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2011 Innovators: Harith Wickrema, Owner, Eco Serendib Villa and Spa

Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, an eight-suite eco-friendly, luxury villa, debuted on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands in June. Harith Wickrema, president of the Philadelphia-based communication and event production company Harith Productions and a faculty member of the School of Tourism and Hospitality at Temple University, is the owner and visionary behind the property.

Wickrema wanted to create an environment that would minimize the property’s carbon footprint by incorporating sustainable practices, while also providing an educational experience for guests. “The villa showcases how you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice luxury and modern conveniences to live a greener existence,” he says.

Wickrema brought together a select group of companies that are committed to the environment. For example, ESA Renewables installed Suniva rooftop solar panels, which significantly reduce Eco Serendib’s carbon emissions and energy costs. The property has three separate 20,000-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater, the pool is filled with saltwater, and the outdoor furniture was produced using sustainable plantation management systems. Other eco elements include water-conserving  bath products, a gray water irrigation system, and energy-efficient kitchen appliances.

Eco Serendib is the first property Wickrema has developed and managed, but perhaps not the last. “As things are fine-tuned and perfected, we would certainly consider expansion with the right investor group,” he says.

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