Monday, October 17, 2011

Tropical Resorts Missing Out On Lucrative Wind+Solar Business Opportunities

A few years ago when I visited Caye Caulker in Belize, I was appalled to learn that the island burns dirty diesel fuel to generate its electricity when the weather is either sunny or windy or both almost all of the time.

I just got back from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja, Mexico and I'm sorry to report the same type of gripe with this resort community (though I don't know whether they generate electricity specifically via diesel fuel or via Mexico's other mostly dirty or land-altering sources).

In Cabo's hot climate, resorts have air conditioning blasting in virtually every occupied room 24/7.  Yet there is nary a solar panel or wind turbine to be seen (aside from one isolated green housing community that a hotel manager told me about when I asked her why they don't use solar).  What a waste of expensive, dirty fossil fuels that generate huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution.

Could there be a significant missed business opportunity here -- both for Cabo's resorts to cut their long-term energy costs and for major solar companies to secure lucrative qualified sales leads?

One that comes to mind stems from resort owners' aggressive sales of time shares to pretty much all vacationers.  For example, we hadn't even left the lobby after checking in before a time share salesperson stopped us, offering the "all inclusive" meal/drinks plan for $40/day instead of the normal $77.

After talking it over with my wife, we decided to take them up to secure the savings they were offering.  For good measure, I also negotiated in a 50 minute massage for my wife and one for myself, and another $50 in benefits.  All we needed to do to secure these perks was visit another resort (which we wanted to check out anyway) and take the 1.5 hour time share tour with their sales associate, who we knew would offer an aggressive sales pitch to buy in.  We took the tour with a very nice Canadian gentleman, enjoyed our free private taxi rides and Mexican breakfast buffet, declined the timeshare pitch, and walked away with $500+ in perks.  From the standpoint of a conservation scientist, I was more than happy to let a $billionaire real estate developer subsidize our vacation.

That said, what if the sales associate also offered us a major discount on a home solar installation -- one that was almost too good to turn down?  What if in exchange for resorts marketing a solar company's services to vacationers, the solar company would provide them with rooftop and on-site solar electricity and/or hot water installations? This type of arrangement could dramatically cut resorts' huge electricity costs and carbon footprints.  Another way the resort industry could approach this type of clean energy program is to generate qualified sales leads that it could then sell to vacationers' local solar providers in exchange for money or services.  Certainly there are ways to refine this idea, but you get the gist.

What do you think -- why should all these tropical resorts, located in hot, sunny climates in windy coastal locations, NOT be getting their electricity from local solar and/or wind installations?


  1. In 2008 I stayed in the Krabi Hotel for the first time and had an amazing experience. A doorman trading marijuana in the lift, a large room with a nice old interior, a lot of characters sitting in the lobby, all just very authentic.

  2. Hotels should focus towards implementing more on Eco friendly measures in their hotels.