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Six Senses Fiji – Setting the benchmark for sustainability

About Six Senses Fiji

We’ve all read about the marketing of ‘sustainable tourism’. It’s a big draw nowadays but much of the time it’s all smoke and mirrors. However, in Fiji, they are not just talking about ‘selling’ sustainable tourism. Six Senses Fiji, an upscale property which has recently opened up for business, is really doing something about it.I had a chance to inspect the new resort on Malolo Island, which I’m convinced is setting the benchmark for sustainability in the Pacific. The Bangkok-based company, which manages 15 properties around the world, is obsessed with reducing its carbon footprint and uses the bragging rights to market its product.

Their policy is to conserve energy, and wherever possible, keep packaging to an absolute minimum. On the boat ride over the resort, which is located on Malolo Island offshore from Nadi, I sat next to Jonathan Heath, the company’s Food & Beverage Director visiting from headquarters, to ensure no doubt, the new property was off to a good, green start.

Six Senses Fiji
Photo Courtesy of Six Senses Fiji
The resort manages its own reverse osmosis plant and water refinery, producing drinking water without the use of plastic bottles.

As the boat powered across the sea, he showed me photos on his smart phone that depicted produce wrapped in plastic. “We don’t want this,” he said. “We want our vegetables shipped in reusable plastic containers.”  

At this high-end Fiji property, they also don’t want anything to do with Fiji Water, which has become an iconic a status symbol among the glitterati. In the eyes of environmentalists, it’s a symbol of waste.

Food & Beverage

Six Senses properties all have the aim of self-sustained food and beverage on the island. I was driven around the property on a golf cart and shown their fruit and vegetable garden which in all fairness, was just getting off the ground. He saw some citrus trees, bananas, pineapple and a gaggle of chickens in housed in a coop.  “We want our clients,” said Rose Kavanaugh, my guide, to be able to retrieve their own eggs if they like.”

“We try to source all our produce locally. If we can’t get it locally we’ll get it from the nearest foreign port.”

In addition to the environmental aspects of sustainability, Six Senses has a progressive social agenda. They give preference to employing locals not just as servers. The chief sustainability officer, Jessie Matai, is a Fijian as are several other local managers.

The gift shop promotes the sales of Fiji-sourced products, including crafts made in local villages by an NGO called Rise Beyond the Reef which is supported by MDF, an Australian aide agency.

Photo Courtesy of Rise Beyond the Reef

Rise Beyond the Reef bridges the divide between remote communities, government and the private sector in the South Pacific, sustain-ably creating a better world for women and children.  We believe if leadership in remote communities can be cultivated and strengthened, if these fire-keepers of traditional knowledge can have a place where they are protected, ignited and supported to grow sustain-ably in the 21st century, if women have an equal voice that’s heard and respected in their communities, if their experiences and insights are valued, if children’s rights are protected, then the entire community will rise.  Official Facebook Page 

Waste Management

Waste management was not short-shrifted. Six Senses Fiji uses a worm based septic system with Biolytix tanks “manned” by tiger worms which turn the waste into humus which then cleanses the wastewater.

Water is treated on site in a dedicated plant for use as grey water in the island’s irrigation system. A dedicated recycling center on the property separates waste into paper, plastic, metal, glass, organic waste and toxic waste. Food waste from the kitchen and restaurants is combined with garden waste for composting. 

Air Conditioning

Not to forget the other staple of the tropical resorts, the aircon system uses low environmental impact refrigerant. The temperature is set up at 77 F (25 C) prior to guest arrival and is equipped with a sensor to automatically switch off the air-conditioning once the doors are opened.

The air-con, as is everything electrical is powered by a photo-voltaic system which combined with a Telsa battery array, ensures that the entire resort is 100 percent solar powered and hence, off the grid. Any excess power is used for the desalination plant.

I powered back to the main island of Viti Levu, on the resort boat, very impressed.

About Six Senses Fiji

Set on Malolo Island, Six Senses Fiji comprises 24 pool villas, a stunning beach and lagoon. Larger residences include kitchens, living areas and stunning panoramas; all complemented by ever-smiling Fijian hosts. Dining options highlight local ingredients, while a Six Senses Spa offers a layered approach to wellness together with water and land activities.

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Six Senses Fiji – Setting the benchmark for sustainability

About Six Senses Fiji We’ve all read about the marketing of ‘sustainable tourism’. It’s a big draw nowadays but much of the time it’s all smoke and mirrors. However, in Fiji, they are not just talking about ‘selling’ sustainable tourism. Six Senses Fiji, an upscale property which has recently opened up for business, is really doing something […]

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Rob Kay

Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award winner Rob Kay wrote the original Lonely Planet Fiji Travel Guide, and is Founder of Fijiguide.com.

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