Auckland architect and former Rarotonga resident Tim Merkens created this artist's impression of one of the luxury safari tents.
Rarotonga husband and wife team Matt and Luana Scowcroft have always been passionate about environmental conservation.
And the Scowcrofts are about to take their passion to the next level. In June they will be opening the Cook Islands’ first purpose-built eco accommodation and ‘glamping’ (‘glamour camping’) site.
“This project has been about turning our passion into a job,” says Luana.
Ikurangi Eco Retreat will include two ‘Are’ bungalows and four luxury safari tents, using sustainable systems to minimise the impacts of tourism on the natural environment, Luana says.
‘Glamping’ is a rapidly growing industry worldwide, combining traditional outdoor camping with hotel luxury, says Luana.
Tents will be fitted with modern composting toilets, reusable wastewater systems and recycling and composting systems.
The luxury tents will be built on raised decks to minimise their effects on the land.
Solar lighting and power will also be used where possible.
The pair have also formed a relationship with the Te Ipukarea Society and other local tourism and eco-type businesses to keep the retreat and guest activities community-focused, Luana says. Luana is not new to the Cook Islands tourism industry – in fact it is in her blood.
The 26-year-old comes from a family of hoteliers in the Cook Islands –her grandparents, Kay and Joe Bosanquet opened one of the first hotels on Rarotonga, the Arorangi Beach Motel, now known as Manuia Beach Resort.
Matt is a lawyer on Rarotonga, and Luana says his pragmatism and knowledge of the ‘nuts and bolts’ coupled with her background in marketing has made for a pretty good team.
In July last year, the Scowcroft’s leased a property on Matavera’s back road, and since then have spent months planning, building, and clearing the land.
In true Rarotongan style, Luana says their friends have been a huge help during working bee weekends, coming to the retreat to lend a helping hand.
As with any building project, Luana says they have had their ups and downs – mainly due to the unpredictable tropical weather on Rarotonga.
The retreat will open soon and planning has covered every eventuality.
In case of a natural disaster or cyclone, there is a container onsite and the tents can be quickly packed away for safekeeping.
For more information visit www.ikurangi.com or the Ikurangi Eco Retreat Facebook Page.