Ecolodge starts fundraiser for preventing foreclosure

The Ecolodge on Saba has started fundraising to prevent foreclosure, which has been threatening the resort. This writes The Daily Herald. The Ecolodge advertises itself as a unique resort, consisting of small lodgings in the middle of the Saba rainforest. The resort was opened in 2002 and is currently facing rough financial weather. The current manager and chef, Keith Murphy, together with his friend Kelly Parker, both from the United States, have set up a fundraiser to save the Ecolodge from going under.

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On the crowd-funding website Indiegogo.com, the two friends have currently collected more than US $3,500 and they have been receiving positive feedback from both locals and tourists. They have also made a video and a Facebook page to show potential donors first-hand the beauty of the location and the work that has been done in the past months. The fundraiser will officially end on March 14. By that time, they hope to have collected a total amount of US $150,000. This is the amount needed to keep the Ecolodge from going into foreclosure.

Over the past months Murphy has worked hard getting the Ecolodge up to the highest possible standards. Parker didn’t hesitate when Murphy contacted him for help and took the first possible plane from the USA to come to his friend’s aid.

For the past 12 years the Saba Ecolodge has aimed to set a model of a sustainable and holistic lifestyle while accommodating guests with friendly service and exceptional cuisine. “Our unique ‘off-the-grid’ lifestyle will appeal to both travellers to – and residents from Saba. Nestled in the luscious Saban rainforest, we are able to truly give our guest a taste of paradise”, Murphy commented.

With the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs grown and found around the Rainforest Restaurant, chef Murphy is able to offer an Indigenous Island Cuisine, preserving the heritage of the Caribbean while using classical culinary techniques. “Our holistic way of life will allow us to offer our guest yoga, meditation, cooking classes, foragforaging adventures and more” Parker explained. His plan is to create a more diverse offering of activities for guests.

Both Parker and Murphy have eclectic backgrounds and a skillset making them a perfect fit for The Saba Ecolodge. Their expertise lies in the culinary arts, the hospitality industry and holistic lifestyle.

Murphy was born in New York in 1980 and started his career in culinary arts whilst still in high school, managing a small sandwich  shop outside of Richmond, Virginia. After a number of years working in restaurants there and in North Carolina, he took off for the big city, attending culinary school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Whilst in school he also trained with French Master Chef Olivier de St. Martin and American chef Jose Garces. After his stints with those illustrious chefs, Murphy went on to take the reins at the Vintage Wine Bar in Philadelphia, before moving down south, plying his trade at a small bistro called 516 Burns. After falling in love with Saba on a brief visit, Murphy was offered a job as the Executive Chef of the Queens Gardens Resort on the island. After three years at Queens Gardens, he was offered an opportunity to become the Marine Park Ranger for the Saba Conservation Foundation, further developing his love for nature and conservation of the natural world. After a brief stint on Aruba working on a horse ranch, Murphy is back on Saba and ready to combine his love for nature with his culinary skills.

Parker was born into a family of farmers in Eastern North Carolina in 1982. He grew up with a love of nature and enthusiasm for manual labour. As the son of a master carpenter, Parker learned his way around the jobsite at a young age and worked on the farm during summer breaks from school. After high school, he began to travel around the United States. He finally moved to St. John in the United States Virgin Islands in 2006 and began working in upscale restaurants as a server. Inspired by his first professional massage, upon moving back to the States, Parker entered into a massage therapy school in Asheville, North Carolina (NC). Whilst attending the 600 certification programme, he was also the resident advisor of the Centre for Massage and Natural Health, providing guest and student services at the holistic retreat there. Whilst there, Kelly was immersed in a holistic lifestyle that continues to influence him to this day. Parker was asked by friends and co-workers to teach them yoga and meditation after learning that it was the backbone of his holistic lifestyle. Hence began his teaching career. Since then he has taught more than 500 yoga classes and workshops in the United States and the Caribbean. Whilst teaching at a medical clinic in his hometown of Greenville, NC, he put together a business plan and a group of teachers and started The Purple Blossom Yoga Studio.

Murphy and Parker have been good friends for more than 14 years. The Saba Ecolodge promises to provide its guest with a unique and exciting experience of sustainable lodging, holistic living and indigenous island cuisine amidst the serene beauty of the Saba rainforest. “We aim to preserve the heritage of Saba and bring agriculture back to the forefront of its economy. As recent trends point toward the importance of eco-friendly tourism, our holistic and ‘offthe- grid’ business model becomes more and more attractive to local consumers and travellers alike” Murphy concluded.

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