Guy Savy was born October 21, 1942, on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles. He spent his childhood years in the Seychelles and then moved to New Zealand where he went on to study accountancy. Always the islander at heart, he returned to the Seychelles upon finishing his studies and together with his then business partner, Robert Delorie, he purchased Bird Island.
Bird Island had suffered from years of exploitation as a coconut plantation. Much of its natural vegetation was lost and the numbers of sooty terns had plummeted from somewhere near a million birds to scarcely 65,000 but Guy Savy had a vision to bring this island’s natural environment back to life. Having been raised at a time when the country was less economically developed but the population extremely self-sufficient when it came to living on an island, he was able to apply what he knew and along with some number crunching skills, he built the Bird Island Lodge.
In March 1973, Guy Savy and his wife Marie-France welcomed their first guests to the island. Little did they know that the lodge would still be welcoming many visitors to this day. They had nurtured a unique atmosphere in this small lodge, with a philosophy of preserving the island’s natural heritage for future generations whilst remaining an affordable, simple and eco-friendly choice for visitors. They had become pioneers of Eco-tourism in the Seychelles.
Guy Savy now retired, stills pops into the office from time to time but leaves the running of Bird Island to his two sons, Alex and Nick Savy;
What do you believe to be the stand-out quality of the nature experience of Seychelles?
The fact that the Seychelles offers the best of two worlds; a lush tropical island paradise and an equally beautiful surrounding marine ecosystem. You could be trekking up mountains, through dense forests one day, and next you could be diving with turtles, rays and thousands of tropical fish.
From when does eco-tourism as we know it today in Seychelles, date?
From the early 1970s. 1973 to be precise, with the opening of the Bird Island Lodge. The lodge was the only tourism venture at the time that used its natural surroundings to appeal to travelers, but with a focus on maintaining the island’s natural environment in the long term. The lodge only started with 10 chalets. There are 24 chalets today but there are no plans for expansion and the lodge remains a small-scale family run business with the same principle of offering a beautiful place to holiday whilst protecting the island’s natural heritage.
What do you believe is the future of eco-tourism in Seychelles?
Eco-tourism is dependent on the natural environment and on ecological and cultural sustainability. There is a bright future for eco-tourism in the Seychelles if we are able to protect the environment as well as the cultural element. There is increased awareness of this today, which will surely have a positive impact in the future.
Are there any untapped eco-tourism resources in Seychelles that are still waiting to be developed?
Before looking at untapped eco-tourism resources, first we must better manage existing ones. This is the only way forward if visitors are to have a positive eco-tourism experience, if the community is to benefit and if we are to continue protecting our natural environment.
What are the main challenges that Seychelles faces in keeping its eco-tourism on track?
The growth of the large-scale island resort offering high-end facilities and other elements not associated with eco-tourism. Such hotels are developed at the expense of the surrounding natural environment.
What can visitors expect from their eco-tourism experience in Seychelles and what makes it so special?
Experiencing amazing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. There are so many beautiful places to discover- the nature trails on Mahe, the marine parks, the Vallée de Mai on Praslin, and other Nature Reserves including our very own Bird Island.
By choosing eco-tourism in the Seychelles, travelers can be satisfied in knowing they are helping to conserve this amazing local environment and its cultural heritage.
How do you see Bird Island’s unique experience of nature evolving over the coming years?
We don’t want to change much. We have maintained the same principle from the very start, “to preserve our natural heritage for future generations whilst remaining an affordable, simple and eco-friendly choice for visitors.” This is what sets us apart from the rest.
What do you believe lies at the heart of Bird Island’s enduring appeal?
Our visitors experience true island life when they step onto Bird Island. They feel at peace being away from their busy lives and schedules. They can go swimming in pristine waters and snorkel with turtles and colorful tropical fish. They can relax on some of the whitest powder soft beaches in the Seychelles knowing that they are likely to be the only ones there. They can experience being surrounded by thousands of birds in the Sooty Tern Colony and they can observe prehistoric looking tortoises as they roam about their island home.
What would you suggest to the traveler looking for the ultimate experience in Seychelles nature in an Island hoping holiday?
To try and visit as many islands as possible. In the Seychelles, you are surrounded by nature wherever you go but each island has its own charm. However, Bird Island is definitely a must!