As climate change increasingly impacts oceans
and destinations across the globe, it is more vital than ever that we make the effort to understand how our actions affect the environment when we travel. Whether it’s your mode of transportation, how you pack, or where you book a stay, a conscious traveler is someone who sets sustainable intentions everywhere they go, and some resorts are doing their part to help. In Río Grande, Puerto Rico — near El Yunque rainforest and 40 minutes outside of San Juan — a luxury beach resort is implementing strict sustainability practices to protect its natural surroundings. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
is one of just 21 resorts in the world that is a certified Gold Audubon International Sanctuary and the only resort in the Caribbean with this distinction. Visitors can sense the sanctuary status instantly upon arrival as they wind through long pathways of lush greenery and hear the sounds of the wildlife living within. More than 65 percent of the resort is dedicated green space, wildlife preserves, and nature trails through marshes, lakes, a coconut plantation, freshwater swamps, mangroves, sandy beaches, coral reef, and secondary forests. At Bahia Beach you’re immersed in a level of nature that is transformative, and you’re reminded at every turn why our natural world is so valuable. To stay committed and maintain its Audubon status, St. Regis has a dedicated, expert green team of two incredibly talented marine biologists, Marcela Cañón and Ashely Perez. The core team is responsible for adhering to the guidelines of Audubon by preserving and nurturing the natural environment. Their days are filled with observing and keeping tabs on wildlife habitats, checking water systems, and ensuring the landscaping is done with native plants. Cañón and Perez also train all of the resort employees to be ancillary members of the green team with lessons in recycling and managing food waste in the kitchens. In collaboration with Bahía Beach Resort, Cañón created a non-profit foundation called Soul of Bahia
that partners with public and private organizations to protect the environment and educate the public. The foundation works with schools to educate about the environment, hosts annual spring beach clean ups at the Herrera River, and helps local communities better prepare for storms with donations and educational support as well as assisting in post-storm recovery. Guests and friends of Bahia Beach Resort can get involved with the eco-efforts through tours of the property’s green spaces, socializing with the rescued dogs and cats, and taking part in environmental educational experiences this holiday season. Travel + Leisure
was granted behind-the-scenes access to capture the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort’s Green Team in action. The core team maintains the natural environment throughout the resort property, from rescuing stray cats and dogs to helping sea turtles hatch and maintaining clean beaches and waterways. Despite the hard, tedious work of being a marine biologist, working in this environment to ensure the protection and longevity of the eco-systems at a five-star luxury resort is certainly a dream job.