The Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge concept is designed for the environmentally conscious, physically active eco-adventure traveler, who seeks close contact with the unique natural wonders of the Galapagos with the highest level of comfort and services that could be reazonably provided within the limitations of such a remote, restricted and eco-sensitive location. No lack of privacy, seasickness nor confined spaces of the typical yachts or cruises. As our Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge guest, you will enjoy active, quality guided land and marine day programs in small groups. At night you’ll rest in spacious and quiet accommodations.
Due to its central location in the Archipelago, the Santa Cruz Island provided us with the perfect opportunity to develop our unique land based day tour concept, since the most interesting islands, secluded white sandy beaches and wildlife sites of the Galapagos National Park are nearby. All these can be reached within relatively short navigation times on board our large, comfortable, safe and stable oceangoing yacht Pikaia I.
In fact, you will discover some of the finest beaches of the Galapagos near the Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge. Just by taking a stroll, you can come face to face with a wild giant tortoise. Our lodge has its own private Tortoise Reserve on the property.
Our Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge is one of the most advanced green lodges built in the world. It operates with alternative energy resources and has an outstanding social responsibility program.
However, many people involved in the work to achieve equilibrium between development and preservation, including the Galapagos National Park Service and the Ecuadorian environmental authorities, believe that eco-tourism is an important part of the solution to preserving the Galapagos Islands. The key is tight regulation and effective management.
The Galapagos tourism model is not, and will never be, like the hedonistic, resource-intensive model of south-east Asia or the Caribbean. Neither is it Ibiza, nor Hawaii, with mass tourism and massive hotel infrastructures, casinos, golf, discos, crowded beaches and condos. The Galapagos model is designed exclusively for a controlled number of very selective eco-tourists, who will eschew over-development; this is why people travel to the Galapagos in the first place.
Ecuador understands that the islands are fragile and must be protected. A strict Galapagos law, internationally qualified as a World Landmark Legislation, has been put in place specifically to prevent such overdevelopment. This law limits even the constitutional right for Ecuadorians to settle in the islands, to prevent overpopulation and resource demand. But the Galapagos Islands do face complex local, social and economic challenges, which we are working to identify and address.
Galapagos new land-based tourism model
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most ecologically diverse hotspots on the planet. A focus on environmental sustainability is fundamental, especially during the development of a new land-based tourism model (hotel stay/day tours) rather than the traditional live-aboard yacht/cruise ship model.
To manage tourist numbers, the authorities do not issue new permits for live-aboard yacht or cruise ships, nor for increasing passenger capacity, and have not done so for nearly 20 years. But each year more people want to visit the Galapagos.
Ecuador understands that eco tourism is a valid, sustainable way to create income in its efforts to overcome joblessness, without damaging the environment. The Galapagos Islands are the country’s number one tourist attraction; many visitors to The Galapagos also travel to the country’s other National Parks and generate a sustainable income for them as well.
The Galapagos National Park Service is financed entirely from park fees. Only 0.5% of the total area is visited by tourists, and these few sites are still extremely well-preserved and well-managed.
It is because eco-tourism was developed here 40 years ago, well-managed by authorities and supported by the private tourism sector, that wildlife still thrives here, both on the land and in the sea. The way the islands have been managed means that the rich, varied marine wildlife is an attraction for divers, snorkelers and swimmers, instead of being fished to levels of exploitation or extinction. The “ecological capital” of the islands is best protected from permanent destruction by harnessing it for eco-tourism, even with the potential challenges that this entails.
The shift from a live-aboard cruise to a land-based tourism model, will also create non-extractive, sustainable jobs and investment opportunities for some of the 30,000 existing resident settlers and their families who live on the Islands.
The benefits of this new tourism model
The new land-based model will stimulate and support local business and services. It aims to distribute the economical benefits of eco-tourism among the local population; in contrast with yachts and cruise ships which are mostly owned by continental companies and usually staffed by continental crews and services.
There are many examples of the social and environmental benefits of this new model. For example, in the past, some local fishermen would illegally catch sharks for their fins. They were given the opportunity to switch their fishing permits for new day-tour diving permits, and now protect sharks and other marine life, taking divers and snorkelers to them. Or for those with new “vivential fishing” day-tour permits, their new income from recreational sport fishing and snorkeling tours contrasts with their previous Galapagos explorationincome earned from fishing thousands of lobsters, seacucumbers, billfish or tuna for export, sometimes even killing sea lions who compete for fish stocks or destroy their fishing gear. Even farmers that would harm giant tortoises and endemic birdlife that damage their crops, or unwittingly introduce invasive commercial species and harmful chemicals for pest control, have found new income alternatives by developing small eco-tourism services and supporting wildlife on their lands.
The new model suggests the possibility of a virtuous circle; as wildlife is perceived not as a pest or export commodity, but a source of income through conservation and protection.
At the Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge, we believe that well-regulated and managed, our land-based tourism is a positive model for the long-term preservation of the islands, combined with social stability and economical wellbeing for the settler communities.
The Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge’s operational environmental sustainability
Since inception, the owners of the Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge have been committed to setting a new definition for a luxury Eco-lodge. We define luxury not by opulence, but by the levels of comfort and service. The Galapagos Islands Eco Lodge has been designed and equipped according to the highest environmental specifications of the LEEDS (Leadership in energy and environmental Design) from the US Building Council. We have enlisted world class experts to help us meet the challenge of offering guest five–star luxury with all their energy, resources and water needs met for optimum comfort, while achieving operational carbon neutral status. Our architects, engineers, interior Designers, hospitality consultants, energy and water systems specialist had to faced some complex issues.
The lodge was built using the lowest possible quantity of concrete in order to minimize the use of locally mined aggregates and construction waste materials, by using imported pre-fabricated steel columns and beams. Steel is a highly recyclable material and cleaner in the whole construction process. Concrete is not recyclable.
Natural Galapagos lava stone and tiles, cut locally by collecting stones by hand on selected sites with the approval of the National Park Service, are used on most floors and walls, they can be recycled also and can be cleaned with high water pressure alone, without using chemicals or paints.
Bathrooms tiles, countertops, some wall coverings and the pool decks are made of Peruvian Travertine and polished fossil marbles, to remind our guest the geological ages of our past. They are also recyclable and where not produced by energy intensive processes.
Only sustainable agro-cultivated Teak and Bamboo woods from the Ecuadorian mainland (they do not come from tropical Rainforest), were used for most furniture, doors and decor to prevent deforestation and illegal logging.
Disposing and recycling of Wastes
All lodge areas and guest rooms have separate waste containers for organics, papers and cardboards, plastics, glass and metals according to Pto. Ayora´s municipal regulations. Galapagos is the only place in Ecuador where such regulations are successfully managed.
Before the advent of the special protection Galapagos law in 1998, the tourism, agriculture and fishing sectors legally brought many continental workers to the Islands, triggering a local population growth explosion. If this trend were allowed to continue, it could have led to overpopulation and unsustainable pressures on the Islands’ natural resources.
The lodge's administration has apply to date for no more than 7 temporary residence permits for key highly-skilled employees with international experience, such as Lodge managers, the executive chef, key multilingual service personnel, and specialized technicians for our complex support systems. These positions must be announced on local radios, billboards or press to give locals ample opportunity to apply; we only receive the permit to bring in external people when no local person can fill the position. Unfortunately, few local residents currently speak English or have the required skills for our high quality guest service. Our ”imported” employees will have a legal and moral obligation to mentor and train locals in preparation for filling their job positions in the future. The majority of our available positions have been filled by locals from the adjacent agricultural village of El Cascajo. Six months before the Lodge opening, employees were under intensive training for their specific field of service by our hospitality specialists. The people from this community are known for being an honest, hard-working agricultural labor force, with a friendly attitude to visitors.
We believe in being good neighbors. Besides creating jobs for people from the community, we are developing a long-term social responsibility program, including:
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González Suárez, Quito: ECUADOR
Bedroom(s): 22 bungalows
Charapa, Quito: ECUADOR
Bedroom(s): 18 Cabanas
Bedroom(s): 22 (3 "Yaku" suites and 19 "Wayra" rooms)
Locale: Rainforest/Cloud forest reserve
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