Jetwing Vil Uyana, a flagship property of Sri Lanka’s premier hospitality brand Jetwing, walked away with the Environment Award at the 2014 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards organised by the World Travel & Tourism Council and held in Hainan, China.
The win is historic to say the least, as the unique eco-luxury resort beat tough competition in the form of Great Plains Conservation and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and is the first time a Sri Lankan property has won at this prestigious ceremony.
The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is one of the world’s highest accolades in the Travel & Tourism industry. It is aimed at recognising best practice in sustainable tourism within the industry worldwide, and each year receive hundreds of applications from all over the world. Applications can be made under six Award Categories – Destination, Environment, Community, Business, People, and Innovation. The judging process then begins, with a three-step process including site visits, and an international team of 18-20 judges possessing a range of backgrounds and expertise in the travel and tourism industry.
For the 2014 Awards, 18 finalists were selected under the six categories including Cathay Pacific Airways, TUI Travel, and Abercrombie and Kent. Jetwing Vil Uyana is now in its eighth year of operation, and is no stranger to the international limelight – being listed by National Geographic last year as one of the Best Eco-lodges of the World. The property features 30 dwellings in five distinct categories: Water, Paddy, Forest, Marsh and Garden. Originally an unutilised plot of land in a remote location a few kilometers from the ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, Jetwing embarked on an ambitious project to create a man-made wetland that provides the perfect blend of luxury and nature.
Launched in 2006, Jetwing Vil Uyana was considered a fool’s dream – situated far from the traditional tourist destinations, a massive investment, which involved a complete reimagining of an abandoned dry land previously used for slash-and-burn agriculture, and created during a time of unrest and conflict. Over the years, the property which has oft been referred to as ‘Sri Lanka’s best eco-resort’ has grown in reputation, and has been a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World for since its inception.
Aided in their efforts by renowned eco-architect Sunela Jayawardene, the project went above all expectations. The grounds have now become home to many species of flora and fauna, including 80 species of birds, 17 species of mammals, 36 species of butterflies and 21 species of amphibians now residing within the hotel grounds as well as rare and threatened Otter and Fishing Cats. The VIP guest is the endangered Grey Slender Loris – looking like it is now a full time resident, with a growing population and with a separate area marked as a Loris Conservation site; the first in the country.
With a 94% approval rating on the largest independent travel site, TripAdvisor, Jetwing Vil Uyana receives raving reviews on a daily basis. Jetwing has plans to expand the property, and add five more dwellings to the current inventory whilst maintaining the spacious elegance it is renowned the world over for.
Vision to life
“Jetwing Vil Uyana has always been a property that we have looked upon with pride. We set out to do something different in the tourism industry, and to also see if such a project could be sustainable. Over the years, we find out that we are indeed on the right track, as evidenced by this prestigious award. My thanks go out to our engineering and construction team, Sunela, associates of Jetwing Vil Uyana, and WTTC and their judges for bringing a vision to life,” said Jetwing Chairman Hiran Cooray.
[Via Daily FT]