The Sea Pines Resort graciously hosted the Charles E. Fraser Resort Sustainability Conference…after all, it is the resort Charles Fraser founded in the 1960s (see Part I below). In Todd’s blog post, Resorts, Save Nature, Save Yourselves (10/24/2013) he writes: “When resorts are good citizens by engaging in long-term environmental fixes and protection in the community, the local word-of-mouth advertising is huge.” The partnership between the Sea Pines Resort and the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB…my alma mater) demonstrates this win-win relationship. Research provided by USCB shows that visitors around the globe expect resorts to be more sustainable, and provide eco-friendly accommodations and amenities. Additionally, research done by the Harvard Business Review, Goldman Sachs and Deloitte prove that sustainability pays…by reducing costs, retaining great employees, improving health and marketing your product.
A testament to the sustainability commitment at Sea Pines Resort is the Director of Facility Services, Tony Wartko, who is a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate. This credential by the U.S. Green Building Council demonstrates a professional’s expertise and knowledge of sustainable practices. Under Wartko’s leadership, exciting changes are occurring throughout the Resort. They include:
- Recycling at all locations
- Oyster seeding to rebuild shellfish habitat and stabilize shorelines
- Xeriscape (low water) planting
- Redeveloped buildings that incorporate sustainable features in all areas.
- Staff training to understand the changes, and to describe them to visitors.
Another cooperative area between USCB and the Resort is the USCB Coastal Ecology vessel, the Vagabond.
THE CONFERENCE: This inaugural conference raised the bar for participants by including expert panelists in a wide range of areas. Panel topics covered water quality; land management; sustainable & resilient tourism; community resilience; economics, and how best to attract visitors and residents. Panelists represented a wide arena of interdisciplinary experts from: the resort industry, universities, environmental experts, social needs and economics experts, social psychologists, Chambers of Commerce, town and city leaders, and non-profits. Panelists came from as far away as Telluride Ski and Golf Resort, Boulder, CO to Washington D.C. The broad geographic representation allowed participants to learn how other communities and resorts are progressing with sustainability…and how all resorts and communities can become more sustainable, more resilient in the “new normal” of climate change.
We’ve attended many educational events at USCB over the years and have seen it grow into a regional leader in the SC and GA Lowcountry. We are honored that Todd is invited to present speeches and teach classes at the University. USCB took a large step forward creating the Charles E. Fraser Sustainable Resort Development Conference. We encourage others in these industries to attend next year. We’ll be there, too.
Partner Organizations for the Conference:
- Clemson University Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism
- HHI-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Urban Land Institute
- Community Foundation of the Lowcountry
- Vagabond Cruise
- The Sea Pines Resort
- USCB Sea Islands Institute
- USCB Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training
- USCB Water Quality Research Lab