Tucked away at the foot of Mount Karioi in Raglan, New Zealand, lies a rather extraordinary holiday accommodation experience called Solscape. Closest to Hamilton on the north island, Solscape is brimming with ecotourism credentials, and takes pride in its ‘harmonious diversion from conventional forms and patterns’.
Responding to the growing demand for accommodation that facilitates mindfulness and sustainability, Solscape takes full advantage of its idyllic setting, while taking care of the wellbeing of its guests. In this edition of ‘Rooms with a View’, we spoke with Phil McCabe, co-founder and director of Solscape, to explore the story…
You have an amazing place at Solscape with different accommodation options from earth domes to cabooses. Tell us about those experiences – what makes them so unique?
It’s really common for people to get out of their cars on arrival and get straight into taking photos, so I guess that is testimony to the uniqueness of what we offer. The Earth Domes are beautiful little round structures, and we find that a lot of people dream of one day building an earthen house so at Solscape they get a chance to feel it out. And kids particularly like the idea of sleeping in the cabooses.
They look like dream factories!
That’s the idea. And we even have a self-contained option for train enthusiasts, which is a recycled 17-metre railway carriage with original timber floor. It’s a slice of kiwi history.
Much of what you offer at Solscape is associated with sustainable living. Do you see this as a niche interest or is this something that is likely to spread further in the industry?
Yes we’ve always had sustainability as part of what we do, but we made a commitment in 2007 to take sustainable practices seriously and pass every business, purchasing and development decision through this lens. It certainly was niche back then, but it is most definitely moving into mainstream awareness.
How is New Zealand performing as a model of sustainable business? Are you world leaders?
There are some great sustainability stories in New Zealand’s tourism sector, and some big players are making some effort, but I think a lot more could be done.
“Things like super low consumption and long lasting LED bulbs…mean that anyone can work to reduce their footprint.”
How important is technology in facilitating sustainable living?
I wouldn’t say that we take a technological approach to sustainability but technology has its place, and it’s good to see innovations around energy efficiency and renewables. Things like super low consumption and long lasting LED bulbs and grid-tied solar and wind power systems have come a long way over the last decade, and mean that anyone can work to reduce their footprint. Our approach is more along the lines of working with the human element, shifting perceptions and paradigms to a deeper understanding of what it means to exist on our planet in a sustainable way.
What help does SiteMinder offer and how does it fit in with your sustainability ideals?
SiteMinder is helpful in that it is saving us a lot of time on menial tasks, and it’s helping to raise our occupancy, which means we have more time to focus on the important things like composting and we have more people getting exposed to the good stuff.
That’s a new one for us, but we love the idea of SiteMinder facilitating sustainable experiences! Do you have any new experiences planned for guests at Solscape that you can talk about?
Yes we’re working on a series of story-telling dinner events where guests get a chance to rub shoulders with local legends. We’ve also lined up an array of yoga retreats and educational courses for the 2016 season and we’re seeing a lot of interest for weddings and business retreats going forward too.
We love the sound of a yoga-themed wedding or business retreat! So, last question – what are you most proud of in terms of what you’ve achieved at Solscape in the last year?
The launch of our yoga centre as well as ramping up the provision of delicious, healthy and ethically-sourced food for our guests have both been fun projects, and very well received.
If you’d like to share your experiences and ideas about the hotel sector as part of our ‘Rooms with a View’ series, please email clare.riley@SiteMinder.com. We’d be happy to hear from you!