CGH Earth - Re-defining Luxury
The hotel group CGH Earth was founded on the idea of offering guests the opportunity to experience nature in its most pristine form. We caught up with the group’s founder and CEO Jose Dominic to find out more.
ECT Travel: CGH Earth now boasts 16 properties across southern India. How did it all start?
JD: The unique CGH Earth vision goes back to the late 1950s when my father opened the Casino Hotel in Kochi. Then, in 1988, I put in a bid for Bangaram Island Resort in Lakshadweep islands. My proposal was simply to do what the islanders would do and base all the marketing on the absence of the usual bling – televisions, air-conditioning, newspapers etc – and invite people simply to come and enjoy nature in its most pristine form. We won the contract, much to my surprise, and that was when we knew that we could re-define luxury. It is not necessarily built on ostentation; it can also be built on experience and participation in the preservation of nature. We opened Spice Village Thekkady in 1991, again on this principal of ‘less is more’ (we justified the prices to those who asked why they were so high when there was no room service and the accommodation was in grass-thatched cottages by telling them that nature and community came free!), and it was a success.
CGH Earth Spice Village Thekkady
ECT Travel: It certainly was – so much so that it led not only to more hotels, but also to Kerala adopting a different model of tourism
JD: Yes. Tourism is the engine of development in Kerala. Investment never really came after independence, so tourism was started by small, local business and the strategy was always that tourism is for the benefit of the community rather than the tourist. In October 2017, the Government of Kerala launched the ‘Responsible Tourism Mission’, which aspires to provide an additional income and a better livelihood to farmers, traditional artisans, and marginalised people, along with creating a social and environmental equilibrium. It has been awarded the prestigious UNWTO Ulysses Award.
ECT Travel: Do you think the pause in travel caused by the Pandemic fast forwarded a wider interest in Responsible Tourism?
JD: I hope so. I hope people will travel differently in the future. We need to open peoples’ minds to other ways of travelling that values land and community before the customer. CGH Earth offers holiday experiences that are extensions of the life of the villages and towns where each resort is located. They are designed to sharpen our guest’s vision and heighten understanding of the intricacies of each community. After all, discovering the unfamiliar and the rare is the reason you travel thousands of miles.
CGH Earth Coconut Lagoon & Marari Beach Resort
Experience these remarkable hotels on our Kerala & the Magic of the Malabar Coast holiday 2023. Discover the programme here