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Puerto Rico pleases with green meeting initiatives

Now more than ever, meeting planners are seeking out convention locations that incorporate ‘green’ practices into their day-to-day activities. In Puerto Rico, groups can be assured that meeting and hotel facilities make the grade in ‘green’ meeting practices. Further, groups can enjoy a number of activities which help educate participants about conservation and the environment, all the while enjoying and exploring Puerto Rico’s natural wonders and great outdoors.

As the meetings and tourism industry continues to work together to develop and implement strategies to conserve energy and reduce waste, Puerto Rico’s hoteliers are also actively partaking in the cause. Puerto Rico’s tourism partners are playing a proactive role in reducing waste and consumption on the Island.

Top tourism entities in Puerto Rico are leading the charge into more green and sustainable practices. This spring, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s Green Lodging Program won the ‘Destination Stewardship Award’ by the Caribbean Tourism Organization for its leadership in promoting sustainable and conservationist practices among island hoteliers. In addition, for more than 15 years, the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association has actively promoted a Green Hotels Program based on standards put forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Blue Flag organization, Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This program was set in place to provide valuable guidance to hotels in all aspects of “greening” operations through education, consultations and impact assessments.

“Puerto Rico is dedicated to reducing waste and increasing sustainability in its tourism sector,” stated Milton Segarra, president and CEO, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. “Our initiatives demonstrate we understand ‘green’ tourism and meeting practices. Further, Puerto Rico offers visitors and delegates the opportunity to better understand the importance of preservation through one-of-a-kind group activities and experiences at a number of our distinct natural attractions.”

In addition to locally-driven ‘green’ initiatives on the island, many global hotel corporations are also implementing ‘green’ standards so that many of Puerto Rico’s top meeting properties have energy-saving, waste-reducing programs that are part of the day-to-day operations as well as programs tailored to minimizing waste for meeting and convention groups.

‘Green’ Hotels, Resorts & Meetings
In a recent survey of Puerto Rico’s hotels and resorts, many of the properties implement “green” practices in their guest rooms. This includes linen re-use programs, energy efficient lighting, training staff to implement environmental practices and utilizing low-flow showerheads to reduce water usage. In addition, many large properties offer groups “green” services for their meetings such as providing recycling bins for used materials (paper, plastic, aluminum, etc.) and incorporating strategies to reduce waste in food and beverage service. Recycling waste, purchasing recycled products, donating durable goods and using environmentally responsible cleaning products are other strategies that many hotels are using to help the environment.

Puerto Rico hotels and resorts reporting that they incorporate “green” initiatives include the Caribe Hilton; Casa Castellana B&B, CIQALA Luxury Home Suites, Condado Plaza Hilton; Courtyard by Marriott Miramar; Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort; Doubletree by Hilton San Juan; Embassy Suites San Juan Hotel & Casino; Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan; Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort; Holiday Inn Mayaguez & Tropical Casino; El Convento; InterContinental Resort & Casino San Juan; Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa: A Wyndham Grand Resort; Ritz-Carlton, San Juan; San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; San Juan Water & Beach Club Hotel, Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino, Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, St. Regis Bahía Beach and the Verdanza Hotel.

'Green' Sites & Activities
Beyond world-class, ‘green’ meeting facilities, hotels and resorts, Puerto Rico has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and conservation by taking part in global initiatives dedicated to preserving the land and seas. From being the home of seven Blue Flag beaches and two Blue Flag marinas to maintaining natural reserves that can be visited by groups for educational purposes, and a range of eco-tours which inform participants about conservation and the environment, groups can learn about and enjoy the unique natural attractions that abound in Puerto Rico.

There are many eco-activities that groups can enjoy while meeting in Puerto Rico. Kayaking and electric-powered boat tours of the bio-luminescent bays in Fajardo and Vieques give visitors an 
up-close view to rare and beautiful eco-systems. Zip-lining adventures are also very popular as a group experience. In Puerto Rico, participants can zip through lush rainforest tree canopies or take in magnificent views of the beaches and shoreline at Hacienda Campo Rico or Toro Verde with little environmental impact. Other activities include hiking in El Yunque National Park, the only 
tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Park System and home to the island’s beloved coqui (treefrog) and other distinctive flora and fauna, or explore the cathedral-like caves of Rio Camuy, one of the largest underground river systems in the world.

Visiting one of the several natural reserves in Puerto Rico can also provide delegates with 
new insights into conservation and sustainability. At La Cabezas, groups can book a private tour of several of the reserve’s eleven ecosystems. This includes a mangrove forest, tidal pools, a bioluminescent lagoon, and the El Faro de Fajardo (Fajardo Lighthouse). Other reserves include the Reserva Natural de Humacao, with hiking, biking and kayak tours and La Parguera Natural Reserve on the southwest part of the island, which offers snorkeling, mountain biking, horseback riding, sailing, kayaking and fishing and is home to mangrove swamps, coral reefs, a

For small groups at the Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, attendees can participate in Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which introduces guests to the natural wonders and cultural traditions of Puerto Rico. This includes exploring and learning about coral reefs, a diversity of birds, wetlands, and traditional Taino culture with snorkeling, kayaking, kite boarding, hiking and exploring an archaeological site directly on property. Also featured in the program is the historic Rockefeller Trail originally conceived by Laurance Rockefeller in the 1950s to create a walkable, open-air sanctuary through the resort's surroundings.

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