ASomebody recently suggested that we should do background checks on our guests to make sure that they are aligned with our values in terms of environmental conservation and community development. It’s an interesting thought, that’s for sure, and one that’s probably crossed the minds of many companies that have an environmental focus.
One of those is Patagonia, the well-known brand of outdoor clothing and adventure gear. A few days ago we came across an intriguing article about the company’s new position on not selling their clothing to corporations that have a history of harming the environment. According to the article, Patagonia is “reluctant to co-brand with oil, drilling, dam construction, etc. companies that they view to be ecologically damaging”.
Patagonia is a brand that we very much admire here at Cayuga. Many of us have read founder Yvon Chouinard’s inspiring book Let My People Go Surfing and in several of our lodges, our staff wears Patagonia gear as uniform. Last year we applauded their decision to donate the US$10M tax cuts they received to environmental groups and take on the Trump administration on their plans to cut funding for National Monuments in Utah. We understand their decision to be selective about their clients too.
But could we, or should we do the same at the Cayuga Collection? Should we implement a background check on our guests and ban executives from certain industries from visiting our hotels and lodges? While we’re all about nature conservation and doing our bit for the sustainable development of the planet, there’s something about banning oil executives from our properties that doesn’t feel right. In fact, it’s in our DNA to do quite the opposite.
Going back to our roots, Lapa Rios Lodge was the very first hotel in the Cayuga Collection. When the owners set out to build it some 26 years ago, what they had in mind was a pioneering style of high-revenue, low footprint “luxury” lodge that would serve to protect 1,000 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland rainforest. Their mission was to attract guests with senior positions in industry and politics, and inspire them through firsthand experiences of conservation. Through high-end ecotourism they believed they could make a difference in the world at large.
For the last 15 years, the Cayuga Collection as a whole has adopted Lapa Rios’ same vision. We’ve opened the back of the house of all of our hotels and lodges for Sustainability Tours and have shared our experience on how to run a sustainable business with thousands of interested guests. Some of them have included the late Senator John McCain as well as numerous CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. We know we’ve made an impact on the lives of many of our guests who write to us following their trips, and if we’ve managed to also inspire even one single visionary change maker, we’ve done our job.
So, perhaps instead of banning professionals that work in industries that harm the environment, what we really should be doing is making an extra effort to reach out to them. They are exactly the kind of guests we seek to inspire with what we do so that in turn they themselves make changes in their own companies and industries.
Unlike Patagonia, at the Cayuga Collection, we don’t sell products, we create experiences. We have the luxury of interacting with our clients over several days in spectacular, inspiring destinations and opening their minds to a world of business done sustainably, without compromising on quality or profits. It’s this powerful potential of ours that drives us every day and makes us so enthusiastic about welcoming even oil-extracting guests or coal-digging clients – as long as they’re open-minded and up for taking our Sustainability Tour.
So don’t worry if you’ve been rejected by Patagonia. We’ll still welcome you at the Cayuga Collection hotels and lodges, and maybe even inspire you to be a little more “eco”. We might even offer a discount too. So if you’re not ready to give up your Patagonia Power Vests quite yet, visit us in Costa Rica, Panama or Nicaragua and we might be able to reform you just in time. Chat to us below or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your transformative stay – and remember to pack your Patagonia.