Awards season is upon us. No, I’m not here to talk your ear off about Oscar fever or anything like that. You are safe for now: PUNTACANA Resort & Club is not opening a movie studio.
There is a different type of award that is nearer and dearer to our hearts and that is the annual Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Adrian Awards. An Adrian Award is sort of like an Oscar award given for hospitality, travel, and tourism. Much like the Oscars, it comes around once a year, and this year we are proud to say that one of our very own stars, Jake Kheel, accepted the coveted Leader in Sustainable Tourism Award.
If the name Jake Kheel sounds familiar, it shows you’ve been paying attention to these blog posts. (Thank you!) Jake is the grandnephew of Ted Kheel, the man who we discussed in a previous blog post about the Ann and Ted Kheel Polytechnic School, and Jake shares his granduncle’s love for preservation and sustainable tourism. In fact, Jake is the Environmental Director for Grupo PUNTACANA as well as the head of the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation, and if you ask me,
his strong belief in preservation and sustainability is in his blood.
Jake’s granduncle once said “for tourism the environment is the attraction. If the environment is damaged, the business is damaged. Vacation destinations have a tremendous stake in the protection of the environment. We pride ourselves on protecting PUNTACANA Resort & Club.” Jake carries on this legacy and ensures that environmentalism is at the forefront of the goals and objectives of the Puntacana Ecological Foundation. Jake was responsible for the “Zero Waste” project he begun in 2007 and has also participated in many of the programs that have been highlighted on this blog.
Jake also recently had the honor of being a keynote speaker at the third annual Symposium for Innovators in Coastal Tourism, which was held from July 9-11 at St. George’s University in Grenada. During his keynote speech, Jake took the audience through 45 years of history at the resort, including many of the formative decisions to preserve the natural beauty and local resources of the island. Despite not having a phrase for it back then, the founders were practicing “sustainable development,” something that is obviously still a priority for the resort. You can read more about Jake’s keynote speech and see some of the images he shared at this link.
And, lest we forget, Jake was behind many of the environmental initiatives we have written about before, including those to rehabilitate the staghorn coral population and the conservation project with
the Ridgway’s hawks. If Jake’s resume seems tireless and almost superhuman, that’s because it is. In fact, Jake said it best back in 2009: “as an environmentalist, you have to be a tragic optimist; committed to the idea that people are going to come around on this stuff and things are going to get better.” Lucky for all of us, Jake was right. People are starting to come around, and things are certainly getting better.
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