The Feynan Wilderness Lodge, found on the Western edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve in the Kingdom of Jordan, is the first for ecotourism in this country. It is a great eco-model of social innovation while also offering a unique and brilliant cultural adventure, set far away in the valley of the mountainous Middle Eastern desert.Â The resort is run byÂ EcoHotels, yet is owned by theÂ Royal Society for the Conservation of NatureÂ (RSCN), a not-for-profit organisation created to preserve the Kingdom’s natural resources and heritage.Â TheÂ RSCN says it”promotes socio-economic development for the communities living around Jordan’s Nature Reserves.”
Feynan’sÂ impressively decorated spaces and luxury accommodations in the 26-room lodge has won many awards for its experiential, social innovation “green” practice and design. It won the ‘Global Vision Awards’ in 2012 and National Geographic cited it in its ‘Top 50 Ecolodge List’ of 2009. Every care has been taken to ensure it is eco-friendly from top to bottom; its electricity is powered by its own solar/photovoltaic (PV) panels and is completely off the grid, with lights available exclusively in the kitchen, guest bathrooms and lodge office.Â All laundry is air-dried, and the sheets and towels are cleaned only after checkout or by request of the guest. The inherent design of the lodge eliminates the need for constant air conditioning, even in harsh desert temperatures!
This ‘green’ hotel incorporatesÂ social innovationÂ into its water supply, which is sourced by a nearby spring, and the indigenous plants that bloom in the area reduce the need for watering.Â Moreover, it has a ban on plastic bottles, which diminishes 10,000 bottles of disposableÂ plastic wasteÂ annually, as each room is kitted-out with locally made clay jars that naturally keep the complimentary fresh water at a cool temperature.Â The entire menu at Feynan is vegetarian and any waste is composted.
Feynan helps to protect theÂ Dana Biosphere Reserve, which is Jordan’s largest nature reserve by not only coming up with new social innovationÂ thinking and techniques, but also by generating revenue to help conserve the area and protect a number of endangered species.Â All the staff is made-up of locals and Bedouins (a nomadic Arabic tribe that has historically wandered the Arabian deserts). Together, they incorporate nearby culture in the lodge by introducing their way of life.
Over 80 families in the local community; that’s approximately 400 people or 14% of the population are associated with the resort and are welcome to benefit from its conservation programs andÂ green initiatives. The RSCN also works directly with local villages and Bedouin communities to create income-producing projects to generate employment opportunities for the native population.Â Nabil Tarazi, the hotel’s managing director says, Jordan uses “tourism as a tool for conservation.” By promoting ecotourism throughout the country, business owners and hoteliers contribute to conserving Jordan’s naturally brilliant landscape.
Photo Credit:Â Feynan Lodge’s Website
Sangeeta Haindl is a staff writer for Justmeans on Social Enterprise. When not writing for Justmeans, Sangeeta wears her other hat as a PR professional. Over the years, she has worked with high-profile organizations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from her industry. She now runs her own UK consultancy: Serendipity PR & Media.