Hotels in Mexico and New York are partnering with organizations that focus on conservation efforts to educate guests and create unique, hands-on experiences, some of which are geared toward kids.
GLOBAL REPORT—Hotels that offer pristine beaches, lakefront experiences and mountain views are helping to conserve the areas around them through local partnerships that also offer new experiences for guests.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Mexico, partnered with Nakawe Project, which focuses on destigmatizing sharks and reducing illegal shark farming and black-market shark trade, to “bring light to this concerning issue,” Frederic Vidal, managing director at Las Ventanas, said via email.
“Guests have the opportunity to participate in several activities focused on marine conservation education, including beach cleanups and free diving with sharks, turtles and other sea creatures,” he said. “… (Guests can) go on ‘sea safaris’ led by local fishermen, taking advantage of the varying seasons of Los Cabos where different sea creatures are more prominent.”
Preserving and protecting the environment that surrounds the hotel has always been a priority for the resort, he said.
“Without the environment around us, we would not be able to provide guests with such a stellar unique setting and experience,” Vidal said. “We want to give our guests an up-close look at the beautiful creatures that make this destination so magical.”
Guests who purchase the “Blue” package at the hotel are given a special discount on these activities and proceeds go to Nakawe Project, he said. Activities through the partnership are currently only offered to guests staying at the hotel.
Marine conservation efforts extend beyond the ocean to Lake Montauk in New York at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina through a partnership with Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension Marine Program.
George Filopoulos, owner at Gurney’s Resorts, said the program is for youth staying on-property. Participants are taken through field excursions by Cornell educators where they learn about caring for shellfish and oyster reef restoration.
“As a haven for families, our goal with the partnership is to deliver a strong custom youth education program focused on the impactful topics of water quality, habitat, aquaculture, STEAM (science, technology, engineer, art and math) and fisheries—all of which are very important to our community,” he said via email.
Many kids enjoy digging in the sand and picking up shells during a beach vacation, and this partnership allows young guests to elevate that experience with “educational, yet accidental immersive learning opportunities,” he said.
To get the word out to families about the complimentary program at Gurney’s Star Island, Filopoulos said the hotels use traditional news releases, e-newsletters, social media and advertisements on the website.
Environmental stewardship in the mountains
Environmental conservation has been a priority for Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, throughout the hotel’s 150-year history, and that has extended to younger guests, Annie Pilek, director of recreation at Mohonk, said via email.
Staff naturalists designed a program, which “introduces children to the wonders of the outdoors through eco-friendly activities that provide a hands-on approach to nature,” in 2007 and incorporated it into the hotel’s Mohonk Kids’ Club.
One benefit of the program is that it gives younger guests “an opportunity to experience nature in a way that they may never have before.”
“Connecting with the outside world on a walk, through learning a skill or through a discovery game heightens the guest experience and encourages them to spend more quality time outdoors,” she said, which gives parents some reassurance that their kids aren’t spending too much time on smartphones and other devices.
The program fits in with the hotel’s core values of giving guests of all ages the opportunity to “connect or reconnect with nature,” Pilek said.
“Nature programming has always been a part of our children’s programming, but having our naturalist curate this experience brings a greater emphasis of nature to Kids’ Club,” she said. “So many of our guests come specifically to Mohonk year after year to immerse themselves in nature, and we want this program to continue this tradition for future generations.”
Participants are able to examine weather instruments to learn about climate, build their own rain gauge and learn about Shawangunk Mountain quartz conglomerate rock that’s unique to the region.