JADE MOUNTAIN, St Lucia | Organic architecture and ingredients, contemporary and quirky open-to-the-air living spaces and private infinity pools—Jade Mountain delivers luxury in an entirely modern, mindful way. Last October, The US Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the hotel LEED GOLD certification status—for implementing pioneering, nontraditional approaches to the LEED prerequisites and credits. An impressive accomplishment.
Not only is the whole project environmentally conscious, but Jade Mountain doesn’t rely on hi-tech frippery to impress (although, be assured, behind the scenes the wizardry is there: see chlorine-free ozone-cleansed pools, for starters). This Caribbean property lets the landscape do the talking. Tropical hardwoods — purpleheart, kabukali, mora, ebony, monkey pod, locust – and gemstone-coloured soft furnishings reflect the flourishing exotic flora and the coastline view ramps up the drama. The sustainability practices are as impressive as the resort’s design—the architecture allows them to sidestep heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) requirements, minimal electricity is used and water is pumped thanks to gravity. Plus they only serve locally grown foods, many from their own organic farm.
Nick Troubetzkoy, the creator and owner of Jade Mountain, head to St Lucia in the Seventies as a junior Canadian architect to help design holiday villas. He never left. First, he remodelled Anse Chastanet, the hotel down the hill from Jade Mountain's perch, into an eco and artful resort. When he first encountered that hotel in 1974, there was nothing but a clutch of small bungalows on five acres of rainforest. Troubetzkoy's priority was to celebrate the full splendour of the surrounding 600 acres of nature and the Caribbean Sea, and he quickly demonstrated a gift for bringing the outside in: one suite still has a red gommier tree growing through the floor and up through the roof. After transforming Anse Chastenet into a thriving luxury resort with soul, in 2007, he took hospitality to the next level. Literally. This is when the beachfront resort’s elegant little sister, Jade Mountain was born.
When Nick began planning Jade Mountain at the top of the hill above Anse Chastanet, his aim was to dispense with as many walls, windows and doors as possible. Walkways lend a sci-fi feel while coloured Aztec-y glass sculptures enhance its other-worldliness. Each of the 29 15ft-high-ceiling suites at Jade Mountain is truly individual, and none could be accused of being average. Forget TVs, radios or telephones – this is a get-away-from-it-all paradise a world away from could-be-anywhere homogenous chain hotels. Even the five lowest-category pool-less rooms are high on charm, sporting the signature raised-up ensuites and convivially proportioned Jacuzzi tubs that are blessed too with that grandstand Piton-facing look-out.
Bathrooms are furbished with fittings unique to each ‘sanctuary’ as each guest space is called. (The suites here couldn’t be labelled a term as humdrum as ‘room’.) European manufacturers Hans Grohe and Duravit play a big part, and the suppliers of the porcelain sinks and vast tubs are a roll-call of the great and the good in design: Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio, Andreas Dimitriadis, Tom Schoenherr. Ablution fetishists, consider Jade Mountain your Mecca.
The hotel is celebrated for its dedication to environmental conservation and preservation. ‘There has been no clear-cutting of any wooded area; instead we judiciously thinned parts of the dense rainforest and set up quarrying operations with the smallest-possible footprints.’ Rough grey concrete and volcanic stone comprise the thrillingly jarring exterior, with an interior softened by warm coral plaster walls and floor tiles from stone quarried from Barbados. All of the sand and gravel used for the concrete is drawn from the property itself. ‘We set up our mining and rock-crushing sites – a tremendous advantage in that we didn’t have to import all that material.’
Water used to mix the concrete, fill pools and supply the rooms came from their reservoir and treatment plant, fed by rainwater. Even the woodwork and many of the furnishings are made of the tropical hardwoods harvested on their land. The hotel has its nursery within its farmland where the Troubetskoys propagate hundreds of species of tropical plants that will be used for landscaping. ‘Our goal is to drape the structure in greenery in ways that will evoke images of hanging gardens and the iconic Pitons,’ says Nick.
‘Think about the absolute essentials of human existence,’ continues Nick. ‘It always boils down to air and water. We need both of to live, obviously, but air and water also have the remarkable ability to encompass extremely pleasurable experiences.’ Bring able to breathe and bathe freely in total privacy all the while staying tuned into the environment is at the heart of the whole project. ‘Combine the water with the air in this way, and you unlock a profound potential for an almost magical level of enjoyment and celebration, says Troubetskoy. ‘That magic may well be the ultimate achievement at Jade Mountain.’
For the full details of how Jade Mountain cares for the environment, go to their website. Their practices include excellence in the following ways…
WATER MANAGEMENT Anse Mamin Valley's 18th-century 1.5 million gallon reservoir was restored to serve as a catchment for rainwater and river water and is used through their freshwater treatment station. Water-saving practices include treated grey water being reused for irrigation. Jade Mountain and Anse Chastenet played an instrumental role in the creation and implementation of the Soufriere Marine Management Authority which has led to the entire near shore marine environment to be declared a marine reserve. Low-flush toilets throughout and composting beach toilets.
ENERGY MANAGEMENT Bar 12 air-conditioned units, accommodations are built to take advantage of natural airflow. Only natural lighting is used during the day. External and grounds use yellow lighting which doesn't interfere with the local environment or wild-animal behaviour.
REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE Strict paper usage guidelines observed. Paper, crockery, utensils and glasses always recycled. Bulk dispensers for toiletries in public areas and soap, shampoo, and personal care products are in staff areas are biodegradable. Discarded, but still usable, towels are being altered by local seamstress into small hand towels for public areas.Organic waste composted and solid waste reduction through bulk-packaged purchasing.