How did an accidental hotelier create one of the world’s most successful responsible tourism businesses?
Cempedak is a 17-hectare private island 9km off the east coast of Bintan, Indonesia.
The passion project of former Australian banker Andrew Dixon, this adults-only, ‘barefoot luxury’ island resort opened in 2017.
From the outset, the plan was to build and operate Cempedak along strict principles, with cultural sensitivity, environmentally friendly design, privacy, and simple luxury at the heart of the development. The ethos was simple: to show that responsible tourism can be profitable and beneficial to the environment without compromising on comfort.
What makes it all the more inspiring is that sustainability was never a goal in and of itself. Andrew very quickly realized it was a necessity to make the project work.
“You shouldn’t be doing this [sustainability] for altruistic reasons but for commercial reasons.” Andrew Dixon, Owner
As Andrew points out, being on an island calls for special consideration of their water, waste, power and logistical variables. Quite simply, these challenges forced them to pay close attention to their significant operational costs and figure out how to reduce them.
Environmentally friendly design at Cempedak
Villas with eco-friendly pools
Sustainability starts with measuring and monitoring your efforts
Cempedak has diligently been keeping track of its resource usage on the island and it has paid off handsomely. Using Weeva to record and manage its operational data has given immediate indications of what can be improved. And it was clear that being more sustainable made them more commercially viable.
Monitoring the day-to-day changes over time has helped to reflect the effectiveness of the sustainability culture amongst staff and guests. Cempedak’s head of engineering has been compiling monthly reports with Weeva to present the sustainability data, which has helped support his recommendations for operational changes on the island.
“Sustainability isn’t just good for the environment and the community; it’s also saving us time and money to invest in the business.” Abdul Fatah, Sustainability Manager
“For small tourism businesses on the ground, practicing sustainability starts with measuring and monitoring usage, creating a microcosm of applied big data, centered on the islands.” Andrew Dixon
Responsible tourism ingenuity without loud marketing
What we love about Cempedak is that they are quietly chipping away at being more sustainable with little desire to actively market the island as an eco-resort. Instead, money that would have been spent on advertising this message goes to The Island Foundation to support the nearby local community, as well as fulfilling educational needs.
Meanwhile, the simple genius of their initiatives will inspire others to follow suit.
These are just a few practical examples we love, but Cempedak’s impact stretches far and wide. Read their Sustainability Commitment and you’ll understand how an approach that focuses on a positive holistic impact is the very reason that guests are excited to visit.
Starting small, inspiring big
Andrew has been a mastermind at balancing technology-driven processes with people-driven solutions. He maintains an unwavering commitment to responsible tourism initiatives with a clear-eyed pragmatism about what can be achieved.
He encourages his team (and others on their sustainability journeys) to go for low-hanging fruit and small changes that add up. For this same reason, he acknowledges that the island resort will likely never be 100% solar-powered, because sustainability needs to be, well, sustainable. This responsible tourism journey is about progress, not perfection, and that rings so true at Cempedak.
Above all, Cempedak serves as a brilliant example of the win-win-win outcome when tourism’s focus shifts to the triple bottom line.
Sustainable sea-water pools
Food waste to livestock feed
Wetland garden for waste water management
Weeva data management system
Cempedak has set the sustainability bar high, but not impossible to reach. Its initiatives have been smart and savvy, saving money, time and well, the planet.
Download Cempedak’s 5 hacks for a more sustainable tourism business and remember to keep track of your progress and wins!
Download Cempedak's 5 savvy and sustainable hacks.
Some are simple and obvious while others are ingenious! The best part, you can do it too!