Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Club Med’s Long History of Social Good and Sustainability


Club Med, the all-inclusive resort concept with 70 locations worldwide, has announced new sustainability initiatives building on its sustainable development goals launched in 2005 and the Happy to Care program launched in 2019.

Founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, Club Med operates in more than 30 countries across North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. It’s long been a champion of sustainability and protecting biodiversity as well as supporting its local communities.

Club Med opened initially as a nonprofit, the Club Méditerranée. By 1965, it had pivoted to its resort model and opened its first permanent location in the Moroccan village of Agadir. The village was chosen not only for its beauty but, the company says, also as an effort to help rebuild the community that suffered a significant blow after the earthquake of 1960.

Club Med
Courtesy Tim Arnold via Unsplash

In 1978, it launched the Club Med Foundation developed for the preservation of biodiversity and community support, including funds for local schools and orphanages, among other community programs.

Club Med sustainability

The new initiatives build on its sustainability goals first announced in 2005, and its recent Happy to Care platform, which it launched in 2019. The new efforts include increasing plant-based offerings, replacing single-use plastic, and adding more renewable energy sources.

“Since its conception, Club Med has held a strong belief that memorable experiences should never be lived at the expense of others or of nature,” the company said in a statement.

“Throughout its reputable practice of responsibly pioneering new destinations, the brand’s core values have been defined as key pillars of sustainable tourism – building resorts that blend in harmoniously with nature, controlling water treatment and waste management, being vigilant with energy and water usage, and engaging in local solidarity.”

The Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda location in the Dominican Republic will be outfitted with solar panels later this year, the company says. That initiative follows the 2019 installation at its Punta Cana location also in the Dominican Republic.

The resort chain has a long history with solar power, beginning in 1978 when it debuted the largest solar panel field in Europe at its Club Med des Boucaniers location in Martinique.

Courtesy Alexander Kaunas via Unsplash

The resort chain will also implement composting across Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda in a first of its kind pilot partnership with Grogenics and The Ocean Foundation. The program will see beach-harvested sargassum algae turned into compost for the resort’s garden as well as made available to area farmers to help with composting and carbon sequestration. At its new location in Quebéc, the Canadian food waste management company Solucycle is helping convert the resort’s organic waste into renewable energy sources.

New Club Med initiatives

Sustainable protein is coming to Club Med kitchens this year, too. Beginning this month it’s adding Beyond Meat’s vegan burgers and sausages to its Michès Playa Esmeralda, with the rest of its North American resorts following before the end of the year.

“According to a Life Cycle Analysis conducted by the University of Michigan, producing the original Beyond Burger uses 99 percent less water, 93 percent less land, 46 percent less energy, and generates 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than producing a quarter-pound U.S. beef burger,” Club Med says.

The resort says Beyond Meat is the start of its efforts to increase plant-based protein across its locations. It’s also emphasizing more local and organic produce as well as a 2023 target to source 100 percent Fair Trade coffee. It says it’s also switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025.

Single-use plastic is being phased out, according to the company, starting with plastic water bottles. Its Cancún, Mexico, location will see all plastic bottles replaced with glass this year with other locations to follow. Since 2019, more than two million plastic water bottles have been used in various applications including staff uniforms and boutique products, it says.

All of the North American and Caribbean resorts will apply for Green Globe certification later this year, the company says. It evaluates the sustainability performance of travel and tourism businesses and their suppliers. Its two newest resort locations Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda and Club Med Québec, re in the process of earning BREEAM certification, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, which rates buildings for their sustainability.

sustainable luxury hotels
Courtesy La Sultana Marrakech

Protecting biodiversity has long been a priority for Club Med. Efforts include partnerships with the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund, The Florida Oceanographic Society, the Peregrine Fund, and SEMARNAT (The Mexican Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources). it’s also a founding member of PROMICHES, the hotel and tourism association of Miches El Seibo dedicated to the region’s sustainable development.

The new initiatives embody the brand’s core belief that Club Med’s “pioneering vision” comes with the “innate responsibility to respect the countries in which their resorts are located, the company says, “as well as their communities, landscapes, and resources.”

Club Med is the latest tourist destination to announce increased sustainability metrics, following several points hotels including Raddison and Hilton that have added sustainability and conservation efforts. The Marriott chain also recently announced it is opening its first safari location in the Mara National Reserve in Kenya aimed at promoting biodiversity and conservation.


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