Big is not beautiful.
As humans, we are driven by the concept of ‘Scale’. We believe that scale provides economies (of scale) and these are attractive to investors. And businesses are able to attract large money to build that scale. But we fail to notice the astonishingly negative impact that scale brings to the environment.
Look at the food chain industry – a prime example of an industry that is failing due to its obsession with scale. US National Institute of Health has found that Chicken farms engaged in massive rearing of poultry have caused genetic mutation resulting in poor meat quality. Similarly large-scale production of corn in the US is causing widespread water and climate issues.
In the hospitality industry, this problem is more acute. Large hotels set up in already congested areas – because they rely on very high occupancy areas to break even. They use huge resources of power, water and fuel to sustain their exaggerated offerings – and therefore unviable for environmentally sensitive destinations. A 100 – room hotel would consume on an average 20,000 litres of water and generate 100 kg of garbage per day! Given the fact that water is scarce and waste management processes don’t exist in smaller destinations; these massive structures become impractical.
The answer to this problem lies in thinking small – and building self-sustaining micro ecosystems in small offbeat destinations with a maximum of 30 rooms. And these can be set up by following environmentally favored practices, involving local communities and setting up a compliance regime.
The first effort is to make use of simple green practices. We try to minimize plastic usage within the resort. We use natural materials like lemongrass for cleaning. We reuse water from the kitchen for watering the garden. We dig wet/dry pits for garbage collection and ensure timely disposal. Wherever possible, we use solar power for basic heating and lighting requirements. This ensures that we can add, not take away from the surrounding natural beauty.
We believe that just like any part of the world, it is really the local community that can showcase their destination to its fullest potential. We ensure our resorts are run by locals – who can add local stories / folklore to any guest experience. We ensure local dishes are preset at every meal. We add activities that are unique to the place and ensure village / town visits so guests can engage with them. We sell local products through our souvenir stores and conduct heritage tours with local folk. And the result is two-fold – guests get an authentic flavor of a part of India they have never experienced and the local community gets to showcase their town – and earn while doing so
Finally, these eco-villages need commercial licenses to be able to stage their full potential and we ensure that they get them.
As tourist flows begin, these ecosystems are beautifully placed to showcase India – while retaining its local essence, allowing income percolation to lowest level and remaining environmentally friendly.