But in this area close to the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Parks, there are some species that are more sensitive than others. Here the corals are dying. Overfishing, pollution and global warming are its main executioners. A global catastrophe, brought to the local, considering that corals are the habitat of countless marine species, they protect the coasts from floods and the beaches from erosion.
Now, a few meters deep, the corals have a nursery. A conservation project in which the Hotel Las Islas, with the help of the Malpelo Foundation and Conservation International, seek to provide the necessary conditions for these species to reproduce and thus form new reefs.
It seems like a simple task, but it is not. This is why divers visits to the coral nursery are not allowed. Of course, the conservation project is part of the talks that the hotel staff provides to travelers during the tours, as a way to promote the protection of marine ecosystems and restore the health and productivity of the oceans.
According to Condé Nast, Las Islas Hotel is among the three best sustainable hotels in South America. A recognition comparable to that awarded in 2019 by the World Luxury Hotel Awards as the Best Eco-Sustainable Luxury Hotel in South America.
Reasons for these distinctions are superfluous: The hotel was conceived taking into account its surroundings and designed to respect the environment. In fact, not a single tree in the area was felled for construction. Its 55 bungalows (23 at sea level, 32 in height with ocean views and internal gardens) are strategically located for the conservation of the native ecosystem, both maritime and terrestrial.
Use recycled and organic materials. The evidences are not only in the use of certified wood for its construction, but in the reused glass bottles that are used to supply water to guests. Also, in constant training to the staff on the non-use of single-use plastic.
Along these same lines, the property encourages the recycling of waste, which, once separated, is delivered to a certified company for final disposal.
But tourism sustainability goes two ways. For this reason, the hotel's activities department offers guests talks during the tours, on the care of ecosystems and on what actions they can take to protect them.
When Mariela Zuñiga heard 10 years ago that a fabric could be colored, she thought she was being teased. Despite her disbelief, now, this woman from the Barú district, there is no one to match her technique for tying, folding and dyeing cotton that she transforms and sells as pareo (bathroom outlets).
Mariela is one of the 25 women who are now part of the Pareos Baruleros project led by the Aviatur Foundation for the making and design of these pieces. Thanks to the commitment to strengthening the cultural identity of the region, today not only the sarongs of these artisans can be acquired by guests of the Las Islas hotel. Also other creations of local artisans who work with materials such as wood.
Without exaggeration, the Las Islas hotel craft shop is a collage of colors and textures that showcases Colombia's craft identity… Mompox filigree, backpacks of the Wayuu culture, vases in werrengue del Chocó, vintage hats in Caña flecha from Córdoba and Sucre ...
Of course, the social contribution of the property is not recent. Since before its construction, it has fostered the growth and well-being of the premises with the generation of more than 500 jobs. Today 90% of the staff working in various areas of this luxury hotel project are residents of Barú. Each one trained through the alliances that the hotel makes with entities such as the National Service of Learning, Sena.
Once a month a boat arrives in Barú from Cartagena to bring them water. The baruleros buy it by tanks that they mobilize to their houses in wheelbarrows or motorcycles. This is how the water service works in one of the most touristic islands in Colombia.
It is that this Afro-descendant community, of approximately 4,000 inhabitants and that began living on this island more than 200 years ago, has never had an aqueduct and sewerage service. A harsh reality that is expected to change very soon, thanks to the transfer of land that the Hotel Las Islas made for the start-up of a supply system through the desalination of brackish water captured through beach wells located inside the hotel.
In the town it is said that now they will have water. Meanwhile, the hotel donates up to 200 tons of the liquid daily to the community.
The efforts of Hotel Las Islas to decrease its environmental impact and contribute to the development of its surroundings are not temporary. Its sustainability policy is aligned to the 2030 agenda, so there will be fauna and flora conservation projects, job creation and support for the Barú community, for a while. Everything, without departing from meeting the expectations of its guests to spend an unforgettable vacation with the service standards that identify the luxury hotel members of The Leading Hotels of the World organization.