The Hidden Sustainability of a $1,000-a-Night Paradise Island

Alphonse Island in the Seychelles may seem like the epitome of a luxurious desert island retreat, with its pristine white sandy beaches, swaying palms...

The Hidden Sustainability of a $1,000-a-Night Paradise Island
The Hidden Sustainability of a $1,000-a-Night Paradise Island
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Alphonse Island in the Seychelles may seem like the epitome of a luxurious desert island retreat, with its pristine white sandy beaches, swaying palms, and extravagant beach bungalows commanding over $1,000 per night. However, beyond the façade of opulence, this private island, situated 250 miles southwest of Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles, is the unlikely setting for a groundbreaking sustainability initiative.

At the helm of Alphonse Island's sustainability endeavor is Keith Rose-Innes, the island's director. Under his leadership, the island has undergone a remarkable transformation that places eco-friendly practices at its core, particularly exemplified by "The Farm."

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This agricultural project focuses on organically cultivating fruits and vegetables to supply not only Alphonse Island's restaurants but also other Blue Safaris properties across various atolls. The primary goal is to reduce food miles and carbon emissions associated with importing produce.

Rose-Innes emphasizes the unsustainability of flying in produce and highlights the environmental impact of bringing goods by boat, which is not only time-consuming but also contributes significantly to pollution.

The game-changing initiative revolves around cultivating a diverse array of produce, from bananas, figs, and limes to beetroot, cucumbers, and pumpkins, following a seasonal calendar. Overcoming challenges such as shallow soil with only 30 centimeters of depth, the island's farmers have developed innovative strategies to thrive in these conditions.

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Alphonse Island's Farm currently yields 27.6 tonnes of fruit, vegetables, and herbs annually, with a closed-loop system using leftover produce for compost. A recent redevelopment, featuring fully shaded tunnels, seeding beds, and automated watering systems, has elevated the project's efficiency.

This sustainability drive has positioned Alphonse Island as a finalist in the 2023 Star Sustainability Initiative Awards, a testament to its commitment to environmental responsibility. Beyond cultivating its own produce, the island has strict policies against importing mineral water and uses desalination and rainwater harvesting for freshwater needs. Additionally, 2,000 solar panels contribute 80% of the island's energy.

The commitment extends to fishing practices, where lines from deep waters on the far side of the island's coral reef are employed to catch fish sustainably. Rose-Innes firmly opposes purchasing fish caught using unsustainable methods.

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The island's dedication to conservation goes beyond resource management, with a team of scientists and conservationists from the Island Conservation Society guiding efforts to protect the delicate marine ecosystem. Guests contribute to these conservation efforts by donating $30 per person per day.

Alphonse Island, under Rose-Innes' guidance, stands as a testament to responsible tourism and the harmonious coexistence of luxury and environmental preservation. As concerns rise globally about the impact of tourism on fragile ecosystems, Rose-Innes believes that responsible practices can set an example for sustainable living, even in remote and luxurious destinations.

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In Rose-Innes' words, 'If we can do it, anybody can do it. It's so much easier to be responsible on land or closer to a main island. If we are able to be responsible in these destinations, that's setting an example. You can be responsible anywhere. Everything is dealt with in a sustainable way. Unfortunately, it is way more expensive to do it this way, but it's the right way to do it.

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14 Ara 2023 - 12:50 - Lifestyle

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