Quito, Ecuador – Reported by Erin Riley for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
Teeming with to-be-discovered fauna and wildlife, the recently opened Mashpi Lodge lies nestled at 3,116 feet in the Ecuadorian Andes in the midst of a protected 3,212-acre forest. Designed to blend blissfully into its surroundings with its clean aesthetics and minimal biological impact, this luxury retreat is situated in the biodiversity hotspot of the Chocó that runs from Colombia into Ecuador. What can be described as an ecological dream within a cloud forest, the Mashpi Reserve is home to one of the most astounding selections of amphibian, reptile, insect and bird species in the world, with new species surely to be discovered on the horizon.
Naturally, such a setting calls for sweeping ecological protection and the owners of Mashpi Lodge have taken on this responsibility with full force. A comprehensive project to protect the Mashpi Reserve augmented a new and significantly larger reserve of 42,000 acres, embracing and engulfing Mashpi in a way that will secure sustainable viability for years to come and place the property as a crucial source of employment and more importantly, as a source of sustainable education to local communities. This project was successfully declared a natural protected area by the Municipality of Quito in May 2011.
The first-class property’s resident wildlife project coordinator and accompanying expert team have proven to be a critical investment towards wildlife research, specifically in the identifying of new species and the cataloging of different varieties. This strategic move was monumental in the reserve obtaining its Environmental Permit from the Ministry of the Environment as a private protected area.
Along with these extensive steps towards securing protection legislation, Mashpi Lodge has made similar strides in the exclusive and one-of-a-kind getaway it promises its elite guests. While it’s light, airy and luxurious angles and vistas make Mashpi Lodge the perfect place for contemplation and relaxation; its biodiversity tours inspire more urgent deliberations, as tours are led by some of the finest naturalist guides in Ecuador who explain the reserve’s significance in real-time and real-world concerns.
In a momentous and literal move to reduce impact on the forest, the lodge was pre-assembled in Quito before being transported to the forest site. In the meantime, a 1.2-mile canopy gondola aerial tram is underway, a groundbreaking innovation that will ensure little to no impact on the canopy composition and have guests glide unobstructed above the dense forest fauna.
As a soon-to-be sustainable entity in and of itself, Mashpi Lodge will be powered by hydro-electricity as its single self-sustaining power source. Its low-consuming LED lights, electric-powered buggies, compost treatment for organic waste and recycling of solid waste makes this property a stunning example of the future of sustainable design. Not only this, the sumptuous retreat is working with the local village of Mashpi to grow its supplies of organic produce within the context of existing production, avoiding any expansion of the forest frontier. In a quintessentially sustainable move, this effort will both reduce the reserve’s carbon footprint and ensure income for the surrounding community. This plan currently employs 18 families from the village of Mashpi, with aims of comprising 80 percent of resort staff with local residents.