Jetwing Vil Uyana - Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
September 9, 2012
Sigiriya is home to one of the Sri Lanka’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites. And while I was set on scaling the Sigiriya Rock Fortress (see pictures here), believe it or not, what I was really more excited about was spending time at Jetwing Vil Uyana, only 5 km away from the fortress, and talking to their resident naturalist about the hotel’s green practices.
Jetwing Vil Uyana is a man-made wetland with lakes and reed beds, developed on abandoned agricultural land and forest to form a private nature reserve. More than a luxury development, the hotel is a model that’s setting a new standard for hoteliers around the world, not just in architecture, interior design, amenities or service, but something that I know is really important: sustainability.
While eco-tourism / sustainable tourism / responsible tourism is a highly debatable issue, in the same way the issue of conscious consumption can cause conflicting feelings, right now, I feel that it’s really difficult, if not downright impossible to completely cease luxury tourism and consumption. While there are many evils there, it also brings a lot of good that is necessary for the economy and the bigger picture of how the world works.
I got the privilege of meeting Jetwing Vil Uyana’s resident naturalist, Chaminda Jayasekhara, while I was in Sigiriya, and apart from the now familiar use of a key-card system, energy-saving bulbs, waste segragation and towel or linen change only upon request, here are some of the more interesting green practices that he shared with me:
- The electric buggy used to transport guests around the complex is also partially charged by wind power.
- Heat generated from air-conditioning units is reused to generate hot water for the dwellings.
- Staff quarters and office areas are all built with high ceilings to maximize cool air circulation. This translates to a savings of 2,361,600 KwH of electricity per year.
Water Conservation & Waste Water Management
- While walking around, we also stumbled upon some staff attending to a leaky pipe underground, which the layman’s eye might not have regarded as anything else but a small wet patch in the ground. But the Jetwing Vil Uyana duty technicians vigilantly check for leaks daily; the same goes for the housekeeping staff in the guest rooms, after all, a leaky toilet can waste over 83,000 litres of water in one year (according to Jetwing’s Green Directory statistics).
- Sewage / waste water is treated in a biological sewage treatment plant (STP) so this can be safely reused for the garden. [Photo of the waste water on the right]
Solid Waste Management
- In-room water is provided in glass bottles. Plastic water bottles are only provided with packed lunches.
* This may be a small detail, but I think a little goes a long way, but I wish they didn’t use sachets for their sugar [photo inset], as I feel this could just be stored in a handful of washable sugar bowls/containers instead.
Prevention of Chemical Pollution
- As part of their solid waste management, garbage is segregated properly, and what can be used for compost is used for compost. This is then what they use to fertilize their garden / surrounding landscape, and thus steer clear of using harmful fertilizers or pesticides.
- They also make use of environmentally-friendly household cleaning solutions.
Jetwing also makes it a point to regularly train and educate their staff on environmental management.
[The really warm and friendly staff of Jetwing Vil Uyana :)]
It makes me feel better there are developments like Jetwing Vil Uyana and Rainforest Eco Lodge that are mindful of these things and do what they can to minimize their impact on the environment and maximize their impact on the community. But this is a constant struggle/challenge, and it really is upon ALL of our shoulders (hoteliers and guests alike) to find new ways to not just reduce our carbon footprint, but plant new seeds where we have tread.
So the next time you go on a trip, even when you stay at a place that you know you’re paying a huge price for, consider conserve all resources possible (don’t leave the power on when you leave the room, don’t have towels and linens washed everyday, and don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth – this practice can waste nearly 19 litres of water).
Travel with a heart,