Gen­eral man­ager Ju­lian Ayres talks to about the Alila Ja­bal Akhdar’s ini­tia­tives to pre­serve na­ture and help the lo­cal com­mu­nity

Good (UAE) - - GOOD LIVING -

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.

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