DOING SOME GOOD
On-site environmental consultant Ryan Ingram tells us how the hotel contributes to the environment and engages with the community
What makes this such an eco-friendly tourist destination?
The resort is fully integrated into the landscape of the nature reserve, which is spread across 500 hectares and fenced off to protect our wildlife from outside pressures – 4X4s, camels, goats, dogs, picnickers and more. We want to give our guests memorable experiences, but steer away from damaging the environment, so we encourage eco-friendly activities. We also do catch and release freshwater fishing, which is very popular with families as it allows children to create that memory of catching their first fish with their parents.
Tell us about the tree planting initiative
Our heritage forest is a pilot project that aims to foster awareness of the importance of indigenous species, such as the ghaf tree and its importance to the local population: the medicinal purposes of the leaves, the bark as a food for local livestock, its role as a habitat for wildlife, and so on. The resort also serves as an area where trees can be relocated to and rehabilitated after being uprooted due to construction. The pilot project has been created in partnership with Goumbook and their ‘Give a Ghaf’ initiative which, since its launch in 2011, has planted more than 30,000 trees across the UAE.
How do visitors take part?
Guests can get involved by making a financial contribution towards conservation projects and then planting their own ghaf tree within the grounds of our resort. It’s a unique opportunity to give back to the community and to leave a part of yourself behind, and it’s a way for people to get invested in the environment.
What other environmental projects do you have in the works?
Our big focus is on getting children involved in our activities. We have an unfinished swimming pool area that’s going to be turned into an animal sanctuary with a fish pond and a petting zoo. There’ll be hardy desert animals such as meerkats, pygmy goats, hand-reared gazelles and more. Our aim is to engage with the community, organise school visits and help kids understand animals better. We teach school children how to be sensitive to the desert environment, and we’re planning to create a Ritz Rangers programme, similar to the Brownies or the Scouts, where kids can collect badges by picking up environmental skills, such as bird watching or identifying plants.