Krabi’s Centara Resort Sustainability Review: Green Globe From Bronze to Gold

Wuk (right) maintains healthy gardens with organic compost while Natty (left) is proud to be representing Krabi's Centara Grand in sales.

When I visited Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi, I was introduced to one of the main guys who helped the luxurious resort along its green path of change. Chief gardener Wut emerged from the shadows of the shady palm to shake my hand; then he showed me around, pointing out the dried leaves on the lawn that would later be swept up, bagged and thrown away.

To a compost bin, that is. But before that, a machine – tucked away from the eyes of guests – grinds the leaves and grass into bits that would then be mulched with plant-based food waste from the restaurants. The result – natural, chemical-free fertilizer for healthy gardens!

Thomas Reupke: Passion drives us.

Managing waste in as many ways as possible is just one of the numerous missions taken on by this luxurious hospitality accommodation that sits on a private Pai Plong Bay – a quieter spot near at Ao Nang in the Thai province of Krabi. While guests sip icy Singhas in tall glasses facing breathtaking limestone karsts protrusions from the clear blue waters, little do they know that a lot is being done behind the scenes to keep the resort an environmentally responsible and sustainable business.

In terms of wet garbage alone, the 192-room and pool villa property has to deal with 30,000 kg of wet garbage a month. So waste is dealt with carefully; sorting is done to separate what can be resold, repaired or recycled before being condemned for the landfill or processed into biodegradable matter as in composting.

Luke Benbow looks forward to having solar panels on resort rooftops.

Krabi’s Centara is just one of the few hotel and chain resorts under Centara’s portfolio to undergo a green wave of change by participating in a global benchmarking scheme through Green Globe to attain sustainability and promote awareness with its employees and stakeholders. The other four properties to also do so are Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, Sofitel Centara Grand Resort & Villa Hua Hin, Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui and Centara Karon Resort Phuket.  Centara resorts can be booked online through Expedia Hotels.

Trees may hinder a perfect vew of the sea, but they will not be chopped down just to cater to guests' whims.

Areas looked into include greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, freshwater resource management, ecosystem conservation, management of social and cultural issues, land use planning and management, air quality protection and noise, waste management and storage of environmentally harmful substance.

Three properties - Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villa Krabi, and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld - have achieved the Green Globe benchmarked status in 2010.

Krabi attained a Silver Green Globe certification early this year. It is an improvement from Bronze just last year, which in itself took two years to attain. “Benchmarking is a difficult process, with a lot of training and education to enable each of our 420 staff to understand what we are doing, why and for what,” said general manager Thomas Reupke who now with his Krabi team reaches for the Gold Green Globe certification.

Sustainability means having natural beauty and resources available for the next generation.

The pro-green mindset is encouraged from the hiring process where staffs are urged to appreciate the importance of the forest national park and marine national park surrounding the resort.

Employees are trained to take their resources seriously. Water used in the kitchen is collected, treated and then used to irrigate the flora surrounding the 49,600 square metres estate. This is in spite of the resort being fully self-sufficient in water supply with four deep-water wells and a treatment plant.

“Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean we will have unlimited amount of water supply for the future,” says resident manager Luke Benbow who is assigned the happy task of leading the resort along its sustainability journey. Ideas come from everyone- from management to chambermaids. An Environmental & Energy Saving Committee formed looks into critical areas to deal with waste, water, energy, community, and staff involvement.

Technology is also embraced in this idyllic resort primarily to aid with monitoring and control. For instance air-conditioning units will not be triggered until room doors are fast shut. Water meters are being installed in high consumption spots in the kitchen and flow regulators on taps and showers. Energy use is monitored closely with monthly and yearly consumption ratios and targets.

Alternative and clean energy sources are being considered to slowly shed reliance on grid-powered electricity. Solar panels will be installed on roofs to heat water for showers and to generate additional electrical power.

After a healing touch from Spa Cenvaree, sunsets at Krabi completely take your breath away.

Shuttle boats for guests to Ao Nang and back run only a few times a day, and on bio-diesel.  “We are in a national park and it’s important for us to look after it,” said Luke. Prevention of pollution – noise including – will help provide a conducive environment for the surrounding wildlife to thrive, like the bush squirrels and monitor lizards “that has new babies”, grinned Luke.

In conserving marine life, the resort works with communities to maintain the health and cleanliness of the Andaman Sea and beaches. They also released a thousand clown fish or “Nemo” bought from farmed sources into the sea to repopulate the anemones.

Soaps and sanitisers are biodegradable. The Spa Cenvaree uses natural ingredients in its oils and lotions to soothe and heal (with amazing scents), and is made in Thailand.

Thomas and his team believe that the objective of sustainable tourism is not just to have a better environment but also to bring an economic advantage and a better reputation for the resort. “Passion drives us to be environmentally friendly and customers demand it too,” said Thomas.

Photos by Anders Nilsson.

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Read more about Centara’s sustainability here.