Six Senses Fort Barwara Is Designed To Be An Environmentally Delicate Oasis


Textual content by Vanya Lochan.

{Photograph} by Shweta Yadav.

“All the things is tradition,” asserts Siddharth Chakravarty, Sustainability Director at Six Senses Fort Barwara, Rajasthan, as he welcomes me to the Earth Lab (additionally a key ingredient of Six Senses properties internationally), to introduce me to the initiatives that make the posh resort one of many greenest in India. The world over, Six Senses is understood for its resolute philosophical stand on sustainability. Of their phrases: “…who says sustainable can’t be luxurious?”

India’s first Six Senses resort, the repurposed 700-year-old Fort Barwara in Chauth Ka Barwara close to Ranthambore, Rajasthan, has been designed to perpetuate the heritage and practices of the Barwara group as they’ve operated over generations. The 14th-century fort, which was initially owned by the royal household of Barwara, has been fastidiously restored by the main hospitality model in tandem with the Espire Group and the fort scion Prithviraj Singh.

In an try and reinterpret the moderately subtle historic techniques of sustainable existence, the resort design has sensitively included conventional components comparable to rainwater assortment tanks to enrich — moderately than detract from — the fort’s historic existence atop a hill, amid wealthy flowers and a functioning village that goes again centuries.

The Six Senses environmental and social sustainability coverage focuses on vitality effectivity, water and waste administration, social dedication, the safety of its pure environment, air high quality and noise management, and it’s central to their efforts to enhance their ecological and carbon footprints.

On a crisp Saturday morning, I’m patiently escorted from my regal Aravali View Suite throughout the beauteous arcades and pristine balustrades overlooking a number of inexperienced stretches to the Earth Lab, the place I meet Chakravarty. Alongside the way in which, my Visitor Expertise Maker (GEM) Shweta Yadav has not been capable of include her reward for the Sustainability Director and the way he’s one in all “the wisest folks at Six Senses”.

“It’s speculated to be ‘EARTH LAB’ and never ‘EARHT LAB’,” Chakravarty brings the error on the bronze pill to my consideration. “Nonetheless, this plaque has come all the way in which from Maharashtra. I couldn’t assist however consider the carbon emission generated, and determined that we have to do higher than take into consideration spellings. In spite of everything, we all know how ‘earth’ is spelt!”

Picture courtesy: Siddharth Chakravarty.

Excerpts from a dialog….

What had been you doing earlier than you joined Six Senses? Do inform me extra about your function at Fort Barwara.
After finishing my lodge administration diploma and my WSET 3 (Wine & Spirit Schooling Belief Stage 3 Qualification), I went on to work as a sommelier and a espresso grasp.

However confronted with a deep private disaster then, I used to be confronted with too many questions that I didn’t have the solutions for. It was at the moment that I began studying books by Sri Aurobindo. I went to Rishikesh to check Yoga Vedanta and that’s how my journey in rural Pondicherry [now Puducherry] started. I joined because the director of Sri Aurobindo Society, the place I acquired the chance to spearhead many schooling, rewilding and palliative care initiatives. I wished to use the ideas I had learnt past the religious world and, to my shock, I discovered that each one of them is of use on this world! One of many tenets of my studying was “every little thing is one” – right this moment, whereas I do know why I shouldn’t be utilizing chemical-laden pesticides, I can correlate why plastics will not be the correct answer, why travelling as an exercise is a supply of Scope 3 emissions for those who don’t study one thing larger or don’t impression the place positively.
At Fort Barwara, I work carefully with the hosts, visitors in addition to the encircling group to rebuild a greater and greener future. I attempt to construct an ecologically sustainable society by employment alternatives and make sure that the resort stays at the vanguard of sustainable practices in waste administration. At present, I’m creating a workshop centered on upcycling and recycling numerous sorts of wastes. The purpose is to deliver the hosts and visitors collectively for the trigger.

{Photograph} by Vanya Lochan.

Inform us extra in regards to the Earth Lab….
The soul of Six Senses is sustainability and our Earth Lab is the place the place our property showcases its efforts to cut back consumption, produce domestically, and assist communities and ecosystems. Company are invited to go to the Earth Lab to reconnect with the pure world and study some easy life hacks that can enable them to make a distinction.

On the DIY desk, visitors are invited to make their very own necessities and daily-use gadgets. You may make your personal lip balm and add totally different flavours to it — we now have vanilla and lavender. We make our personal toothpaste and beeswax covers (which we use within the pantry to cowl meals), in addition to our personal mosquito repellent and hand sanitisers. We advocate numerous life-style modifications — and making our personal necessities is an enormous a part of it.

Most of our important oils come from our alembic. We solely use supplies grown contained in the property, comparable to lemongrass, vanilla and lavender. We even have an in-house potter. He’s the sixth-generation group potter at Barwara. At Six Senses, we consider in using people who find themselves hyperlocal and usually invite individuals who work within the village to go to the fort.

To the left of the alembic is the Sustainability Oath Tree. At any time when new staff be part of, I do a two-day Sustainability Data Session with them after which I take their oaths whereby they state that they may abide by sure guidelines and never harm the natural world in any means, not simply inside the premises however of their private lives as effectively.

How do you assist the locals?
Using them is step one in direction of empowering them. The following, in fact, is shopping for what they produce and serving to them to boost the standard. If you consider it, each fort is designed to be sustainable and self-sufficient. As a result of in case you are attacked, the one possibility is to maintain your self internally for a very long time. That can’t occur with out the assist of the group round. That is why you have got folks making your sneakers, stocking your meals, stitching your garments, creating utensils — and that’s the way you survive.

There’s a mochi [cobbler] group right here that has been making sneakers for the previous six generations and these sneakers are despatched to Jaipur and different locations on the market. To date, they’ve seen little progress largely due to the middlemen. We take into account it our obligation to make use of them and assist them promote their merchandise. I maintain asking our upcoming in-house arts and crafts gallery to assist the locals create high-quality merchandise and market them. I’m additionally in talks with an NGO to deliver a designer right here who might assist the locals enhance their high quality and study to do higher on their very own phrases.

One other instance is the shirt I’m carrying [shows me the pink tiger block print on his white bush shirt]. Native girls from Dastkar [a craft collective] have printed this shirt by hand and it’s such exact work! Printing takes numerous focus, however they’ve been doing this for a number of generations and that is all carried out utilizing vegetable dye. We now have been attempting to have interaction with Dastkar actively and hope to work extra carefully with them.

I encountered a lizard within the backyard – some motels wouldn’t see it as an asset. How does Six Senses, which is located in the course of a village atop a hill, really feel about this?
You could realise that that is their area too. In truth, it’s their area that we’re in. We now have lizards, snakes and rodents right here, and our try is to not kill however to coexist. That is why we now have lemongrass repellents put in within the dwelling areas. Our workers has been instructed to not get anxious upon recognizing these. As an alternative, we merely inform our visitors, and if we do spot a snake or a bigger creature, we merely depart it exterior the property.

We worth each dwelling being, whether or not it’s our bugs, spiders, caterpillars or snakes — they’re all a part of the bigger ecosystem.

Each creature has its place within the meals chain, and every one helps preserve the steadiness.

I’ve heard that you simply largely rent locals. What’s the work tradition and hiring course of like at Six Senses?
That is an trade the place individuals are anticipated to work lengthy hours – the emotional impression of working within the hospitality trade can be insufferable at occasions, however that’s not who we’re. We need to create the sort of stunning tradition the place workforce members assert that they’re being taken care of by their employer. You’ll meet a neighborhood, Govind, who works in F&B. I maintain asking my HR and coaching managers to not choose solely those that converse good English. Let’s not set immaculate English as a criterion. Look, folks might converse in Hindi, log Rajasthani bhashaon mein baat karenge, yeh unki jagah hai, yahan hum aaye hain, humein unki tarah baat karni hai. [People will speak in Rajasthani languages; this is their land, we are the ones who have come from outside, and we should be speaking like them.] In truth, if a lodge can’t deliver its visitors into the again space, then the lodge doesn’t need to be walked into. It’s best to know the within story.

Right here we’re on the retailer room….

Inform us in regards to the improvements on the resort. What are you at present engaged on?
As I maintain telling everybody, every little thing is in regards to the system and I strongly consider that deprivation creates innovation and offers technique to different options. You might need seen that motels use numerous plastic, hai na? [Isn’t it?] That’s one thing we now have eradicated. See [shows colourful satin bags filled with pulses], we get every little thing in fabric baggage. I had managed to vary our total storage system however, extra just lately, and since it’s been raining, our cooks have been nervous about sogginess and mites. That is why, two days in the past, we needed to get a number of the pulses and grains in, as my vendor asserts, biodegradable plastic covers. These fabric baggage are all tracked — they arrive in, get washed and are despatched again to the seller to be replenished. Aware consumption means lesser manufacturing!

[Walks ahead and hints at the floor] The “system” I converse of additionally extends to the way in which we do issues. As an example, I’m strongly towards common wet-washing. The water index right here is sort of low, so we sweep a number of the areas. I maintain telling the sanitation workers that despite the fact that we’re harvesting and conserving rainwater, we’re not offsetting it but. One in all my visions is for Six Senses to be able to not simply offset however to regenerate extra water than we use.

I’m additionally working in direction of a seed financial institution. Genetically modified seeds really drain the soil of vitamins and create a cycle whereby it turns into tough to modify again to pure seeds. Therefore, a financial institution of indigenous, unmodified seeds.

Let’s stroll over to the laundry….

What’s particular in regards to the laundry room?
Properly, to start with, our laundry is sensible! What I imply is that every one these washing machines have sensors and every little thing is calibrated to make sure that no additional chemical compounds or water is being consumed to scrub the linen right here. No guide dosing.

All of the chemical compounds we use are taken to our sewage remedy crops the place they’re recycled. Our machines are so highly effective that they’ll clear the water and make a really efficient microbial answer that we use in our gardens the place we develop meals and flowers. Septic tanks often have a foul scent as a result of anaerobic fermentation takes place inside them — that’s, micro organism break down the waste and generate nitrogen-laden stays. Now, the thought right here is to interchange generally-used costly chemical-based micro organism with naturally-occurring microbes that do the identical job of consuming away the grease. That’s good science! You may generate these microbes with pineapple pores and skin, watermelon pores and skin, and so many different issues that you’d often throw away. We put all these skins and peels within the tank after which we add molasses and let one inventory ferment for one month. Then, we add an N70 soapy answer and a few moist charcoal, and that’s it! We give this biochemical to the kitchen workers to place within the sinks and let the microbes eat the grease away. This fashion, we don’t must order something, every little thing is free and in addition smells good!

It’s a bit scorching right here, isn’t it? Let me take you to our refrigeration unit.

I’ve by no means walked right into a freezer earlier than!
Look right here [points at a dessert plate on the refrigerator shelf], the kitchen folks have began utilizing our beeswax liners. As soon as we had been capable of set up that we’re not utilizing plastic movie to cowl our meals, our cooks, albeit steadily and begrudgingly [chuckles], began accepting our ‘home-made’ biodegradable reusable beeswax covers. The top chef comes together with his workforce to the Earth Lab, makes the liners we noticed earlier, and brings them right here.

{Photograph} by Vanya Lochan.

The lodge’s welcome word talked about that you simply develop your personal meals and rely largely on native produce. Would you inform me extra about it?
We develop many of the herbs and fairly a little bit of the produce that we use within the kitchen. We now have just lately put in aeroponic farming towers on the resort. It’s the way forward for agriculture! I’m at present experimenting with a number of of those to develop greens for the kitchen. If we simply spend 4 or 5 minutes a day, with about 40 machines, we will develop all of the yield domestically. A motor throws the water upward each quarter-hour. All of the roots are within the air and due to that, they develop very quick. In merely a month and a half, we may have eight kilograms of pak choi rising right here! As soon as we now have extra machines, we gained’t must supply leafy produce from exterior. Are you aware what I need? I need to create a tradition the place we’re conscious of the hassle it takes to develop the meals we eat.

We now have additionally developed a system known as SPI, which is brief for Sustainable Efficiency Index. All the things that comes into the lodge will get tracked. One of many duties of a Sustainability Director is to conduct audits of the meals and drinks we obtain — what we get, how far it comes from, what the scope can be of them coming from a lesser radius and whether or not our procurement helps any of the native communities. The entire thought is that if I get cheese from France, how am I sustaining these round me? At Six Senses, we consider in refusing first. Refusing one thing first is the simplest. In case you are nonetheless satisfied that it is possible for you to to utilize it, then take it in. As you might need observed, your welcome drinks and a number of the different merchandise positioned in your room had a word with a barcode. We now have put in this technique all around the lodge for our visitors to scan and study in regards to the merchandise they’re consuming or utilizing.

I’ve been instructed by my Visitor Expertise Maker that you’re strict with regards to meals wastage and preserve a board that tracks waste. I’m curious to know extra.
That is our workers canteen. The entire meals cooked and served is weighed right here. Do you see that board? “Waste = Alternative”, we are saying. We now have divided the board into “Whole Moist Waste”, “Whole Cafeteria Waste” and “Weekly Projection”, the final one being an estimate of the anticipated serving and cooking portions for the week. All the things is on show for everybody and nobody can run away from the reality [chuckles]. I understand how a lot meals is being ready, how a lot is consumed, and the way a lot is being wasted. We additionally know who’s losing how a lot. Monitoring opens up the chance to do higher, waste much less, and take into consideration simply how a lot might have been saved for another person to eat.

With all these sophisticated techniques in place, how do you guarantee clean execution?
With a purpose to make any massive system work, it is advisable make it very straightforward to function. This occurs solely when you have got empathy for each the visitors and your colleagues. The following step is to create confidence and this consists of being open to failure. Lastly, all of it boils right down to communication and collaboration — protecting the workforce abreast of plans, coaching them to accommodate new challenges and being ready to embrace ambiguity.

At Six Senses, everybody — even the safety personnel — is a part of the sustainability system. In spite of everything, the safety guards scan every little thing that is available in and goes out. I requested them to measure the totally different sorts of waste and share the report each day. I additionally made them liable for the composting course of. The micro-distribution of duties not solely ensures accountability and smoothness of execution but additionally makes it simpler for everybody to recognise which unit wants work if one thing goes astray — and that’s how we all know whom to catch if we discover vegetable waste going out as an alternative of being composted!

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