|Eco-Boutique Chic: Mockingbird Hill Hotel|
Atop a limestone rock in the lush hills of Portland sits, what many agree is, Jamaica’s most eco-friendly hotel. Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, a boutique property just outside of Port Antonio, is exemplary of the type of green operations that embody sustainable development.
Do not be mistaken. Hotel Mocking Bird Hill is no shack in the middle of nowhere. In fact it is a beautiful, 10-room property that offers personalised service and outstanding hospitality.
“There is a misconception that an eco-hotel is uncomfortable,” states Hotel Mocking Bird Hill co-owner, Barbara Walker.
Comfortable beds, cool rooms and hot water are only a few of the basic amenities offered at the hotel. There is also a swimming pool for guests to frolic in and bask in the warm, Jamaican sunshine. The pool pump is powered by the hotel’s solar panels, while the water in the pool is kept clean by a Floatron. The Floatron is a chemical-free, solar purifier that releases minerals, which prevent algal (“morass”) growth in the water. The Floatron not only helps the environment by reducing the amount of chlorine that is used, but it is not harsh to hair, skin, or eyes. Besides being low impact to guests and the environment, the Floatron is also low impact to the pocket, as it is less expensive than chlorine.
As she continues to discuss the low impact features of the hotel, Ms Walker maintains, “We don’t waste anything.”
To illustrate her point, she explains that after guests dine, the staff separates any uneaten items into the: compost pan, dog pan and hog pan. The local pig farmer retrieves the food from the hog pan for his animals.
“We keep trying to learn more to make it better every day,” explains Ms Walker of their efforts to seek environmentally friendly practices in their business.
One of Ms Walker’s favourite websites for practical tips to green homes and businesses is www.care2.com. Only Earth-friendly cleaning agents are used at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill. These include baking soda and vinegar, which are effective at removing dirt and stains. Also, wiping a counter with vinegar keeps ants at bay.
Describing the hotel’s high environmental standards, Ms Walker explained, “We look at every aspect of our operation every day.”
Walking around the 7.5 acre property, it is evident that there is relentless attention to detail. For example, it is no accident that there are no tablecloths. The absence of tablecloths, helps conserve water and minimises the use of detergents. In addition, cloth serviettes, not paper napkins, are used for dining. Linens are cleaned with phosphate-free detergent. Several of the eco-friendly products used at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill are bought locally from Bio-GT Sanitation Solutions. The operational choices being made at the hotel clearly demonstrate a passion for all things green.
“Without the passion, it will not happen,” remarks Ms Walker as she comments on the factors that go into running an eco-friendly tourism property.
As far as making thoughtful environmental choices about the management of Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, Barbara Walker had this to say: “We see that a business as small as ours can make an impact so we wish that others would follow.”
Indeed our actions and choices, even on our vacations, do matter. So, next time you are planning a family getaway or enjoying the world-class tourism and recreational offerings of Jamaica, why not pay a visit to the fabulous and eco-friendly Mocking Bird Hill Hotel?
Dr Chandra Degia has 20 years of experience in Environmental Management. Her professional interests include Beach Management, Environmental Education, Sustainable Tourism , Attraction Management and Solar Energy. Dr Degia lectures in the in Natural Resource and Environmental Management Master of Science programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. She is a consultant with Nuru360 Design solar energy company and is the managing director of GuinepTree.com