The shuttle van turned off the highway and stopped at the gate to enter Hacienda Tres Rios. We arrived. The private path to the main hotel entrance might be considered a touch more “natural” than others, but when you arrive at the main reception area, no doubt exists. You booked a luxury resort.
At first you might think, well it is not unlike any other all-inclusive accommodation, and after your stay you might leave thinking, OK it’s different – the resort served better food, the service came with a bigger smile, or perhaps you really enjoyed the on-site cenote swim. Differences, yes – but another difference exists.
As a guest, you don’t sense the sustainable aspect. OK, when you take the excursions to the nursery established to help revitalize the hurricane damaged ecosystem or take a kayak down a river thru mangroves – it’s ‘green,’ but once you enter the resort grounds – it’s “normal.” It’s a luxury property in the Riviera Maya. A good one too.
And at the all-inclusive resort, guests enjoy margaritas poolside, dine at the many restaurants, and take afternoon siestas in a cool, comfortable room. Yet somehow Hacienda Tres Rios makes all that sustainable.
This past August, the resort achieved the Green Globe award for its second straight year. (HTR opened in Nov ’08) The award, received in recognition of its sustainable practices, conservation of the environment, support for local communities, and preservation of local culture is not easily obtained. As I sat-in on the ceremony as an invited guest, I could not help but be impressed. Not solely because I understood the Spanish (I did, even though we had a translator) but more impressed by the details of what the resort has created. I learned about the saltwater purification process, the elevator machine mechanics and the heating-cooling systems. All complicated, all impressive.
Then after the ceremony, after the local press took photos and interviewed the resort owners, planners, and green globe representatives the group of travel bloggers headed for a tour of the kitchen. We learned more. We learned about its commitment to reducing garbage monthly and how even with a buffet and 100s of guests it only discards 7-9% of its food. I didn’t think that was impressive until I reflected on my own practices in my New York apartment. (Yes I cook) And, yes it is impressive.
Now, the more I look, awards and accolades continue to shower Hacienda Tres Rios. Both as a pioneer in sustainable travel, and also as a luxury resort property. It seems the two are not mutually exclusive. Luxury and Sustainable together, sounds wonderful.
But then as I left the resort a few days later, I wondered why the resort doesn’t promote itself as a leading sustainable resort to its guests on-site. No signs, no blatant details. My curiosity peaked, but when I watched and learned the details of the ecosystems on my African adventures, I remember learning how nature just worked efficiently and quietly. So, I guess Hacienda Tres Rios took one more page from the sustainable handbook and created the process the way nature intended (and perhaps resorts guests want it too) – seamless.
Stay luxurious, Craig
Day 10 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial tribute
I’d also like to thank HTR for the all-inclusive invitation to attend the ceremony.