Xanadu Resort is officially the first Green Globe Certified Island Resort in Ambergris Caye. Earning the certification means a reward after years of hard work and dedication, which started with Ivan and Judy Sheinbaum, the owners, when they set out to build Xanadu Resort. “At the inception of Xanadu, the idea was to be in harmony with nature. If a tree was in the way of the building design, we would move the building, not remove the tree,” explained Mr. Sheinbaum. That was how firm they were from the beginning, and that stance has brought them to the pinnacle of their success in attaining the Green Globe standard on April 26th, 2010.
In 1992, the United Nations hosted their Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where 182 heads of state from around the world endorsed the Agenda 21 principles of sustainable development. The Green Globe program can trace its roots back to that summit, wherein world leaders, as a group, first acknowledged that the consumption of non-renewable resources was leading to environmental degradation.
Sustainable tourism was starting back in the early 1990’s, and those who were concerned by the effect of their business in the industry, were often considered special interest tourism. Now, it’s practically a requirement to be eco-friendly and sustainable in order to succeed, as with the passing years, travelers have become more aware of their environment and their impact during their travels. In turn, businesses that thrive on tourism have had to take added steps to ensure that their imprint on the environment is as small and responsible as possible. Green Globe was developed for just such a reason, to provide a way for those organizations interested in measuring their environmental impact, then developing and implementing strategies to reduce said impact.
Back in the first week of November of 2009, they were requested to be part of an exciting eco-friendly project by the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), a multilateral financial institution and a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. They had launched a program in the Caribbean called GREENPYME, which promotes energy efficiency and clean technologies by supporting and funding certain activities with selected corporations and Small and Mid Sized (SMEs) companies. Xanadu was selected to benefit from their assistance, and the resort began to actively pursue Green Globe certification. Mr. Eaton Haughton, the representative of GREENPYME, carried out an energy audit of the company’s facilities, as a way to assist the Company in becoming more competitive through energy efficiency and more socially responsible by contributing to reduce greenhouse emissions via more efficient energy use.
Having broken ground in 1998, Xanadu was the first monolithic dome resort in Central America and the Caribbean. These structures play a large role in environmentally friendly practices as they are the best insulated buildings and the strongest form of construction available, which in turn result in reduced energy usage. The basics, which include low-flow shower heads, changing electrical light bulbs to CLF’s, using green cleaning products, eliminating the use of manufactured chlorine and bleach, collecting rain water, eliminating the use of chemicals in combating mosquitoes – those are already in place, and they added up when Xanadu had to meet the majority of the many Green Globe criteria before certification.
As well, 50% of the property has been preserved as a nature walk and bird sanctuary with natural and local vegetation. Many changes have also been applied to operational procedures, including staff training in the use of eco-friendly products and systems. One surprising change they are making is switching over from R134A gas in refrigerators and from Freon 22 gas in air conditioners to Hydrocarbons, which is a natural gas and does not harm the ozone layer. In an era where protecting our ozone, our immediate surroundings, and our earth is of vital importance, these changes were only the next logical step for Xanadu.
With their certification in place, the Sheinbaums, managers, staff and guests can look forward to continued improvements, and even more practical methods to surpass the 86% approval they currently hold with great pride. Over the next three years, the focus will be on strengthening their commitment to preserving the ecology and environment, via their Environmental Management System. Xanadu encourages all Belizeans to do what they can to learn more about protecting and saving their environment.
Other resorts that have been Green Globe Certified in Belize include Hamanasi and Chaa Creek. Since its inception, the Green Globe brand has represented the best in environmental responsibility. The brand and its associated programs hold even greater promise as the world further embraces the need for sustainability and response to global climate change as essential core values.