Claude Graves has some new ideas that are actually almost a century old.
It is an interesting experience when you observe current and pending solutions to a modern day dilemma, like sustainability, being vastly improved upon using ideas from great 20th century minds. Modern day science, and its implementation, can be carried out in a remote area of the world, where tribes still conduct life under the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The Indonesian Island of Sumba is located southeast of the more popular island of Bali - roughly a one hour flight from one to the other. Once belonging to the Dutch West Indies, this unique culture is historically known for its sandalwood exports, but more interestingly for its continued use of megalithic burials and a brutal game called pasola, where local tribes fiercely compete on horseback with spears.These three combined elements (past inventions, sustainability and Sumba itself) are all playing out thanks to a trailblazer from New Jersey, named Claude Graves. He was enticed into the area by a major US construction company, to supervise offshore oil production rigs. Claude spent years traveli ng and working throughout Indonesia . A time came when he and his wife, Petra, found themselves exploring the profoundly undiscovered island of Sumba, trekking and camping their way along the rugged coast line, fighting off malaria, learning the language, embracing sensitivities of the local cultures and falling in love with their soon to be new home.
Fast forward to the famed surf, dive and fishing eco-resort of Nihiwatu , softly opened by Claude and Petra in 2001, as a realized vision and an example of how a world-class hotel could be run, while at the same time focusing on offsetting the negative effects of tourism and man-made activities. Their commitment has led to a 14-room property, which operates entirely on four bio-diesel generators fuelled from coconuts - producing 75 percent less carbon emissions then petrol-diesel.
The problem is, business is booming and expansion is inevitable. Plans being considered include two additional separate ‘villages’ for new guest rooms, pools, spa and fitness rooms, bar and lounge areas. This would push the current setup and energy supply to its limit, due to the growing distance of the resort from some of its suppliers, requiring substantial financial upgrades.
Creative and forward thinking
In an amazing twist, the solution can be found with great inventions created in the roaring twenties. A creative and forward thinking company in the US, recently supported with a substantial investment from a former co-founder of a popular sporting eyewear company, has had the insight to look back into history, and discover opportunities in expired patents, from well known inventors and scientists such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. They’ve hired former NASA scientists to tackle the challenge of converting these patents, which to date are only available in vastly large, impractical dimensions, into more workable models, which are proportionate, efficient, and economical. Sumba is entering the 21st century. To be continued…