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Responsible Tourism

My resolution this year was to become a more responsible citizen and this includes what I eat, what clothes I wear, how much water I use, and not least how I travel and where I stay during my vacations.

There are endless hotels and hospitality properties in the U.S. that collectively are a large source of resource consumption and waste. Your hotel – and your vacation – can play a part in protecting the environment and helping communities affected by the property. It is thus important to carefully select where you stay by researching the hotel’s social and environmental impact before booking.

This year, I decided to do my homework and came across the Breakers hotel, a beautiful and luxurious destination with a strong environmental and social commitment. Operating in Palm Beach since 1896, the hotel’s history and focus on its community and the environment is what makes this hotel so special.

Let’s start out with a little history of the hotel. In the late 1890s, just before the turn of the century, industry tycoons and socialites began flocking to the pristine shores of a new destination—a long strip of an island called Palm Beach. It was the hotel’s founder Henry M. Flagler, one of America’s great industrialists, who started the trend of grand, gorgeous properties on the island. Flagler debuted his premier oceanfront hotel, which delighted guests with its proximity to the water and unique location—right at “the breakers,” where the waves crashed and sprayed. After fires in both 1903 and 1925, The Breakers reopened in 1926, ushering in a higher degree of European influence and architectural flair. Flagler’s newest iteration was modeled after the magnificent Villa Medici in Rome—an ambitious effort that called for 75 artisans brought in from Italy. Together they completed the intricate paintings, detailed across the ceilings of the 200-foot-long main lobby and first-floor public rooms, which remain on display today.

Today, the story of The Breakers continues, holding fast to the ideals that put it on the map—unapologetic luxury, seaside glamour, world-class service—but also embracing the new. The hotel is fully committed to its employees and the environment and actively communicates about these efforts on TVs in every room in the hotel. Environmental friendly practices, engaged and healthy employees, happy communities – these are some of the highlights of a stay at the Breakers. Let’s take a closer look.

Across the resort grounds, the hotel implements ecologically friendly practices that conserve resources and protect the environment. These green endeavors include energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction. They even use paper based straws are used to avoid unnecessary use of plastic. The hotel has been recognized as a Green Power partner of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, the hotel feels very responsible for its 2,000 employees and the communities they are a part of. From employee wellness and sustainable practices to community enrichment and powerful partnerships, these efforts contribute to a sense of pursuing a greater good. For example, the hotel’s Employee Assistance Program provides free and confidential counseling and concierge services to all team members and their families to help address the challenges of everyday living, resulting in a more productive and focused workforce. Another example is the Breakthrough to Energy program, whih teaches nutrition and fitness to all employees. The results? Obviously happy, healthy, engaged employees who make the guest experience unforgettable.

Social and environmental responsibility is now a key component of the hotel’s business model and financial success. While the hotel manages to be responsible, it also does provide an extremely high-level experience, including top notch dining options and an impeccable spa. As the hotel proudly states, “once you stay, you’ll understand.”

During my stay I had the opportunity to try a Guerlain treatment offered by the spa which was delivered with the highest level of professionalism. After the treatment, I relaxed in the spa’s private garden which was a wonderful experience. I was lucky to try the iconic Flagler Steakhouse, a fresh take on the classic American chophouse, serving the finest selection of USDA prime cuts, as well as the house Italian specialties. I also experienced the dazzling and modern HMF, Palm Beach’s hottest gathering place. Named after the resort’s founder, Henry Morrison Flagler, HMF is steeped in the glamour of an earlier era, yet wholly contemporary.

If you would like to have dinner outside of the hotel, I highly recommend PB Catch Seafood & Raw Bar, an amazing restaurant specialized in sustainable local seafood which sources the highest quality oysters, clams, shrimp and fish. As an advocate for sustainable practices, the restaurant works with the country’s top and most responsible sustainable sources and strives to provide only the best sustainable seafood options. You will not only leave having enjoyed an incredible culinary experience (their seabass dish is unforgettable), but also learn from the knowledgeable team about how your meal choices have positively impacted the world’s oceans. And the wine is pretty great too. 

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