‘Behind the Green’ is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells the stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.

Meet Paul the COO of Bawah Reserve, he works closely with the owner Tim who was born in Singapore and runs a shipping company. Paul went to Birmingham University in the UK and has lived in Asia for over 20 years!

Learn more about Bawah Reserve here >

What is the most rewarding aspect of running a green hotel?

‘There are lots of things. But the thing that stands out to me is watching people arrive at Bawah Reserve and seeing their reaction. When the seaplane lands on the lagoon and parks at the jetty, guests see beautiful coral beneath them and an expanse of lush green as far as the eye can see. You see people’s reaction of being immersed in nature, in the middle of nowhere, you see a sense of them almost being overwhelmed by Bawah Reserve’s beauty.’

What is the latest green initiative you have implemented there recently?

‘We now place a quaint blue & green bag on all the guests’ pillows. This bag is handmade by local, low income families and holds inside natural, vegan friendly products for guests to use during their stay.

For instance, Sun Brella is our reef friendly suncream, as the usual sunscreen people use to protect themselves does incredible damage to coral reefs when it rubs off the skin. Everything in there is recyclable and if the guests do want to purchase larger bottles, the money goes to a foundation to help locals on the surrounding islands.

It is also worth mentioning that we now provide every guest with a copper bottle on arrival, which they can refill during their stay. This means we can avoid use of plastic bottles altogether.’

What have you observed regarding impact on the community there, has it changed their awareness and attitudes towards sustainability?

‘Absolutely. We had a young kitchen porter in the Bawah team., through his training he learnt all about recycling and how to separate waste in the kitchen. One day he came to us and announced his resignation, we were of course surprised. We then discovered it was because he felt so inspired by all he had learnt that he wanted to return back to his island and community to implement all his knowledge, he was willing to sacrifice his wage to do so! He has now gone from strength to strength and is a senior member of our island’s foundation, by Indonesians for Indonesians. He has been instrumental in the set-up of our gardens as well. This is just one of the stories of how educating local people can drastically change attitudes to sustainability.’

Which in your opinion is the best eco-activity which guests can engage with when staying at Bawah? And why?

‘We have 3 parts to our ethos: Above, Below and Beyond. As part of the below, we offer the chance for guests to get involved in coral regeneration with marine biologists. We also have see-through kayaks which allow guests to see the beauty below without disturbing the fish. As part of the above, we have our permaculture garden, tours are provided by our head gardener which is a great chance to learn more.’

How did Bawah Reserve become green-focused, was it always this way?

‘From day one this was our founder’s intention. It was important from the beginning that Bawah Reserve was built with sustainability in mind. The build alone took us 6 years as no heavy equipment was used, a lot was built by hand, all the stone used was sourced from the island and not transported in.’

What is the best local dish you serve and highly recommend there? 

‘We serve fantastic sustainable fish here, however, the one local dish I recommend above all is Nasi Goreng Ayam. It translates as chicken fried rice but it is not how most people imagine it. It has satay and a fried egg on top. It is delicious!’

What would you do differently if you could start again?

‘We would have catered for families more. Couples are 80% of our business, however, there is a demand for families and we would like to meet this moving forward. We plan to change some of the existing accommodation into family rooms as part of this effort.’

What’s next for Bawah Reserve? 

‘There are two things for us to focus on next… The first is our sourcing/purchasing from suppliers, as it is a topic which is bugging me. We want to eradicate plastic and the feeling we get right now is that many suppliers don’t care. We need to be proactive and provide our suppliers with reusable plastic. The second is that we have plans to increase our solar energy. We have limited roof space as the guests’ accommodation is tented so we cannot utilise this space.’

Find out more about Bawah Reserve & do your own green checks here.

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