THE RESORT INDUSTRY LIVES BY ITS BEAUTY: breathtaking scenery—from wide, clean beaches to sparkling waters or snow-packed slopes. Nature is the Number One resort asset. Hospitality-tourism business models are anchored in inspiring environments that invite tourists and offer recreation. Protecting this eco-capital is a top responsibility for resorts and their communities. Such “resort conservation” is key to long-term profitability.
The Secret: Here is the key for resort developers. You can’t depend on nature to behave according to plan. The nature of Nature is change. The most obvious challenge for resort developments is climate change, which throws the monkey wrench of uncertainty (e.g., sea level rise and erosion, drought or too much rain, low snowfall). To keep up with Nature’s whims, resorts need a realistic, flexible strategy for active and continual conservation in their business plan. Resort owners: Your natural resources are your primary asset—so guard them well.
Resort Conservation for Success
Perhaps the idea of conserving natural resources and operating a resort seems like an Odd Couple episode. But think about this: your seaside beach, your roiling trout stream, and your glistening white ski slopes are why guests come to your resort in the first place. Protect these resources and you are protecting your bottom line. I call this responsibility Resort Conservation. This is Job One in this age of climate unpredictably. Like any business plan, Resort Conservation involves three levels of investment: short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
Level 1: Resort Conservation now. Let’s say you already operate a successful resort.
- Consider your water supply: are you irrigating fairways and lawns with finite, more costly drinking water, or do you apply more affordable recycled water, called “reclaimed water?”
- Do you landscape with native plants—instead of showy exotics that can easily spread and overtake native plants?
- How do your guests travel over sensitive dunes, slopes, and fishing waters? Do you provide boardwalks and bridges, which offer great views?
- And do you provide information such as interpretive displays or brochures that inform your guests about your conservation programs? A wee bit of education will go a long way, as your guests will show and tell others via word of mouth and social media. Your reputation will shine.
Level 2: Resort Conservation with your community. When resorts are good citizens in their communities by engaging in long-term environmental fixes and protection in the community, the local word-of-mouth advertising is huge. Good examples:
- Take leadership in restoring beaches and dunes through sand “nourishment” and dune stabilization;
- Sponsor re-colonization of valuable oyster or coral reefs in coastal waters;
- Develop better trails in mountainous areas for tourism use for skiing or biking and hiking. Invite local use and assure that all access is ADA-compliant.
Level 3: Lifelong Conservation for a worldwide Reputation.
Let’s say you are a resort owner. Now you have your sights set on a scenic property ripe for a new resort. This principle of Resort Conservation reminds and requires you to choose your site most wisely. You will avoid eroding slopes and coastlines. You will plan ahead for protecting sensitive wildlife and their habitats. You become a leader for conservation in the community, and you recruit conservation groups, local government, and other resorts to join your mission. You maintain your conservation efforts for the life of your resort, and place protective easements on your property, assuring its care by future managers or owners. You learn what works, adapts, and you repeat your good work. Resort Conservation will build your brand legacy, and higher profits will follow—naturally.