With beautiful weather, crystal-clear waters and a plethora of things to do from world class yoga-retreats to world class nightlife it’s no surprise that Ibiza welcomes millions of holidaymakers from around the globe each year. Official stats state that 2016 saw just over three million tourists descend onto the small, idyllic island, this combined with a local population of around 150,000 means that there are understandably enormous pressures placed on the local environment.
Whilst tourism can help keep an economy afloat, and in that sense, Ibiza is doing incredibly well, it has created a host of social and environmental challenges. Companies such as Ibiza’s first zero-emissions boating experience La Bella Verde, are now taking it upon themselves to make a positive difference.
The brain child of three friends who had emigrated to Ibiza, La Bella Verde, is an environmentally conscious business running a fleet of solar-powered catamarans used to take tourists and locals alike on tours exploring the coast of Ibiza and its surrounding islands. This eco-friendly approach to tourism is a welcome addition in the face of the multiple yachts and super-yachts that descend upon the Balearic waters each year damaging the local environment.
La Bella Verde experience
Whilst promoting sustainability and accountability, it is certainly not to the detriment of luxury - the La Bella Verde experience is as high-end as they come. Guests are taken on-board one of the seven eco-catamarans before setting sail to some of the most truly beautiful and secluded spots the Balearic seas have to offer. While onboard, depending on the package, guests are treated to local, organic food that is full of flavour and it’s on the healthy side – a welcome reprieve if you’re slightly hungover – Caprese salads, fresh gazpacho, ceviche amongst other mouth-watering dishes are then washed down with organic wine and cocktails made fresh onboard with the finesse and skill of any cocktail maker on land.
Since the launch, subsequent growth has been organic and a genuine passion for sustainability is at the heart of what the team do and believe in. Charlie Priestly, Founder of La Bella Verde spoke about the beginning, “My two co-founders and I had been friends for a little while and they were sailing the original boat that was to become ‘La Bella Verde’ at the time. One evening over drinks they had mentioned their idea of purchasing the boat and making it electric. I jumped at the chance, I was ready for a change and having a degree in Marine Biology it was the perfect marriage of all our skills and resources. Very shortly after, La Bella Verde was born.”
La Bella Verde's commitment
The level of commitment to the cause, on a personal level, has enabled La Bella Verde to develop in the way it has done. Similar to the wave of environmental consciousness sweeping the globe - seen with the likes of the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protests and the plethora of green initiatives private companies and franchises are also funding, we can see people are beginning to make a difference. “I truly believe that all investments in this day and age should have the best interests of the planet at heart. So we, and future generations below us, get to carry on enjoying and receiving all that the natural world provides us, I also believe it makes utter business sense. There is a global movement happening right now, especially amongst the younger generation.”
For Charlie this is a deeply personal passion, enough for him to put his own money behind the business and provide that initial bit of capital to get things started, “For me personally, I have had a deep affinity with the ocean since I can remember which is also as a result of my marine biology degree, my choice to live on this beautiful island and my general concern for such a fragile habitat. When this opportunity arose (founding La Bella Verde) it was a no-brainer. To do this with two of my dearest brothers, in all but blood, was the icing on the cake.”
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The impact in the boating world
La Bella Verde has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2014 and is now one of Ibiza’s most exciting start-ups. The unprecedented growth has meant expansion has had to happen quickly and with that, changes to the development of the boats play a part, with the company now building them from scratch for sale instead of refurbishing existing vessels. Priestly says, “We went from one boat in 2014 to rolling out seven boats this summer. We were running at full capacity throughout the previous summers; the growth has been immense. We are looking to play a larger role as is necessary and possible in the rapidly changing boating industry, changing from using fossil fuels to renewable energy. As an industry there has been very little focus on this, our mission is to bring it to the attention of as many people as possible and to play a major part in changing the boating world.”
La Bella Verde is taking an active role in having a positive impact on the local environment. Priestly believes we all have a responsibility to do what it takes to look after our planet. “It is the responsibility of every conscious entity, be that an individual, family, group, government, or business to make a stand and do something. Businesses are making the biggest detrimental environmental impact, so along with government policy, I truly believe that businesses stepping up to this challenge is one of the most vital pieces of this incredibly important puzzle.”
La Bella Verde is becoming even more sustainable
And La Bella Verde is stepping up, in fact it is at the forefront of this movement and is rapidly growing and evolving because of it. As technological capabilities improve and the conservation message gets louder, La Bella Verde is getting bigger. Priestly talks about the future of the business, “We are now building solar powered sailing catamarans that will be for sale all over the globe and we are also in the process of designing new models for different sorts of activities. We have a large-scale mission, from introducing solar charging stations in ports around the world to converting much larger vessels as solar and battery technology improves.
We also want to expand our foundation in order to push forward our conservation message in a bid to protect marine ecosystems around the world. We hope to work with as many people as possible to make this happen, no man is an island, the more people that get on board with this movement, the better. There is, and always will be plenty to go around.”
Charlie and the team at La Bella Verde are showing that by being eco-driven isn’t to compromise on experience and that you can well and truly retain those unforgettable moments whilst taking care of the world around us. It’s not just La Bella Verde pushing the green initiative on the island, restaurants including La Paloma use only fresh, seasonal organic produce whilst hotels such as the beautiful Legado has banned all plastic bottles, has its own water supply from an underground reservoir and was even built using mostly recycled materials. As long as businesses take responsibility and accountability, Ibiza has a beautiful, sustainable future ahead.
Tours start from €100pp +Tax for groups and €125pp + tax, including picnic for individuals visit the website for more information.
Words: Vishal Rana