Sunday, February 5, 2023

How Sandals Resorts Brought Its All-Inclusive Theme to Environmental Stewardship

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Sandals Resorts have launched the Future Goals initiative to bring sustainability and community to the forefront of its Caribbean vacation destinations.

Sandals Resorts, the luxury all-inclusive Caribbean vacation destination, is invested in making connections. Whether that’s its couples-only criteria or the connection to the natural world at its tropical locations in Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Antiqua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, and Curaçao.

In one of its latest moves to further foster connection, Sandals has launched its Future Goals initiative, including a commitment to tackle ocean plastic pollution.

Ethos caught up with Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of The Sandals Foundation, via email to learn more about the resort destination’s efforts and sustainability commitments.

Ethos: Why was tackling ocean plastic pollution important to Sandals?

HC: Our company has always looked well beyond the doors of our resorts to make an impact — harnessing the power of our brand to create a positive and lasting change for our beautiful islands. The ocean is the life force of the Caribbean; it gives so much to us, and it is not only our responsibility to ensure its integrity is sustained — but to empower generations to come as ambassadors for our natural resources. 

sandals resort
Sandals’ Future Goals bring a community element to its initiatives. | Courtesy

Future Goals helps to mitigate the issue of plastic waste and ghost nets polluting the ocean with a solution that equips our kids in the Caribbean with the resources to play a sport they love — football — and in the process, creates awareness of sustainability and ocean conservation.

Each Future Goal represents 66 pounds of plastic waste pulled from the ocean. With plans to scale this unique program throughout the Caribbean, the impact on our seas and children is limitless. 

Ethos: Why was it important to support children with the initiative?

HC: Education has always been an integral part of the work we do in local communities, and we believe this should extend beyond the classroom. Tangible training, where children have the opportunity to develop skills in leadership, team building, and camaraderie, is just as impactful and can open so many doors. 

Sandals Resorts and the Sandals Foundation have always prioritized and supported youth sports, creating a natural synergy between our company and AFC Ajax. Giving children these tools and in the process teaching them about protecting the planet through Future Goals, well that is a ‘goal’ in more ways than one. 

Ethos: Can you speak to the sustainability efforts at Sandals resort-wide?

HC: At the resort level, Sandals Resorts has eliminated single-use plastic straws and stirrers, Styrofoam, and is committed to purchasing more than 90 percent of its produce from local farmers. Our efforts on-resort are just a drop in the bucket as far as our impact region-wide. We are firm believers that tourism has the power to transform, and we are immensely proud of our philanthropic efforts through the Sandals Foundation, which put a formal face on the work that has been part of our DNA for more than four decades. 

sandals beach chaise
Sandals Resorts Curacao kicked off its Future Goals initiative. | Courtesy

Brand-wide, we’ve invested in environmental education and advocacy programs, established marine sanctuaries, planted more than 12,000 coral, and engaged more than 55,000 people in conservation efforts, among other efforts.

Most recently in honor of Sandals Resorts’ 40th anniversary, we launched the 40 for 40 Initiative — 40 projects we identified across our eight Caribbean destinations that best showcase the incredible link between tourism and its power to transform communities and improve local lives.

Together with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), we created the ‘Sea the Legacy of Love’ scholarship program in honor of Sandals Resorts’ late founder, Gordon “Butch” Stewart. The program will provide 40 Caribbean nationals across six islands with dive certifications up to the instructor level, to travel below the surface, help protect and refurbish our seas, and encourage guests to get certified and do the same.

It’s an amazing project and one of many examples of the work we do to sustain the region for future generations to come.

Ethos: Are there other projects like this at other locations or in the works?

HC: On every island where we operate, we have sustainability projects in place. We are using the power of tourism to buy locally in order to build locally, all while ensuring we are protecting our precious natural resources.

sandals sunset view
Sandals supports local communities across its operations. | Courtesy

We’ve always operated with an ‘island first’ mentality; how can we make the greatest impact with our entry into a new destination? In Curaçao, for example, the Future Goals program was launched well before Sandals Royal Curaçao opened its doors.

Our community investment is always part and parcel of our development plans. Although this partnership debuted in our new home of Curaçao, we have overarching plans to expand into additional Caribbean islands as well, where we’ll adapt the program based on the unique scope of each destination. We’re in the midst of the first phase which includes outfitting four dozen elementary schools across the island with 100 Future Goals and over 600 soccer balls provided by Adidas, along with an eight-week curriculum for the children led by Future Coaches, who are trained by the Netherlands’ renowned AFC Ajax coaches — all kicked off last fall. 

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