Belize eco-lodge wins premier sustainable tourism award

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: A small luxury eco-lodge located on a 7,200 acre private reserve in the Maya Mountains of Western Belize has won the Caribbean region’s premier award for environmental excellence.

Hidden Valley Inn today captured the 2006 Islands Magazine/Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Sustainable Tourism Award at a special awards luncheon at the 8th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-8) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Hidden Valley Inn encapsulates everything you look for in a sustainable tourism award winner,” said Ty Sawyer, editorial director of Islands Magazine, as he announced the winner.

The Inn, which consists of 12 cottages, sits on two unique eco-systems made up of tropical jungle and Caribbean pine, home to several species of wildlife, including jaguars and pumas.

The resort undertakes a variety of sustainable tourism programs, including the use of recycled material and the provision of water from fresh springs to guests. It also facilitates natural research and ecological projects, while providing accommodations to researchers who need it.

“The eco-system of Hidden Valley is always at the forefront of the minds of management. That’s what makes them stand out and that’s why we have chosen them as this year’s winner of the sustainable tourism award,” Sawyer explained.

Mr. Trevor Rowe of Hidden Valley Inn described the recognition as humbling and dedicated it to the resort’s 21-member staff, 20 of whom are native Belizeans.