From the panhandle of sunny Florida on the east coast of the United States, to Berlin, Germany, five exquisite properties of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company house honeybees as extensions of their Community Footprints programs and continued commitment to environmental sustainability efforts.
The first hotel of The Ritz-Carlton portfolio to act on the growing environmental concern over the honeybee shortage was The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte in North Carolina. The LEED® certified luxury hotel welcomed beehives on their rooftop in early 2010. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte now produces 60 to 100 pounds of honey each season, and in turn has used the honey throughout the restaurants in the hotel, as well as in the spa. Tours are available every Saturday for guests looking to deepen their understanding about the hives and their support the ecosystem surrounding the hotel.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota responded to the national honeybee shortage by welcoming honeybees to the golf resort and went as far as to send their Director of Golf Grounds, Sean O’Brien, to become a certified beekeeper. O’Brien has gone on to spearhead the health and well-being of the bees. Passionate about his role as caretaker, O’Brien goes said, “We hope by having these hives on our golf course, we can not only help our local flowers and plants but also raise awareness of this issue locally.” O’Brien harvests the honey twice a year that is then shared with guests in the spa, and restaurants like Jack Dusty and the Golf Club Grille.
Just a few hours away, The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grande Lakes is responsible for over 500 acres of Florida landscape and is deeply committed to its practice of maintaining the beautiful and delicate ecosystem around the resort. The luxury resort has six Certified Florida Naturalists to keep a close eye on the hotel’s sustainability efforts including the honeybee hives that are housed in specially designed bee boxes that are conducive to happier and healthier honeybees. These hives were built with the long-term health of the bees in mind; designed to reduce stress on the bees while still providing accessibility to the freshest honey at the top of the honey frames, leaving the older and richer honey undisturbed at the base of the frames to sustain the hive and the queen.
In Germany, The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin has also recognized how befriending the honeybee furthers the sustainability goals of The Ritz-Carlton. Since 2014, the luxury city hotel has used its rooftop to house an incredible amount of honeybees – with multiple bee boxes, the rooftop of this city hotel is home to 400,000 honeybees. In 2015, the bees were able to produce a massive amount of honey – over 650 pounds worth of the liquid gold that was then used throughout the hotel’s spa and restaurants. Guests can take home honey cakes or enjoy the honey offered with tea each morning.
Most recently, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead built an apiary – a structure where the bee boxes and hives are kept. Since the inception of the bee program at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in 2016, the three hives have grown to a total of over 150,000 honeybees. This luxury hotel works with a certified master beekeeper to help maintain the health and happiness of the bees. So far, the bees have produced several gallons of honey that was able to be harvested and used in The Café in dishes such as salmon with crispy quinoa. There are two production hives, each with about 50,000-60,000 bees, and an observation hive, with about 30,000 bees, that facilitates an up-close experiences for guests.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and its Community Footprints social responsibility program is reflected in these hotels housing of honeybees. By continuing to work towards environmental sustainability and the health of honeybees, these five hotels are contributing to the global efforts to revive the honeybee population.