Friday, March 6, 2009

Eco-Friendly Mexican Resort *****

Okay, we have returned safely from our trip, and now I can share some details. . . We decided to stay at the Gran Bahia Principe Tulum. It's a five star all-inclusive luxury resort that is eco-friendly. The place is gorgeous, the food delicious, the staff friendly and the whole operation is so well run that it's amazing! I'll give you the "green" scoop on things:

All the lights in our room were CFLs. They have the (now more common) put your towel on the floor if you want a new one, or hang it up if you want to use it again. The hot water is solar-heated. The public restroom lights are on motion sensors so they come on when you enter and go off when you leave (except the one by the 24 hour snack bar--that one goes off while you're still doing your business. Jon said he could reset it if he had a screw driver and a ladder, so they've probably fixed it by now--I wouldn't let him do it himself). The outdoor paths are lit with solar-powered lights. All the water there is filtered, so you don't have to drink bottled water, but if you do want to, they provide it and recycle the bottles. There were recycling garbage cans readily available on the beach and in the garden areas. I think most of the regular trash cans were for non-organic waste, so it seems like they probably separate that, too.

They have three different eco-tours you can take of their nature preservation areas. We did the jungle tour. You ride bikes about 2km to the entrance then walk through the jungle with a Mayan guide who explains the medicinal properties of the plants and the ecosystem of the jungle, and there were two lookout towers you could climb to see an overview of the jungle. The path was narrow and rocky and covered with tree roots, so there was a lot of stopping to look up because you couldn't walk and look up at the same time. Above: Our Mayan Jungle guide, Casmiro
Below: Jon and I on the bikes at the entrance to the jungle paths.
Within the jungle preserve there is a reproduction of a typical Mayan home. Most people these days have more permanent structures in which to live, but Casmiro said that he lived in one like this when he was a small child.

They cooked over wood fires on ceramic surfaces, drank and ate from dishes made of gourds, and they even had "sippy cups" for the small children made of a gourd with a small hole in the top. Wow. Biodegradable sippy cups!

One of the other eco tours you could take was a snorkeling one at the huge coral reef at the resort. They are careful not to disturb the reef at all, and ask that you remain at least 1.5 meters away from the reef itself. They also ask that you wear biodegradable natural sunscreen if you must wear any--I never thought about how sunscreen floating on the water would interfere with the photosynthesis of the sea life, but it makes sense.

It seems this resort has everything that all the other luxury places nearby have, but with an eco-friendly aspect. There were men whose job it was to pick up all the rocks that wash up on the beach at night, so the sand was soft and smooth. They carried them in a large bag over to the garden areas, where they laid them in with the landscaping. There were fences made with rocks and broken coral between the pool and beach areas. You were asked not to feed the fish, birds, or lizards because it would upset their natural habits and it could make them sick. There were no mosquitoes because of this--that's what some of the critters eat.

Gran Bahia Principe is an awesome start toward a worldwide green movement. I was very impressed with Mexico as a whole and their efforts to preserve their beautiful nature. Even the signs along the roads warned not to throw litter from your car, etc. The Bahia Principe group has lots of resorts--look into staying at one (or one like it) on your next vacation. It probably won't completely offset your carbon emissions from the flight, but it's a big step in the right direction. And I'm telling you, the food was good!


Laura said...

Wow - looks nothing like the Mexico I saw (Tijuana, Nogales)! Looks like the ideal relaxing vacation - you didn't even have to worry about the environment! I'm jealous! Are you feeling all laid back and relaxed still?

marLou said...

Hi Laurie - It was nice meeting and chatting with you at your cute store today. Luv your store and blog!

BomshellShocked said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip! Did you bring back any of those fabulous sippy cups? :)

See you soon!