Finding Island Bliss Without Destroying It

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Ever heard of Fogo Island? It's a unique and remote fishing community off the shore of Newfoundland, Canada. Fogo Inn is a luxurious, yet understated resort destination on the island, unlike anywhere else in the world.

Image courtesy of Fogo Inn gallery ( https://fogoislandinn.ca )

Image courtesy of Fogo Inn gallery (https://fogoislandinn.ca)

Sustainability is the beauty of Fogo Inn that lies beneath the facade. But most would agree that Fogo Inn is beautiful both inside and out because of its commitment to preserve and protect the community on which it was built.

For many this undertaking has been placed on a pedestal as something to aspire to. Yes, it is a commercial venture. But it is also much more. 

According to Zita Cobb, the Canadian businesswoman and social entrepreneur who launched the charity Shorefast that spearheaded Fogo Island, "If you start with the economics, you're already getting it wrong."

"Our mission is to build cultural and economic resilience on Fogo Island. The purpose of development is to help people belong to the world in a way that reflects their specificity, honors their unique ways of knowing, and fosters resiliency."  

Fogo Island has set a precedent that some would like to duplicate within the Caribbean and other island nations where tourism might be identified as the only viable form of economic development. However, plagued with ecological concerns, climate challenges and building restraints, how does one go about creating a destination resort in what might be described as one of the most beautiful places in the world? And how do you do that while nurturing and protecting the local economy, not negatively impacting it? 

Addressing some of these issues is the green initiative formed in 2017 known as the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. One of its very public backers is Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. His renown and personal commitments have brought awareness and credence to the cause.

According to its website, the program objectives are to:

  • Accelerate broad-based socio-economic development

  • Build resilient infrastructure and societies

  • Create jobs and catalyze economic growth

  • Advocate to ensure that the Caribbean stays on the world’s development agenda

Awesome aspirations and goals, no doubt. But how can we help bring it to life? Are there real-life options on the table? Let's look at some current realities.

 

The "Contrived" Resort Experience

Instead of an authentic destination experience like that of Fogo Inn, many popular travel destinations like the Caribbean are populated with what could be described as "contrived" resort options put forth by big developers looking for large populations to visit and remain captive to their development services. Most of these sites require significant natural impact to build on, such as "scraping" or removing almost all organic materials so as to prepare the land for development. Then once built, the landscape is artificially repopulated with plants that at best might simulate what was once there. Trouble is, the harm has already been done to the environment. And the artificial building materials that were invariably shipped in have bypassed and cut out the local economy. Not to mention the challenge to build in such a way that these structures can withstand the natural elements of sun, sea and weather. 

Adding injury to insult, the artificial accouterments of a lavish, so-called luxury experience outshine what should be the pristine and untouched natural luxury of the destination itself. For those who truly value luxury, these artificial experiences just don't cut it. And sadly, those who don't know the difference are the very ones likely to disregard and perhaps even unintentionally disrespect the natural elements and local community.

 

Container Home Controversy

Enthusiasts of the sustainable and recyclable building community offer container homes as a transportable, yet inexpensive building option. Dwellings and communities can be shipped and configured as essentially pre-fabricated solutions with less negative impact on the environment than a from-the-ground build. However, container homes, often recycled from abandoned shipping use bring with them their own environmental concerns. For several reasons, some governments and municipalities have restricted the proliferation of container home communities, deeming them unsustainable and unsafe.

 

Alternative Solutions

What other alternatives are on the market? Strides are being made on several fronts from modular builds that overcome the shipping and building issues to recycled materials that address cost and sustainability concerns.

One such glimmer is this hurricane-proof home in Nova Scotia made from recycled plastic bottles. Could this type of building innovation work in the Caribbean?

Green built initiatives have also entered the modular housing industry like this model from ElementalGreen that promises locally-sourced building materials and energy-efficient features, but products like this are hard to get to remote natural areas and island nations.

Sustainable hospitality is the philosophy behind Cayuga Collection, purveyors of luxury resort sites like Isla Palenque, in Panama. With beautiful, private villas scattered throughout the island they claim to build without negative ecological impact and with locally-sourced sustainable products. 

So what about G-pod? Specifically designed to be transportable and provide an understated luxury experience, G-pods make an ideal solution to the sustainable build needed for sites that have sensitive natural characteristics but are in marine zones or heavy weather zones. 

G-pods can be shipped just about anywhere in the world and set up on or off-grid in just a few hours. They are built to last with durable construction, engineering and hurricane-proof materials. They can be placed with minimal site and pad preparation, thus requiring minimal disruption to the surrounding ecosystem. Off-grid solar, rainwater and sewage systems are easily configurable.

 

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The G-pod Dwell unit comes in a single studio or hotel suite option. And units can be combined and configured in multiple ways like this Eumundi Village project, a hotel. Imagine the modern simplicity of a G-pod space designed to embrace the beauty of the outdoors.

G-pod offers an economical building solution, where the rest of the community development could be supported by local vendors, suppliers and residents, giving the area a truly self-sustaining economic platform. Could this be a prime building solution of the future for the hospitality industry?

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Are you interested in exploring the options and possibilities of a G-pod development in the Caribbean or elsewhere? G-pod Americas representatives will be visiting with local officials, developers and investors throughout 2019 and would love to meet with you.

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Andrew Seelye