The jewel on the east coast, the retro-chic Chaaya Blu Trincomalee belonging to the Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts chain celebrated five eventful years on 10th May 2015. Over the five years, the hotel has evolved into a prime leisure destination on the east coast, not only for its uber-stylish offering, but also due to its status as the best whale watching hub in the country.
“Our way forward will be to continue to focus on the several sustainability initiatives we have undertaken in protecting the environment. This, we believe, will play a key role to our success in the future in terms of increasing the number of visitors to the hotel and the region,” the Resident Manager at Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, Lankesha Ponnamperuma told The Nation gain in an interview.
He said that benchmarking many sustainable practices, Chaaya Blu Trincomalee has an enduring vision for enhancing its clientele while ramping up its dynamism quotient over the next decade.
“Chaaya Blu Trincomalee is aspiring towards a zero carbon footprint status and is continuously monitoring all the key environmental indicators to achieve year on year reduction. The hotel recycles water upto 100%, thereby causing no run-offs. It also undertakes water softening treatment, as only hard water is available in the region. The hotel is working hard to minimize waste, bringing down its waste per guest ratio significantly,” Ponnamperuma said.
Built around the theme of sun, sand and water-based fun activities, Chaaya Blu Trincomalee offers an exciting whale watching experience for guests that is built on sustainable and responsible tourism practices. While whale watching offers a novel experience for guests, it is also vital lifeline for the local community.
“Significantly, the hotel has earned its reputation by demonstrating a robust sustainability framework that ensures that all its stakeholders are part of the hotel’s success story. The hotel has employed local fishermen (who ply their boats for whale watching) and fitted their boats with non-polluting, silent engines so as not to disturb the marine life,” the Resident Manager pointed out.
He highlighted that the hotel has invested heavily in acquiring such equipment and infrastructure to develop a professionally-managed whale watching operation for its guests.
“Commencing with two boat operators, the hotel has built up a pool of 8 fishermen, who regularly operate the whale watching expeditions under the supervision of Chaaya Blu Trincomalee. The hotel has empowered these boat operators with knowledge about the dos and don’ts to preserve marine life and ensure safety of guests. Every whale watching trip is accompanied by a naturalist who shares his knowledge with the guests,” the Resident Manager, Ponnamperuma said.
In 2013, Chaaya Blu Trincomalee was awarded the ‘Green Globe Re-Certification’ by the world wide certification and performance improvement program developed specifically for the tourism and travel industry.
The nearest key attraction from the hotel is the Pigeon Island National Park, one of the only two marine national parks in Sri Lanka. Situated around 13 kilo metres from the coast of the Chaaya Blu hotel in Uppuveli, the near 15 minute boat ride towards the north to the park is a joyous experience to any adventure traveler. The pigeon island is also used as a scuba diving site where travelers would often find an opportunity to swim close to the sharks, a tour guide attached to the hotel said.
“The other far-reaching sustainability initiative the hotel has undertaken is the preservation and clean up of Pigeon Island, famed for its live corals and rich marine life. Over-visitation and weak environmental regulations is putting the corals and marine life on the island at risk, thereby threatening their existence,” the Assistant Manager of Chaaya Blu, Suresh Athukorala chipped in.
He noted that Chaaya Blu Trincomalee has taken on the challenge of educating their guests who visit Pigeon Island about the ecological impact of coral reefs and the importance of not walking on or breaking off corals as souvenirs.
“The hotel’s efforts at nurturing the natural wonders of Pigeon Island have been commended by the Sri Lanka Navy. Further, the hotel organized a clean-up of the coral reef, removing 250 starfish from the coral reefs, as they feed on and destroy corals. Chaaya Blu Trincomalee also works with local municipal authorities to ensure proper waste disposal methods on the Island. Annually,
the hotel collects and disposes off nearly 2 tons of plastic waste, left behind by tourists, even extending its concern to beach clean-up campaigns,” Athukorale claimed.
Pics by Chandana Wijesinghe