Almost eleven months ago I received an email from David Rietveld, general manager of Plaza Beach Resort that he is willing to sit down with me and talk about Plaza Beach Resort and their sustainable efforts. Great news given hotels are extremely important stakeholders in regard of local sustainable development. During our tour on Plaza property, David explained to me the basic need for moving direction a more sustainable way of hospitality management, as hotels are massive consumers of water and electricity, resulting in an enormous monthly WEB bill. Besides the need to reduce the WEB costs the hotel also wanted to move direction a more sustainable way of hospitality management given Bonaire depends on its beautiful environment.
Asking about concrete examples of sustainable investments David informed me of their purchase of 4.000+ solar panels, watersavers and energy saving air-conditioning systems for every hotel room. Amazed by the amount of solar panels, I asked him where they were planning to place the panels and he surprised me with the answer: the tennis court. All tennis courts will be re-used as a solar-field, hosting more than 4.000 panels! Asking why the panels will be placed at the court and not at the roofs, David explained that this recommendation is one of the outcomes of a technical report done by energy professionals. The surprising outcome also had a big financial benefit, as it is cheaper to place them at the tennis courts than on the roofs.
As the current energy legislation is not pro-sustainable for local entrepreneurs or households, I asked David how he copes with the local energy regulation and how this will affect Plaza’s transformation direction sustainable energy generation. “At one point you need to make a decision” says David. “We have involved WEB in our start up plans and even proposed a public private partnership, but unfortunately it did not lead to a sustainable partnership. Nevertheless now I can say that I am very happy the way WEB is working together with us. They have shown interest and they are helping to realize a safe connection to the grid of the WEB. Making the decision to invest in 4.000 solar panels and a total replacement of all high energy using air-conditioning systems is a bit of a gamble, but sometimes you need to take a risk to move forward and encourage others to move direction sustainable investment and development”.
Besides sustainable use of energy and water, Plaza Beach Resort also supported local awareness campaigns in partnership with Boneiru Duradero. For these campaigns Plaza Beach Resort has co-produced several awareness video clips about waste disposal and hosted the event AWARE, which took place in May 2015. Besides awareness-campaigns, Plaza has been focusing on recycling waste by separating glass, paper and rest waste. A great example of reducing waste (re-use) is actually the agreement Plaza made with distributors of Zula. Plaza will only import Zula beers if Zula takes back the yellow beer crates to recycle, which are now scattered everywhere on the island.
Asking David about challenges to move direction sustainable hospitality management he highlights the importance of a few conditions, “you need to have: money to invest; contacts to help; work with experts; space for your investments; involve your co-workers; a favorable legal framework and you need to have the guts to do it”. It took eleven months, but the project is alive and Plaza is definitely showing some guts! We encourage all hotels on Bonaire to follow their steps and move direction sustainable hospitality management.