The Ritz-Carlton’s partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Environmental Ambassadors program extends with the opening this summer of the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, in the Fari Islands. The Maldives are known for their colorful marine life and coral reefs, and the addition of this new Ritz-Carlton resort marks the brand’s first Asia-Pacific hotel to participate in the program.
Ambassadors of the Environment seeks to educate interested clients about the diverse global ecosystems and cultural traditions surrounding its many hotels and resorts. Thanks to the Ocean Futures Society, activities vary at each of the six participating Ritz-Carlton properties and give guests of all ages the opportunity to interact with the environment around them with programs that vary seasonally.
Cousteau-trained naturalists guide guests through the different experiences of each resort, and many of them work directly with Dr. Richard Murphy, chief scientist of the Cousteau family for several decades. All naturalists are trained in biology, and the Ocean Futures Society certifies the program while providing additional training to the teams at each hotel.
Donna McNamara, Vice President and Global Brand Leader of The Ritz-Carlton, said, “I am so proud to see our guests have these unforgettable experiences and come away inspired to make a difference in their environment based on what ‘they learned. ”
Here’s what you can expect at several participating properties, including the most recent resort to join the Ambassadors of the Environment program.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
Complementary to guests, Dr. Sol Milne’s morning sessions take guests on an aerial adventure sitting on the beach. As the resort’s resident naturalist, he flies the ocean drone to explore what’s going on around the resort’s coral reefs. The drone returns real-time aerial photos of diverse marine life with the ability to zoom in for a better view. He shares stories about the sharks, rays, dolphins and fish that live in the area.
An important component of the project, beyond educating the guests, is mapping the region’s coral reefs and understanding their growth and development over time. This helps protect and maintain a healthy reef system while teaching visitors about marine debris and conservation.
Other activities include marine biology lessons for kids, nighttime snorkeling, and an underwater drone that brings the magic of marine life beneath the surface to guests ashore. The underwater rover circles nearby reefs and returns colorful photographs while helping researchers collect valuable environmental data. Cousteau-trained naturalists can also teach clients how to master the art of underwater photography.
Naturalists also take kids for a walk on the beach to pick up litter that runs aground (sometimes from as far away as Southeast Asia) and learn how to reuse it in different things, including fashion pieces. . Young visitors learn in a fun way how human consumption and waste affect nature. There’s even a kids’ fashion show to show off what they’ve picked up from the sea.
Aerial and maritime drones are also helping the resort monitor plastic pollution in the oceans. A weekly CEO Cocktail connects guests with on-site researchers to learn how the resort is using modern technology for the conservation and protection of the region’s reefs.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
What makes the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara’s programming special is that Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society has been based in Santa Barbara for many years, and Cousteau is a resident of the area. In addition to guided interpretive hikes of the surrounding coastal area, the resort has a dedicated classroom for young guests to learn about local habitats.
A “CSI: Investigating Coastal Scenes” experiment takes children on an adventure to solve nautical cases through water testing techniques by observing the coastline and taking samples from the beach. The program also takes young visitors on adventures through a kelp forest and the intertidal zone where they can experience the region’s natural diversity.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
At the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Hawaii, guests can work with naturalists to explore the biology and behaviors of Hawaiian green sea turtles native to the area, learning where they nest and their importance to island culture. Other adventures include coastal hikes, garden tours, and exploring tidal pools. Interactive games teach children about local whales and dolphins, helping them learn how to eat without teeth, communicate through sound, and what it’s like to have fat.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
Guests can take a glass-bottom hydrofoil tour with resort naturalists to explore reefs, marine life, and historic shipwrecks beneath the surface. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman also offers night-time snorkeling, sunset kayak tours, guided telescope sightings, and coral reef presentations as part of its eco-friendly programming. Families can take advantage of children’s gardening classes that teach them about the land and how plants and vegetables grow.
Other properties that participate in Ambassadors of the Environment include Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton reserve in Puerto Rico, and Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton reserve in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.
McNamara hints at an even more environmentally conscious future when she says, “As the brand continues to grow, we are always looking for opportunities to take the program to relevant destinations.”