December 9, 2010

An Eco-Hotel in the Heart of Cancún

For many, a vacation in Cancún points immediately to the huge, all-inclusive, luxury hotels by the beach. There are plenty of alternatives to suit many pockets, needs and ideologies. During this week of climate change talks, in Cancún, it seems apt to highlight an eco-hotel.

El Rey del Caribe

El Rey del Caribe is situated in downtown Cancún. It was built and is maintained with sustainability in mind. This is tourist accommodation for those who view their vacation as no excuse to leave ecological concerns behind. It is where many of the activists, attending the UN Climate Change Conference, are currently staying.

The hotel looks pretty. Its interior encircles a large central courtyard, where residents lounge beside the pool, in hammocks or on sunbeds; or meander along the tree-shaded walkways, enjoying the impressive floral gardens; or relax in a jacuzzi. Each of its 31 guest-rooms opens onto this vast courtyard. There is no stinting on luxury within. The rooms all have two large beds and all of the ammenities, including air-conditioning throughout. The hotel has its own health spa and dining room.

The location isn't bad either. The large mercados are just a leisurely amble away, while a plethora of restaurants and attractions are in the surrounding streets. Cancún's famous tropical beaches are an easy 20 minute stroll away (2km or just over a mile).

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So far this is just sounding like tourist spiel for a random Mexican hotel, with nothing at all to do with ecology and environmental matters at all. But what sets El Rey del Caribe apart is how it does all of this. Let's pick out just a few examples of its eco-technology.

* All of the guest-rooms have hot and cold running water in their bathroom. What isn't immediately obvious is that the hot water is channelled through roof-top, solar-heated tanks. During the day, the sun shines down upon it. Solar panels soak up this energy, then convert it into heating for the water-tanks.

* All of the guest-rooms are cleaned daily, with freshly laundered towels and bed-linen. However, another trip to the roof would reveal a solar dryer. This is an enclosed, ventilated area, with a glass ceiling. The sun's rays descend upon it and the specially designed enclosure works to remove all humidity. The laundry is dried far more quickly than it would using the industrial driers of other hotels.

El Rey del Caribe's garden

Incidentally, the water dirtied, in cleaning these in the first place, isn't just drained away, into the city's water system, but used to irrigate the hotel's gardens. This has the dual purpose of reducing energy needed to dispose of it; while negating the need to demand water to maintain those amazing gardens.

* All of the guest-rooms contain trash bins. That is 'bins', plural. Each has three, so that guests (or the maid, if the guests have been too lazy to do it) can separate their rubbish for recycling. Organic matter goes into one; plastics into another; general trash into the third. It's all clearly marked. Staff then take these away for processing. The organic matter goes into the compost help, hidden away, for use in the lush hotel gardens. The plastics are delivered to the local recycling collection points.

* All of the guest-rooms have toilet facilities in their bathrooms. However, some of these are composting toilets. They look and behave, outwardly, like any other toilets. Behind the scenes, the waste falls into a special filtering tank, rather than the city's sewage works. It is then processed naturally into compost. This not only reduces water usage, but helps to add nutrients to the soil.

* The pool is cleaned regularly. The water from it isn't just drained away, into the city's water system, but used in the ordinary flushing toilets. For those guests without composting toilets, then the water used to flush away your waste is the same as that which you swam in yesterday.

El Rey del Caribe's pool

* Much of the water used in the hotel comes from a rainwater tank, which was then filtered and cleaned it for human use. Pretty much like all water really, but far more locally processed.

Those are just some of the ways in which El Rey del Caribe lessens its environment footprint, while also providing a world-class service for its guests.

For more information about the hotel and its eco-policies, please visit their web-site.


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