerative travel in action.

Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of how we grew Green over the last 40 years:

Mrs Lucy Fleming and daughter Bryony in early days at Chaa Creek
Mrs Lucy Fleming and daughter, Bryony almost 40 years ago

When Mick and Lucy Fleming first moved to the little parcel of riverside jungle that was to become their home in Western Belize, they listened to newfound friends from neighboring farms who, over generations, learned to live with the rhythms of nature.

Guest Katharina W washing outside of her cottage in early days at Chaa Creek
Guest Katharina W washing outside of her cottage in early days at Chaa Creek

And the more the couple learned about the rainforest environment, the more they came to appreciate the benefits of coexisting with, rather than trying to “conquer” nature.

first cottage built at char creek resort in belize in 1981
First cottage built at Chaa Creek in 1981

As they cut Bay Leaf Palm to thatch their roofs, they saw the need to regenerate the plants in the surrounding forest if they were to have a steady supply. Kitchen scraps went back into the garden, the chickens who foraged around the house naturally fertilized the area, replenishing the earth as they took from it, and so on.

By the time they began accommodating more visitors to the farm, it made sense to build around, rather than cut down big trees, and to generally develop sustainably.

By the time the farm evolved into Chaa Creek Cottages, the couple would famously realize that,

“We were an Eco-resort before we even heard the term.”

And so began the Fleming’s commitment to promoting ecotourism, sustainable travel, and now, as it is increasingly known, regenerative tourism.

One of the pillars of Chaa Creek’s approach to ecotourism has always been education – fostering an appreciation of the natural world for locals, students, and overseas visitors. This involved developing displays, interactive attractions, tours, and encouraging guests to get out and experience the surrounding environment first hand.

Chaa Creek's Natural History Center Interior Display
Chaa Creek's Natural History Center Display

The 400-acre private nature reserve they established around the property, with miles of well-maintained, signposted trails, makes it easy to become immersed in pristine nature.

Hiking, strolling, horseback riding, birding, or taking guided walks with licensed naturalist guides are great ways to enjoy healthy exercise while developing a deeper appreciation of the wild beauty of Belize’s rainforests.

belize horseback riding at chaa creek luxury jungle resort
Horseback Riding at Chaa Creek

Canoeing down the Macal River is also a great way to commune with nature while traveling along that ancient waterway, just as people have for thousands of years – from the first Maya inhabitants, to early explorers and settlers, and the Flemings themselves when they first moved to Chaa Creek.

Canoeing down the Macal River in Belize at Sunset
Sunset canoeing on the Macal River

Continuing to foster environmental and cultural awareness, Chaa Creek also built the:

  • Butterfly Farm, to allow visitors to see the extraordinary development of the majestic Blue Morpho butterfly, from chrysalis to spectacular iridescent adult.
  • The Natural History Center, to showcase Belize’s stunning natural world and colorful cultural history.
  • The environmentally-friendly Macal River Camp that, among other things, hosts the annual weeklong Eco-Kids Environmental Education Summer Camp that’s offered free to 24 young Belizean students.
  • The Maya Organic Farm, that, in addition to providing farm-fresh organic produce to the kitchens, reduces food miles, recycles organic kitchen scraps, and keeps traditional Maya farming techniques alive while introducing hundreds of visitors to sustainable organic gardening.
  • The Open Hearth Kitchen – a traditional Belizean bush kitchen where cooking classes featuring recipes and techniques from Belize’s major ethnic groups are offered,
    and
  • instituted Chaa Creek Cares, an initiative that sees 10% of all room revenue going directly towards projects that support the environment and local communities,
  • facilitated the relocation of Belize’s iconic howler monkeys back to their natural home in Chaa Creek area, and continue to
  • offer scholarships, career development, training and other programs to benefit individuals and Belize’s ecotourism industry.
belize animals howler monkeys on tree web
Newborn Howler Monkeys spotted inside Chaa Creek's Private Nature Reserve

These and other initiatives, such as installing state-of-the-art UV water filtration and refill stations for guests to replenish the drinking bottles given to them to reduce use of plastic water bottles, a glass crusher to recycle all glass as aggregate for cement used in walkways and other building projects, have earned Chaa Creek global recognition and numerous awards, including:

  • Green Globe Gold Certification
  • “Green Hotel of the Year” - Caribbean Hotel Association
  • “Top Ecolodge” -  National Geographic Adventure Magazine
  • “Best environmentally friendly hotel in the world” - CNN Travel Magazine
  • World Legacy Awards” First Place 2017 - National Geographic
  •  “Best Eco Lodge” - Caribbean Life and Travel
  • “Eco Friendly Stays in Belize” -  Fox News
  • “Belize Hotel of the Year 2018” - Belize Tourism Board
  • "2021 Traveler's Choice Awards" - TripAdvisor
tripadvisor travellers choice top 21 small hotels central america 2021 chaa creek resort aerial

Recognition is always satisfying, but for us, the primary value of awards lies in showing visitors and guests how their visit to Chaa Creek supports Belize’s environment and communities.

It’s been a full, and fulfilling, 40 years, and none of it would be possible without our guests.

chaa creek belize resort staff serving guest drink in personal plunge pool

Hailing from every corner of the globe, our visitors not only provide the means to make Chaa Creek happen, but also provide inspiration, ideas, constructive comments and the genuine, kind support that makes it all such a pleasure, and so worthwhile.

So, thank you for the last 40, and we look forward to seeing you in the coming years.

belize-resorts-chaa-creek-ix-chel-villas

As The Adventure Continues…

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