Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort: Sustainability in an Island Paradise
The inspiration for a successful, environmentally friendly luxury resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach started from a love of nature and animals.
Ewald Biemans, originally from Austria, founded Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts 25 years ago on the island paradise. With only 104 rooms, the eco-friendly hotel is situated away from the loud hotspots and high rise buildings on Aruba, but restaurants and shopping areas are accessible in the nearby capital of Oranjestad.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts sits on 14 acres of white sand and has been called one of the few “Dream Beaches of the World.” This romantic, boutique-style hotel caters to adults only. It offers beach weddings, a professional wedding planner, and “green” weddings.
A Natural Resource
“I arrived in Aruba when it was pristine and clean,” says Biemans, who came to the island in the early 1970s. Since his arrival, there has been a huge influx of people on the now populous island.
“More people equals more garbage,” says Ewald, explaining how the island paradise began to degrade. Vacationers flock to Aruba all year because of the dry, Arizona-like climate; sunny weather; and calm, white beaches. Since tourism is Aruba’s only natural resource and accounts for a large portion of the nation’s income, it is especially important to keep the island clean.
“I thought, We need to do something about this,” says Biemans. Now, local authorities are enforcing rules to keep the island in order, which has resulted in improvements to the ecosystem. Hotels are encouraged to participate in programs to improve the local environment.
“We’re slowly getting there,” he explains, as he points out that everything on the island has to be imported.
An Innovative Ecopreneur
Biemans takes great steps to make the resort a better place for the island, its employees, and its guests through a variety of inventive means. “We are very happy and proud,” he says.
Some of Biemans’ initiatives at the resort include the following:
- Only organic cleaning products are used
- Employees carpool to work
- Motorized sports are discouraged and low-energy sports like windsurfing are promoted
- Air conditioners have sensors that adjust the temperature depending on if people are in the room
- Employees separate garbage, and 60 percent ends up recycled or reused
- Local beers are sold, and the bottles are returned to companies, who wash and reuse them
- Products are bought in five-gallon buckets and dispensers in the rooms for shampoo and soap are refilled
- Instead of plastic laundry bags, the resort supplies pillowcases
- Biodegradable cups and plates in the dining areas are made from sugar cane
- Sheets aren’t changed every day unless specified by the guest
- All paint is non VOC
“The only plastics in the hotel are the straws,” Biemans states proudly. In the future, he hopes to incorporate the use of solar power for public lighting and to control room temperatures on a central computer.
Since 1997, the resort has been honored with nearly 30 awards and recognition for environmental stewardship, sustainable tourism, beach cleanups, and environmental hotel management.
The resort was the first in the Americas and Caribbean to obtain ISO 14001 certification, which indicates that the hotel’s environmental management systems can identify and control its environmental impact. Additionally, the business is a charter member of the Green Hotels Association.
“People choose our hotel because of sustainability,” Biemans says. “They feel guilty about flying all the way to Aruba, but they feel better that they are staying at a sustainable hotel.”
The website also allows guests to purchase renewable energy credits to offset their carbon use. “It gives them a good feeling about staying in a resort,” he says. “They are conserving as much as they can.”
Biemans believes that guests consume less energy at the resort than they would be consuming at home because of the sustainable measures in place. And, for most guests, they stay in a room that is smaller than their house.
The resort is Green Globe Certified, a recognized mark for sustainable tourism. Eco-conscious visitors interested in the natural wildlife and native cuisine can purchase the green vacation package, which includes an outdoor view room, dinner prepared by local chefs, a guided hike, and a tour of the aloe factory.
Biemans preaches the importance of local involvement because items won’t be transported thousands of miles, local jobs are created, and local arts and crafts are promoted.
“We did a lot of things before ‘green’ was a common thing,” he says. “We’re going back 20 years. Now it’s the fashion to talk about it, but we started when it was unheard of.”
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