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Chez Manany Ecolodge Owners talk Sustainable Tourism

Moving to the Galapagos Islands over 15 years ago, passionate eco-tourism advocates Manany and Wilson set up their incredible base on Isabela Island. It was at this time that Manany, interested in the potential of eco-tourism, and Wilson, enthusiastic about sustainable architecture, began materialising their shared dream project. That project was an ecolodge; one which commits wholeheartedly to sustainability through its core design, initiatives and day-to-day processes. 

The journey to sustainability

Designed wholly by Wilson, Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge soon took shape on Isabela Island as an icon of local sustainable hospitality. Boasting a zero-waste policy, the involvement of local craftsmanship, renewable energy, water treatment facilities and an organic garden amongst other things, Chez Manany now stands as a leader of environmental custodianship within the local tourism industry. But sustainability is a journey, and takes more than a one-off contribution. Understanding this and the sheer effort required to build a more resilient tourism industry on Isabela Island, the Ecuadorian couple have committed to a number of continuing initiatives. Educating tourists about their impacts upon the precious island, Manany and Wilson invite guests to experience the Galapagos Islands in a more conscious way. By encouraging individuals to actively take part in the conservation and protection of the islands during their stays and directing them towards supporting the local economy, the couple help to change the mindsets of visitors to Isabela.

Credit: Chez Manany

“The most rewarding about our Ecolodge is seeing guest appreciate our work, not just the personalised attention that we offer but also our sustainable approach. Our guests feel so good about it and elevates them. They feel part of our project and makes them feel proud to know that they have chosen the best place to stay during their trip and more over that their decisions are impacting their kids choices for future travels.” Manany.

Welcome to Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge

Located close to Concha de Perla in Puerto Villamil, Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge is a vision of rustic ecolodge adventure, integrated with contemporary design and modern day comforts. Sitting upon a balcony hammock admiring the sunset by morning, guests find this place to be tranquil beyond belief. Recently, Sustainable Guides spoke with Manany and Wilson about their family-owned Isabela Island property and touched upon some issues surrounding sustainability and environmental protection on the Galapagos Islands.

What brought you to Isabela Island in the first place – an island which is often considered less commonly visited amongst tourists?

Isabela has a unique beauty thanks to its nature and totally pure and healthy environment. It breathes social tranquility too. You can so comfortably live here, without the stress of a city. Isabela is absolutely one of the most beautiful islands of the archipelago as well as being the largest. The main reason for a relative lack of tourism in comparison to other islands, is the distance from the airports and from the islands that have airports. This requires greater resources of time and money for visitors.

How has the island changed during your time there? What have you noticed?

During the 15 years we have lived on Isabela Island, we have been able to see the development of the different economic sectors, especially in the area of tourism and with the increase of the local population. When it comes to tourism, it has really developed on the island in a short time, and the population was not prepared for this economic boom. This has meant that the authorities were not given time to allow for growth, to channel the growth and to minimise the environmental impacts that tourism has been having on the landscape and marine environments. The increased population and increasing number of visitors also means increased energy consumption, transportation and establishment of buildings, all producing an increase in the carbon emissions. We have also noticed an interest in conservation within the state and in the inhabitants for whom this is also becoming a way of life into the future.

What motivated you to become an ecolodge and to focus on sustainability in such a strong way?

I think it is the environmental awareness that we have slowly been developing throughout the course of our lives. The relationship with nature we have built on the island has been strong. The fundamental fact of being a human being and wanting to be in tune with the environment around us, has pushed us to channel each of our projects into contributing to the conservation of the Isabela Island, which in turn brings us harmony.

Credit: Chez Manany

How do you teach your guests about the importance of sustainability on Isabela Island? Are guests receptive to this?

The genuine care and attention to detail we put into each element of our ecolodge, allows for our guests to better visualise the benefits of the sustainable actions we take to protect nature. We are all free to make small changes in our lives at home and whilst on holiday, and collectively changes can make a big difference. This kind of motivation has in some cases been inspirational and instrumental for guests moving forward into their futures. Additionally, explaining the intricacies of our facilities and initiatives is always done outdoors, to encourage guests to see the connection between nature and our ecolodge.

In your opinion, if tourists could do three things to reduce their impacts on the Galapagos Islands, what would they be?

Definitely prepare yourself a little more on what it means to be visiting a part of nature within a national park. Saving energy and water is also important and using photovoltaic energy instead of bringing batteries to Isabela is appreciated. But also, it is important not to feed animals in nature.

Describe how Isabela Island has been impacted due to the pandemic.

Considering Isabela is an eminently tourist destination, the pandemic collapsed the economy. Many businesses closed, having to look for any economic activity, no matter how small. Bank loans required the disposal of properties and assets which were for a long time part of the family. This has been very sad for many local people. The island’s economy is now slowly returning to the way it was at the beginning of the arrival of tourism.

In an ideal world, how do you see the future of tourism on Isabela Island?

We want to see the emergence of a sustainable economy for all; where small and medium-sized businesses are supported and protected. These businesses are the ones that will allow for a better distribution of the wealth entering Isabela Island. On the other hand, we also want to see fundamental, consistent, sustainable conservation plans for the natural environment of the island. Spreading sustainability awareness throughout the population is incredibly important.

Credit: Chez Manany

Use one sentence to describe why guests should choose to visit Isabela Island and in particular… Chez Manany!

Isabela Island is a unique Galapagos experience, full of incredible nature and offering peace and beauty in its sea, mangroves, volcanos and more. We are waiting for you – Chez Manany is your home and we will take care of you. To find out more about Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge, please click here. 

Jessica Beaumont
Noticing the footprints left behind by travellers in the countries she has lived in and loved, Jessica found her calling in the sustainable travel niche. Aside from writing, Jessica is found exploring the Adelaide Hills for good views and delectable wines, dancing, taking leisurely walks on the beach and trying to make friends with dogs.