FX Excursions

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Mexico’s Grupo Xcaret Prospers While Supporting Sustainability

by Rina Nehdar

Jun 13, 2023

PHOTO:
© RINA NEHDAR

Leisure Lifestyle 2023

PHOTO:
© RINA NEHDAR

Before green travel became a thing, the masterminds behind the Xcaret properties in Mexico’s Riviera built parks and resorts on a bedrock of sustainability. In fact, in 2009 the United Nations World Tourism Organization awarded Xel-Há, the second park owned by Grupo Xcaret, EarthCheck Gold Certification for sustainability, the world’s first for a park and now used as a model for parks worldwide. It wasn’t because it wanted to impress anybody. “We wanted to do things this way because we liked it and because we were convinced that was the right way to do them,” wrote Miguel Quintana Pali, founder and general director, Grupo Xcaret, in his book, Xueños: The Story of the Dream Behind Xcaret, the Best Park in the World.

Pali, an architect by training but a businessman by trade, acquired his love of nature the honest way. His mom taught him in the gardens of homes he grew up in with his multicultural family. His appreciation of the land resurfaced when he acquired 12 acres of coastal property. He intended to build a dream family retreat. Upon clearing the land, he discovered cenotes, springs and Maya ruins. Pali realized, “It would be wrong and a misuse of the land’s unique features to build only houses.” So, instead, he built a cultural park to share Mexico’s beauty and history with the world. Once the site of a Maya trading port, he called it Xcaret, or small cove.

His endeavor today includes four archaeological tours, seven parks and three luxury hotels in Mexico’s Caribbean, all dedicated to Pali’s love for Mexico. “Each of our 32 states has its own history, languages … music, dances … crafts, food, and ecosystem.” Sustainability for Grupo Xcaret reflects its desire to prosper, preserve and share it all.

PHOTO:
© RINA NEHDAR

Guests of Xcaret Arte, a luxury resort built incorporating land formations instead of destroying them, will notice glass carafes around their guestroom or cardboard coffee capsules refilled daily by their butler. There’s no single-use plastic in any of the hotels, and 80 percent of solid waste is recycled throughout their operations. Refillable glass bottles of reef-safe suntan lotion, insect repellent and after-sun cream sit on bathroom vanities. The resort rooms are separated into five Casas, each dedicated to one Mexican art form, with workshops available on all.

An aquamarine cenote, bordered by split, jagged rock, connects adults- only Xcaret Arte to family-friendly Hotel Xcaret Mexico. Guests can use kayaks to navigate between the two.

Sustainability extends to surrounding communities from which the properties source produce and products. Employees are valued and referred to as collaborators because, as Pali wrote, “A business is only as good as the people it employs.” Collaborators can count on fair, dependable wages and scholarships for education, from basic literacy to post-graduate degrees.

Pali cannot separate the company’s prosperity from the people and land that make it possible.

“This is the only way to be sustainable,” he said, “creating a never- ending virtuous circle.”

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