Atop a restaurant near Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, Edwin Gallardo points out the parsley and basil growing. It's all organic, and no pesticides are used.
Gallardo, the chef at Seven Stars Resort & Spa, is showing off the hotel's newest attraction: the small organic garden where herbs and microgreens are grown for meals at the hotel's on-site restaurants.
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Just down the road at the staff housing area, Gallardo shows off bananas and papayas grown by staff in their own garden. It was a project started during the island's Covid-19 pandemic shutdown last year that has continued.
Gallardo and others helped feed the resort's large staff during the property's closure due to the pandemic.
"Even before the lockdown, we were already giving food to employees," he said. "After lockdown, that's when we really started creating gourmet meals for staff."
The meals included proteins, salads, fruit and something sweet and more to make sure the workers had nutritious meals at their disposal. The meals included enough for up to four people, he noted, so the workers could share with their families. "It's a way of giving back to the employee," he said.
Meanwhile, at Como Parrot Cay, also in Turks and Caicos, the property has its own banana and coconut plantations to supply produce for guests' food experiences.
As more properties turn to garden-to-fork experiences for guests, gardens are popping up at hotels and resorts around the world. In Turks and Caicos, which tends to import a good deal of its food, it carries extra significance and also helps to cut down on travel time and allows for more freshness for the guests.
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It's just one way that properties throughout the overseas British territory are making headway in green initiatives.
At Seven Stars, guests receive a water bottle to fill up throughout their stay at water stations throughout the property, significantly cutting down on plastic bottle usage.
And at the nearby Ocean Club West, the property resort and its sister property were the first to earn the Green Global Certification in Turks and Caicos. In each individual suite, guests receive a reusable cloth shopping bag.
At Ocean Club West, guests receive a reusable cloth shopping bag. Photo Credit: Ocean Club Resorts
From luxury, high-end resorts to off-the-beaten-path villas and accommodations, going green is picking up practitioners in Turks and Caicos.
On the south side of Providenciales, the main economic hub for Turks and Caicos, sits Harbour Club Villas & Marina, which uses sensor lighting to cut down on energy usage as well as a whitewater system, a septic system which uses air pumps to irrigate the property's palm trees.
"It's brilliant. We've had no issues," said Marta Morton, one of the owners and founders of Harbour Club. The property is also looking at moving to solar power as soon as possible.
Back at Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, the Ritz-Carlton is focusing on electric vehicles. The luxury property has partnered with Fortis to install eight electric charging stations, which will be available for free to the community as well as hotel guests. Starting later this year, the property, in conjunction with its car rental partner, Grace Bay Rental, will offer electric vehicles. By 2024, the Ritz-Carlton intends to offer only electric vehicles in the small, midsize and compact range of its on-site rental fleet, with larger SUVs and minibuses being hybrid, low-emissions options.
Wymara Resort and Villas, meanwhile, has water stations throughout the resort to enable guests to fill up using them instead of plastic bottles. Additionally, the shampoo, soap and shower gel comes in refillable containers, further cutting down on plastic waste. The resort has also reduced menu printing by launching browser-based food and beverage ordering for in-room dining as well as for poolside and beach service.
Jorge Collazo, general manager at Wymara Resort and Villas, says mixing luxury hospitality with ecofriendly initiatives is important for several reasons.
"First, we have reached a tipping point on pollution; if we do not take drastic measures now the damage to our planet will be permanent," he said. "Second, the vast majority of luxury travelers want to be responsible about how their leisure activities affect the environment so these initiatives make business sense. And last but definitely not least, nature is such a wondrous thing, protecting it will allow us to enjoy it for many years to come."