The local economy is set to benefit in multiple ways from a piece of paradise on an island 11km from the coast of Mozambique. The resort — a partnership between the Banyan Tree group and project developer Jack Truter — will reportedly offer ultra-luxury hospitality, with the work of local suppliers, artisans, and staff tying it all together with a ribbon of sustainability. It’s set to open in 2022. We spoke to Eduardo Johnston Da Silva, general manager of Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira.
What was the thinking behind taking this concept to this part of the world for the first time?
Banyan Tree is renowned for pioneering projects, both in geographical terms and in experiences offered to guests. The opportunity arose to open the first ultra-luxury property in Mozambique, with a full-villa host service, offering a soul-searching immersion into the Mozambican culture and way of life.
What are the trends coming through on luxury and the African experience?
There is a growing trend for guests to look for sense-of-place experiences that enhance their appreciation of the destination, where they learn about the culture, the traditions, the food, and the way of life of the people of the destination. There is also a strong focus on wellbeing, where guests look to take care of their bodies and minds.
How will Banyan Ilha Caldeira offer a sense of place?
Our food and beverage concept is “regionally sourced, locally curated” — 70% of the menu will be local recipes and local products. The local ingredients will be the stars of the show. We have two restaurants on the island, one of them specialising in fish and seafood. All of the fish served will be caught by members of the local fishing community. This means that the menu will change daily to accommodate the fish and seafood caught on that particular day. Guests will be continuously surprised and delighted.
The concept focuses on traditional Mozambican recipes. When the recipe is not from Mozambique, it needs to have a Mozambican twist, such as a spice, fruit or vegetable — a cashew fruit (not the nut) for example.
There is a sustainability ethos that pervades the development. Please speak to that.
Sustainability is one of our pillars, so we take it very seriously indeed. We will be the first Banyan Tree resort to be 100% solar powered. All our water is desalinated to drinking-water quality; we bottle all the still and sparkling water offered at the resort. Even though this already exists at other Banyan Tree properties, all the energy used in the process of reverse osmosis is supplied by our solar panels. All our waste will be treated in a controlled manner.
Among other initiatives: we will use digesters for organic waste and offer the odourless fertiliser produced to local community members for their crops; Certified companies will recycle aluminium and glass waste; We have a treatment plant that turns sewage water into irrigation water, so that we may irrigate the flora and the produce grown on the island.
Sustainability also encompasses what we do for the community. The majority of the associates employed — 95%, in fact — will be Mozambican nationals.
What were the considerations as far as design was concerned?
The resort has been designed to look like a typical rural village in Mozambique. This is ever so apparent when one flies over the resort. All the furniture is produced in a carpentry shop in Nampula, Mozambique, where all the artisans are Mozambican nationals and use traditional production means such as wood carving by hand. Mozambican artists took care of the artwork and decorative pieces.
Members of the Makonde tribe made the salad tongs, for instance. The wine cellar was decorated with face brick produced in Larde, the closest village to the island. The bricks are made by hand and fired in a wood-burning oven by a family that has been producing them for generations.
• From the December issue of Wanted 2021.