When an angry German man demanded to know why his beer was served in a plastic cup about 30 years ago, luxury resort owner Ewald Biemans had no answer, but he did have a solution.
And why should he stop throwing away plastic cups, he thought, when at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, his hotel on the Caribbean island of Aruba, he could not do away with shampoo bottles and even bottles of water.
"I started eliminating plastic in the 1980s," he told me while eating at his restaurant by the ocean, explaining how Bucuti & Tara could prevent the use of more than half a million plastic bottles a year.
CO2 neutral: in 2018, Bucuti & Tara (photo) became the first resort in the Caribbean to become CO2 neutral
Paradise: Bucuti & Tara is a 4-star resort for adults, nestled on the spacious white sandy beach of Eagle on the Dutch island – called One Happy Island
Life on the island: Eagle Beach is the widest beach in Aruba and is known for its pristine and soft white sandy beaches and is among the best in the world
In the coming decades, Biemans has made every effort to turn its beautiful beach accommodation into an environmentally friendly paradise.
And his hard work paid off in 2018, when the luxury hotel became the first resort in the Caribbean to become CO2 neutral and offer environmentally conscious travelers a debt-free holiday destination.
That does not mean that guests will not feel as pampered, pampered and relaxed as in any other luxury resort.
I was housed in one of the hotel's luxurious Tara suites, with views over the beautiful turquoise ocean and the waves crashing against the white beach.
Along with a luxurious king-size bed, there was a separate elegantly furnished living room and a luxurious bathroom with a walk-in shower and an electric mirror with built-in TV.
Bucuti & Tara is a 4-star resort for adults, nestled on the spacious white sandy beach of Eagle on the Dutch island, called One Happy Island.
The widest beach in Aruba is famous for its pristine and soft white sandy beaches and is among the best in the world.
The island basks in warm, sunny weather most of the year, with Aruba also outside the hurricane belt that can cause major damage to other Caribbean islands from June to November.
In addition to the first certified carbon-neutral resort in the Caribbean, Bucuti & Tara have won the Green Globe Award for the most sustainable hotel in the world.
It was awarded with TripAdvisor gongs as one of the 10 most romantic hotels in the world, and number one in the Caribbean, along with a long list of other awards.
Owner: Biemans is a highly awarded visionary in sustainable tourism who has transformed the resort for decades to make it CO2 neutral
Home away from home: I was housed in one of the hotel's luxurious Tara suites, with views over the beautiful turquoise ocean and the waves crashing against the white beach
Mod cons: the bathroom in my suite had an electric mirror with built-in TV. Plastic bottles are being replaced by dispensers that are attached to the walls and that are filled with Aloe products from Aruba
Rest and relaxation: although Bucuti is the perfect location for a chilled holiday, the island is also full of activities
Environmentally friendly: guests walk around with brand canteens from Bucati & Tara that can be filled at the tap
Being green at Bucuti & Tara requires minimal effort and will not kill your holiday atmosphere.
Guests walk around with Bucati & Tara brand canteens that can be filled at the tap, because the island's water is pure, refreshing and safe to drink.
Recycled cardboard plates hang on the doors, and guests earn credits when they choose a Green Stay – choose not to wash their towels every day.
Those who decide to go to the gym can also help power the building using the electricity generating fitness equipment that is linked to the energy supply.
Other than that, you would never know that you helped save the planet by choosing Bucuti & Tara. Apart from that warm feeling you get when you reach for your bottle instead of a plastic water bottle. Or when you use the shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the shower that are filled with Aruba Aloe products.
Climate change remains a topical issue, with environmental activists from Extinction Rebellion campaign group causing chaos in large cities, and the Duke of Duchess of Sussex being accused of hypocrisy for the use of private jets, despite being outspoken about environmental issues.
And although most people now take everyday steps, such as recycling and reusing plastic bags to save the planet, these good intentions often fall out of the boat when they are on vacation.
But there is no nagging guilt at Bucuti & Tara.
Flying to Aruba with an almost full flight and staying at the resort is actually better for the planet than a long drive in the US and staying at a non-environmentally friendly resort, according to Biemans – a fact that he is incredibly proud of.
On the high seas: snorkelers can make a trip to the Spanish lagoon on a sailboat with Tranquilo Charters Aruba. The quiet snorkeling spot on the south side of the island has beautiful coral formations filled with tropical fish
Many of Bucuti & Tara's environmentally conscious initiatives are unseen. LED lighting, insulated walls, roofs and windows, and the hotel that consolidates purchases to reduce transport and encourages staff to drive are among the many hidden efforts that make the resort CO2 neutral.
Biemans explained: "We must preserve our natural resources as much as possible and by using the latest technology, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels."
Biemans – a highly-awarded visionary in sustainable tourism – has also reduced food wastage by reducing portions in its restaurants – by 30 percent – and changing the way it is delivered.
"I have one (food) supplier who delivers everything in one trip," the owner said. "It's all about emissions."
And the efforts of Biemans go beyond his own hotel in the wider Aruban community.
Once a month, he and his staff clean a kilometer of beach and guests are invited to join.
"They are on vacation and they clean an island that is not theirs," Biemans said proudly of his guests' commitment to the environment.
"Aruba is not in the tourism sector, Aruba is in the nature sector," he added. & # 39; Without our nature there will be no tourism. & # 39;
He has also pumped more than half a million dollars into a program called Stimami Sterilisami (Love me, Sterilize Me) that aims to reduce the number of stray dogs and cats on Aruba by neuter and neuter them.
Aruba is an island rich in history and culture – from its ancient Caiquetio Indian roots, through Spanish and Dutch rule, to its modern times as a constituent country of the Netherlands.
Resort dining: the burrata on beets with candied dried papaya cubes is creamy and spicy in the Elements restaurant was an incredible starter
Breakfast on the beach: a more casual place is Eduardo & # 39; s Beach Shack, which specializes in healthy smoothies and tasty vegan delights. The sweet but not too sweet vegan waffles with coconut whip form a perfect breakfast treat
Although the perfect location for a chilled holiday, the island is also full of activities.
Snorkelers can make a trip to the Spanish lagoon on a sailboat with Tranquilo Charters Aruba. The quiet snorkeling spot on the south side of the island has beautiful coral formations filled with tropical fish.
A tour of the Aloe factory and museum is an opportunity to find out more about the aloe production process of Aruba, along with the 160-year history of aloe cultivation on the island – plus drop some money in the store.
An open-air Jeep tour takes you from the famous beaches of Aruba and into the rugged interior and is undoubtedly the best way to see the breathtaking volcanic landscape of the island.
A trip to Aruba would not be complete without a visit to San Nicolas – described as the island's cultural capital – to see the famous murals.
Artists from all over the world, as well as local talent, take part in the Aruba Art Fair every year and leave their mark on the walls and buildings of the city.
After busy days exploring this extraordinary island, guests can treat themselves to a dreamy massage on the beach, provided by the Purun spa.
Dinner with a view: there are several dining options at the resort, including the Elements restaurant by the ocean
View of the sunset: seeing the sun go down over the water from the hotel is really a magical experience
There are several striking restaurants on the island for lunch and dinner, ranging from casual to high-end dining.
At Barefoot you can dig fresh fish on the beach with the soft sand between your toes.
A more casual place is Eduardo & # 39; s Beach Shack, which specializes in healthy smoothies and tasty vegan delights. The sweet but not too sweet vegan waffles with coconut whip form a perfect breakfast treat.
For those who want to stay at the resort, there are various dining options, including the Elements restaurant.
The burrata on beets with candied dried papaya cubes is creamy and spicy, and I followed it up with the soft and flaky ginger mahi-mahi fillet.
A view of the setting sun over the water and the sky that is illuminated with orange and pink hues makes it a truly magical dining experience.
Accommodation was courtesy of Bucuti & Tara. The & # 39; no surprise costs & # 39; from Bucuti start at $ 350 per night based on double occupancy and include all government taxes, all fees, a full American breakfast buffet daily, Wi-Fi, free local telephone charges, free parking and free use of an iPad during stay.
Bucuti & Tara offers a honeymoon as a Celebrity service for newlyweds, including receiving on the jetway by a personal assistant, accelerated clearance, a luxury sedan to transport couples to the resort, and a romantic concierge to plan daily activities if desired .
Excursions and flights were thanks to the Aruba Tourism Authority.
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