Denise Connects with Stuart Ward, Mustique’s Passionate Conservationist
I’m privileged in my line of work to encounter all sorts of exceptional people in all sorts of exceptional locations. Mustique – a lush 1,400-acre private island hideaway in the Caribbean – is one such place, and its sustainability guru and Operations Director, Stuart Ward, one such person! I’m delighted to be working with Mustique and recently had the chance to catch up with Stuart about exactly what makes him and the island tick …
Q) What drew you to Mustique?
A) Besides a set of coincidences and mutual acquaintances it was the climate, the air is good, the contrast of the Caribbean and Atlantic sides. An African scene with smiling faces and Baobab trees reminded me of my youth growing up in Africa.
Q) What is a typical day for you at Mustique?
A) Up early with the dawn, head to the office, plug in with all the emails, etc. head out to inspect works, water, Eco Centre, conservation, depot, Cotton House and villas that may need attention or advice on issues, most days I visit a part of the island in more detail to observe what is going on with the flora fauna and so forth. Department meetings or HR issues after lunch followed by research into better-improved ways to carry out the operations from training to practical work. More paperwork, signatures, departmental documentation – but at the end the day a walk or swim!
Q) What are your true passions in life and what inspires you?
A) My true passions besides my family are nature – as it simply amazes me. I see each moment as unique regardless of how small, from the reflection in an iguana’s eye to the sunset. The fact that I can witness leatherback turtles laying eggs on a beach and have very little visual pollution to obscure the night sky makes it special. Art, design, architecture and permaculture inspire me – creating simple lifestyles by understanding biomimcry is the challenge and the opportunity.
Q) What is the future of sustainability in resorts?
A) Resorts will have to totally rethink their carbon footprint – from daily operations to embedded carbon from a cradle to grave approach. The supply chain will need to be examined to determine where goods, materials, or produce are being made, built, used, and produced. The ethics and good environmental practices of the resort and its partners will need to be transparent. Natural goods will become more prevalent in the choices that customers and clients will make. Guests will measure and gauge their experience not just on hospitality and service but on the total holistic approach including the environment, transportation, food, people, care, share, charity, and general wellbeing of everyone or thing connected to the experience.
Q) What makes Mustique sustainable and what are your plans to develop this in the future?
A) Mustique is at the transition stage of embracing sustainability. To embrace it and for sustainability to achieve acceptance Mustique has embarked upon several areas of concern. We have implemented stricter recycling practices and the results are good, with all glass, paper, tins, aluminium and white goods all being recycled. Garden waste is shredded and soon will be even more refined with the addition of mobile chippers. Food waste and plastics are a challenge and from August we will be able to deal with food waste fully as we receive a food composter rocket. Plastic remains an issue but to combat this we have stopped supplying plastic bags and invested in biodegradable bags for all garden services, rubbish, kitchen rolls, shrink wrap and sandwich bags.
The product range in the central supplies depot is constantly being vetted to eliminate non-environmentally friendly products. This is an ongoing change. Building materials need to be sourced responsibly as well e.g. FSC-sourced timbers or sustainable forestry practices, low VOC paints, non-harmful insecticides etc.
We have embarked on an “introduction to permaculture” course for 75 plus people and this is introducing sustainable gardens, food production, water harvesting, composting, plant selection and natural pesticide control measures. Planting targets of trees and shrubs all across the island is an ongoing activity.
This year we will install solar hot water heating for the company and 200KW of solar electric photovoltaic panels.
Transportation being a common issue and solar powered electric vehicles will need to be embraced over the coming years.
Lastly we have begun the benchmarking of the carbon for the total island; this will be used to measure us on our reduction of GHG emissions going forward.
The gradual shift towards a hybrid energy source is the goal and by 2020 Mustique should aim to be 60% off diesel generation and fossil fuel dependency. Changing people’s habits is the challenge!
Q) What are your favourite destinations to visit?
A) My wife and I climb or hike a mountain every year; we choose more remote locations such as Borneo and Sri Lanka. This year is Kilimanjaro!
Botswana Okavango, Zambezi River, Namibia, Peru, Northern Thailand, Laos, Spain and the British countryside are also favourite destinations.
Q) Describe Mustique in five words
A) Africa meets Caribbean turquoise sea.
I’ll be visiting Mustique soon – keep an eye out for photos of and insights into this unique destination in a future blog post. I’ll also be running a six-day retreat there from 10-17 November 2014, featuring outdoor adventures, inner journeys, soulful food, rejuvenating open-air treatments and mind-body-spirit rituals – all inspired by this natural island paradise. You can come on your own, as a couple or in a group, and choose to stay in a boutique suite at The Cotton House or in one of The Villa Collection’s beautiful sea-facing residences. The whole idea is to tailor the entire experience to your exact needs and I’m really very excited about it.
For more information in the UK & Europe – Pippa Ona +44 (0)207 201 6831; email@example.com and North & South America – Victoria Hawbecker 0855 261 1316; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and blessings,