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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Selengut to Get Lifetime Achievement Award

Stanley SelengutMaho Bay Camps and Concordia Preserve owner Stanley Selengut will receive a lifetime achievement award Monday from The International Ecotourism Society, an organization he helped to found in 1989. He’ll receive the award at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in Hilton Head, S.C.

“It’s a really nice one because it’s from my peers,” Selengut said by phone from his home on Long Island.

According to Selengut, the people who voted for the award are those who run ecotourism resorts, lead ecotourism tours or promote ecotourism.

Selengut, 82, said he was also touched by the organization’s request to give a presentation to the entire general assembly of next week’s conference.

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“I’ve been racking of my brain to see what pearls of wisdom…,” he said.

As he thought about topics for his presentation, he said that affordability is one subject that kept “popping up.” He said that he keeps costs down by getting nature to work for him. He plants native plants because they aren’t high maintenance, don’t need a lot of water and grow back easily after hurricanes pass through.

The four-hour work program is another way he’s kept both Maho and Concordia affordable. Volunteers spend varying amounts of time working four hours a day in exchange for their room and a discount on food.

“Most are youngsters but we’re getting a lot of retired people who have skills we never could afford to hire,” he said, ticking off people like plumbers and architects.

Furthermore, Selengut said the resorts have a no tipping policy and encourage people to leave their leftover food behind for the next guests.

Maho Bay has been had the forefront of St. John’s recycling efforts by developing its Trash to Treasure program. Glass bottles are melted and blown into attractive pieces of art glass and old linens get the batik treatment to become things like purses and placemats. Other recyclable items are also made into something useful. These are sold in the resort’s gift shop.

No one from the Ecotourism Society returned a phone call requesting comment, but the organization’s website indicated that Selengut is getting this award for his lifetime commitment to promoting ecotourism and responsible travel.

The organization called him the father of sustainable resort development and an ecotourism pioneer who helped create a model for protecting and celebrating the world’s fragile landscapes.

The website indicated that Selengut has put environmental education as one of his top priorities. He has spoken before hundreds of schools and conferences worldwide and uses his properties for workshops for local school children and educational institutions from around the country.

He has received the International Society of Hospitality Consultants Pioneer Award and U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association’s Tommy Star Award, among many other achievements and recognition for his leadership in tourism and conservation.

In addition to his work with the International Ecotourism Society, he’s served on the National Council of The National Parks and Conservation Association and as chairman of the Committee on Sustainability and Environmental Leadership for the National Park System Advisory Board.

One of Selengut’s ecotourism resorts, Maho Bay Camps, remains in jeopardy. The lease on the land under the campground expires in July 2012 but Selengut said Friday that he is now in negations with the land owners, the Giri Giri Corp., for a one-year extension. This would allow the resort to operate until July 2013. However, Selengut said it was a difficult to do business without a long-term lease.

The Trust for Public Land has tried to negotiate a deal with the Giri Giri Corp. in hopes of buying the land until the federal government can come up with the money to purchase it. The property is within the boundaries of V.I. National Park. Trust Area Director John Garrison said in June that negotiations had stalled, and could not be reached for further comment on Friday. However, Selengut said there was no change in the negotiations.

The Geri Geri Corp. is asking $23 million for the property.

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