When National Geographic names your resort one of the best eco-friendly hotels in the world, you know you’re on to something. HBD Príncipe group is the hospitality brand responsible for some of the most sustainable resorts in São Tomé Island and Príncipe Island including Bom Bom Príncipe, Omali, Sundy Praia and Roça Sundy. Since its inception in 2011, HBD Principe group has joined forces with the Regional Government of Príncipe and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to develop the island in the most sustainable way. And their efforts have paid off. Visitors come from near and far just to experience the island’s unique biodiversity. We recently spoke with the brand’s Hotel Lead Consultant, Philippe Moreau, to learn more about their sustainable practices that have been recognized globally.
Wayaj (W): How was the idea of sustainable hotels in São Tomé Island and Príncipe Island born? Why there? Why sustainable?
Philippe Moreau (PM): We started the tourism development in 2010 and soon after the Island of Príncipe was awarded Biosphere Reserve. Therefore, we believe that by certifying “biosphere Hotels” our first two properties, (Bom Bom and Omali) we would reinforced our positioning of responsible tourism, within a sustainable destination, which is the Island of Principe, biosphere Reserve.
W: What are the 3 sustainable features of your properties you are most proud of? Perhaps it was something that was difficult to install or get started for the resorts, or it saves a lot of the environment.
1) Removal of single plastic use;
2) Providing purified waters in hotels which substantially reduced our water importation and we now only import glass bottle that we recycle (crush) and use for construction purposes;
3) We are minimizing food importation and are buying directly with local suppliers, who have created their own micro businesses.
W: What has been the biggest surprise on your sustainability journey?
PM: The positive engagement of the local population combined with the interest our of guest towards sustainability.
W: What are some of the unique sustainability challenges and advantages related to your location?
PM: Being an island brings numerous logistic challenges, especially on the energy production which is still based on fossil fuel and renewable energy, which is not always the evident answer due to low performance as based on the equator, which has less light and more haze.
W: Besides sustainability, what are the reasons why travelers should choose to stay at your hotel(s)?
PM: The pristine beaches and the luxurious nature are the biggest attractions of the Island.
W: How do you train your personnel to implement sustainability practices in their work?
PM: We have just started a program with The Long Run, which will address the 4C’s of sustainability (Community; Conservation; Culture and Commerce) and we have a frameworks which supports these 4 pillars with some dedicated training.
W: What experiences/excursions around your locations would you recommend to the eco-conscious traveler?
PM: The biosphere trails are a highlight in order to discover the beauty of the Island.
W: Can you tell me a bit more about one of the community-oriented efforts the properties are involved in?
PM: One of the challenges is waste management and we try, in conjunction with the local community, to sensitive them on the importance of recycling and organize some clean up days.
W: What are the top 3 reasons for a traveler to choose your hotels?
PM: Welcoming local staff; Best culinary experience on the island; stunning accommodations with each of the properties offering a singular and unique experience.
W: What are the priorities to improve further the sustainability of your properties?
PM: Push for renewable energy and develop agriculture project to fully supply our hotels with fruit, vegetables and herbs, while training the sustainable farmers of tomorrow.
Despite the logistic challenges that come with operating on an island, HBD Principe with its umbrella of resorts provides an amazing example of the environmental and community benefits that come from its sustainable practices. From carefully crafted, locally produced seasonal menus to the reduction and recycling of plastic water bottles, and dedication to supporting the local community, HBD Principe has created a blueprint with its hotels. Plan on visiting in the near future? Download our app and book directly with just a few clicks.