The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, opening in fall 2004, and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society (OFS) have announced a first-time partnership to create The RitzKids Ambassadors of the Environment, an environmental education and eco-adventure program, at the resort. The venture represents the first resort partnership in the Caribbean for OFS as well as a brand new approach to The Ritz-Carlton Company’s popular Ritz Kids® activities program.“It would be impossible to over-estimate our enthusiasm or the importance of this partnership,” said Jean Cohen, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s vice president and general manager. “To work with absolutely the best organisation in the field of environmental education and marine ecology is a tremendous honour. The result will be an outstanding enhancement to The Ritz-Carlton holiday experience and a highly substantive program for young guests that is as enriching and memorable as it is thoroughly enjoyable.”
Speaking of the partnership, Jean-Michel Cousteau said: “The best way to truly understand and appreciate any environment is to be an active part of studying and sustaining it. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will provide the perfect setting for children to reconnect with nature in a way that feels anything but academic. The objective is to immerse all children - residents as well as guests - in the natural life of The Cayman Islands.”
The RitzKids Ambassadors of the Environment, while modeled on OFS’ educational programs elsewhere, is custom-designed for The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, showcasing the unique character of the natural and cultural heritage of the islands and demonstrating exciting ways to sustain them. “Ambassadors of the Environment is a multi-faceted environmental education program. Indoor, outdoor, on island, underwater, half-day, all-day, perhaps even overnight, the activities for young guests will provide both safe adventure and enduring value,” said Dr. Richard Murphy, who will head up the program. OFS will develop the curriculum, activities and resources for The Ritz-Carlton’s program as well as recruit and train the naturalist educators.
The Ambassadors of the Environment program will have two main components: a Learning Center for on-site activities and “eco-adventure” excursions. The Learning Centre will introduce the young guests to the natural world of The Cayman Islands and serve as a model for sustainable living. In addition to multi-media presentations, the Centre will offer such resources as video-microscopes, a mini-scientific lab, computers, an organic garden and a composting program. Using the living laboratory and natural classroom of reefs and mangroves, aspiring marine biologists will have in-depth learning experiences impossible to obtain from a classroom or books.
While still in the development stage, the program’s eco-adventures will introduce participants to a broader view of The Cayman Islands through such activities as hiking, kayaking and snorkeling, the enjoyment of a mangrove tree house and an elevated adventure trail, and exploration and field study of the islands’ flora and fauna. Each day’s programming will focus on a specific theme such as reef life, the mangroves, terrestrial ecology and Cayman history and culture. One expected highlight is an uplink program for live video feeds from divers on the coral reefs to guests at the resort. It is also expected that overnight camping experiences will be developed once the Learning Centre and the eco-adventures are up and running.
“Every child is fundamentally a naturalist. I have no doubt that all young guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will return home with very happy memories of their unique adventures but also with a greater awareness and appreciation for what they can do to sustain the world we live in,” Murphy said.