Karisma Hotels & Resorts has taken a unique approach to going “green” by creating the first greenhouse-contained Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm in South-East Mexico, producing local, high-quality and sustainable products for their Gourmet Inclusive Experience food program for their guests. David A. Ortegon Martinez, the Sustainability Director at Karisma Hotels & Resorts, took time to tell us more about Karisma’s delicious approach to sustainability.
Why did Karisma Hotel & Resorts create this program?
With sustainability as one of the main pillars of daily operations, Karisma Hotels & Resorts has established a worldwide efficiency program, known as “Passion for Sustainability.” The program is a result of the implementation of the Sustainable Management System, built to make the Hotels and Resorts operations as efficient as possible, emphasizing the company’s meaningful and long-lasting commitment to “our clients, our employees, our community, and our environment, a commitment to the highest levels of the organization and outlined on our sustainability policy.”
This commitment is visible throughout many processes on Karisma Hotels & Resorts properties, including the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm within their greenhouse located at El Dorado Royale a Spa Resort by Karisma, where daily tours are offered for the guests and visitors. Through these tours people have the chance to see firsthand all our production process and learn that they can help prevent deforestation, curb climate change, protect wildlife, alleviate poverty and transform business practices by being Smart Sustainable Shoppers. Guests also learn what is behind Rainforest Alliance Certified products, and connect with the people who make it possible to offer such delicious culinary delicacies during their stay.
Why do you work with the Rainforest Alliance?
We decided to work with the Rainforest Alliance because we wanted to have a positive impact at many levels of the supply chain, and we saw the opportunity to produce excellent quality vegetables with a production process that is respectful of the environment and our workers. By doing so, we hope to offer unique and very authentic products as a part of the Gourmet Inclusive Experience to all our guests.
What makes the Greenhouse and the services offered so unique?
We offer a set of on-site produced vegetables for our own kitchens, ready to be part of the Gourmet Inclusive Experience with healthy, high-quality products produced in our own greenhouse. The site also works as an educational experience for more than 6,000 of our guests who visit the greenhouse each year. Even though many companies can buy Rainforest Alliance Certified products, we produce it! We show people how we do it and we educate them to be a part of a more responsible and sustainable network. We are creating a relationship between sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, and education for a responsible future.
What challenges do you face as a business that cares about sustainable practices?
As Karisma Hotels & Resorts progresses in sustainable practices, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about it sprouting from the general public’s lack of knowledge about what it means to grow a product in a sustainable manner. Although, it has been improving thanks to the effort of many organizations and individuals around the world, a great deal of misunderstandings remain.
There is a lot of confusion around sustainable agriculture versus organic agriculture, which is why a project like ours is so important and must be shared worldwide. Perhaps this way, many other tourism companies can replicate sustainable systems like ours.
Where would you like to see sustainable business practices in 10 years’ time?
Nowadays, a product or service produced in a socially and environmentally-friendly way has to pass through a certification process to include a label on the final product and demonstrate that it is what it claims to be. This is in contrast to conventional products that are produced without care for environmental resources or concern for people, which are sold around the world with no verification, certification audits or evaluations. I would like to think that within the next 10 years, things will be entirely different with the situation reversed, in which products and services produced unsustainably will need to present evidence of their practices in order to gain access to the market. It is all is in our hands and in the hands of consumers, but we need to exponentially expand our communication and education efforts.