Hilton Seychelles Labriz: pioneers of sustainable business
Sustainability and being eco-friendly is top on the agenda for businesses right now, but as Behiye Hassan discovers, for Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa it’s been a top priority since day one
“We would rather build around a tree than knock it down,” says Andre Borg, general manager of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. And that could be something of a mission statement for Borg and his business partner Britta Krug, director of business development for Hilton Seychelles Hotels.
Their resort is located on Silhouette Island, the third largest island of the Seychelles. Until the 1960s the island was owned by a family for use as a plantation, until it was handed back to the government who placed a clear focus on the environment.
The Hilton, which opened there 10 years ago, is its only resort. And mindful that 85 per cent of the nature reserve is protected, it was built to incorporate nature rather than dismantle it. The hotel’s innovations range from an organic garden – which has reduced the resort’s energy and water consumption levels by 20 per cent – to the resort buggies fitted with solar-powered panels.
Over a coffee with Meet the Leader at London’s Ham Yard Hotel the pair elaborated on their dedication to protecting the environment; a growing concern for many businesses, not just the hotel sector. “Long before sustainability was in fashion it was already executed – and you see it here,” said Borg. “You won’t find a straight line of villas as we’ve built around the surroundings.”
Borg and Krug try to keep the area as close as possible to how they found it when the hotel first opened, and their eco credentials have grown ever since. Continuously thinking of new green policies, they now work with the Island Conservation Society on various sustainable projects, including caring for the forestry, maintaining the marine conservation and protecting the Seychelles bats, which live in a cave on the island. They also have a partnership with the International Fund for Agriculture to create ties between the resort and smallholder farmers and local fishermen.
In January this year they launched an initiative to reduce the amount of plastic on the island. They removed all plastic bottles from the resort and replaced them with glass or carbon bottles, and replaced all plastic straws with biodegradable, plant-based ones. In February they began bottling their own water, taken from the source of Mount Dauban, the largest peak on Silhouette Island. This stopped the need for water to be imported onto the island, thereby reducing pollution levels. “We have reduced plastic consumption almost totally,” Borg told us. “We saved 13,000 bottles of water in January, so we’re reducing it almost to 90 per cent.”
They also have a new tortoise nursery. As Borg says, “They have the potential to live 200 years but in their very infant stage there’s a low per cent of survival, so we’re protecting them”.
We look forward to hearing what Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa will be doing next.