Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tell stories of the people on the ground, expose the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet James, the owner of Olas Tulum and his partner Abby. James is originally from New York but when he fell in love with Tulum in Mexico he decided to stay there permanently. He has many interests from snowboarding to biking, he loves to travel and is especially passionate about good food and the concept of living simply.
Learn more about Olas Tulum here>
Why is Olas Tulum the perfect destination for eco-conscious travellers?‘We’re real, we’re not greenwashing. We do what we say we’re doing and we live as consciously as possible. Because we are planted here on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, we’re very conscious of the Earth and what we’re stewarding.
If people want to learn more about our eco conscious practices they can ask about it and we can give them a tour, we’re always happy to share it with others. Everything we do is with nature in mind, first and foremost.’
Can you tell us the story of how Olas Tulum started? How did it come to have an eco-conscious focus?‘Truthfully, I was unhappy with the political situation in the USA and I just felt as though I had to get out of there. When I first heard about Tulum it was just getting started and I fell in love with it. There were amazing restaurants and cabanas and you could just live on the beach in this simplistic way of life.
It was raw and beautiful, and I just felt like I had to go for it and open up what is now Olas Tulum. The idea was always to be lifestyle driven, not business driven. I didn’t want to have a negative impact on this beautiful piece of nature, in fact I wanted to leave it better than I found it, so Olas had to be zero impact.’
Are there any misconceptions guest have when they come to stay at Ola Tulum? Is there anything that they don’t expect?‘People don’t realise how small we are here. I think our online presence makes us look bigger, but there really is just a private, intimate feeling here. People will come in and ask where the reservations desk is, but there isn’t one, it’s not that sort of place. Wherever we connect is the reservations desk. I don’t think people get that impression online.’
What do you see as being the most challenging aspect of running a genuinely eco conscious property?‘It comes back into our aim of being completely environmentally-conscious, and keeping things simple. We don’t really have a restaurant because of this and it means that we’re limited in what we can do. For example, if someone wants to do a wedding, we could only take in about 18 people otherwise it would be damaging. We have to limit our business in many aspects, but it’s all so that we can stick to our ethos.’
What two nature based, low impact activities would you recommend for guests?We would only ever recommend natured based activities anyway, and none of it based on commission. There are kayaking tours inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, run through a guide called Antonio who is happy to share his story with guests. All of the operators we recommend are locals who are genuinely passionate about what they do. We could also recommend some of the best archaeological sites, not the tourist hotspots.’
Can you tell us more about the homemade Mexican breakfast and what makes it so special?‘I could talk about food all day. There is a focus on quality over profit here. Everything is made fresh from scratch; nothing is pre-prepared and it is all the best local ingredients that we can find. If we’re here to take care of the land, we should take care of our guests in the same way and feed them the best that we can. The amount of time and effort we put into each meal; it just can’t be compared to. We offer organic coffee and the best granola. I live and eat here too, so it really is a subject of pride.’
What green initiative or eco practice are you most proud of to date and why?‘It’s not nice to talk about, but our waste management system is something we really invested in. We’re on a beach, which is just like a sponge in that it’s so absorptive and eventually everything makes its way into the ocean, so we really didn’t want our waste system to be negatively impactful. If anyone ever used anything that wasn’t organic, it would throw off our bacteria colony, which converts black water into grey water. It’s a delicate system, but a very clever one.’
What’s next for Olas Tulum?‘We’re going to carry on this simple, eco-conscious way of life and holding true to who we are. We’ll never expand as the environment we’re in will always be the number one priority. For me personally, I’m going to make sure that 2020 is more sustainable.’
Learn more about Olas Tulum and do your own checks here>