Sustainable Luxury: Fiji's Turtle Island Makes Green Upscale

Most businesses have a bottom line—generally, economic feasibility— but not many have four bottom lines. Visiting Luxury Travel Advisor's New York offices today, Andrew Fairley of Turtle Island said that his Fijian private island has a "quadruple bottom line" that guides all decisions: the local environment, local support, heritage and culture and (yes) economic feasibility. 

Environment

While Turtle Island has always worked to be sustainable, the resort launched a new initiative last fall when it began using nearly 1,000 solar panels to generate the resort's electricity. "We're the only island resort that is totally solar," Fairley said. And not only does the resort recycle traditional recyclables, it also recycles elements from the natural landscape. When trees fall in storms, their wood is reclaimed and turned into furniture for the rooms. 

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Turtle Island also has more than four acres of gardens, so most meals served at the resort are locally sourced. The gardens, tended by three full-time staff, have sweet corn, asparagus, peppers, beans, pumpkins, melons, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. While not completely organic (Fairley acknowledged that some local insects don't respond to organic pesticides), the garden is as close as it's possible to get.

Local Support

Turtle Island employs 80 people to look after a maximum of 28 guests. Each bure (traditional two-room cottages built by Fijian craftsmen) comes with a "Bure Mama," a local who will help the guests of that bure with anything they need. A popular request, Fairley said, is for guests to talk with their bure's Mama and learn about the indigenous people of the islands and their history and culture. Which leads us to the next bottom line...

Heritage & Culture

Last summer, Turtle Island opened a new spa with four treatment rooms. Treatments at the spa are inspired by Polynesian traditions, Fairley said, but the hotel team opted to bring in a Kahuna from Hawaii to teach lomi-lomi massage. When the spa's therapists began studying the new style, Fairley said, they were surprised at how similar it was to the practices they learned from their own mothers and grandmothers—a strong sign of the Polynesian connection between the different communities. 

The staff also performs a weekly "Meke," a traditional gathering and dance that educates guests about the local people and provides a strong sense of place, he said. 

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