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Thursday, July 13, 2006 


Sustainable tourism practiced in St. Lucia

By Lelei LeLaulu l Special to eTurboNews

CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- It is a small nation in the Caribbean, but St. Lucia proves that size, or lack of, is not the most important thing when it comes to sustainable tourism development.

From its highly educated political leaders to the people serving you at resorts, it is clear that St. Lucians appreciate the presence of visitors on their small island. Such quality hotels and resorts as Rodney Bay's Bay Gardens and Coco Palm are well known for their high value service at reasonable cost. But what is less well known is the fact that at the higher end of the spectrum, St. Lucia is way ahead of the competitors. And, award-winning Air Jamaica may widen that lead with its recently inaugurated non-stop service to the island – three days a week – from the highly lucrative New York gateway. If there is one thing New Yorkers are known for its quality service and the realization that it takes a lot of well-trained people to ensure luxurious seclusion.

Anse Chastanet, with its stunning views of the magnificent twin peaks of the Pitons, sits astride the leaders of sustainable tourism at the upper end of the market. Nowhere else in the Caribbean would you find consistently friendly and professional staff. The director of marketing and operations of the property, Karolin Güler Troubetzkoy, says they look for people who like people and then train those selected few in the elements of hospitality. She credits her superior staff with the forty-plus percent return rate of visitors to one of St. Lucia’s top resorts. Pretty impressive when you consider the 90 percent occupancy rate – in the low season!

Nick Troubetkzoy, the visionary architect of the unique hillside villas, matches this concentration on people with a devotion to environmentally sound construction and design. Some of the high end rooms, which retail at about US$1,000 a night, have trees growing through them as his homage to nature’s architecture. In contrast to the over-asphalted roads to ease guests' drive to and from the airport, Nick's roads meander the 500-acre property, hugging the natural contours of the land.

This fervent devotion to ecological sustainability is reflected throughout the magnificent new Jade Mountain addition, which opens for business in a couple of months. Beautiful, multi-colored tiles adorning the showers and private infinity pools in every three-walled suite are crafted from recycled glass. Much of the wood is recycled, walls are made from recycled coral debris, all played off against the very latest in shimmering fixtures. The juxtaposition of the re-cycled with elegant utilitarian design makes for a very warm ambience in the stunning new "Infinity Suites.”

How committed is Nick Troubetkzoy to sustainable development? He personally went to Guyana to supervise the felling of trees for his property to ensure the trees selected would not be detrimental to the native forests. As a result, the woodwork, which involves several types of lumber, is topped by the dark, reddish hard woods of Guyana. Nick has also added reservoirs which will make the property independent of the local water grid. The grand vision of Troubetzkoy fits perfectly with the grandeur of the property's location.

On the northeastern side of the island, the Barnard family’s internationally-renowned "Bodyholiday" LeSPORT spa resort continues to lead in its devotion to pampering the guests at every turn. And now, he will be applying his skilled touch in the southern part of the island smack between the two Pitons at the Jalousie property.

Andrew Barnard said his primary aim for Jalousie Plantation which his family recently acquired to extend the "Bodyholiday" approach is “sustainability”, asserting his determination to ensure that he pampers the environment as much has does his guests, many of whom come panting back for more.

Adding spice to Lucian properties is Orlando Satchell, executive chef of the world-famous Ladera, who helped local hotelier Allen Chastanet launch the new Food and Rum festival in St Lucia to highlight the unique tastes of St. Lucian cuisine, much of which have been credited to the artistic chef. Orlando says St. Lucia has its own unique cuisine and there was no longer any need to import other nations' culinary styles.

These are just some of the elements which reinforce the lead which St. Lucia has in the Caribbean region. They have much to teach the rest of the region and indeed the world and prove once again that the quality of the advice is not determined by the size of the advice giver.

eTurboNews, Inc

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