‘Since tourism is our business, sustainability is enlightened self-interest,’ says Roshan, Dylon General Manager at Uga Bay in Passekudah. ‘It makes sense to do our best to preserve the scenic beauty, the environment, the culture that people come to see and enjoy. So, sure, we all want to be sustainable. But making it really happen is not easy.’ Most hoteliers, he says, are conscious about the need to use sustainable practices in building hotels, conserving energy and water, etc. ‘Those precautions make economic sense,’ he says. But if you really want to make sustainability work, says Roshan, you have to apply the principle comprehensively.
For instance, in the kitchen. ‘Sustainable cuisine means ingredients from known sources, sustainably farmed, with a low carbon footprint. Even organic farming is now highly commercialized, so it’s difficult to be sure of your sources.’ Uga Bay, has decided, as far as possible, to grow its own. They’re starting small, with a herb garden that supplies basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, mustard, lemon verbena and tarragon to add depth and richness to the hotel’s cuisine.
‘Growing some of these things isn’t easy in a coastal environment,’ says Roshan, ‘but perseverance makes it happen.’ In fact, when we visited, the garden was thriving – and full of children in school uniforms. What were they doing there? ‘It’s part of a CSR project we’re undertaking with Hindu College, Valaichenai,’ explains Roshan. ‘These kids are learning sustainable agricultural methods by practical example under the care of our own sustainable-gardening expert.’
The next step at Uga Bay will be to begin growing vegetables that will, in time, find their way into dishes on the resort menu. ‘The ideal is for all the produce we use to be home-grown,’ ‘but it will be a while before we make it. Still, we’re headed in the right direction.’