SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Yesterday, Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), presented Jacqueline Volkart, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, with the Sustainable Tourism Facility Certificate. This is the first resort hotel in Puerto Rico to receive this certification and fifth certified establishment in the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Facilities Program in Puerto Rico of PRTC.
“At the PRTC we are pleased to have the first resort hotel in our Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Facilities Program, because it is indicative of our commitment to provide our partners in the industry the tools to diversify the offerings we can provide as a destination and strengthen sustainable tourism in Puerto Rico,” said the director of tourism. “I am delighted to have delivered this significant certification to The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, and to congratulate them for their commitment and diligence in transforming such a renowned inn into a banner of sustainable tourism.”
“Our resort is the first certified luxury hotel in the island to combine a luxury travel experience with sustainable practices,” said general manager, Jacqueline Volkart, during the press conference held yesterday. “We are proud to have been awarded the Sustainable Tourism Facility Certificate because our commitment to the environment remains one of the most important objectives of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company worldwide.”
The certification process for The Ritz-Carlton hotel began on September 2014; in October 2014, it began the training process through the Division for Sustainable Tourism at Hotel Green Team with employees from each operational area, and in December 2014, the compliance evaluation was conducted.
The Ritz-Carlton administration undertook the following transformative steps in order to obtain the Sustainable Tourism Facility Certificate:
• Increased the utilization of locally-produced organic products in areas like the kitchen and spa.
• Established collaboration relationships with Arrecifes Pro Ciudad (Pro Reef Organization), for the protection and conservation of the marine life reserve in Isla Verde. Thanks to this effort the facility has improved the way by which residuals in beach areas are handled along with contamination reduction necessary for endangered species protection for species like turtles who nest in such areas. Additionally, they purchased educational coloring books that highlight reef residents for the Ritz-Kids program.
• Partnered with the Ritz-Carlton Environmental Action Conservation Team (REACT) to support environmental conservation efforts, as well as the Community Footprints program in order to handle social and environmental responsibility factors.
• Established energy conservation: A 40 percent reduction through efforts to update LED and florescent illumination technology utilizing Energy Star certificates, sensor installations in public bathrooms, as well as temperature and humidity control sensors in guestrooms.
• Established a water conservation process: Rain/humidity sensors were installed in exterior areas for landscape irrigation use, and encouraged efficient use of equipment and accessories in kitchens, bathrooms and guestrooms.
• Utilized biodigested compost in kitchen area and better management of plant material generated by the property, through the Municipality of Humacao where it is processed and used in the landfill for erosion control.
• Supported organizations like Make-a-Wish, Soles 4 Souls (shoe donations), Hotel el Paraíso and St. Augustine Parish (donations of food for the homeless), Martin G. Brumbaugh School (school supplies) among others.
• Promoted the works of local artists for sale, such as the works of William Quetzalcoatl.
“At the Tourism Company we are very committed to the development of sustainable tourism and therefore encourage the construction or conversion to green inns, through the guidance offered by our staff of the Division for Sustainable Tourism at hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts, which we endorse, so we are proud to note that in addition to the five certified establishments, twenty requested additional entrance into the program and are in the process of compliance with the basic criteria,” said the director of PRTC. “We are convinced that sustainable tourism is currently in a great position for expansion which is the key to environmental conservation and diversification of Puerto Rico as a five-star destination,” concluded Rivera Rocafort.