This is a story about coincidences!
And how they lead to a wonderful Eco-Lodge in Sri Lanka
Annabella and Francesco:
Annabel and Francesco wanted to travel to Madagascar in 2011, but the political situation was unstable. Looking across at her husband, Annabel saw a map of the islands of the Indian Ocean. So why not go to Sri Lanka instead?
Upa has benn working as a guide in Sri Lanka since 1988. He grew up with 9 siblings and spent a lot of time working with his father in the rice fields. His father was into organic farming and passed this passion on to his son.
Annabella and Francesco:
For a more special experience, they searched for a guide for their time in Sri Lanka. Of the three guides they contacted, two responded immediately, but they decided to wait for the last response too.
Upa actually was no longer working as a driver and guide, but after a while he decided to accept Annabel’s and Francesco’s request.
They met in 2011. From the beginning, it just clicked. They started talking about building a hotel. A hotel that is different from the turn-key operations that started appearing after the war in Sri Lanka. A hotel that integrates into the environment and community.
Back in Italy, they stayed in touch with Upa. They bought land and the KUWERA ECO LODGE project begins!
LIVING IN A REAL VILLAGE
You think intercultural partnerships lead to many challenges and problems? Not for Annabel, Francesco and Upa. Philosophy, ideas and wishes were the same for their common project from the start.
The land they bought is close to the village of Sigiriya, in Udawalayagama, in the middle of the country. Their idea was to build a place that integrates in its environment without destroying the nature, the culture or the village around it. KUWERA describes it as: „Its peculiar collocation inside a rural village and the choice we made not to separate it from the surrounding context with fences, allows our guests to take part to scenes of everyday life. At dawn the sounds of nature, the peacock, the birds, the rooster soon give way to the children voices that before leaving for the school go get the water at the well, or the sound of a radio transmitting a Buddhist prayer.“
The village Udawalayagama, basically two red sandy roads with little houses or shacks on each side, is still very basic. Water comes only from the well in the middle of the streets and there are no shops. The paved road stops around 5 km before, at the touristic highlight of the Sigiriya rock. From the beginning they interacted with the local community, KUWERA staff mostly come from the village. If help is needed, they try finding a solution together instead of solving problems for them. They want to empower and help in the long-term.
The land they bought was a green dense jungle. Hotels tend to operate as follow: they buy land, tear down every tree, bush and living animal on it, build their complex and recreate a new garden, accordingly to international „beauty and comfort standards“. At KUWERA ECO LODGE, no tree was cut. They cleared the bushes between the trees and build the bungalows around the trees. 0,5 hectare are kept for conservation in its original condition for birds and reptiles. Behind the pool, you find an organic farm which supplies the restaurant with vegetables, fruits and herbs. Upa’s great passion is organic farming and guests are welcome to discover and learn about traditional and new methods of organic farming from him. „Cousine at Kuwera Eco Lodge follows the same philosophy. We believe that food is a fundamental experience to deeply understand a country and a culture, so our mission is to offer our guests an authentic Sinhalese experience.“
Our project with KUWERA
One of the biggest challenges of Sri Lanka these days is the lack of recycling facilities and the overall plastic pollution. Along the streets, at the beach and in the ocean, you will find plastic bags, shoes and bottles, mainly bottles though. A big share of those bottles comes from tourism, as locals drink tap water. KUWERA used to provide bottled water to their guests. Seeing the huge amount of plastic waste, they introduced a water dispenser with filtered water and glas bottles in the rooms, so guests can refill their bottles for free. More than Travel calculated the Carbon Footprint and found out that this water dispenser is saving up to 1 ton of CO2 per year compared to the plastic bottles. Furthermore, we supported developing the communication approach towards guests and staff.
Did you know that since water exists on our earth, it has been, is and will be always the same amount? And yet, in many regions of the world, we are facing big challenges to have access to clean drinking water.
Did you know that one of Sri Lanka’s biggest challenges is the high amount of plastic waste?
At KUWERA, we believe in a holistic sustainability concept. This is why we changed from using plastic water bottles to a water dispenser with filtered water.
This water is freshly refilled for you every day in a glass bottle.
Like this, we save 175 kilos of plastic waste per year, reducing the carbon footprint, the resource footprint and helping the environment.
Thank you for your support!
New water-related communication developed by MTT for KUWERA
KUWERA has been using solar power to heat water from the beginning. However, they want to go further. Installing solar panels for their total energy consumption will save an extra of 23 tons of CO2 per year. Compare this with the carbon footprint of your flight to Sri Lanka: A roundtrip flight between Europe and Sri Lanka emits approximately 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide.
The core part of our consultancy work was a training for the managers. The concept of sustainability and sustainable development is barely known in Sri Lanka. Successful integration of these concepts into the running of the Lodge, is only possible, if the managers understand and live the philosophy of Upa, Francesco and Anabel. The training thus focused on explained the resource boundaries of our planet, global sustainability challenges, carbon footprinting and a definition of sustainability for KUWERA. Furthermore, we explained the positive impact of the current measures, such as, the installation of solar panels and the use of a water dispenser. Understanding the extent of the positive impact, will ensure that the managers can explaining the measure and the philosophy behind them convincingly to guests in the future.
What to expect from a stay a KUWERA:
Seven bungalows are settled neatly around the trees, a pool and an open air dining lounge. A private outdoor shower come with every AC or fan-equipped bungalow. Food provided is delicious with ingredients from the organic garden. The sinhalese breakfast as well as the four course dinner taste amazing. Francesco is happy to offer you one of his authentic Italian espressos, if you need a change from ceylon tea.
The lodge is strategically located to discover famous tourist attractions such as the Lion’s Rock or Pidurangala Rock, or to make a day trip to the fantastic Polannaruwa town and its temples, Dambulla cave temples or a safari at Minneriya National Park. Or simply to take a stroll through the village.
If you are interested in Volunteering at the Lodge, please contact Francesco or Upa!
Address: 403/2b Udawalayagama, Sigiriya
More than Travel is happy to assist you in developing your sustainable tourism concepts as well as calculating Carbon Footprints for your Hotels, guests or other activities. Please contact us for further information on consulting services at email@example.com
by: Isabel Gür