Ecological damage and environmental resource strain are two problems not confined just to resorts or popular tourist areas, but by any development, anywhere. While the construction of new buildings does do damage, it often brings much needed stimulus to the employment market and local economy, especially in countries like Mexico where, in many parts, tourism is the main economy. Fortunately, some resorts are taking steps to lessen or reverse the inherent harm they cause.
While the bigger resorts can’t begin to completely erase their environmental impact, it is nice to know that there is a growing movement to consider this effect during the planning stages.Nowadays it’s typical to see notices in your hotel room asking you to conserve water by reusing towels and limiting the number of times the linens are changed, but some resorts are doing more. The sprawling resort complex of the Riu Palace and Riu Santa Fe in Cabo San Lucas uses many indigenous plants that thrive in arid Baja in its landscaping and only uses grass in areas that their guests can see. At another Cabo San Lucas hotel, the brand new Barceló, room functions are controlled by a smart television and the air conditioning turns off when the patio door is opened. Located in San Juan del Cabo, the petite boutique hotel of Casa Natalia has forgone damaging coastline to create an oasis in the middle of the town, adding local plants, grass and a lovely pool for its guests in a center courtyard.
Other hotels and guesthouses do even more. Up the Pacific coast from Los Cabos is the incomparable Posada La Poza, which has not only done an excellent job of using no- or low-impact landscaping for its grounds but has turned the lagoon it sits on into a sanctuary for 85 different types of birds. The owners provide binoculars and a bird guide to guests when they check in.
Over on the mainland of Mexico in the popular but small town of San Francisco (San Pancho, as it is known locally), Tailwind Outdoor is a shining example of green tourism, offering bungalows and palapas for rent, including safari-tent style camping, while causing minimal impact on the environment. They not only use low-impact landscaping but they recycle grey water, provide composting toilets, dry linens in the sun and use found materials like drift wood and fallen trees in the construction of their buildings (among other green activities).
A bit further down the coast is another example of green accommodations, at CocoCabañas in Barra de Navidad. While the solar-powered property and rental cabañas may be too rustic for your average vacationers, it’s a nice alternative to your typical mega-resort. The cabañas are designed to stay at a moderate temperature and the landscaping is sparse, making use of a wetland water treatment system.
While the bigger resorts can’t begin to completely erase their environmental impact, it is nice to know that there is a growing movement to consider this effect during the planning stages. Meanwhile, more eco-resorts are sprouting up to give travelers who are truly concerned about green living alternatives to the traditional vacation of hotel complexes and condos.
Photo of CocoCabañas © Robin Noelle