Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mystic River Resort - How Green Are We?

I was asked recently to define "Green" and how I thought we fared in our "Green Strategy". Here is our answer!


Being “Green” is not something you buy or a club membership! It is a way of looking at your total needs and how they can be met with the least impact on the environment. The land we chose for Mystic River Resort was based on the river and the vision that we had for a Jungle resort. There were no utilities at the site, no water, no sewer, no electricity, no telephone, and no internet. This was going to greatly increase the cost of building the resort but there was also great opportunity there to be different, to not become another power consumer. The design of the resort is such as to have a much lower impact on the environment.
The first thing that was done was to clear the land of the underlying brush, not with a bulldozer but with 12 men using machetes. We started calculating our electrical requirements and designing our utilities system. We looked at solar power but encountered several problems, like the mountains around us limiting the amount of sunlight, all the trees which were still standing and the fairly high amount of rain during the rainy season! This meant that even with solar power we would still need to have a generator!

So we designed a very efficient system using a low emission generator. The generator we chose meets the USA EPA standard AND the State of California standards. In Belize, you can buy and use generators that do not conform to the above standards! Over the last 10 years the amount of emissions coming from a diesel engine has been dramatically reduced. Our system was designed with enough batteries so we only need to start the generator from around 7am till around 11am and in the evening from 6pm to 10pm, a total of roughly 8 hours per day. That takes care of all our usage for washing machines, cooking, etc.. With our inverter system we still have electricity for the entire 24 hour period. We also made sure the system was enclosed in a building that would minimize noise pollution for our guests and our neighbors.

Once our next phase is complete, we should be able to add some solar panels on the roof of our new office. And why not some wind mills.......For now, we think we came up with a very good system!

• Our units have masonry walls and the roofs are a combination of wood and clay tiles which minimize the transfer of heat during the day. We also designed the units to fit in between the trees which gave us additional protection from the sun.

• Our water is pumped from a deep well while the generator is running, then stored in a tank further up a hill. When released it give us a 50 psi water pressure which is fabulous for our showers!

• We purchased eco friendly hair dryers to put in our suites, when we realized that our guests were bringing theirs which were far from eco-anything! Our hairdryers only use 1kw per usage to generate more heat than a regular hairdryer, and since they have a ceramic heating element rather than coil, the radiation being emitted is 5 mG rather than 200 mG, which you will find in regular hairdryers! I am the wash and wear type of person and Tom has very little hair on his head, but my kids use hairdryers all the time!

• Our organic garden is producing pretty much all the vegetables we require on a daily basis and what we do not have we purchase at our local market. We are dedicated to providing our guests with the highest quality, most wholesome fresh vegetables we can. Our laying hens are prolific when it comes to eggs and growing our own chickens has made a huge difference in the quality and taste of the meat we serve in our restaurant. All our chickens share in the kitchen leftovers giving us absolutely fabulous bright yellow egg yolks that taste just amazing!

• Garbage is a big issue in Belize in that we do not have recycling facilities and very little garbage removal. And so it becomes up to each individual to determine how they will dispose of the garbage that they generate. We generally do not purchase any prepared foods, so packaging is not so much an issue in the kitchen but it is for everything else! We chose not to purchase and serve any drinks that would come in a plastic bottle, so Diet Coke and a couple of others were banned from our bar! We are sure that our guests do not mind doing without for the few days they are with us. Unfortunately, a lot of items come packaged in plastic containers, so we had to come up with a system designed to minimize the amount of plastic ending up in the dump. We gather all our plastic containers on a regular basis and take them to the border with Guatemala where recyclable facilities exist. Cans get crushed and all our kitchen leftovers get split between our many pet friends on the property!

• We closed a very unsightly illegal dump on our local road, which had been in use, so we are told, for many years. It took quite a few days to clear all the garbage which ran into a creek providing water to some villagers and we eventually put up a living fence (the posts are made of tree trunks which will grow back into trees) and a few signs asking people to please use the government approved dump instead. I am happy to say that we have had a very good response from everyone. We also started a “Keep a mile clean” project where local operators purchase a mile of road to keep clean of debris. It works!!

• Our septic system is a miracle in itself!! It is an aerobic sewer treatment system that meets and exceeds the standards currently required by Belize. The water, after being treated, is then placed in waste water gardens where we have grown beautiful flowers which we use for our landscape.

• When we have heavy rain showers, the runoff water is channeled into catch basins and holding tanks in order to prevent silt from being taken into the river.

These are some of the things that we believe keep us "Green"! Let us know if you can think of anything else.

So what's new at Mystic River Resort....

We have added quite a few horses to our stable, and we now have six beautiful steads to take our guests horseback riding AND, we were able to reopen the fabulous trail to Sapodilla Waterfalls!

Tom has been busy maping out more trails around Dancing Tree and many of our guests have enjoyed the amazing scenery from the top. We are also discovering many more Mayan sites on the property and of course tons of pottery shards....

We have also made a few changes to our website and added various packages, but we have also used photographs that some guests have sent for us to use. Please check out our website and see if you recognize yourself! If you have some great photos you would like to share with others, please send them to me and I will use them wherever I can!

I was asked by some of our guests to provide a couple of recipes from our kitchen so here goes:

Green Thai Curry Sauce
1 coconut milk, 1 tbsp green curry paste, 1 onion, 1 eggplant, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sugar.
Sautee everything together then blend!

Corn Salad
2 cups fresh corn, chopped tomato, sweet pepper, cilantro, onion, cucumber.
Dressing: lime juice, salt and pepper.

Lemon Ginger Chicken
Panfry the chicken breast with lime juice, garlic, mayonnaise and ginger. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cilantro Pesto
¼ lb cilantro, ¼ cup walnuts, 1 cup parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp garlic, 3 tbsp lime juice, ½ cup water, salt and pepper to taste.
Blend everything together.

Again, Tom and I would like to say THANK YOU FOR CHOSING MYSTIC RIVER RESORT to all our guests and thank you for talking about us with your friends and family. We hope to see you again in the future. Remember all our past guests automatically get a very nice discount! Make sure you send us some of your favourite photos and who might be looking at yourself on our website one day!!

AND, don't forget to write a review for us on Trip Advisor if you have not already done so. Those reviews do make a huge difference to us and we always like to hear your comments.
The link is below.