RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO—Officials from United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Rainforest Alliance gathered earlier this month to honor Mayakoba Resort and developer OHL Desarrollos as a world leader in sustainable tourism development. Both organizations represented awards bestowed on the development during 2011—the Ulysses Award from the United Nations World Tourism Organization and Sustainable Standard-Setter Award from the Rainforest Alliance. The award ceremony was held at the resort’s Banyan Tree Hotel and attended by representatives from both organizations, Audubon International, as well as several top government officials.
In receiving the awards, Andrés Pan de Soraluce, president of OHL Desarrollos, applauded the efforts of both organizations in raising awareness of the vital subject of sustainable development and added, “From the beginning of our development of Mayakoba, we wanted to achieve two things. First, a resort that touched the environment lightly, leaving an unspoiled landscape for the enjoyment of our guests and future generations. Secondly, we wanted the resort to be among the finest in the world, an enclave within an enclave of natural yet magnificent hotels. We are delighted and honored to receive these awards, which commend the exceptional work of our environmentally-conscious team.”
Mayakoba was presented with the prestigious UNWTO Ulysses Award under the “Innovation in Enterprises” section and garnered the award for “Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Development.” The Ulysses Award celebrates tourism projects from around the world that are improving the positive social impact of the sector and taking a leading role in responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Recognized for Conservation Leadership
Rainforest Alliance also honored Mayakoba Resort with the esteemed Sustainable Standard-Setter Award, and announced it as the first resort in Latin America to be recognized as a Rainforest Alliance Verified Destination. Mayakoba was selected for their commitment to conservation and outstanding leadership in efforts to improve the environment and local community outreach.
“We applaud Mayakoba for their commitment, which demonstrates that luxury travel can go hand in hand with environmental, economic and social sustainability,” said Daniel Katz, founder and board chair of the Rainforest Alliance. “Mayakoba sets a shining example for other resort groups in Mexico, and throughout the world, to follow.”
Located in the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Mayakoba sits on 593 acres of ecologically diverse land dotted with lagoons, mangrove forests, cenotes, canals, and white sand beaches. The more than 148 acres of mangrove forests along the coastline provide an important refuge for nesting birds and shelter for the hatcheries of young fish and turtles. In order to protect the endangered trees, Mayakoba’s infrastructure is located behind the coastal mangrove forest, thus respecting its integrity and having allowed the forest to increase by 100 percent within a very short time period. Wildlife inhabitation has also increased from 35 species to more than 200, as a result.
Developers OHL Desarrollos began working with the Rainforest Alliance in June of 2010 to implement a series of best management practices based upon the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a list of internationally-recognized recommendations for socially, environmentally and economically sustainable tourism. The property’s three distinguished hotels—Rosewood, Fairmont and Banyan Tree—are linked by more than nine miles of canals and a unique aquatic ecosystem for transporting guests that also offers new habitats for wildlife and relief for coastal environments. Each resort employs its own biologist, with whom guests can explore and learn. A variety of measures have been implemented to ensure continued sustainability, including water and energy saving practices; promoting visits to local communities; and administering strong and well-documented sustainability policies and procedures.
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