Conservation Along the Cancun-Riviera Maya Coast?
What a Crazy Idea!
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear someone talk about the beautiful sandy Riviera Maya beaches near the coastal mecca of Cancun? I bet it’s not “conservation.” Maybe it’s not first in your mind, but it was first and foremost in the mind of Don Julio Berdegué, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of El Cid Resorts as he was developing his two Cancun-Riviera Maya Resorts. He started with his first resort on the eastern coast in 2006, the Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort in Puerto Morelos, just fifteen miles south of the Cancun area. Its adjacent sister property Ventus at Marina El Cid Beach & Spa Resort celebrated its grand opening in November 2017.
Already a successful country club and resort developer in Mazatlán on Mexico’s western coast, Señor Berdegué understood the fragility of the coastal areas that existed on the other side of the country. He was well aware of the Puerto Morelos Natural Reef Park (second largest only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), so water recycling was a given priority. What he did next was more than amazing; it’s mind blowing.
Señor Berdegué brought in Horacio Ocampo Lopez, the Biologist of El Cid Resorts who’s been with them for seventeen years. Challenged to architect a serious conservation program, Lopez put together a very aggressive plan. And it’s a plan that Señor Berdegué has endorsed and is committed to ensuring its success.
At the top of the list is the number 74 — it means that 74% of the land has been set aside for conservation; only 26%, barely one-fourth of the total land, will be used for the resorts. Most resort developers want to build as many rooms as possible; Señor Berdegué recognizes the importance of being a good steward of the land. The local government was so impressed with this proposition that it matched the amount of land set aside (almost six square miles) by El Cid Resorts for conservation activities.
Research revealed that there were endangered plants and endangered animals in the area:
- Endangered Plants
- Beaucarnea pliabilis
- Caribbean palm ‟Pseudophoenix sargentii”
- Royal Palm ‟Roystonea regia”
- Thrinax radiata
- Button mangrove ‟Conocarpus erectus”
- White mangrove ‟Laguncularia racemosa”
- Red mangrove ‟Rhizophora mangle”
- Black mangrove ‟Avicennia germinans”
- Endangered Animals
- Black spiny-tailed Iguana ‟Ctenosaura similis”
- Crocodylus moreletii
- Crocodylus acutus
- Tigrisoma mexicanum
- Loggerhead sea turtle ‟Caretta caretta”
- Green sea turtle ‟Chelonia mydas”
El Cid Resorts also has a ‟Tree and Plant Rescue Process.” Any place where El Cid builds (and it’s not just in Cancun-Riviera Maya), they replant all trees that have to be removed during the construction process. It means going one step further than required by custom or by law; it’s part of the commitment that El Cid Resorts has to conserving natural resources. They even work with students to teach them about being environmentally conscious, and the resorts provide education classes and tours of their conservation programs.
The two Cancun-Riviera Maya resorts also have a composting program so that organic waste is used to help grow the plants and the herb garden. The organic materials (fruit and vegetable wastes) are cut into small pieces and then left to dry. Once dry, this material is then mixed with other composting ingredients such as micro-organisms, carbon, leaves and dirt. This new material is now very rich in nutrients and is ready to be placed around the plants for safe organic growth.
The next time you hear about developers’ building as many rooms as the land will allow, remember that there is at least one developer, Señor Berdegué and his El Cid Resorts, who recognizes that conservation can be more valuable than money. As you think about it, it’s not really that crazy of an idea!
Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out an infrequent newsletter (almost every month!), is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/
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