Clean, Green, Healthy Earth – The CGH brand experience
By Pinkerala News Desk | Aug 13, 2018
One of the greatest internal conflicts we face is to restrain our infinite potential, subdue the different drives we have in different directions, and choose to settle, living out most of our lives as one dimensional beings. For as long as man has existed, this conflict between commerce and art, creating and conserving, and protecting traditions and embracing new cultures has existed within all of us.
Very few of us have ever attempted to find that elusive balance between these drives. However, when accomplished, we become pioneers in our trade. One such pioneer who redefined our very ideals on the concept of hospitality and luxury tourism is CGH Earth.
The CGH history
Based in Kochi, and with properties spread across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, and Karnataka, the seed for the group was sown by Dominic Jose in 1954, when he leased out the landmark Malabar Hotel, which would later become the iconic Casino Hotel in Willington Island, the group’s flagship today. In 1978, with his son and the current head of the group, Jose Dominic joining the family business, what was then a standalone hotel quickly evolved into an internationally acclaimed hotel chain known for their well-defined principles and unique brand of hospitality. And this evolution can be best explained by how the brand went from being the Casino Group of Hotels to “Clean-Green-Healthy Earth” Hotels under the leadership of Jose Dominic.
The experience that comes with the brand
So what sets CGH Earth apart from their competition? A quick glance at their tastefully detailed website will tell you that this hotel group is unlike any you have experienced before. Working with local communities, being one with the local ethos, and caring for the environment are the three principles around which all their initiatives are planned, and it is well reflected in their hotels which are experimental in their architecture, locations, people, services, and activities. Approaching the business as a curator rather than a creator, the 16 properties spread across south India are a testament to this philosophy, with experiences ranging from city hotels to backwater cruises to private villas to resorts to mansions to ayurvedic & wellness centers. And what is common across them is a theme of experiential luxury and responsible tourism which isn’t choreographed or predictable.
A vision etched into the business
Every CGH hotel advocates inclusivity and giving back to the local communities by providing employment opportunities to the people around their destination, sourcing raw materials, fresh produce, craftsmen, and other goods & services from local vendors, and associating with local service providers for support systems such as guided tours and activities for guests to participate in. Spice Village in Thekkady works with the Mannan tribe of the Periyar forests to thatch the roofs of the resort’s guest huts every year using locally sourced elephant grass as a way of helping preserve a skill and tradition critical to this tribe.
Building culture that still prevails
CGH’s restaurants have always been revered for their fantastic food, be it the nostalgic Pandhal restaurant’s gourmet cuisine, which most Kochiites fondly celebrated as a family tradition after Sunday morning mass in the nineties, or the mouthwatering assortment of seafood delicacies that are a signature element of Casino Hotel’s buffet. These gastronomical experiences are enriched by making use of locally sourced, seasonal produce, sometimes farmed within the properties themselves, and relying on traditional recipes and preparation styles which are unique to the locality they are centered around.
Art & Heritage
Art is an integral part of every CGH experience, with most properties hosting workshops for local artists, as well as providing a platform to display their art. David Hall in Fort Kochi is always surrounded by paintings and sculptures which transcends our understanding of what art should be.
Heritage and conservation form the backbone of CGH’s vision. Almost all of their properties are existing buildings, often decades or even centuries old, thoughtfully restored and updated, respecting nature and local cultures. Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom made use of wood upcycled from traditional timber mansions or “tharavadus”, which were on the brink of collapse due to neglect, thus making it a living museum of a bygone era. Swaswara in Gokarna proactively engages in rainwater harvesting both within the property through their ponds, as well as at a neighborhood school as a means of achieving self-sufficiency.
Someone recently asked me how a brand like CGH has managed to standout so well from the competition in terms of the kind of properties they have, like Chittoor Kottaram, Brunton Boatyard, and Visalam, as well as the way people perceive the brand. Following their rich and calculated history of realizing an impeccable and unusual vision, the answer presents itself in the form of the hard work and thought they’ve put into what CGH Earth stands for.
Picture Credit: CHG Earth
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