9 years ago we replaced plastic water bottles with refillable flasks. 4 years ago, we swapped plastic drinking straws for reusable metal ones. Both initiatives were remarkably easy to implement and well supported. Back-of-house measures have also been introduced over the years but we believe we must do much more now. Unintentionally we pollute our planet with plastic and polythene, as does every hotel. I’m happy to say however, we have embarked on a journey to stop doing so.
The first leg, PHASE OUT BY 75% OR MORE THE PURCHASE & USE OF PLASTIC & POLYTHENE BY JANUARY 2019 has been surpassed. Treating the exercise like a school project, we began with micro-audits throughout the hotel, drilling-down to separate audits for bedrooms, bathrooms, restaurant, bar and so on. Then, with a little imagination and modest financial outlay we set about the task. Many solutions are now in place while others are about to be.
Do bananas need polythene bags? Can’t we shop or meet suppliers with our own bags, made from repurposed furnishing fabrics? Very stylish they are too. Our suppliers are well aware we favour those who ‘go with the program’ or do their best to. Many deliver sans nasty plastic bags and we’ve outlawed the purchase of them outright. At the supermarket, we unwrap and hand back packaging when we can and remember to, much to the consternation of poor unsuspecting check-out staff!
Daily we make mistakes because plastic is a hard habit to break, but we forgive ourselves and move on with renewed vigor to learn and persevere. We’re not the first to embark on such a journey nor claim we know our way, but can’t we all help keep this island beautiful; protect its wildlife, safeguard its oceans and fragile food chain? I end on an optimistic note. It now takes 4 weeks even at peak season, to fill our repurposed oil-drum Plastic Central, with plastic waste generated by the hotel. Previously it took 2-3 days!
If we’ve overlooked something please tell us but forgive us too, we really are trying. Please take your plastic home if you can and encourage us by sharing your ideas and enthusiasm. Thank you.
Our own animals are loved, bathed, fed and visited periodically by their good friend the vet.
Don’t be offended by our dogs, yappy dachshund Gracie-B, and Bella Fontella. Gracie barks incessantly at EVERYONE even us, but don’t be nervous. she hasn’t bitten a soul and can be adorable on her terms.
Typically non-aggressive Grey Langur monkeys are hugely entertaining and 100% wild so don’t feed them please. Sharing our habitat with ‘the relatives’ is a joy and great privilege, but we remember they once owned it and still do to a large degree.
Please rest assured, nothing is loafing around in the garden waiting to bite you. Anything you might meet will be equally or more afraid of YOU.
SHARING OUR SANCTUARY
Whilst we feel privileged sharing this place with its wildlife, natural fear of the unknown means it gets too close for some. Plain good sense is adequate protection generally, from unwanted encounters and irritants. Animal/eco-friendly pest control and innovative measures help too. Not wishing to seem flippant or tempt fate, you’ll notice I’m still here!! In 19 years, I have experienced no more than occasional insect bites and a couple of bee stings. Our entire property is fogged monthly, nonetheless (this being the tropics), mosquitoes, sandflies, ants and even cockroaches can still be a nuisance, particularly following rain. Tips; keep doors and windows closed at night, switch lights off in your open-air bathroom when not using it, avoid sitting on the ground and don't leave food out for the monkeys – please!
To our knowledge there are no poisonous spiders here, but occasionally spotted centipedes and the odd scorpions could give a meaningful sting as was the case for one guest who did get over it by the end of the day. I emphasise, these creatures are rarely spotted, let alone make a nuisance of themselves.
We take great care to minimize wildlife ‘moments’ but please appreciate, they cannot be ruled out entirely – our tropical garden is Mother Natures’ sanctuary after all. Monitor lizards, even the odd snake may surprise us, but few are dangerous and then, only when threatened. To avoid surprises at night use a torch when outside, follow pathways, and drag your feet as you walk (local tip). Don't touch the wildlife, it may not like you to, but for perspective; when I holiday in the South of France, I will swot more mosquitoes than would bite me year-round at the hotel.
Buckingham Place is situated on the edge of a nature sanctuary and prime nesting beach for sea turtles. During daylight hours, beach visitors can roam freely. After dark, for the sake of nesting turtles, access is controlled and supervised by wildlife rangers and village nest-protectors who operate a ‘night-watch’ project funded by visitor (your) donations. Whilst we support the concept and once promoted it, current feedback suggests it sometimes struggles with visitors outnumbering turtles by up to 50:1. We obviously respect your right to choose and invite you to discuss the topic further, but if you do go along (from c8.30pm), please take your ‘donation’ (circa US$5 per visitor) and keep an open mind, just remember these amazing creatures have been visiting Rekawa much longer than us!
Important please note; to avoid disturbing turtle night-watch activities, we close and lock our beach gates after dark. Also, conservationists advise that torches, camera flashes, mobile phone lights, smoking, bright clothing, noise and close proximity to turtles may adversely affect their habitual return in the long term.
Great guests and keen birders, Tony McGhee (Dec 2011) and Jane Poyntz (Feb 2022), left exhaustive notes for those following in their footsteps, of birds and other wildlife spotted in our gardens and nearby. Most sightings were at or within 4 kilometres of Buckingham Place; on ponds, lakes, beaches and the lagoon.
Immense thanks to Tony and Jane, both of whom wished fellow enthusiasts good luck!
Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Spot Billed Pelican, Yellow Bittern, Indian Pond Heron, Black Crowned Night, Great Heron, Little Heron, Purple Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Black Headed Ibis, Lesser Whistling Duck, Eurasian Widgeon, Pygmy Goose, Garganey Duck, Original Honey Buzzard, Black Shouldered Kite, Common Kestrel, Brahiminey Kite, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Booted Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Green Billed Coucal, Indian Swiftlet, Stork Billed Kingfisher, White Throated Kingfisher, Black Capped Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, European Bee Eater, Chestnut Headed Bee Eater, Yellow Crowned Woodpecker, Black Rumped Flame Back, Barn Swallow, Woolly Necked Stork, Common Lara, Original Magpie, Robin, Indian Robin, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Layards Parakeet, Asian Koel, Darter, Yellow Eared Bul Bul, Great Knot Sanderling, Jeydons Bush Lark, Bar Winged Flycatcher, Shrike, Red Vented Bul Bul, Eurasian Blackbird, Black Bul Bul, House Crow ,Lesser Crested Tern, Pied Bush Chat, Common Moorhen, White Breasted Water Hen, Indian Peafowl, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Orange Headed Thrush, Yellow Wattled Lapwing, Red Wattle Lapwing, Pacific Golden Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Indian Thicknee, Common Tern, Gull Billed Tern, Black Headed Gull, Whimbrel Bar Tailed Godwit, Pintail Snipe, Blue Rock Thrush, Common Mynah Bird, House Sparrow, Indian Jungle Crow, Water Cock, Purple Swamp Hen, Grey Crested Pinia, Tickells Blue Flycatcher, Lotens Sunbird, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint Lesser Hill Mynah, Asian Paradise, White Bellied Drongo, Eurasian Collared Dove, Black Spotted Dove, Hooded Oriole Flycatcher, Black Drongo, Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon. *Plus Iguanas Fruit Bats Numerous Bat Species Local Monkey Troupes (Langur) Monitor Lizards (Up To 2m!)
Additional sightings by Jane:
White-Browed Bulbul, Orange-Breasted Green Pigeon, Coppersmith Barbet, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, Blue-Tailed Bee Eater, Brown-Headed Barbet, Green Imperial Pigeon, Green Bee Eater, Yellow-Billed Babbler, Scaly-Breasted Munia, Changeable (Crested) Hawk-Eagle, Purple Sunbird, Greater Coucal.