Hacienda Tres Rios – It’s Not Easy Being Green

Hacienda Trace Rios #2

Our guest post and monthly column comes from Howard Hian who was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.  

California – Nevada Roundup:  October 2013        

Background: The award-winning Hacienda Tres Rios in Riviera Maya is at the forefront of sustainable eco-tourism.  It’s a beautiful beachfront, all-inclusive destination resort, situated near Playa del Carmen on the Mexican Caribbean, 45 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport.

Staying and Playing:  There are 273 suites with mini-bars (restocked daily). The hotel is part of a 300-plus acre nature preserve; home to three freshwater rivers and 10 cenotes. In addition to the resort amenities (see below), guests have the exclusive use of the sanctuary for exploring, snorkeling, birding and kayaking. Lazy or active, this place and its service shines.

Think Green: Before development began, Hacienda Tres Ríos spent two years of careful planning including studies of the coastal reef, dunes, vegetation, mangroves and fauna.  Working with architects and engineers, they developed environmentally friendly construction practices. Two examples: resort structures were pre-fabricated offsite and assembled in-place using local Mexican sustainable materials; and buildings were erected on stilts to maintain the natural water flow above and below ground.

Energy efficiency is state-of-the-art in the guest suites.  The hotel design, as well as double paned windows, minimizes the sun’s rays.  Sensors for controlling room lights and temperature also reduce energy consumption.  Centrifugal cooling units result in 40% less power being used to air-condition. The heat that the air-conditioning equipment throws off is captured by an exchange system that allows continuous hot water flow to the rooms. It also warms the water in the swimming pools. Air injected into shower heads reduces consumption by 40% (you can’t tell it’s low-flow) and there are dual-flush toilets. The large bathrooms feature biodegradable toiletries.

PoolThe reforestation program has cultivated more than 90,000 mangrove and jungle trees. They propagate and grow native and regional plants that need little water, fertilizer or pesticides. Grey water is used for the nursery and landscaping.  Instead of tapping into the aquifer, a desalination plant was built

Hacienda Tres Rios’ recycling program includes composting waste food and separating plastic, aluminum, glass, and cardboard for reprocessing. Grease residue is salvaged, cups are reusable and/or biodegradable, paper used consists of at least 50% recycled chlorine-free fibers and vendors deliver their products in eco-friendly containers.

Packing Suggestions:  Plan for lots of sun. Outdoor Research was my first line of defense with their Sunbriolet Hat; UPF rating 50+.   Sun Bum’s Face Stick and Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion provided one more layer of protection.  My Prospecs W Cool technical athletic shoes were perfect for walking and hiking, plus they look great.  Magellan’s is a favorite for travel goodies; this trip their own brand of shorts, shirts and mesh underwear, all quick dry, accompanied me.

Resort Information:  All-inclusive services include nine restaurants, two pools, a spa, daily/hourly activities, fitness center with yoga, pilates, zumba, and meditation instruction, cooking classes, biking tours, video library, wi-fi, concierge and evening entertainment. A few of the awards Hacienda Tres Rios has won are for sustainable travel, food and beverage excellence, eco-friendly development and design, and resort amenities. Their parent company, Sunset Resorts, owns and operates five other hotels, a yacht club and marina and an equestrian and polo center.  For more information and reservations, call 1-800-494-9173 or logon to www.haciendatresrios.com.

Kermit the frog was right when he lamented, “It’s not easy being green,” but hats off to Hacienda Tres Rios for setting the standard for economically viable, green tourism.

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian


Thanks to the various websites for photos and information.