Starfish Impact is pleased to introduce guest blogger Cynthia Rosenfeld, a travel author who focuses on sustainable and philanthropic focused tourism. In this week’s post, she shares how executives of sustainable luxury resorts are looking beyond profits to define success.
I am pleased to report that visionary entrepreneurs around the world are underwriting exceptional resorts with luxury as merely the means to a more meaningful end, the of uplifting local communities. These business people have all earned the freedom to retire. Instead they choose to invest in communities blessed with magnificent backdrops but facing considerable challenges. When financial returns are not the sole objective of luxury hotel development, the benefits may become incalculable. A few of my favorite examples feature business leaders who believe in the communities that they’re based in, supporting local citizens, and engaging tourists in the native activities and population.
Canadian Zita Cobb made a fortune in fiber optics then returned to Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, hoping to revive the fortunes of her native island. The photogenic solution, the 29-room Fogo Island Inn, designed by Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders, rises on stilts above this rocky, windswept coast. There, Cobb also established a residency program for international artists with seminars, workshops and studio visits. Residents lead nature treks and even invite visitors into their weather-beaten clapboard houses that cling dramatically to these granite shores.
Elsewhere in the Americas, Nicaraguan businessman Carlos Pellas hopes to reframe the image of his country with Mukul Resort, a 37-room, HK$310 million coastal retreat. Guests here imbibe his family’s Flor de Caña fine rum but Pellas’ goal is for Nicaragua’s first true luxury resort to support the community. To ensure the fulfillment of his philanthropic dream, Mukul built its own hotel school where lessons begin with the basics, like how to hold a room service tray. Service is still a work in progress but guests get lavishly distracted by staggering views of the Pacific Ocean, world-class surfing, hikes into the surrounding tropical jungle and the David McLay Kidd designed golf course.
Software entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, owner of Bom Bom Island Resort, a 21-bungalow retreat in the little known African nation of São Tomé and Príncipe off the continent’s Atlantic coast spent just a tiny fraction of his estimated HK$3.8 billion net worth to purchase this entire beach lined volcanic islet, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its Leather, Loggerhead and Green turtles. His investment built these simple yet luxurious bungalows plus a restaurant, bar and swimming pool that allow comfort seeking creatures to come spot whales on their migration routes in the crystal clear waters and search for bird species endemic to Principe including the Principe Glossy-Starling, Malachite Kingfisher and the Brown Booby.
Lastly, anyone can feel 100% good indulging closer to home at Phuket’s Iniala Beach House because 15% of revenues go directly to the Inspirasia Foundation, which supports health and education projects for the disadvantaged throughout Southeast Asia. Inspirasia founder Mark Weingard invited eleven major international designers including the Campana Brothers from Brazil and Englishman Graham Lamb to create these three ultra indulgent villas plus a sexy penthouse overlooking the Andaman Sea. Then there is the resort’s 22-seat movie theater and Muay Thai boxing ring. Room rates include six hours of spa treatments per day, a driver, butler and personal chef so there is no danger of guests going hungry, while their visit helps ensure others less fortunate need not go without as well.
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