Ritz-Carlton adds Maldives Resort to its ‘Ambassadors of the Environment’ program

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Ritz-Carlton’s partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Environmental Ambassadors program expands with the summer opening of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands. The Maldives is known for its colorful marine life and coral reefs, and the addition of this new resort in the Ritz-Carlton marks the first hotel in Asia and the Pacific where the brand participated in the program.

Environmental ambassadors seek to educate interested guests about the various global ecosystems and cultural traditions surrounding its many hotels and resorts. Through the Ocean Futures Society, the activities of each of the six participating Ritz-Carlton properties vary, allowing guests of all ages to interact with the environment around them with programs that vary by season.

Cousteau-trained naturalists guide guests through the different experiences at each resort, and many of them work directly with Dr. Richard Murphy, chief researcher for the Cousteau family for several decades. All natural scientists have a background in biology, and the Ocean Futures Society certifies the program, while providing additional training to the teams at each hotel.

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Donna McNamara, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, says, “It makes me so proud to see our guests have these unforgettable experiences and walk away inspired to make a difference in their environment based on what they have learned. ”

Here’s what to expect on several participating properties, including the latest resort to join the Ambassadors of the Environment program.

Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

Free for guests, Dr. Sol Milne’s morning sessions take guests on an aerial adventure while sitting on the beach. As the resort’s resident naturalist, he pilots the garden’s drone to explore what’s going on around the resort’s coral reefs. The drone returns real-time aerial photos of the diverse marine life with the ability to zoom in for a better view. He shares stories of sharks, rays, dolphins and fish that live in the area.

An important component of the project, in addition to educating guests, is to map the region’s coral reefs and understand their growth and development over time. This helps protect and maintain a healthy reef system while teaching visitors about marine litter and conservation.

Other activities include marine biology classes for children, snorkeling at night and an underwater drone that brings the magic of marine life below the surface up to guests on land. The Underwater Rover walks around the nearby reefs, returning colorful photographs while helping scientists collect valuable environmental data. Cousteau-trained naturalists can also teach guests to master the art of water photography.

Naturalists also guide children on beach trips to collect garbage that washes ashore (sometimes as far away as Southeast Asia) and learn to recycle it for various things, including fashion pieces. Young visitors learn how human consumption and waste affect nature in an entertaining way. There is even a fashion show for kids to show off what they have recovered from the sea.

The air and sea drones also help the resort to monitor marine plastic pollution. A weekly daily manager’s cocktail hour connects guests with on-site researchers to learn how the resort uses modern technology to preserve and protect the area’s reefs.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

What makes the programming at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara 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 walks in the surrounding coastal area, the resort has a dedicated classroom where young guests can learn about local habitats.

A “CSI: Coastal Scene Investigation” experience takes children on an adventure to solve nautical issues through water testing techniques by observing the coast and collecting samples from the beach. The program also guides young visitors on adventures through a seaweed forest and the tidal zone, where they can discover the region’s natural diversity.

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

At The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Hawaii, guests can work with naturalists to explore the biology and behavior of Hawaiian green sea turtles native to the area, where they learn where they nest and their importance to the islands’ culture. Other adventures include coastal walks, garden trips and tidal pool exploration. Interactive games teach children about the area’s whales and dolphins, helping them learn how to eat without teeth, communicate using sound, and what it’s like to have lard.

Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

Guests can take a glass-bottomed hydrofoil boat ride with the resort’s naturalists to explore the reefs, marine life and historic shipwrecks beneath the surface. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman also offers night snorkeling, kayaking at sunset, guided telescopic observations and coral reef presentations as part of its eco-friendly programming. Families can enjoy gardening for children, teaching them about the soil and how plants and vegetables grow.

Other properties participating in Ambassadors for 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 suggests an even more environmentally conscious future when she says, “As the brand continues to grow, we are always looking for opportunities to bring the program to relevant destinations.”

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