Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ethical Destination Weddings: Saying 'I Do' With a Clear Conscience - Tip #1 Choose a Responsible Hotel

The term 'responsible tourism' has been used to describe tourism that is not only fun for visiting tourists, but also gives back to the world and local community by protecting nature and contributing to the lives of local people. This series of blogs will give you tips on how to contribute to the Mexican culture and economy, while preserving its beautiful land and ecological sites.

Tip #1 – Choose a Responsible Hotel

Certain hotels pride themselves on the fact that they have gone the extra mile to be ecologically sound in their building, their policies and their practices. Hotels can find many ways to help the environment and local communities. Here are some ways hotels can be ecologically friendly and foster growth in their community (remember Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?):

  • Conserve energy and use renewable energy sources
  • Recycle water and 'xeriscape' (landscape with water-conserving techniques)
  • Cut back on waste by using bulk soap and shampoo dispensers, composting, and using recycling bins
  • Reuse sheets and towels
  • Use environmentally-safe cleaners
  • Pay staff fair wages
  • Purchase organically-grown food from local farmers
  • Contribute to local charities
  • Help preserve local historical sites

Mexico has stepped up as a world leader in responsible tourism. Several hotels and resorts throughout Mexico have committed to this goal by becoming members of the World Heritage Alliance. The Alliance was created by Expedia, the travel industry giant, and the United Nations in 2005 to promote sustainable tourism and protect the world heritage sites, including the famous Chichén Iztá in the Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, Mexico has 26 UNESCO World Heritage sites!

One simple way you can help protect the land and contribute to the local communities is to choose a hotel that is also committed to these principles. This in no way means you have to compromise quality or service by staying in a glorified campground. In fact, many of the World Heritage Alliance members are also some of the most luxurious properties found anywhere in the world. If you're thinking about getting married in Mexico, here are five properties that are not only up-scale and romantic, but are also World Heritage Alliance members:

1. Maroma Resort & Spa
Named "The Top Beach" on The Travel Channel's "The World’s 10 Best Beaches," and "World’s Best Honeymoon Destination" in Modern Bride, this boutique hotel in the Mayan Riviera was one of the first in the area, and still wins awards every year. Romantic and secluded, you'll be treated like one of the many celebrities who have also stayed at Maroma, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Cameron Diaz, Farrah Fawcett, Sean Penn, Sharon Stone, Minnie Driver, Prince Charles, and the list goes on. With an amazing spa, gorgeous accommodations, and a pristine beach, it's hard to find a more romantic spot for your wedding day. To visit their website go to www.maromahotel.com *Image copyright Orient Express Hotels.

2. Paraiso de la Bonita Resort & Thalasso
With only 90 suites, this small luxury hotel makes an excellent wedding destination in the Mayan Riviera. The resort combines the elegance of traditional Mexican architecture with the great Mayan culture hallmark of the Yucatan Peninsula. If you're looking for a spa experience, Paraiso de la Bonita's Thalasso Center and Spa offers an extensive menu of exotic treatments. This property can boast winner of the 2007 AAA Five Diamond Award for excellence and service - by the way, only seven hotels in Mexico were honored with the prestigious award this year. To visit their website go to www.paraisodelabonita.com *Image copyright Paraiso de la Bonita Resort & Thalasso.

3. Fairmont Mayakoba
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a leader in sustainable tourism and a World Heritage Alliance member. Their 5-star Fairmont Mayakoba beach and golf resort, found in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico, has been paired with a local tourism network from the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site. As with all Fairmont properties, you can expect nothing but the best. And if you're a golfer, you may be impressed to know that this hotel recently hosted the first PGA Tour event ever held in Mexico. To visit their website go to www.fairmont.com *Image copyright Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

4. Camino Real Oaxaca
With over 20 hotels across Mexico, Camino Real is a leader in the Mexican hotel industry. Camino Real Oaxaca is located in the historic colonial city of Oaxaca – another protected World Heritage Site. A former convent of Santa Catalina de Siena dating back to 1576, the property has been converted into a luxury hotel. A wonderful spot for a wedding celebration, couples can choose to have a Catholic wedding in one of the four nearby magnificent churches, including the famous Santo Domingo. Immerse yourself in the beauty and history of Oaxaca! To visit their website go to www.caminoreal.com *Image copyright Hoteles Camino Real.

5. Camino Real Zaashila
This Mediterranean-style resort is located on a private stretch of beach of Tangolunda Bay in the romantic Huatulco, Oaxaca. In fact, due to its location, the only way to get to Rincón Sabroso beach is through the hotel! With only 148 rooms, you can enjoy all the amenities of a resort complex, while maintaining a peaceful, tropical atmosphere. To visit their website go to www.caminoreal.com *Image copyright Hoteles Camino Real.

If you would like to learn more about ecotourism and responsible tourism, here are some useful resources: Ethical Destination Weddings: Saying 'I Do' With a Clear Conscience:

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