In conversation with Portia Hart, the vibrant and trailblazing founder of Colombia’s Blue Apple Beach House
To celebrate Regenerative Travel’s first member hotel to be certified by the internationally honored B-Corp status, we recently caught up with Blue Apple Beach’s ambitious founder and owner, Portia Hart, about their incredible achievement and certification process.
What is B Corp Certification?
Recognised as the planet’s most pioneering and rigorous certification for businesses meeting high social and environmental standards, the B Corp Certification examines a company’s verified performance, accountability and transparency on factors ranging from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practises and input materials.
Helping to build trust with consumers, communities and suppliers, as well as draw mission-aligned investors to a company’s social and ecological objectives, B Corps present incredible benefits for businesses who pass their lengthy certification process, whilst granting remarkable credibility for their efforts on their internationally respected online database.
Taking around one year to complete, followed by further verification processes every three years in order to recertify, B Corps are not easy certifications to reach, having been specifically designed for in-depth credibility, continuous improvement and long-term resiliency.
The Journey to Becoming B-Corp at Blue Apple Beach
Since opening on Cartagena’s Tierra Bomba in 2016, the boutique Colombian hotel and beach club that makes Blue Apple Beach has stood as a shining example of what it means to be a purpose-driven company.
From being a female-led powerhouse and employing an incredibly young and vibrant BIPOC and LGQTQ workforce, to pioneering one of the island’s most innovative solutions to glass pollution, Blue Apple has made outstanding impact on the communities of Tierra Bomba and continued to elevate the bar in what it means to be a regenerative-thinking hotel.
Born in the UK to a Trinidadian mother and British father, Blue Apple’s young owner and founder, Portia Hart, has long been passionate about the importance of nature and social equality. As such, since opening her resort on the beautiful but incredibly poor Colombian island of Tierra Bomba, Portia has strived to build a company that contributes to a more inclusive and sustainable society, whilst spreading the impact of meaningful change across its locality.
When discussing why Blue Apple decided to go for their B Corp certification last year, Portia explains that her team had initially embarked on the process as “an exercise of self-assessment rather than anything else”. Feeling passionate about the current extent of greenwashing across the hotel industry, Hart also believed that achieving B Corp status could help to reassure her stakeholders that they were not just making arbitrary claims about their eco-credentials but could show real commitment to both social equality and sustainability.
Describing the thinking behind the process, Portia highlights that, “as an owner, I am completely aware of the risks of well-intentioned greenwashing, and the difficulties of making what is in an owner’s head a reality across an entire business. B-Corp was a useful tool to get all of our managers onboard and spread ‘good practice’ throughout our operation. Of course, the fact that it is an internationally recognised certification and one that is notoriously difficult to achieve helps. We hope it will impact our sales and marketing, as well as our operation.”
Initially surprised to discover that they met the requirements for the certification, Portia and her team are incredibly proud of their achievement. In summary, here’s how Blue Apple Beach were able to achieve their goal:
- Implementing a company-wide minimum wage that is 15% higher than the Colombian minimum wage.
- An in-depth supplier review, analyzing the businesses that are supported by Blue Apple Beach’s spending. Discovering that the hotel’s coconut supplier has one of the best incomes in the village was extremely gratifying. 60% of the club’s spending is with micro-enterprises and 30% with minority-owned businesses; more than 85% of the annual expenditure remains in Colombia.
- Completing the transition of 65% of the company’s energy source to solar and embarking on a full energy reduction and carbon review program for 2022
- Continuing on the path to zero waste and by the end of 2021, achieving 80% of waste diverted from landfill.
- Publicly aligning Blue Apple Beach’s operation with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
- Ensuring that all meat served is ethically sourced, where the supplier can guarantee that the meat was produced in accordance with the five animal freedoms.
- Including the whole team in the application process.
Learn more about Blue Apple Beach or to book a trip click here.