Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C.

What they did For many years, the resort has given its guests the opportunity to donate $2 per night during their stay to the Kiawah Island Conservancy, the local organization dedicated to preserving the island's environment and natural resources. The resort maintains a staff of naturalists who conduct tours and seminars for guests about the island plants, wildlife, ecology and the resort's conservation efforts. Native vegetation is employed whenever possible by the resort's landscapers. Locally produced seafood and produce is used in large degree by the resort chefs, including participation in the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. The resort has consistently implemented water conservation and recycling practices, as well as recycling programs for materials used by guests, employees and residents.

The project Kiawah Island's recognition by the judges amounts to a lifetime achievement award. Since the resort was developed in the mid-1970s by its original Kuwaiti owners, environmental preservation and nature conservancy have been key elements in the property's operations and appeal. From prohibiting buildings forward of the secondary line of dunes to banning streetlights on the island which might lure loggerhead sea turtles away from the beach area, every effort has been made to protect and preserve the island's native vegetation, wildlife and ecosystems.

The payoff The $2 donations from resort guests generated $122,000 in 2007 alone for the Kiawah Island Conservancy and its programs. All five of the resort's golf courses, as well as the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, the resort's hotel, are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries. The cost of achieving Audubon certification was moderated considerably because the resort was already practicing a number of the course operations and maintenance principles required for Audubon approval.

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