Situated on St. Barth, on a peninsula between the lagoon of Grand Cul-de-Sac and the cerulean waters of Marigot Bay, Le Guanahani occupies a beautiful landscape that is rich in natural wonders. Acting as both steward of and champion for this tropical paradise, the hotel is wholeheartedly committed to protecting and preserving the environment and its inhabitants.
In 2013, Le Guanahani became the first property on St. Barth to clearly define its sustainability intentions by associating with Green Globe, which certifies companies and organizations committed to making positive contributions to people and the planet.
Two years later, the hotel formalized its Blue + Green program–a long-term, multi-faceted initiative which aims to position Le Guanahani at the forefront of green travel and responsible ecotourism in the Caribbean. It encompasses a Master Environmental Plan that intends to protect and help recover endangered species and their habitats on land and in the sea. The program includes a Pledge to Sustainability to maintain the natural beauty and biodiversity of the hotel’s coastal location and the protected marine park which surrounds it. Furthermore, the program has led to concrete changes to the hotel’s infrastructure and operating processes to decrease its impact on the environment and Le Guanahani is actively offsetting carbon emissions for the benefit of the planet and people under threat of climate change.
Established in 1996, the Réserve Naturelle Saint-Barthelemy marine park comprises 2,500 acres divided into five zones throughout the island of St. Barth. Le Guanahani is located within the reserves of Grand Cul-de-Sac, Marigot Bay and Marechal Beach. This protected coastal environment is home to a wide range of flora, fauna and marine life.
Green Globe Partnership
Le Guanahani’s commitment to promoting sustainable tourism is earnest and long-term. In 2013, it became the first hotel on the island to clearly define its sustainability intentions by associating with Green Globe, and its certification process—which covers areas of Sustainable Management, Social Economic, Cultural Heritage and Environment—was completed in December 2016.
Blue + Green Program
Le Guanahani is committed to creating a unique, luxurious and natural experience that helps to sustain the planet, conserve wildlife and habitats, and reduce carbon emissions. Working with internationally recognized biologist Dr. Deborah Brosnan, the hotel has developed a long-range plan for preserving and protecting the land and sea surrounding the hotel. The initiative also encompasses staff training and the creation of programs that allow guests to come into meaningful contact with the natural surroundings—from wildlife viewing and monitoring to educational and restoration-oriented activities.
Le Guanahani makes every effort to decrease its impact on the environment. The hotel employs green products and processes such as: paints and cleaning products chosen for their ecological value; papers produced from sustainably managed forests; low energy lighting; low-carbon products; and selective sorting. For laundry, the hotel brings in desalinated seawater to use with ecological detergents, which is then reused to irrigate the hotel gardens. In addition, significant hardware upgrades have been made to minimize air and water pollution. St. Barth is a “dry” island with no natural resource for drinking water; it desalinates seawater to address the island’s needs. Le Guanahani is equipped with two desalination plants; after fresh water is produced, it remains to reject residual brine into the sea without disrupting the ecosystem. The hotel also manages its lighting to avoid disturbing nearby wildlife and invites guests to join in the conservation effort by reusing towels and linens.
Guests at Le Guanahani often enquire about the dark green vegetation found in the shallow waters of Grand Cul-de-Sac. It is seagrass, evolved from land plants that returned to the ocean. Possessing natural buoyancy, the leaves, shoots, flowers and seeds create a pretty sight that reminds snorkelers of wheat fields swaying in the breeze. As many as 40,000 fish and 50 million small invertebrates can live in just one acre of seagrass along with sea turtles, conch and lobsters. The meadows also trap and store sand for the beach and cut down on wave energy, making waters calmer for guests to enjoy. The shallow waters off the hotel harbor over 121,600 square feet of seagrass meadows, which is the equivalent of 60,812 tons of carbon offset or more than 11,000 times what the average person generates each year.
Vegetation & Resident Wildlife
Le Guanahani makes efforts to protect the rich variety of plant life on property as well as animal species that live within this lush tropical habitat. Among the objects of the hotel’s efforts are rare Turks Cap and English Head Cactus, iguanas, land turtles and endemic species of Anole lizards and tree frogs, whose nighttime lullabies are heard nowhere else in the world.
During the nesting period of the Green Sea Turtle, staff and guests at the hotel help monitor the beaches for nests and hatchlings. Grand Cul-de-Sac and Marigot Bay are home to Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles year-round. Although both were in serious decline, the marine reserve status of the lagoon and bay has contributed to their recovery. Le Guanahani helps to maintain the seagrass meadows and protect the coastal dune vegetation surrounding the property, both of which are critical feeding and resting habitats for sea turtles. Tiny hatchlings use the shallow coral reef habitat in Marigot Bay as a refuge from predators—it is vital to their survival while they are small and vulnerable. As they get larger they migrate into the seagrass beds on which they feed.
The enchanting and diverse marine life surrounding Le Guanahani is easy to explore on self-guided snorkel tours. Grand Cul-de-Sac is ideal for kayaking and shallow-water snorkeling, with seagrass, sand and small coral outcrops scattered beneath the rippling tide. Elkhorn and mound corals make up the barrier reef, keeping waters calm and providing a gentle nursery for many sea creatures including sea turtles, bar jacks, Caribbean reef squid, pufferfish, conch, small juvenile lobsters, shy-but-curious mullet fish, and more. In Marigot Bay, snorkelers encounter nurse sharks, sea turtles and schools of colorful fish.
Easy treks provide close encounters with the flora and fauna that inhabit Le Guanahani’s coastal setting. Hiking paths can be accessed directly from the hotel.
Le Guanahani offers exceptional night-sky viewing of the moon and stars above. The Milky Way, star constellations, planets, meteorite showers and, at times, the International Space Station can be seen from the hotel. In addition to stargazing, the hotel hosts full moon kayak tours around the property each month. From this spectacular vantage point, guests witness the moon rise over the lagoon as it bathes the waters in shimmering light.
From late January until early April, Humpback Whales travel 2,000 miles from southern breeding sites to their summer feeding grounds off the northeast American coast. For many, their journey takes them past the safe shores of Le Guanahani. At times, they can be seen blowing and breaching outside the reef. Mothers will sometimes lead their newborn calves into the waters just beyond the reef where they pause on their journey. Underwater, snorkelers and swimmers often hear the whales singing their haunting songs to one another.
At Le Guanahani’s restaurants, 75% of the seafood is sourced from a local, seventh-generation fisherman who departs each day directly from the hotel’s beach. The benefit is two-fold: the hotel decreases its environmental impact while guests enjoy the freshest of ocean fare.