MÉRIDA, MEXICO—WAYAM Mundo Imperial may only have 52 suites but its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint surpass green-focused properties much greater in size. The property in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico just earned LEED Gold certification—the first one in Mérida with LEED certification and an ideal partner for Yucatan´s LEED Platinum International Congress Center.
Fernando Zepeda, General Manager of the 72-employee WAYAM Mundo Imperial, says the hotel’s owners embarked on the path toward LEED certification about five years ago, though their commitment to sustainable development goes back decades. The property opened in the summer of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. During those slower times Zepeda says his team had more time to focus on developing the property’s sustainability initiatives.
From the hotel’s design phase to its opening, respect for the Earth was top of mind. “The hotel was constructed respecting the trees on the property,” Zepeda says, adding that the hotel could have been 100 rooms, but the owners wanted to maintain the trees and plant life around the hotel site. The trees help to keep the hotel cool. There is a central garden on the property, surrounded by trees, lush vegetation and the hotel’s iconic fountain.
Total of 165 Solar Panels
All energy-efficient windows at WAYAM are oriented eastward, resulting in heightened solar reflectivity that contributes to thermal insulation. There are 165 solar panels across six buildings on the property. These contribute 15 percent of the electricity needed for the hotel. A keycard-based guestroom energy management system turns off most of the lighting, the TV, and powers down the AC when guests leave the room. LEDs are used throughout.
Water efficiency, and quality, are just as top of mind as energy efficiency. The hotel has two cisterns—24,000 gallons each—to store rainwater. “That water helps to supply the irrigation system and the toilets,” Zepeda says. The irrigation system is on timers. Two electromagnetic systems reduce the hardness of the water without using chemical agents, improving water quality, and reducing scaling.
Minimizing waste is top of mind and Zepeda says it is rare to see wastepaper. Used cooking oil is collected and converted into biodiesel by an outside company.
Restaurant Emphasizes Locally Sourced Ingredients
Located on the second floor of Wayam, Cuna features locally sourced ingredients inspired by traditional cuisine. Chef Maycoll Calderon has crafted a place where everything happens around the open kitchen and the ingredients, prepared with the highest standards.
“We use all local suppliers—organic food,” Zepeda says. “We don’t use freezers. Everything is fresh, including the fish because we are just 30 minutes from the coast. We grow our own herbs on property, as well as mango and mamey. We offer a specialized water menu—giving guests local Mexican waters to taste.”
BEE MATTERS is an off-site experience that allows guests to get up close and personal with the endangered Melipona bees and the area communities that foster them. Melipona bees are unique in that they do not have stingers. The common bee provides about 30L of honey per year; Melipona bees provide about 1.5L of honey per year.
A guide walks visitors through all things Melipona: the importance of the bees, the types of bees found throughout Mexico and the Yucatan, the many benefits of their honey, their lifestyle, and why they are so important to conserve. Guests then sample honey and learn about the two types of beehives.
With an in-kind donation, visitors can support the female-dominated Mayan collectives, or meliponarios, dedicated to protecting the bee species from extinction. Participants are invited to decorate their own beehive box, a wooden box that guests can paint. Guests can then “adopt” a beehive by donating their finished box to the meliponario. The experience concludes with a home-cooked meal in a Mayan home. Months later, after a new beehive develops in the donated beehive box, participants will be sent an image of the new family.
The experience was initiated in September 2022, created to shine a light on WAYAM’s deep ties to both nature conservation and the traditions of the Yucatan’s modern Maya.
All Adds Up to a Marketing Advantage
Zepeda believes that all of the green efforts put behind the design and operation of WAYAM Mundo Imperial has resulted in a marketing advantage—for the Mexican, American and European markets.
Opening soon, in October, is a sister property to WAYAM Mundo Imperial—XIXIM. Nestled in an ecological reserve in Celestún, situated in the western region of the state of Yucatan, the 32-suite property is wellness focused and will grow to 76 suites during its second phase.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.