This month, our editorial team immersed themselves in Ecuador, to learn all about the country’s culture, natural beauty and of course the REMOTE lifestyle through the eyes of our community members.
With a bright smile, Reyna, a property owner from Montemar in the Galapagos Archipelago, met us for a virtual chat and told us about the sustainable Villas there.
Reyna, what is the story behind the Montemar dream?
The dream came out of frustration. We were complaining about the way decisions were made, about the urban planning and we thought things should be done differently here. So we went from complaining to taking action.
Because it’s such a responsibility to live here, we wanted to build this pilot project that proved that livelihood and the way we do tourism could be different.
There is nowhere else in the world like this one in terms of biodiversity and nature. So we want to prove it could be gentler and that there can be a more horizontal relationship between humans and nature. We wanted to make some real models that could be replicated. So we could live more as a sustainable community.
How did Montemar connect to your purpose?
Roberto and I came from the field of science. We were both biologists.
We have always loved the idea of the Galapagos since we were kids.
Montemar is what we are. This was a concept that was really born in the depths of our souls, my husband and I.
So sometimes people ask me if the components are a result of market research (now that it’s fashionable to use sustainable materials, for example). But, for us, it has nothing to do with market research. It started out as a family project, as our home, and it built up from there until it naturally became a hospitality project, which is what Montemar is.
But it’s really the journey of a family who decided to walk the walk.
What’s behind the sustainability pillars in Montemar?
The first one is trying to produce as much energy as possible from clean sources. So we prefer to work with solar energy, especially considering that we’re in Ecuador, but this is something that’s not common here.
The second pillar is the water. We are harvesting water from the rain for all our operations. So all the clouds that came from the sky with no contact with civilization for thousands of miles and arrived here became the source of our water. That’s as clean as it gets.
The third is related to local materials. Roberto and I were astonished when we saw the statistics of cargo that gets brought to the Galapagos. Over 70% of it goes to construction. Invasive species are the biggest threat to the biodiversity of the Galapagos and the invasive species come either by airplane or by boat delivering goods for humans. So by using local materials, we are reducing the impact and increasing conservation.
The architectural result is that the villas blend with the place – because of the material and the colours.
There’s an additional result related to Wellness. Because we care so much about integration with nature, a lot of guests say they feel grounded. So it’s a grounding experience. We have guests for example that say that silence is a big component of the experience. Being here, in silence, only having contact with majestic animals and a few locals, is definitely a grounding experience.
It is something beneath the surface and it touches our human essence being in contact with the earth and nature, from a really sophisticated point of view: nature in its purest, most inspiring form.
Montemar is very popular with families and part of its fame is because you and Roberto are known as great hosts and local experts on family itineraries. What’s the story behind that?
Our hosting tools come from our own experience, having lived as a family in the Galapagos and learning when’s the best time to go, what’s the best transportation, what kids like and what they dislike. What’s best for big families with grandparents. My great grandparents visited us so many times too. So I was able to get a 360-degree perspective on how to help everyone have fun. The Galapagos is very diverse so there are activities that fit every taste, from food to fishing, from snorkelling and kayaking to reading and art classes. And we have them all in our portfolio because we have done them.