The Parador Combate Beach has invested some $300,000 in the past four years in energy efficiency technology — including solar panels and equipment — to cut its reliance on Puerto Rico’s energy grid and reduce its costs through alternative power sources, hotel officials said recently.
The conversion into an eco-friendly hotel began in 2011 and thus far has enabled the facility to produce half of the power it needs to run, said Xavier Ramírez, general manager of the property located on the island’s western flank.
The most recent investment — $185,000 — came in May, in time for the summer’s high tourism season, when the hotel completed the installation of 182 photovoltaic panels.
“Cabo Rojo is an eco-tourism hub and one of our strategic goals is to become a green facility. This new photovoltaic system, along with all of the investments we’ve already made, will allow us to produce half of the energy that we need through alternative methods,” Ramírez said.
The owners of the Parador Combate Beach began their eco-friendly conversion in 2010, right before acquiring the former Combate Beach Hotel.
“When we visualized the first phase of redevelopment, environmental protection and the systematic reduction in the use of energy and water have taken priority in our strategic planning,” said Tomás Ramírez, president of XJTT Hospitality Inc., owner and operator of the Parador.
In 2011, in one of the first major projects, the Parador invested about $25,000 to replace and improve solar water heaters throughout the property, replace all the TVs in the rooms for LED models — which consume as much as 50 percent less energy than other TV technologies — and swap out lamps and light bulbs for more efficient and LED types.
“In mid-2012, we knew we had to step up our transformation to reduce the cost of energy and water. In just 18 months of operation, as occupancy increased, the electric bill doubled to $8,000 per month during the summer, and with the increase in rates of by the [Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority,] the cost of water had risen by 35 percent,” added Ramírez.
Between September and November 2012, the company invested another $30,000 to replace air conditioners in the 19 existing rooms, the restaurant and offices, for “inverter” models, which consume up to 60 percent less energy than high efficiency air conditioners, and up to 70 percent less than a regular wall unit. Later that year, the hotel invested an additional $18,000 to replace refrigerators and freezers, as well as clothes dryers.
Last year, the Parador Combate Beach underwent an expansion, adding 17 new rooms that were designed to use energy and water efficiency. About $485,000 went into the expansion and $40,000 into the eco-friendly equipment.
During the latter half of 2013, hotel owners turned their attention to water consumption, investing $5,000 in equipment to maximize its use.
“The results in reduced water and energy consumption are reflecting rapidly in the bills. We have made these investments for two reasons, to fulfill our commitment to protect the environment, while improving our competitive position within a global economy,” Ramírez said. “Innovation allows us to maintain accessible rates available for our guests. Well planned, these projects pay for themselves.”