'It feels like you are on another planet.' That is how Michelle Duarte describes the WildSpring Guest Habitat that she and her husband own along the coast of Oregon in Port Orford.
Their small, eco-friendly resort sits on five acres of 100-foot trees and includes five cabins. “The cabins are built like small homes,” Duarte says. “They are not rustic.”
Just about everything possible was done to minimize the environmental footprint of the five cabin suites. Duarte’s husband, Dean, who once worked on Hollywood sets in construction, played an integral part in the building of the cabins. Only two trees were removed during construction of the cabins that now have been open for 8.5 years.
“We wanted to create a natural environment with luxurious accommodations,” Duarte says. “Our design concept intended that everything guests see or touch be made of natural materials. The quality of the air here is amazing. Everything we use is scent free.”
Vintage, Antique Pieces Inside Cabins
All of the wood furniture in the cabins are vintage and antique pieces that were rescued from garage sales and restored, as are most of the lighting fixtures and decorative pieces.
All appliances are low energy and water fixtures are low-flow. Heating is by radiant floor heating. Lighting is energy efficient; CFL bulbs are used inside whenever possible. Dimmer switches help reduce energy consumption. The Guest Hall is lit by skylights during daylight. Landscape lighting is a 12 volt system, directed to the ground to protect the starry nights (Port Orford is a Dark Skies Initiative city), and on a timer (on at deep dusk and off at 11 p.m.).
All stationery and promotional materials use recycled paper. E-communication is used whenever possible. Recyclables are recycled. All shipping materials such as popcorn, bubble wrap and boxes are taken to a local myrtlewood gift manufacturer so they can be reused when they ship their items. “We used to offer guests bottled water,” Duarte says. “Now we have blue reusable BPA-free bottles that we keep for guests.” Bears in the area make it difficult to compost outside but Duarte says they are still trying to find a way to do it.
Body care products are 100 percent natural and dispensers are used in bathrooms to dispense shampoo, conditioner and bath gel. Slightly used bar soaps are sent to Clean the World.
Scent-free Cleaning, Laundry Products
Nontoxic, pH-neutral, scent-free cleaning and laundry products are used. “We use rags and minimize any non-reusable materials,” Duarte says. Guests are asked to use towels and linens more than once.
Duarte says the one real indulgence on the property is the spa that has a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. “We heat it with propane—much more efficient than electricity,” she says.
All of the efforts have earned WildSpring the Gold Level in Oregon’s Sustainable Travel program. Duarte and her husband also participate in the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund—a new program supporting sustainable tourism development. “We donate a dollar per stay and invite our guests to join us with a $1, $3 or $5 donation,” Duarte says.
WildSpring has partnered with TerraPass to offset the carbon emissions of its cabin suites, ensuring an overall zero carbon footprint.
Duarte has a strong marketing background and has worked in executive level ad agency positions, including for her own Internet-based agency specializing in hospitality marketing. This experience has come in handy as she has deliberately tried to attract the eco-traveler with her marketing efforts.
“I believe that creative strategies pre-qualify the people who respond to your marketing pieces,” Duarte says.
Go to WildSpring for more information.
This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.
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