Sitting grandly on the dramatic shoreline of the Indian Ocean overlooking the iconic lighthouse of Umhlanga, the Oyster Box is synonymous with breathtaking beauty of place and of luxury experience. During the rebuilding of the legendary property, an immense amount of time, energy and investment was put into ensuring that the original Oyster Box found a sense of harmony between its history and its present. It was only natural then to ensure that the hotel was rebuilt in absolute harmony with its natural environment, recognising its responsibility to create a beacon of enlightened environmental stewardship, where leading practices in eco-tourism would be incorporated into creating a truly environmentally-respectful hotel.
A number of significant sustainable tourism practices have been built into the classical architecture of the Oyster Box including the best-use of water and energy utilisation and the treatment of waste. The utilisation of heat (normally expelled and wasted from the hotel’s air-conditioning system) is used to warm the water of the14 swimming pools on the property. Solar heating has been installed to assist with the heating of water in the Spa. ‘Grey’ water, is harvested from showers, baths and wash hand basins, filtered and pumped to holding tanks for flushing toilets. In addition, rainwater will be directed off the roofs via an extensive underground pipe network to a large storage tank for use in the gardens.
State-of-the-art performance glazing has been used in windows and doors to assist in maintaining constant interior temperatures and reduce noise. Energy efficient lights and lamps have been installed where possible and sensors on bedroom sliding-doors will switch off the air-conditioning immediately guests open up access to the balconies or terraces. A sophisticated building management system will also control the major service installations throughout the property to ensure maximum energy efficiency and control at all times. The paint used on ceilings throughout the property is the newly-developed Dulux ‘Light and Space’, which enhances natural reflection and as a result saves on artificial light.
The innovative use of bamboo, a sustainable resource that replenishes itself naturally after it has been harvested, has been used for some floors and all wardrobes. Moso Bamboo grows to maturity in six years and is stronger and harder than hardwoods that take 36 years on average to mature. All other timbers used in floors, doors and joinery, are FSC-certified ((Forestry Stewardship Council). Environmental protection was paramount when planning the luscious and extensive hotel gardens. Indigenous fauna and flora have been planted wherever possible and during the renovation process many of the mature plants already on the property, such as aloes, frangipani and hibiscus, were re-located and preserved and have now been replanted at the hotel.
All waste from the hotel is separated and sent for recycling. Through the implementation of the current initiatives and ongoing efforts, the Oyster Box is committed to ‘green best practice’, the affects of which it is hoped, will make the Oyster Box as one of the most ‘environmentally-caring’ hotels in Africa. In all the ways that reflect and celebrate the legend of The Oyster Box, the experience of the ‘new’ Oyster Box is one which holds the grand hotel’s history, heritage, heart and ‘home’ in perfect balance.