The more we travel the world, the more we realize the importance of being a responsible part of this planet. It goes far beyond travel; it is just the act of travel that can bring it your attention. The overuse of plastic, Styrofoam, pesticides and many other toxic things to our planet are in full swing all around the World.
Think about it for a minute or two; imagine arriving to a place you consider to be paradise, only to jump in the water for a snorkel and find the reef covered in plastic. Or perhaps you book into one of those giant resort properties somewhere in the World and then later learn they devastated the entire Eco-system of the area by wiping the area clean and building a mega resort.
These are issues our planet is faced with at an alarming rate. While it is easy to think that just one person cannot make a difference, I beg to differ with you. Choosing to carry a water bottle reduces the amount of plastic in our oceans. Choosing to eat locally produced, organic food reduces pesticides in our water and soil.
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Each and every step we take counts. So why does all this even matter and why are we talking about it? Because there are companies out there that recognize this and are taking amazing steps in the direction of reducing their footprint on the environment.
All-inclusive resorts in Mexico don’t have the best track record for worrying about the environment and the impact the creation of their mega properties has on the Eco-system around them. While sadly, this is the norm, we were recently treated to the realization that one resort chain is taking great efforts to reduce their footprint, produce organic goods for their properties and preserve the environment around them. That said, I’m excited to share with you a unique effort in sustainable tourism and Eco-system preservation, put in place and successfully gaining ground by the innovative Sunset World Resorts in Mexico.
Ethos- Farm in the Mayan Jungle
The day we visited Ethos started with a long drive on back roads into the jungle before we finally arrived. While we had heard the site was spectacular, we weren’t sure what to expect. Arriving after the adventurous drive and leaving the car was like finding Eden. In a part of the world that sees so many tourists, it was a haven of seclusion and beauty.
Ethos is Sunset World’s innovative $3 million agricultural project smack dab in the Mayan jungle. The farm produces organically grown plants, vegetables, fruit and honey that is used to supply the six hotels owned by Sunset World Resorts. This year alone, 400 tons of fruits and vegetables, 200,000 exotic ornamental plants and 30 tons of honey will be produced.
The project ensures that the resorts will have the freshest produce available including papaya, lime, tomato, cucumber, watermelon, melon and squash, among other fruits and vegetables. The honey is used for human consumption and the development of products for hair and skin care like shampoos, conditioners, creams and soaps, which are available in their hotel rooms and spas. Sunset World Resorts is the first hotel chain in southeastern Mexico to produce its own organic materials.
Our day at Ethos was spent riding off-road Segways around the property and learning about the programs they have in place. One of the first we things we saw was that the entire farm is supported by an irrigation pumping system that runs off alternative energy, solar panels and wind turbines. Their efforts to reduce carbon emissions did not go unnoticed during our visit.
Our tour showed us the process they have gone through in working the land, which is quite difficult due to the rocky soil, and how they have adapted their style of planting to work with the land instead of against it. Each plant is hand placed with fertilized soil and watered with the irrigation system. Large open areas have been successful at growing huge papaya trees and the further you get away from the entrance area, the wilder the property becomes.
They are using the jungle and the land in the most natural way possible and it was inspiring to see this in person. Using a Segway to explore the farm took several hours but we never lost interest in the eco adventure. Making our way back to the entrance for lunch, we encountered large Tilapia fishponds that produce fish for ceviche and a variety of fish dishes before being shown a traditional Mayan pig roast that was dug into the ground.
The lunch we were served was built solely on the farm to table concept and blew our minds. We’re not foodies, but we love Mexican food and we love anything that has been prepared in an organic way. We sampled some of the most classic Mexican fare served on giant palm leaves, terracotta shingles and wood platters. The tilapia ceviche was served from a fish that had been pulled from the pond hours before and was perfectly flavored with lime juice and local spices.
Our experience at Ethos was magical and left us feeling like there was a significant hope for the future of responsible tourism. While it’s important for the tourists to know what impact they have on the environment, it is dually important for companies to reduce their impact and protect the environment in which they make their livings.
Hacienda Tres Rios- A Model for Every Resort
Never before have we seen such a beautiful blend between a property and nature. Hacienda Tres Rios is an environmentally responsible luxury resort that offers exclusive access to the Tres Rios Nature Park. Tres Rios is dedicated to a strict set of environmental regulations and a follows sustainable tourism model that governs all developments on the property. This property is the heartbeat of the company and an impressive model example for the future of sustainable tourism.
During our travels we have stayed at a variety of properties and seen the impact they can make on the environment. Our visit to Hacienda Tres Rios was the first time we have ever set foot in a place where nature is the first priority with an overwhelming ability to see it right in front of you. Everything about the property is green and while the resort property itself sits near the ocean, the Tres Rios Nature Park consists of 326 acres of preserved tropical jungle engulfs the area leaving things perfectly natural.
A stay at Hacienda Tres Rios is a stay with nature and it is an eco adventure lovers paradise. We spent our afternoons exploring the walking trails, swimming in their 10 natural state cenotes, Cenote Aguilla was our personal favorite, and enjoying the variety of birds and other wildlife that live peacefully among the trees. While Hacienda Tres Rios is a large resort, they have integrated it with the natural flow of the land inflicting as little damage as possible. For every tree they took to build the property, they planted in double to other areas of the property. As a result, the mangroves and surrounding forests flourish.
Of course, the property is stunning. Using earth tones to accentuate it’s surroundings and eager employees who share how the buildings are all built with free flow land under them to promote the natural movement of the three rivers the property was named after. An incredible amount of thought and care was put into building this property to have the smallest amount of environmental impact and it is very impressive to witness in person. See for yourself.
Eco Adventure – No Footprint is Too Small
The efforts being put in place by Sunset World Resorts is inspiring and our hope is they can lead by example towards a more sustainable future in tourism and the travel industry. As we watch areas like Cancun and Playa del Carmen continue to develop, it is our hope that projects like this can inspire others to put this world we live in at the forefront of their minds and make decisions that will impact the natural environment less.
During this trip we also traveled a few hours into ocean to learn more about the conservation of Whale Sharks and swim with them for the first time in our travels. Be sure to check out our complete story about Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Cancun.
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Travel Insurance: We use for Allianz for travel insurance and have since our first trip to Mexico in 2003. They’ve been there for us on our adventures – and many friends and readers – multiple times over! If you want to book with Allianz Travel Insurance, simply use this link to get their travel insurance!
Special thanks to Sunset World for inviting us to Mexico and for showing us the positive impact sustainable practices can make. All opinions are 100% ours.