Category Archives: Mexico

Sunset Saturdays (aka #SunsetSaturdays)

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Costa Rica sunset

Photo courtesy of GreenSpot traveler, Eric Asch

sunset and palm trees

Palm trees: A sunset’s best friend

Every day, in every part of the world, the sun falls below the horizon. This happens rain or shine, in summer and through winter. We might be stating the obvious; however, the spectacle of a truly beautiful sunset is something that most of us do not take for granted. In fact, I wonder if you can remember some of the most striking sunsets you have seen in your lifetime. I bet you can. You might even be able to remember what you did that day or something that made that moment special. Maybe you have spent time chasing a sunset or put a lot of thought into the best place to see the sun go down. You might even have a picture of a sunset that capped off a special day.

The beauty often requires no filter and perhaps the most splendid can be seen amid stormy skies, when the colors can reflect upon the clouds. Yet, most people would agree that it is less about the photography and more about the moment. It is true that each sunset is unique in color and hue, yet they are also unique to each onlooker. We are most interested in what is happening on the other side of that vibrant glow…a couple holding hands; friends sharing cocktails; a family relishing a much needed break; the traveler reflecting on the adventures of the day…

Thailand Sunset, girl on beach

Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

For example, the photograph to the left is a favorite of mine. Usually the one pressing the shutter, I am rarely the subject of a photograph, yet my husband snapped this picture of me (left), gazing at the sunset on the Thai island of Ko Pha Ngan. I remember, I was not only captivated by the beauty of the sky, but by the overwhelming gratitude I had for that moment. This photograph always reminds me of that feeling.

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Costa Rica sunset

A sunset often generates a sense of tranquility that many of us wish we could capture more often. This is what Sunset Saturdays are all about. If you can’t be on the beach, with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand, we hope to offer you the next best thing: A moment to daydream. You might be reminded of a beautiful sunset you have witnessed in the past (and we hope you might send it our way!) or you might be dreaming up your next adventure, to a place where sunsets blaze orange and red every night. For a moment, you can transport yourself there. Breathe and surrender to the daydream, conjuring up ways to make it a reality.

Let us help you get there! And when you do, please send us a photo! We hope that the next sunset photograph we receive is from your happiest of places.

Day 3 The Mayan Riviera

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The Mayan Riviera runs along the coast from Cancun to the ancient Mayan city of Tulum and just twenty minutes south of the touristy Playa del Carmen. The area resembles the existence of a disappearing Mayan culture. An area that offers a variety of activities, especially arqueological sites such Tulum, Chichen Itza and Xcaret. The other major activity is the underwater world, the Riviera Maya being home to the second largest barrier reef in the world , also known as the Belize Barrier Reef. The barrier begins in Cancun and continues along the Riviera Maya continuing to Guatemala.
After being in the car for long hours, we finally arrive at Hacienda Tres Ríos, which was recognized by the Mexican government as a “regional and national model for sustainable tourism development”.  Hacienda Tres Ríos was built after a detailed study necessary to establish “preferred use areas” to appropriately place the Hote,l and help reduce the  environmental impact that mega- resorts cause. We met with the owner and she explained how people normally question how a big resort like Hacienda Tres Rios, can operate under sustainable practices, have to say that was the question everybody in the group had.
Here are the sustainable practices they are operating under.

-Two years of environmental study
Several years were used to study the ecosystems in Tres Ríos. During that stage of Environmental Characterization and Analysis, a team of scientists and experts was assembled to undergo research in topics as diverse as digital aerial photography, geographic analysis, mangrove and jungle ecosystems, wildlife, coral reefs, geo-hydrology, etcetera. This stage was fundamental, as it provided the basic information required to orient the sustainable development of the Tres Ríos Master Plan
-Environmentally Friendly Construction
The information obtained from several studies allowed us to establish “preferred use” areas, which were used as the basis to appropriately place the Hotel Hacienda on an area with a lower environmental value within the ecosystem. The placement of buildings on lower environmental quality areas is fundamental to lessen environmental impacts and to avoid disturbing higher environmental quality areas.

-Some other low impact construction practices included
Buildings constructed on over 400 pilings, 2.8 meters above ground which allows natural water flow to continue
Use of pre-fabricated construction, assembled onsite, reducing dust contamination.
Refuse carefully sorted and recycled when possible.
Use of regional materials and finishes
4,000 plants of 11 endangered and protected species rescued
Cold water from deep well used to cool air conditioning systems
Heat generated from air conditioning is captured and used to heat water
In-room motion sensors shut down unnecessary energy use when rooms are unoccupied
A titanium-clad water desalination plant treats and filters the water, avoiding use of the freshwater aquifer
 
Do you think mega -resorts, and all- inclusive hotels can operate under sustainable practices? We are eager to hear your opinion.

Finding Green in the South of Mexico

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We were invited by the Rainforest Alliance on a trip to the south of Mexico to learn about the sustainable lodging program they are developing on the Yucatan Peninsula.
As you may already know, Rainforest Alliance’s vision is to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. GreenSpot.travel has been involved with Rainforest Alliance since 2007, and has found the alliance a powerful one, which allows us to be able to make a contribution to “change” in the tourism niche.

Day 1
When I decided to sign up for the FAM (familiarization trip) in Mexico, I hesitated a bit to accept, because of the fear to get the H1N1 flu.
I finally decided to come and I’m glad I did, as I realized the negative impact that some news could have on any region, when sometimes the reality of the issue is another one. 
We arrived in Cancun where the group was waiting for us. We were introduced to Barbara Derks, General Manager at Ixcanan Travel, Whitney Cooper, Center for Responsible Travel, Annett Pompner, Tourismus Schiegg, and Mariana and Carlos, destinostv.com.  That was our group!
We headed to Holbox Island, where the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico converge, where the whale shark comes to eat (July-August), where tons of pink flamingos arrive, and where we would see the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and white-sand beaches. The drive from Cancun to Chiquila was approximately 2 hours, and along the drive we started to break the ice in the group and it seemed like it was the perfect one to be in.

Once at Chiquila, the boat was waiting for us to take us to the beautiful Holbox Island, a 25 minute ride. I was so impressed by the color of the water that I felt like jumping in it at once and forget my fear of the ocean…Villas Paraiso del MarWe arrived at Villas Paraiso del Mar, our home for the first night in the Yucatan Peninsula. As its name says it, a boutique paradise in the island, 28 Jr. Suites and 6 Master Suites where families, couples, groups of friends are welcome.

I went to bed satisfied of being in the Yucatan Peninsula, exploring a new destination that is trying to operate under sustainable practices with the help of Rainforest Alliance and now GreenSpot.

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