Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort, just north of Puerto Vallarta on the west side of Mexico, is a sprawling vista of lush riverbeds peppered with impeccable landscaping of indigenous plant life. The half-dozen hotels on the property – connected via miles of wood-decked paths – provide luxury accommodation to more than 3,000 mostly American and Mexican guests.
Last December, Vidanta began an EPA-regulated farm on the same property just 15 minutes up the Ameca River. Alma Verde, which translates as “Green Soul”, will be the largest hotel-sustaining proprietary farm in Mexico by the end of the year, when it will have grown to 50 acres.
While this is by no means the first sustainable farm-to-table operation in Mexico, nothing has been done on this scale before. Vidanta is a huge operation – the kind of place that would normally be considered a drain on resources. But a few years ago, the family who own the establishment made sure they got in at the ground level of sustainable upkeep, with Alma Verde as the latest iteration of those goals.
Last spring I went to see Alma Verde for myself, relishing in the chance to touch the soil, taste tomatoes off the vine, speak with the head agronomist and sit at restaurant tables while world-class chefs served me salads made from their own crops. Ultimately, I learnt what it really takes to run an operation of this size sustainably and why it’s an important feat that other resorts should take heed of.
Let’s get sustainable
Vidanta’s desire to provide the best experiences to its guests meant it was a natural progression to move into sustainable farming to supply its own restaurants, markets and employee cafeterias with the best possible produce. With Alma Verde, the resort is learning that sustainability and taste go hand in hand; its chefs can work with the agricultural engineers to build an exciting and fresh menu, while reducing the hotels’ overall carbon footprint.
While weather can be temperamental and natural disasters are worryingly frequent, Vidanta has suppliers on call to order from should the need arise. The typical farming steps are crop selection, land prep, seed selection and then seed sowing, irrigation and growing, fertilization and, finally, harvesting. The interesting thing about Alma Verde is that all the steps are constantly being done in correspondence to what the expected demand for each product will be for Vidanta. They harvest based on what…