Earth Day began in 1970, when 20 million people across the United States rallied for increased protection of the environment. People were trying to influence decisions on the Vietnam War but they were also beginning to really focus attention on issues like air pollution, the contamination they were seeing in the land. And today more than a billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day 2014- the 44th anniversary of that day of action.

Environmental problems today, however, are more important than dirty air, toxic water, and a hole in the ozone layer. Since the way the issue has affected the Global change of climate in a difficult to explain doomsday manner is hanging above our heads like the sword of Damocles. We have enjoyed Nature’s bounties and in the process we have gone in for a mindless exploitation of the Earth in whatever areas one can think of.

It is however, noteworthy that these developments have been an eye-opener to many, if not all–especially corporate citizens while celebrating Earth Day 2014 in India. The Fern Hotels and Resorts, the pioneer among Green Hotels in India, is one such Brand doing everything possible to cherish, protect and preserve the Earth’s minimal resources which are irreplaceable and hence need to be valued as something precious. Let this Earth Day go beyond just another celebration by the eco friendly hotels in India for the sake of it and turn out to be the beginning of a proactive step to save the Earth from total disaster.Image

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by | April 23, 2014 · 09:39

Green From The Ground Up At Meluha

At Meluha The Fern, Mumbai we believe that responsible hospitality is not an oxymoron. We ensure that what we do is in complete harmony with the natural world. Honest sustainability is part of our daily lives and we are committed and passionate about serving our guests as well as the environment.

Meluha is among the few luxury hotels of its class in India to be conceived as an environmentally sensitive hotel. In a sense, we’re green from the ground up. This is a tremendous advantage for us, as we’ll explain in this post and the others in this series. Its an approach we strongly recommend for those considering an eco-venture, hotel or otherwise. If you have the opportunity or luxury, grab it.

Guest rooms at Meluha The Fern, Mumbai are amongst the most eco-friendly in the world.

Guest rooms at Meluha The Fern, Mumbai are amongst the most eco-friendly in the world.

Location matters when planning an eco-responsible 5-star hotel. A recent Lonely Planet article was a disappointment because the Top 10 eco-stays it listed were all on forest land or similar exotic locales. The Meluha is a city-centre business hotel, with miles of Mumbai’s famous cityscape all around. We love challenges.

The philosophy at Meluha The Fern is to get it done, not just say it. With one caveat; the guest experience should be enhanced, not compromised. We definitely let our guests know of the environmentally responsible work we do, though we are modest with it. Business guests appreciation of our 141-room hotel is very high, most realise only later that they’ve stayed at perhaps the world’s most environmentally responsible business hotel. Its The Fern way.

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Walk for Green Tourism

Walk for Green Tourism

Holding rallies and other similar public events (if enough people can be persuaded to come) is a very effective campaign tool. Holding mass meetings with speakers is powerful as it shows visually, through the number of people in attendance, the support that the campaign has. Now Green Tourism has a new and innovative role model in Cochin. If political parties and trade unions can adopt this method to gain public attention and successful propagation of their campaign, so can a Hotel even if it is a Five Star Luxury Hotel. The end justifies the means, says the adage. And everything is fair in war; indeed we are involved in a war, a war against waste, irresponsible exploitation of natural resources and the list can be extended ad infinitum according to the fertility of one’s imagination.

Green Team of Beaumonde the Fern An Ecotel Cochin celebrated National tourism day to increase understanding and awareness about Green tourism. On this occasion, they have presented a rally by walking on the Highways along with the children of Janseva Shishu bhavan, an Institute for destitute children in Cochin on 25th January 2014.
Apart from any green significance the action may have, it gives a glimpse into another dimension of the mission for luxury with responsibility, something the Fern Hotels and Resorts are crusading for ever since its inception.

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by | March 6, 2014 · 09:42

When Experience of Pain Brings out the Best in Human nature

When Experience of Pain Brings out the Best in Human nature

In 2011 the Tsunami hit Japan in one of the worst ever Natural Disasters the world has seen. It turned the lives of the island nation topsy turvy; a number of nuclear reactors have gone down causing another threat of radiation affecting humans as well as plant and animal lives in Japan; for weeks together the area experienced total power cut and where homes and offices and factories once stood, there was nothing but rubble left after the waves went back to where they came from.
Going through something similar the Indian State of Uttarakhand was devastated in the Kedarnath floods in June 2013. Arguably both these incidents are contributed by the callous ways in which Nature is dealt with by human beings and there is a limit to which Mother Nature can put up with the nonsense her children inflicts on her. Then comes the retribution and in most cases this is followed by a learning curve where human beings pause to think what went wrong and why.
This is exactly what happened in Japan; all their nuclear power plants were shut down and members of the Japanese NGOs travelled the world over doing propaganda against Nuclear power plants which, if constructed without adequate precautions, can cause similar disasters. The process of regulatory clearance for restarting 48 reactors is under way in Japan, but is slow and expected to take a few more years. Looking at Uttarakhand, we all now know how unmindful of consequences the exploitation of Nature was in that ecologically sensitive region.
Now something interesting has just happened. A team of 43 young women and 30 young men from the International Volunteer University Students Association in Japan landed in Uttarakhand in February 2014–a mini army throbbing with energy ready to do anything. Their aim was noble- rebuilding at least one of the devastated villages. In just four days the young army reconstructed modest homes and a community centre in one of the hilly regions. They did every smallest detail of the job including carrying sand and boulders some 350 meters up from the nearby Mandakini River and doing the shovel work and constructing the walls, laying stones and putting cement over them. The earth-quake –resistant two bedroom houses for sixty families were completed within no time. And for good measure, before departing they cleaned up the village on the fifth day, removing garbage and filth. Let us hope the Indians who witnessed all these activities could pick up a lesson or two from the whole incident instead of just benefitting the fruits of the foreign students’ labour.

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by | March 3, 2014 · 10:06

The Eco-Aware Indian Family

Some things take longer. We at The Fern are never in doubt of the eco-sensitive work we do, though we do debate sometimes if our message is getting through to the people we serve – community and guests.

We’ve made the environment our central focus since 1996. Initially,  it was an uphill sell internally to the team because it was a departure from our view of hospitality at the time, but also because only a very few were actually talking about the ‘environment’ at the time. We stuck it out & 18 years later are seeing the young, urban families imbibe our ethos; be eco-sensitive because its common sense. The generational shift is underway.

Its most evident at our five resorts; Sasan Gir (Gujarat), Dapoli & Ganpatipule (Maharashtra), Benaulim & Palolem (Goa). Young parents who make up over 50% of our summer guests are keen to share our environment practices with their kids, in the unique simplified way that makes talking to kids most enlightening.  Even kids of two can understand at least two of our three ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

So we’re making it fun for them in ways that’s fun for all. The treasure hunt at The Fern Samali Resort, Dapoli is much in demand. The 18-cottage resort sits on vast acerage atop a hill in the lush rainforests of the Western Ghats. The range is in the Konkan region, one of India’s most fertile regions and the resort has nutured a garden that both reflects & compliments the rich biodiversity. We have over 100 native & complimentary species of plants & trees across the resort, and have recently completed the extensive task of putting name plates on each of them. The treasure hunt at Dapoli is a family activity and takes them all over them resort. We keep it light and easy to find though one of the longest tasks its to find as many plants & trees as possible on a list of 100 names.

At least a dozen families have completed the entire list!

Children under 10 years are 20% of the guest list at The Fern Gir Forest Resort, Sasan Gir. Almost all visits to Sasan Gir are solely to visit the lions in their reserve, which takes all of three hours. So keeping kids ‘productively engaged’ is essential for the remain 2-3 days of the holiday. We are so pleased to find parents actively participating with the kids in painting & colouring tasks, outdoor games, treasuring hunting,  eco-awareness talks etc. Our rooms have international satellite TV, the real entertainment is outside.

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The Cooperative Leaf Game

The Cooperative Leaf Game

There is a game played in the Schools called Cooperative Leaf Game. All it needs is a large leaf.
The teacher waits till all the children are lined up in a straight line, one behind the other. Then out comes the leaf. Preferably a banana-leaf but it could be the leaf of a canna plant. It is given to the first child very ceremoniously. “Take this leaf. Hold it above your head, don’t drop it, pull it carelessly or tear it. Pass it backwards over your head to the child behind you. Don’t look back. Once you hand it over, stand still.”Those are the instructions.
The second child receives the leaf very gently, and taking care not to drop it or bend it out of shape, passes it over his or her head backwards to the third child and so on till the leaf reaches the end of its journey in the hands of the last child. The last leaf-receiver gives it back to the teacher who would hold it up for all to see.
The purpose of the lesson is to teach children how to handle all of Nature, which belongs to all of us collectively. Everyone is equally responsible for “land health”. The leaf is the messenger of the Earth. The Earth is like the leaf and is to be treated respectfully. The success of the group as a whole depends on the leaf remaining intact, hence it is important to emphasize that there is to be no grabbing and that everyone has to wait patiently till the leaf reached him or her. The teacher could then ask, “How much time would it have taken for the leaf to grow to its present size? How much time will it take for us to shred and destroy it? Does not a forest take a long time to grow?”
The message this game conveys is too good to be one for little children alone. In the world we live in today, it holds great value for grownups, individuals, groups, companies and organizations.
It is indeed heartening to note how at least some of the Corporate members of our society such as Beaumonde the Fern An Ecotel Cochin are conscious of their Environmental responsibility and how they are making efforts to fulfill it. Look at this pic showing their Green members joining hands with the Cochin Corporation to clean up the land around them!!

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by | February 27, 2014 · 10:52

It is not back to Nature here but always with Nature and for ever and aye too!

It is not back to Nature here but always with Nature and for ever and aye too!

The pic shows a treetop house made by Muthuvans, the tribal people, to stay during night-time to prevent wild animals from raiding their fields in the remote tribal village of Edamalakkudy in Kerala. Work is under way on a road to connect the village with the main town of Munnar. But the strangest fact is that majority of these aboriginal people still have serious distrust to the so-called ‘development’ that the so- called ‘civilized society’ brings to their doorsteps.
It was some five years ago that the farmers stopped cultivation as the crops, especially plantain, were destroyed in frequent raids by wild elephants. Wild gaur and pigs also destroy the crops. A positive change is community farming. Members of various families in the settlements make sheds either on treetops or on the ground, and stay there at night to scare away the wild animals. “When we take up farming in a group, there is no shortage of people in the shed for keeping watch,” says a farmer. There is a proposal to build traditional tribal huts for them that will be in tune with the natural environment. The Muthuvans say their traditional huts are strong and resistant to wild animal attacks. The huts are made using twigs, stones, and mud, and in such a manner that even if elephants attack the houses, they do not fall.

When the rest of the world suffers from hyper tension caused by malfunctions of high value gadgets, appliances and even faulty building materials costing hundreds of thousands purchased to achieve the ‘comfort level’ they always chase and which rarely yields to the chasers, even after a lifetime of struggle to achieve it, here is a contrast. These are people, who also are part of homo sapiens, but who are hardly concerned about the quality and price of floor tiles or interiors or sanitary fittings used to build their natural abodes.

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by | February 25, 2014 · 14:30