The international emergence of the Grand Riviere village thanks to the Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel.

The international emergence of the Grand Riviere village thanks to the Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel.

Grand Riviere, Trinidad and Tobago
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel is a remote retreat for eco-tourist situated on the beach in the northeast coast of Trinidad in the village of Grand Riviere. Mt. Plaisir represents sustainable development and ecotourism at its best where guests can enjoy the live nesting of giant leatherback turtles, bird watching and hiking through the dense rainforest. Moreover, this hotel has played a significant role in empowering and training the people of Grand Riviere thus transforming this poor and rural village into a self sustaining community.

About You
Contact Information
Title

Mr.

First name

Piero

Last name

Guerrini

Your job title

CEO

Name of your organization

Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel

Organization type

Business

Annual budget/currency

Annual Budget/Currency

Mailing address

Grand Riviere

Telephone number

1-868-670-2216

Postal/Zip Code
Country
Email address
Alternative email address

Alternative email address

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Grand Riviere

City

Grand Riviere

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code
Country
Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of benefit to residents for the destination .

Organization size

Small (1 to 100 employees)

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began

1994

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Nature, Destination aesthetics, General tourism.

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Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Mt. Plaisir was created to benefit the people of Grand Riviere by showcasing the village’s natural beauty to visitors.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

The Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel is a remote retreat for eco-tourist situated on the beach in the northeast coast of Trinidad in the village of Grand Riviere. Mt. Plaisir represents sustainable development and ecotourism at its best where guests can enjoy the live nesting of giant leatherback turtles, bird watching and hiking through the dense rainforest. Moreover, this hotel has played a significant role in empowering and training the people of Grand Riviere thus transforming this poor and rural village into a self sustaining community.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Mt. Plaisir is a small hotel where guests, the community and nature all have equal standing. Nothing is undertaken by the hotel management if it is not beneficial for all of the aforementioned. Mt. Plaisir discourages rental cars because of the remoteness of the hotel and its distance from the hotel. Therefore, the hotel operates a shuttle to and from the airport and looks after all guest needs from the moment they arrive in Grand Riviere. Bird walks, hikes and observation of turtle nesting are some of the activities led by locals that Mount Plaisir arranges for its guests. Guests can socialize with the locals, make use of the hotel spa, relax to the sound of nature, swim in the Caribbean Sea or try horseback riding. Undoubtedly, there is something appealing for everyone at the Mt. Plaisir hotel.

Unlike the standard hotel, guests can purchase almost any piece of artwork seen inside the hotel or they will be directed to the artist or craftsman who can create a similar or identical piece. Another unique feature of Mt. Plaisir is that the most of the company’s food is grown or reared on the company farm.

IDB/Fomin
Si perteneces a un pais de Latinoamerica y el Caribe tienes la oportunidad de presentar tu iniciativa para acceder a fondos para innovaciones en turismo sostenible del BID/FOMIN (para mayor informacion leer la seccion sobre la oportunidad BID/FOMIN en la pagina principal del Desafio).

No deseo postularme.

Si perteneces a un pais de Latinoamerica y el Caribe tienes la oportunidad de presentar tu iniciativa para acceder a fondos para innovaciones en turismo sostenible del BID/FOMIN (para mayor informacion leer la seccion sobre la oportunidad BID/FOMIN en la pagina principal del Desafio).

Prestatarios de servicios turísticos, Atractivos naturales y culturales.

Indica cuales de estas tematicas cubre tu innovacion (elige todas aquellas opciones que apliquen)

Innovación y diversificación en el desarrollo de productos turísticos, Profesionalización, buenas prácticas y certificación de servicios turísticos sostenibles, Estrategias y herramientas innovadoras para la promoción y puesta en mercado de destinos y productos en turismo sostenible y geoturismo..

Impact
Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Mt. Plaisir has been highly influential in giving Grand Riviere a positive international reputation. As a result, the average person from Grand Riviere feels a high sense of pride in their internationally popular village. This hotel has been highly successful since its inception with over 6000 guests staying at the hotel in 2008, a 500 person increase from 2007.
Had it not been for this hotel, Grand Riviere locals and villagers from other nearby communities would have continued hunting and slaughtering the endangered leatherback turtles and birds unique to the location. However, these animals are barely hunted anymore especially since the locals now have a greater appreciation for the turtles. The people of Grand Riviere have realized that a greater value lies in the number of visitors that these animals bring to the village.
Lastly, Mt. Plaisir has raised the employment level in the village since more jobs have been created to cater for tourists that were not present before the establishment of the hotel. Women who had little part to play in hunting and agriculture are now gainfully employed in the hotel or other subsidiary businesses.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Twenty Grand Riviere locals presently work for Mt. Plaisir and the remaining majority of the community provides indirect service for the company such as tour guiding. The people of Grand Riviere provide their input through newly founded organizations such as the GRNTGA which focuses on the preservation of the nesting leatherback turtle.
Mt. Plaisir has transformed Grand Riviere from a subsistence based to a service based community. Grand Riviere locals support the hotel’s operations and are pleased with the service sector as it has raised their standard of living substantially compared to their old dependence on agriculture and hunting.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

One of the biggest attractions to the Mt. Plaisir hotel is the nesting of the endangered leatherback turtles on the hotel’s beach. Many people are unaware that such enormous sea turtles still exist and lay their eggs on land.
Additionally, Grand Riviere locals are extremely pleasant and always ready to engage with foreigners and other visitors. Visitors can often be seen chatting with craftsmen, artists, salesmen, tour guides and Mt. Plaisir employees. Foreign visitors continue to frequent this destination every year because of the memorable friendliness and outstanding service of the Grand Riviere locals.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Mt. Plaisir’s website has an extensive amount of information about the cultural, natural heritage and environmental issues affecting Grand Riviere. Upon checking in to this hotel, all guests receive a small pamphlet about Grand Riviere and Mt. Plaisir. Furthermore, the hotel owner, staff and Grand Riviere locals are always wiling and available to inform visitors about these issues. Guests are encouraged to act responsibly in their inevitable interactions with the hotel staff and Grand Riviere locals. Visitors who fail to practice the required level of responsibility are warned or charged by the beach patrollers or local police officers.

Sustainability
How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

This initiative is financially and organizationally sustainable. Since its inception, the hotel has returned a profit and has not encountered any financial problems in meeting its expenses and debts. Mt. Plaisir was initially created for the sole purpose of relaxation and seclusion. As a result, this innovation is mainly demanded by leisure travelers. Families, couples, seniors, animal enthusiasts, writers and naturalists are the most common guests who stay at Mt. Plaisir.

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

Mt. Plaisir is a privately owned business that is financed by the owner, his family, friends, small business grants and a bank loan. Mt. Plaisir management prefers to keep its most current financial statements private.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The residents of Grand Riviere are still a humble and modest people. A barrier to the business success presents itself here as new employees often have very low self esteem where they strongly believe that they will fail.
The long distance to the capital city over challenging terrain has proven to be a difficulty in terms of logistics for the purchase of supplies and materials, both in the building and day to day operations of the hotel.
Lastly, a number of similar type hotel establishments have opened in the community cutting into Mt. Plaisir’s market share and profits. Although Mt. Plaisir is ahead of this competition in terms of popularity and patronage, it has lost the monopolistic advantages it once possessed.

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

Grand Riviere has provided Mt. Plaisir’s resource base for raw materials, labor and innovation. As a result, the Mt. Plaisir owner believes that many rural villages around Trinidad and Tobago with a similar community spirit and resource base can be used to setup enterprise catered to tourists.

Mr. Guerrini, the Mt. Plaisir owner first wants to further expand Mt. Plaisir but seeks to venture into other communities and encourages other businessmen to do likewise especially at entrepreneurship conferences. Unfortunately to date, few other entrepreneurs have adopted a model similar to Mt. Plaisir’s in other small Trinidad and Tobago communities.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

Mt. Plaisir owner, Piero Guerrini first came to Trinidad in 1993 from Italy on a photo journalism assignment to create a photo essay on the home of Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1992. On this trip to Trinidad, he visited several Caribbean islands but favored Trinidad the most.

During his visit, Derek Walcott told Mr. Guerrini about the natural untouched beauties of Grande Riviere, the village of his childhood. When Mr. Guerrini visited the village, he felt an unprecedented warmness from the locals of Grand Riviere and he also saw many sights such as the nesting of leatherback turtles and rare birds which he thought were worthy of exposing to the rest of world. This visit to this remote village marked the end of his journalistic career as he completed his assignment and returned to Grand Riviere to open the Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel.

Mt Plaisir was originally used as a beach guest house and cocoa estate by the then Chinese owner of the estate. In 1993, Piero Guerrini purchased the property and the old cocoa estate was slowly transformed the into a rustic eco-friendly hotel one room at a time.

Although he had big plans for the estate, he was unable to obtain a loan from any financing or government agency as they were not willing to finance an eco-resort in a remote and unpopular village spearheaded by an inexperienced entrepreneur. Despite this difficulty, Mr. Guerrini was able to purchase the property with his personal investment of US$30,000. The revenue from completed rooms was reinvested into further renovations. The hotel opened to the public in 1994, and was a success from its beginning.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

I am a third year hospitality management student at the George Washington University. I have always had a desire to be an entrepreneur and the owner of Mt. Plaisir serves as a role model for me since he was able to find success despite the number of factors that were originally against him. Since my youth, I have dabbled with a number of unsuccessful entrepreneurship ventures but as one who has stayed at the Mt. Plaisir hotel on a number of occasions, I hope to one day emulate their business model in fine service and application of sustainable tourism.

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

Most hotels located on the seaside cannot boast of having gigantic and endangered leatherback turtles nesting on their beaches. Viewing the nesting of several turtles per night on the Mt. Plaisir beach is one of the most unique and memorable experiences for guests who stay at this hotel. Similarly, birds unique to Trinidad can be sighted by guests who choose to go on bird walks arranged by the hotel.
Another unique feature at Mt. Plaisir is its seclusion and remoteness. Guests are forced into complete relaxation and engagement with nature as they must abandon most technological distractions while staying at the hotel as there is no cell phone service, video games and television.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

The owner of Mt. Plaisir would like to open similar hotels in other parts of Trinidad and Tobago. However, he does not think that he can do it alone while ensuring the continued success of Mt. Plaisir. Therefore, the owner believes that partnerships with other like minded entrepreneurs, investors and businessmen would be most beneficial in helping to transform underdeveloped communities in Trinidad and Tobago while strengthening and growing the country’s tourism sector.