Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project Greens St. John, US Virgin Islands with $20K Conservation Program

Luxury villa's vital conservation program combats erosion and reduces the carbon footprint at St. John beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearly $20,000 in total has been donated towards the effort since 2012, with more than $15,000 in funding this spring.

St. John, Virgin Islands, April 24, 2013 --( Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, an eco-friendly, luxury retreat on St. John, announces $15,000 in 2013 funding to Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of the national park, for the continuation of the Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project, a vital conservation effort. The funds come from monies the intimate villa sets aside from reservations. Nearly $20,000 in total has been donated since the beginning of 2012 shortly after the villa’s grand opening, particularly significant considering Eco Serendib has just eight suites.

The Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project, which was initiated last year with $4,000 in seed funding, protects the island’s coastline from the damaging impact of erosion while reducing the carbon footprint by re-introducing indigenous trees and shrubs, such as sea grape, at beaches throughout the island. It is a program that is urgently needed to ensure the preservation of these pristine and world renowned beaches. Villa guests also have the opportunity to become involved hands-on with the green project should they wish through tours, demonstrations and even hands-on planting, cultivating and irrigation.

Last year, Maho Bay Beach was the first to benefit from the Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project. This year the project will expand to include Hawksnest, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Francis Bay. Gary Ray, Ph.D., a restoration ecologist and proprietor of Virgin Forest Restorations, an eco consulting firm, has drawn up the plans and will oversee the Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project under the guidance of the Virgin Islands National Park. Plantings will include sea grape, nothing nut, orange manjack, black torch and barbasco – plants that are native to the Virgin Islands and better able to control erosion, while discouraging invasive exotics. Areas of shade and new walkways will be created to ensure foot traffic doesn’t damage dunes. Seedlings are currently being tended at Virgin Forest Nursery and the plantings will begin later this spring.

“When we learned the challenges of obtaining a government grant to protect our beaches from erosion, we approached Eco Serendib Villa and Spa as they have a program that allocates funds from reservations to protect against beach erosion. Eco Serendib agreed not only to continue their support but also to fund the entire project,” explained Joe Kessler, president of Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park. “This kind of social responsibility sets an excellent example for others in the community.”

“The main attractions of St. John are our beautiful beaches and the national park. If our beaches are eroded, it will not only hurt us environmentally, but will negatively impact tourism – a major economy here,” said Brion FitzGerald, superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park. “We appreciate Eco Serendib’s support of this project which will allow for planting some 216 native trees on our pristine beaches.”

“It is gratifying to be able to contribute to the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park’s important conservation efforts with the continuation of the Eco Serendib Beach Restoration Project,” explained Harith Wickrema, Eco Serendib’s chief visionary officer. “We created the program last year as a way to give back to the island and expand our commitment to conservation beyond the borders of the property. This project not only protects against erosion but also reduces the carbon footprint by adding more trees. It is our hope that others in the hospitality community will be inspired to set aside funds too – even just a dollar for each reservation night would make a meaningful contribution toward conservation efforts.” Wickrema, who is also president of Harith Productions and faculty member of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, was recognized by Lodging magazine as one of the top ten hospitality innovators in the area of sustainability for his efforts onsite at Eco Serendib Villa and Spa. He’s also a past recipient of the Successful Meetings and Meeting News Greenest Planner Award and a trustee of the Green Meeting Industry Council’s Sustainable Meetings Foundation. Additionally, Wickrema is the visionary behind the creation of the Green Initiatives Awards presented by Temple University, scheduled for April 29, 2013.

About Eco Serendib Villa and Spa:
Eco Serendib Villa and Spa is an exclusive retreat that sets new standards for eco-friendly luxury on St. John in the USVI. With eight elegant suites, a full-service spa, organic “seed to plate” garden and full complement of amenities and services, Eco Serendib offers a sumptuous and serene home-base. Green elements include solar panels, rain water harvesting, eco materials in design, energy-efficient appliances, grey water irrigation and more. Visit

Media Contact: Lisa Herbst, 347-393-2948,
Eco Serendib Villa and Spa
Lisa Herbst