DOING SOME GOOD
General manager Julian Ayres talks to about the Alila Jabal Akhdar’s initiatives to preserve nature and help the local community
The architecture of the hotel is very unique. What are the most eco-friendly features?
From a design perspective, the look of the hotel complements the local landscape. We have tried to be as energy efficient as possible, so all of our outdoor lighting is solar powered. Solar panels also provide most of our hot water, although we do have to top it up occasionally during the winter. All of our rubbish is sorted and sent to be recycled, and all of our organic waste is turned into compost for the garden. At the Alila, we only use glass bottles for mineral water, which is produced on-site, to avoid plastic bottles on the resort and save on transport up the mountain, which reduces the pollution from diesel vehicles. Our goal for 2017 is to send zero waste to landfill.
How do you ensure the hotel has a positive impact on the local community?
We employ a number of local Omanis from the mountain villages to work in the hotel, from mountain guides to drivers and security. In the room, there are lots of locally produced artefacts and all the murals on the property are hand-painted by local artists. We have a partnership with a local farming co-operative that provides the resort with fresh produce directly from the mountain, although we also have our own small, organic herb garden too. We even make our own tomato ketchup, entirely from ingredients grown on the mountain.
What steps do you take to protect the local landscape from the impact of tourism?
Our policy is always “take only photographs and leave only footprints”, and we ask our guests to do the same. Often, when our guides take people out on walking tours of the area, they’ll return with bags of trash collected during the walk, which we then dispose of. We’ve even reinvested in marking trails and signage to protect certain areas. We also organise talks in local schools where we educate the students and teachers on the benefits of tourism, and of how to keep the local areas in pristine condition.
Is the Alila spa eco-friendly?
Absolutely! All of our products are 100 per cent organic, and our spa director runs a class called Spa Kitchen, where she teaches guests how to make scrubs, exfoliators and moisturisers from items found in your typical kitchen.