by John Bell
Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts Chairman Dr. Guy Harvey announced at a press release at the Miami International Boat Show on Thursday the company’s entry into in the Galapagos Islands.
Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel on Isabela Island
Dr. Harvey said his growing Outpost Resorts company has teamed with two separate Ecuadorian owner groups to plant Outpost flags on the islands of San Cristobal and Isabela in the Galapagos archipelago, located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.
Company co-founder and president Mark Ellert, who recently returned from meetings with the Galapagos Park director and location municipal officials, commented: 'I know of no other tourism company operating in the Galapagos that has a scientist and conservation authority as its chairman, and a research institute as a brand partner. For these reason the park sees our interest in Galapagos as a game changer.'
On San Cristobal, the easternmost island, the company will open a new 30-unit eco-lodge on a highlands site with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and a foreground of open fields through which giant Galapagos turtles roam. It will be branded the 'Guy Harvey Outpost Lodge, Galapagos Islands' and is expected to open in early 2016.
Arturo Hidalgo Keyser and Jose Antonio Juez Jairala, both of Ecuador and Miami, are co-developers of the project. 'I basically grew up in the Galapagos,' notes Keyser. 'My lifelong dream to create a truly special tourism project in the Galapagos is becoming a reality with the involvement of Guy Harvey.' Adds Jairala, 'the Outpost commitment to science and sustainable tourism will make this the first truly authentic eco-lodge experience in the Galapagos.' The project team includes Hitesh Mehta, one of the world’s leading authorities on ecotourism planning and both the landscape and architectural design of eco-lodges.
And while the new lodge is under construction, Guy Harvey Outpost has raised its flag above the recently opened Iguana Crossing boutique hotel, located on Isabella Island, approximately 100 miles to the west. Ranked the top lodging property in the Galapagos by TripAdvisor and winner of its 2013 Traveler’s Choice Award for Best Service, this 14-unit contemporary styled hotel sits beachside in the shadow of the Wolf Volcano in the settlement of Puerto Villamil, with a population of some 2,200. As the westernmost settlement in the Galapagos, its harbor is a popular stop for private yachts traveling to the southern pacific.
In announcing the affiliation, its’ visionary developer Felipe Trujilo, comments, 'as a passionate sport fisherman and scuba diver, I immediately understood the exposure and opportunities Guy Harvey and his Outpost hotel brand will create for the Galapagos and our Iguana Crossing hotel. Our TripAdvisor popularity and awards demonstrates the dedication of my staff to delivering superior service and memorable experiences, and we look forward to sharing our unique wildlife paradise with Guy and his adventure travel customers.'
With a landscape is dominated by the Sierra Negra that rises to 5,600 ft. above sea level, Isabela is the only natural Penguin habitat in the northern hemisphere and offers diverse scuba diving experiences.
The Galapagos archipelago consists of approximately 120 islands and rock outcroppings spread over 17,000 square miles of water. Designated a national park in 1959, the Galapagos today has a current population of approximately 25,000. Strictly regulated and limited by the Ecuadorian government, development is restricted to four islands. Cruise and dive live-aboard ships are limited to 100 passengers and visitation is restricted to 116 designated visitor sites, of which 54 are land and 62 are Scuba/snorkel sites.
The Galapagos and surrounding waters are one of the world’s foremost eco-tourism destinations, and the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. In making the announcement, Ellert noted, 'it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to associate Guy’s internationally respected brand of conservation advocacy with the Galapagos Islands as a bucket-list destination for travelers to experience truly unique wildlife interaction. Working closely with the Ecuadorean national parks department, we intend to showcase scientific research and sustainability practices that will protect this important yet fragile wildlife ecosystem.'
San Cristobal Beach
In explaining his strategy for the Galapagos, Ellert commented: 'The parks department is shifting attention to land based tourism away from cruise ships as a way to keep tourism dollars in the local economy. Island-hopping will become the dominant travel pattern and Outpost will need to offer a diversity of experience commensurate with the vast diversity of wildlife throughout the archipelago.'
Dr. Harvey, an avid diver, acclaimed underwater filmmaker and frequent visitor added: 'The Galapagos is without question one of the best diving experiences to be had. I know firsthand, however, that not everyone enjoys the confines imposed by dive live-aboards or small cruise ships. As land based operations, our Outpost properties will open up the Galapagos to everyone who enjoys diving and adventure travel yet appreciates the comfort of retiring each night to a bungalow or suite.'
In keeping with its mission of supporting sustainable tourism, The Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts is working with the Parks department to develop a program to improve sustainable fishing skills of the island’s many artisanal fisherman, while simultaneously working with tourism officials to develop hospitality service training programs for aspiring recreational sportfishing and diving operators.
'Guy’s scientific and conservation work is well known and respected locally,' noted Ellert, 'so we come to the Galapagos as a known commodity with credibility most developers lack.'
Dr. Guy Harvey
'The Outpost motto is ‘From the Oceans, Comes Life’,' added Dr. Harvey. 'In meetings with department staff, elected officials and local residents we’ve underscored our intent to conduct and showcase scientific research and sustainability practices that will protect this important yet fragile wildlife ecosystem resource. We are all stewards of the resource. By keeping it healthy, both our guests and our friends here in Galapagos can enjoy a life of great experiences that this ocean has to offer.'