Pictured above is an artist’s rendering of the external aerial view of Sam Lords Castle Resort. (GP)
With visions of the future, Barbados is on the cusp of a groundbreaking development – a resort that offers the highest level of environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically sustainable operations.
In the winter of 2019, Sam Lord’s Castle – A Wyndham Grand Resort – will become a name synonymous with ideas of luxury and eco-friendly experiences. It will also be known as the first WELL (Human Health and Wellness) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certified Hotel in the world.
With sick building syndrome becoming a growing issue, rising food import bills, and a global push towards more environmentally conscious practices, the resort’s developers thought it best to pursue these two internationally sought-after designations.
Not only would the designations diversify the island’s hotel offerings, pushing it head and shoulders above the competition, but they would also help Barbados in its bid to be more environmentally responsible.
The website www.wellcertified.com states that “WELL offers a framework to help improve health and well-being for everyone that visits, works in, or experiences [a] building”. This certification is a “signal to the world that” people and their health are put first.
The International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard “explores how design, operations and behaviours within the places where [persons] live, work, learn and play can be optimised to advance human health and well-being”.
With the seven core WELL concepts of health being air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind, the internationally recognised certification is a “flexible building standard [that] represents the future of modern design”.
Vice President of Sustainable Operations with the Spinnaker Group, and a premiere LEED, Sustainability and WELL Building Consultant, Johnathan Burgess, explained that seeking certification was necessary in ensuring that Sam Lord’s Castle maintained its relevance in years to come, especially with stronger, more unpredictable weather systems being formed, as have been seen in recent years.
“Part of the core of our focus is building up for resilience, and ensuring that we are future proofing against large storm events. A project like this can be built to withstand hurricanes. With the latest code and building technologies…resiliency is very much a critical part of the sustainable aspects of the project,” he disclosed.
He further stated that during the design and construction process of the resort, his organisation worked directly with the design professionals, construction team and the developers to analyse the impact of the building on its site, the energy efficiency, aspects of water efficiency surrounding the building’s operation, the indoor air quality, and the selection of materials used in the building process.
Mr. Burgess noted that there’s “a recent trend” of builders examining how building materials are impacting health and wellness, and explained that the resort strove for a low environmental impact from its very construction.
“Not only will levels of recycling be achieved through the facility’s operations, but the majority of construction waste is being diverted from the landfills and being sourced into various material streams that can be recycled on the island,” he said.
The Sam Lord’s Castle Resort is also on its way to becoming the first resort in the world to simultaneously hold a LEED – Platinum Certification.
According to www.new.usgbc.org LEED “is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building project types, from new construction to interior fit-outs and operation and maintenance, LEED provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognised symbol of sustainability achievement.”
Based on a rating system, buildings vying for certification must attain a set number of points. To receive a rating of Certified, 40 to 49 points must be earned; Silver, 50 to 59 points; Gold, 60 to 79 points; and Platinum, 80+ points.
General Manager of Sam Lord’s Property Development Inc., Michael Philips, explained the importance of having the two certifications: “We felt that it was very important to embark on a journey which would result in a sustainably, competitive product. The LEED and WELL designations would largely authenticate that positioning from a global perspective.”
Mr. Philips also stated that “in addition to the important issue of resiliency, all of the trends indicate that people are becoming increasingly aware of the deleterious impact that their activities are having on the global environment”. He said as a result, Barbados’ pursuit of both certifications “shows a level of leadership in the area of sustainable tourism”.
The General Manager further explained that visitors seek to engage their vacation spaces in ways to positively impact the environment and the economy of the countries they visit. Therefore, the Sam Lord’s Castle Resort would also create opportunities for nearby farmers to supply the resort with produce that is locally grown.
He noted that “affluent shoppers, in particular, appear to be increasingly concerned about broader social and global issues, such as the effects of climate change, environmental degradation and personal health and wellness”.
As pointed out by the General Manager, “an opportunity exists for Sam’s Lord Castle to tout its sustainability credentials to create a high level of potential guests’ emotional engagement”.
Mr. Philips said this was particularly important as guests who are fully engaged are less sensitive to price “because research indicates that their emotional connection with a product to a certain degree, moderates their concerns about cost”.
He added: “We strongly believe that apart from being environmentally responsible, the hotel’s design will assist us in our quest to achieve an acceptable financial return on the owner’s equity.”
So, through Sam Lord’s Castle, Barbados will signal to the rest of the world that it is ready to join international efforts to push for a greener future. It will also be an indication of Barbados’ commitment to preserving the future for generations to come.