Give Back & Get Away: Marina del Rey’s Give Back Getaway

The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey’s Give Back Getaway program takes on green initiatives.

By Cristina Ordoqui


 One Saturday a month, volunteers will embark on a half-day, hands-on restoration of the salt marshes and dunes with the aid of ecology experts.

In 2002, the esteemed Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company launched Community Footprints, a social and environmental responsibility program, as the umbrella name for their social responsibilities efforts. Since its inception, the program has proved a great success. In fact, in 2007 alone, the Ritz-Carlton provided a total of $7.4 million in donated products and services, as well as 40,000 hours of volunteer work.

“Give Back Getaways,” the most recent volunteering opportunity under Community Footprints, began on April 1, 2008, and allows Ritz guests the opportunity to get involved with the local community while on vacation. Each Ritz-Carlton resort around the world has chosen a local cause to collaborate with. Choices were not made lightly; the Ritz researched a number of options before deciding where the most impact could be made within a respective city, making the chain’s positive impact that much broader and greater.

“We have come to recognize the interest many of our guests have in becoming more involved in the region where they are spending their vacation,” explains Simon F. Cooper, president and chief operating officer of the Ritz-Carlton hotel company.  “Many of them are active volunteers in worthwhile activities at home and want to continue this spirit of giving when they visit other parts of the world.”

In California, more than 95 percent of all wetlands have been lost to development, and there is only one major waterway left in Los Angeles County, the Ballona Wetlands. This ecological reserve is a precious natural resource and acts as a safe haven for 215 species of birds like herons and gulls, a spawning ground for fish, and a vital source of nutrients for the entire coastal marine environment. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey recognized the  importance of saving the habitat, and chose to adopt this treasure as its cause.

Dubbed “Wild About Wetlands,” the program provides resort guests the opportunity to roll up their sleeves to help preserve the natural beauty of the wildlife wonderland. One Saturday a month, volunteers will embark on a half-day, hands-on restoration of the salt marshes and dunes with the aid of ecology experts. Guests will be hybridly transported from the hotel to the wetlands to plant native plant species and remove invasive growths. Upon arrival, volunteers will receive gloves, tools, and a deliciously eco-friendly boxed lunch prepared by the hotel.

When guests return to their rooms after the spiritually rewarding trip, they will find Ballona Wetlands note cards depicting the beautiful landscape painted by local artist Sharon Lee Belkin. The program provides Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey guests the opportunity to do good for the environment and the community while indulging in the many offerings of the Ritz-Carlton.