In a first for a large resort in the Caribbean, the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa is installing solar panels throughout the resort.

Phase one of the system already is in place on the resort’s roof and includes 480 Suntech solar panels, with 1,200 panels to be installed by 2014.

The system is designed to provide energy for 317 guestrooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities and the spa.

“There are hotels and resorts in the Caribbean utilizing solar power for specific areas, such as heating pools and water, bungalows or, if it is a small property, replacing nearly all energy use with solar. The Westin St. Maarten is unique in that it is a large resort and its ultimate goal is to use solar energy for most of its overall fuel consumption,” said Anthony Prall Jr., head of Caribbean Energy Store, which designed the system.

The Westin had installed solar panels in 2007 to heat the water used in the guestrooms.

“With sunshine guaranteed nearly year-round, we saw only positive attributes to making this capital and environmental investment,” said Dan Szydlowski, regional director for Columbia Sussex, owner and operator of the Westin St. Maarten.

The goal is to operate “in strictly solar mode for six hours per day once the project is completed in 2014,” according to Szydlowski.


Exerpts from : Travel Weekly