When a Resort Does the Right Thing
I’d call Lyton and Eroline Lamontagne, owners of Fond Doux Plantation and Resort in St Lucia, trendsetters in sustainable tourism, but I’m not really sure that they are. Trendsetters typically set out with a goal in mind of driving others to follow their lead, that “Hey! Look at me!” mentality. Anyone who has met the entrepreneurial couple will tell you that’s not the case. They simply did what they felt was right for their community, their country, and the planet.
Of course, I can only infer that last statement. When I had the opportunity to interview the Lamontagnes, I asked what drove them to build a resort that would earn a Green Globe Certification and only served organically grown, locally sourced food. Their answer? “It just happened.” While I admire their humbleness, their answer isn’t one that gives a writer much banter to work with.
Evidence of being Green Globe certified is found throughout Fond Doux.
Guests of the resort enjoy individual accommodations in original 19th French colonial cottages. Each of the cottages are reclaimed structures that were scheduled for demolition elsewhere on the island until a Rastafarian resident asked the Lamontagne’s to help save the historical structures. Together, they dismantled, transported, and rebuilt the cottages amongst the lush organic gardens of the plantation using no machinery, only hand tools and shovels, to minimize impact on the environment and enhance the tropical experience of their guests.
The work to minimize Fond Doux’s carbon footprint continued throughout the overall design of the resort. To help conserve energy, efficiency light bulbs illuminate the property and accommodations. None of the rooms have air conditioners or televisions encouraging guests to reconnect with nature by allowing the Caribbean breeze to cool cabins and the sounds of the rainforest to stimulate imaginations. Plaques are dispersed throughout the resort reminding guests to converse water by turning off faucets, taking short showers, and reusing towels. Housekeeping only changes bed linens once every three days to help conserve water.
While some of these items may sound like an inconvenience, a quick walk along the resort’s many nature trails serves as a reminder of the importance of conserving the environment.
What is a Green Globe Certification?
According to Green Globe’s web site, “Green Globe is based upon the Agenda 21 plan which was originally endorsed by 182 heads of state at the Rio Summit of 1992 and provided a set of environmentally sustainable principles for the travel and tourism industry.” In order to qualify, properties must exceed various criteria in the following categories:
- Environment Impact
- Cultural Heritage
- Sustainability Management
- Social Economic
Besides boasting a Green Globe Certification, Fond Doux is also the recipient of Gold Level Status from the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Programme.
Fond Doux is also a certified organic plantation.
In the 1980s, Lyton and Erline went through the painstaking process of removing all chemicals from the soil that were left behind from the property’s days as a banana plantation. Cocoa beans replaced bananas as Fond Doux’s main crop. Now, Fond Doux grows an assortment of produce for their restaurant’s “plantation to plate” dining concept.
Among Fond Doux’s gardens, guests can find coconut, love apple, cherries, golden apple, tamarind, plum, avocado, soursop, star fruit, mangoes, dasheen, coffee, oranges, grapefruit, breadfruit, lettuce, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, corn, sweet peppers, cabbage, carrots, guava, plantain, and banana. What Fond Doux doesn’t source on property it purchases from local small business owners and farmers.
The Lamontagnes also believe in upholding their heritage.
In order to maintain their many accolades, Fond Doux also has to demonstrate a socio-economic impact within their community which the Lamontagnes are proud to do. Their many avenues of community involvement include sponsoring a local primary school, providing space in Fond Doux’s gift shop for local craftsmen to sell their merchandise, commissioning local artists to create artwork for accommodations, and hiring local entertainers to perform in the restaurant. Fond Doux also allows community farmers to plant crops on their land and heavily invests in the training and development of their staff, most of whom hail from surrounding rural communities of Soufriere and Chateau Belair.
Fond Doux didn’t want me to write this post.
Lyton was adamant that I not write a post heralding Fond Doux’s many accolades for its work in hospitality, green tourism, and organic farming. Instead, he wanted me to write a piece to encourage the St Lucian tourism industry to invest in initiatives that uphold the culture, environment, and health of the island and its residents.
The Fond Doux story is that encouragement. Lyton and Eroline are taking the extra step to do what’s right not because they have to, but because they want to. Their reward is happy customers and repeat business.
“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.”
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