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- Polwaththa Eco-Lodges
Solar-powered tropical hideaway in the relaxed, natural setting of a Kandyan forest garden, operated by Nihal & Nel, a Sri Lankan-Dutch couple. The land and the produce grown on the land is certified organic by Skal-holland. Nihal has over nine years experience as a tour leader while Nel, knows the best local hiking routes, for all levels of ability.
|1. OWNERSHIP - 3 out of 5|
(1.a) Who owns the Lodge? Please clarify if private, family, public, municipal, NGO, cooperative, as well as the nationality and place of birth of the owner.
Family, Sri Lankan, Kandy
1a: the owner, Nihal Ellegala, his wife (with dog on lap) seated in the balcony of one of the 5 lodges with a guest.
(1.b) Who manages the Lodge (if different)?
Mr. Lal Karunasena (Manager)
(1.c) How many rooms are there?
(1.d) How many beds are there?
(1.e) How many employees are there?
(1.f) How many employees are from the same village / city?
(1.g) If applicable, do employees or the community own any shares or share part of the revenue?
Year-end bonus paid to all employees plus 10% of the profits to the community (school etc.)
(1.h) What is the total area of the land?
5 hectares / 11 acres
(1.i) Who has access to the Lodge’s facilities and its land and for what uses?
Manager for overall supervision and House-keeping personnel for upkeep. Also villagers collecting fire-wood who are strictly instructed not to cut trees or branches or indulge in hunting.
1i: This is the inside of one of the lodges made of wood. We do not use mosquito sprays and instead encourage nets, although there are only a few mosquitoes. Electricity is from solar power.
(1.j) What was the total turnover (total sales) of your last year of operation?
n/a - first opened on 1 January 2010
|2. ENVIRONMENT - 4 out of 5|
(2.a) Lodge Sitting (how was location chosen):
View, nature, close proximity to villages in need, and easy access
(2.b) Policy followed during construction:
Usage of locally available material such as clay for making own bricks, thatched coconut leaves for roofing, 10 new plants planted for every tree cut for use and/or to make way for the construction
Solar panels for all lodges and grid-power for the kitchen (freezer/fridge) and office (computer/printer)
Only hot water is required which is heated from fire-wood collected from the property (no trees cut)
None (temperature 18-22 night, 22-30 day, degrees centigrade
Locally produced soap and water from the well when possible, no electricity or harmful chemicals used.
(2.g) Water Management:
All cisterns use minimum water (double-flush). Recycling practiced (water from the bathroom used in vegetable/flower garden). Rainwater harvested and used in brick-making and for gardens.
Mainly from fire-wood – fallen tree branches collected from property. LPG used sparingly.
(2.i) Waste management:
As per guidelines of the local Authority + compost made from kitchen waste. Plastic bottles are re-used and the extras, along with polythene bags etc. are collected from in and around the property and brought to a collecting centre in the closest town for re-cycling.
(2.j) Insect, pest control:
Done by a (qualified) villager using mild chemicals. Natural insecticides such as Marigold are also grown in the property.
(2.k) Energy Sources, Use & Saving Measures:
Mainly solar power using LED and CFL bulbs. Mainly CFL bulbs for the limited use of grid-power. Washing done mainly with hand.
(2.l) Noise Protection:
No loud music is allowed and vehicles are kept as far as possible from the property. Since the Property is tucked-away in a corner of a quiet village, noise pollution is minimal
(2.m) Accessible by public transport? If yes, please provide instructions from nearby city.
Yes, from the private bus-stand near the clock-tower in Kandy, take `bus # 654 to Digana (which village appears in the Google Map – 15 km from Kandy, about 0,25 US$). Take a tri-shaw (tuk-tuk) from Digana to the Property – 4 km/US$3,00
(2.n) What is the recommended way of reaching your Lodge from the nearest International airport?
Taxi – 125km/US$75,00
(2.o) Distance from nearby village / city:
19km from Kandy (city), 4km from Digana (small town), 2km from Oruthota (village - all appear in the Google Map)
(2.p) Architectural Features:
Simple but practical. Blends with the environment, rich in nature.
(2.q) Construction Materials:
Clay bricks, (made entirely on property), clay for the 3 mud-houses and wood (all obtained from the property).
(2.r) Landscape Management:
Locally managed with a local touch, retaining the original forest cover and vegetation.
2r: We retain the original forest cover as much as possible even though paths and roads are made. Concreting/tarring the road is also avoided and applied only where absolutely necessary
2r2: We encourage our neighbours to also retain the natural landscaping
2r3: The river where we bathe (free excursion to all visitors to Polwaththa Eco-lodges) also retains the natural landscaping.
|3. ECONOMIC - 4 out of 5|
(3.a) Initiation or participation in local projects:School projects - have already donated a 1000 litre water tank for drinking purposes + 500 file-covers for each student’s progress reports. Future projects: 300 chairs for the school hall, donating musical instruments to revive the traditional music & dance forms and free English and computer lessons to enable village students to obtain decent jobs.
(3.b) Contact, cooperation with local organisations:
Schools (2), temples (2) and the local village committee.
(3.c) Direct Donations:
10% of the profits reserved for direct donations as decided by the local committee
(3.d) Who took the initiative to build this Lodge?
Nihal Ellegala (owner)
(3.e) Did the local community participate in the decision-making process concerning the founding and creation of this Lodge?
(3.f) How are profits distributed, and who decides about it?
Net profits are split into 5 categories:
3f: We help poor families for which 10% of the profit is reserved as direct contributions to the local villages
(3.g) Are there any national and local taxes to be paid or are you exempt?
Have to pay both national and local taxes, minimum 15% of turn-over
(3.h) What percentage of consumables are locally sourced, how many are nationally sourced, and how many are imported?
Approx. 50% local, balance national (none imported)
(3.i) Do you cultivate food for the guests?
Yes, organically grown beetroot, carrot, potatoes and chillies
3i: We help the local shops – this one is an eatery near the river we bathe in which we patronise
(3.j) Do you have any agreements with local producers?
Yes, we purchase their vegetables and fruits. We buy from neighbours organically grown tomatoes, brinjals (aubergine) and other traditional vegetables plus oranges, lemon and bananas
(3.k) Have ever you received any funding, state, national, private or international and for what purposes?
None so far for this project, but received funding from GTZ (German NGO) for organic farming about 11 years ago for the same property/village.
(3.l) What is the average double room rate (excluding breakfast) per room per night?
approx EUR 55 / USD 74
|4. SOCIAL - 4 out of 5|
(4.a) Do your employees have health insurance?
No. Health-care is free in Sri lanka.
(4.b) Do your employees have paid leave?
Yes. 3 weeks in a year, additional 2 months for pregnant mothers, other than statutory holidays
(4.c) Are your employees entitled to maternity leave?
Yes. 2 months
(4.d) Do you pay your employees above the minimum wage? (Please state minimum wage, and provide salary details):
Yes, minimum wage US$ 60,- per month while we pay min. US$ 90,-
(4.e) Average and maximum working day, and work hours per week:
7 hours average, 10 hours maximum, 40 hours per week.
(4.f) Do you employ your staff all year round? (If not, please explain arrangement)
(4.g) Do you employ immigrants? Are they offered the same remuneration & benefits?
No immigrants in Sri Lanka, certainly not in the vicinity
(4.h) Do you employ trainees? Please explain what type of tasks they perform, how much they are paid, and how many hours do they work and how do you source them?
(4.i) Do you use volunteers? Please explain what tasks they are given?
Not yet, but English teachers in the future.
(4.j) Do you offer concessions to elderly visitors?
No, unless found to be deserving. Those elderly persons who really want to stay in the lodges and could appreciate the work we do relating to the environment, community development etc., but cannot afford are given a price reduction of 20% of the room rate.
(4.k) Is there disabled access at your Lodge?
Yes, roadway up to 1 cabana. (1 cabana suitable for the disabled).
(4.l) What measures are in place to protect the local (or the indigenous) population from some adverse impacts of tourism?
All visitors are strictly advised to follow the dress-code and show respect to the local customs and beliefs. When a firm booking is made, we advise them by e-mail, amongst others, the dress-code, conduct, respect for their culture etc. which is actually available to them before they depart.
(4.m) Do you undertake any poverty reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to poverty reduction?
Yes, we have helped a local family to start their shop where our visitors will be encouraged to buy school-books, pens etc. for the local school children plus t-shirts, other types of clothing and souvenirs for their own. Very soon, we will start with free English and computer lessons enable children to find decent jobs. The poorest of the families in need will benefit from the 10% reserved for the community.
4m: Picture of the shop we help
(4.n) Do you undertake any inequality reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to inequality reduction?
Yes, the salaries we pay to the females are the same as those for males, no matter from which race, religion, or caste they are from.
(4.o) Do you undertake any injustice reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to injustice reduction?
As above, there is no injustice practiced here.
(4.p) What is the minimum, average and maximum age of your employees?
30, 45, 65 years
(4.q) How many employees do you have?
|5. CULTURAL- 3 out of 5|
(5.a) Is there a local community / e.g. a nearby village?
Yes, we are situated in the corner of a village.
5a: We encourage visitors to visit village homes such as this to learn more of our culture and living standards
(5.b) Do guests interact with the local community and how?
Yes, cultural shows, spoken English lessons, guided tours, home visits etc. We have just opened this month and are expecting guests in the months to come. Therefore unable provide evidence right now.
5b: We encourage visitors to participate in a class. We learn about each other’s language, song and dance forms. Invariably, the school also gets financial support from the visitors
(5.c) What type of information is available to guests at the property:
How best to integrate with the locals and share each other’s cultural values, how best to visit places of interest in the vicinity and see other parts of the country, inviting them to take a local guide with them, flora and fauna in the area, do’s and don’ts in general.
(5.d) What type of activities are available to guests at the property:
Plenty of trekking, river-bath with the locals, cultural shows, organic farming.
(5.e) Local guided tours for guests:
Several choices, from a 1hour stroll to the river to a gruelling 6 hour trek in the mountains known as the Knuckles Range. Also round-tours around the country covering historical and cultural sites, train trip through tea plantations and to the beaches.
5e: This is the Temple of The Tooth (of the Budhdha) which is considered the holiest place for all Budhists and of immense cultural value for both the locals and for the tourists to visit.
(5.f) Events / presentations held at the facility so far:
(5.g) Specific programme for children:
Nature-walks, Adventure-tours. This site consists of 11 acres (5 ha of natural surroundings where children can safely walk around and play games. More adventurous is the river bath where one walks about 3 km (1 hour 15 minutes) through jungle and quaint villages. More adventure is provided by trekking at the Knuckles mountain range (about 10 km walk-optional paid excursion).
(5.h) Research / Publications produced / assisted by the property so far:
(5.i) Is the local community at all involved in the operation of the Lodge and how?
Yes, in the planning and implementation. They planned the design of the lodges with me and they built them themselves. They will also accompany the visitors during walks/treks.
5i: Here we see participation of local villagers who have been involved in the planning and the implementation of the project.
6. OTHER EVIDENCE
(6.a). Please state any awards or green certificates won by the property and provide scanned photos of these.
The Eko tag from Skal Holland for Organic farming awarded in 1999 & 2000
6a: Certificate from SKAL
6a2: Annex to SKAL Certificate
(6.b). Have there been any independent (i.e. not paid or otherwise related to you) guest reviews, newspaper, radio, TV or guidebook reviews on your property, which may support any of your replies above? If so please provide detailed information and links (up to 10)
(6.c). Please sign to indicate your agreement with the following:
I hereby declare that all my answers are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and understand that I and/or my company will not have the right to veto or 'hide' our ECOCLUB Rating, which will be decided in the manner specified at http://www.ecoclub.com/rating if we find it unfavourable. I also understand that the rating will be valid for a minimum of 1 Year, and a maximum of 3 Years. By submitting this questionnaire I indicate acceptance of all ECOCLUB.com Rating terms, conditions and procedures as stated at http://www.ecoclub.com/rating and understand that these may be modified at any time without notice.
Please enter (paste) your signature below or type your initials to indicate acceptance:
Your Name: Nihal Ellegala - Date: 10 March 2010
3.6 out of 5