When hospitality companies claim to be all about sustainability, perhaps they need to think twice before setting up shop in fragile environments.
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The Skift New Luxury column is our weekly column focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector.
Last week I received a press release announcing in a large font that “Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas Goes Wild Over First Resort in the Galápagos Islands.” This distresses me. When I traveled to the Galápagos in the 1990s, there were only a handful of small shabby hotels available, limited to the island where the airport was located. The only ships allowed to sail among the islands back then could not carry more than 18 passengers. Therefore, the only beings allowed to overnight on most of the islands were iguanas, seals, boobies of varying foot colors, and other native inhabitants. In other words, no tourists allowed after dark.
In the 20 years since I visited, scores of lodging properties have popped up on nearly every visited island of the group. Google lists 279 lodging possibilities. While small ships still cruise around the islands, they are now joined by several that are allowed to carry 100 passengers on board.
And now, as of 2021, we will have the Six Sense Galápagos on San Cristobal Island. According to the press release, “This is the quietest of the main islands, blessed with a relaxed, tranquil vibe.” Great, the locals — that is, the wildlife — will be thrilled.
I know that Six Senses is very environmentally conscious (see Raini Hamdi’s story below) and will do its best to be a responsible steward within the strict guidelines for development that befit a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Indeed, the release noted the development will work to restore “the original endemic Miconia ecosystem, eradicating invasive species.”
But is another hospitality development on the islands really necessary? Think about it. The Galápagos are the epicenter for Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. Why not just let nature take its course? After all, no matter how low-impact the tourism may be, there’s still an impact. The indigenous residents of the Galápagos deserve better.
For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet me @dailysuitcase.
— Laura Powell, Skift Luxury Editor
5 Looks at Luxury
The 6 Things Shaping Hotel Retail: Locally curated retail provides hotel brands with an opportunity to continuously evolve and stay current within a neighborhood, all while deepening their connection among guests and the community.
Six Senses Goes a Step Further on Being Green: While other chains may have difficulty getting owners to spend on sustainability, Six Senses commits them by management contract. And while other chains are just getting rid of single-use plastic straws and bottles, Six Senses wants to be completely free of plastics by 2022.
Indonesia’s Komodo Island Will Stay Open, But New Fee May Run $1,000: The good news is Komodo Island won’t be closed. The bad news is a “membership” fee, which could be as high as $1,000, will be introduced. Indonesian authorities never cease to goof up on one of its most important tourism attractions.
Park Hyatt’s Blade Runner: Knife Concierge Offers Cutting Edge Service: It’s not enough for the waitstaff at The Argyle Steakhouse in San Diego to pick up on the personalities of their customers. The staff of this high-end Park Hyatt Aviara eatery also has to learn about the personalities of their steak knives.
Google Elevates Vacation Rentals With Hotel-Like Treatment in Search: Google is following its hotel playbook in giving its own vacation rental and apartments business preferential treatment in Google search. As antitrust regulators take a look at Google’s practices, and if travel is part of the review, this twist will be high on the agenda.
Skift Luxury Editor Laura Powell [[email protected]] curates the New Luxury newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday.
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Photo credit: Blue-footed boobies on the Galapagos Islands. eugene / Visual Hunt