You’ve probably heard about the Itz’ana team’s commitment to healthy living, sustainability and community. This ethos permeates through everything we do. And today we’d like to introduce you to one member of our family who inspires each of us to live better every day and give back in ways big and small.
If you’ve ever stopped by our site on the beautiful Placencia peninsula you’ve doubtless seen him running around the grounds checking on every detail – our beloved Project General Manager, Shawn Marshall.
In addition to keeping everything in tip top shape around here, Shawn leads the team as a carpenter with the soul of an environmentalist. He has an entire crew on site that have been working tirelessly to custom build furniture for the new resort: tables, chairs, frames, you name it, he and his team have crafted it. They’re repurposing as much material as possible from Luba Hati, the old resort building that was previously on this site. Nothing goes to waste under this man’s watchful eye!
But that’s just the beginning of Shawn’s story. Someone recently suggested that his title should actually read “Gardener-in-Chief” because of how much love he has for the natural beauty of our surroundings. We sat down with him to talk about what drives his commitment to building a more sustainable – and beautiful – world.
“My love of gardening stems from my time in Namibia where I worked as a game warden in the department of Nature Conservation. I watched magnificent trees being cut down in protected areas to make way for urban expansion. This demonstrated for me how nature connects us with each other, and the living world, and that we should endeavor to explore how we can create a better future.
My belief is that sustainability is good business practice.”
Shawn is always pushing our team to come up with new ways to think about sustainability. It goes beyond putting solar panels on our cottages, supporting local farmers, and installing rain water storage and a solar hot water system to make sure our office is self-sufficient. When we had a stack of shipping containers left over from a big delivery, instead of getting rid of them, Shawn realized they could be reused to build the perfect place for our onsite staff to live!
“After laying them, I realized that since we already have such a solid foundation in the form of all these containers, why not use them as the foundation for our staff accommodation? So, we started to build the Itz’ana staff quarters on top of the guest storage units. This has saved us on space, money and time. To date we have room for thirty-eight team members, and the rooms are as cool as can be – they get the breeze and also have a fantastic view.”
That they do!
This is the kind of out-of-the-box (or should we say, in this case, “on-the-box”) thinking Shawn helps encourage in all our team members. He’s even putting his love of gardening to good use installing an organic garden behind the cantina that will use rainwater harvesting and compost food waste to create a sustainable ecosystem.
“This is a great educational tool for visitors and home-owners alike. This is where the organic garden truly begins, before the planting of any seeds. We’re also experimenting with vertical gardens to maximize yield from a limited space. Soon we hope to grow mushrooms for the kitchen as well.”
And we can hardly wait to taste them! After all, everything is better when it’s grown in your own backyard.
But we’re not planning on keeping all of Shawn’s good ideas for ourselves! Itz’ana is committed to giving back to our incredible community here in Placencia in the most meaningful ways we can.
With his leadership, we’ve already begun organizing the cleanup of trash in the area. Itz’ana has sponsored the erection of a number of trash cans and is committed to keeping the whole peninsula clean and beautiful. As Shawn says, “a place we can all be proud of.”
“We’ve arranged and paid for trash to be picked up twice a week. The major challenge is to educate a community on correct procedures for trash disposal. I’ve started off by employing a couple of people to clean up the collection site area so as to have a clean starting point.”
True to form, it isn’t only at work that Shawn is making a difference.
“My number one organization is the Humane Society of Placencia. It is our moral obligation to look after beings that cannot look after themselves, so I volunteer and also foster dogs and cats until they can be rehabilitated and placed in loving homes.”
Just when you thought you couldn’t love Shawn more, he swings by with a cute puppy for everyone to play with. But that’s not even his favorite part about living in Placencia.
“My wife, Madge the dog & Nutmeg our cat are what I love most. The ease of community togetherness, the beautiful sunsets and living so close to the beach. Itz’ana is a fantastic company to work with and after being here 18 months I still look forward to coming to work each morning.”
And that is something to celebrate! Another thing he’s looking forward to celebrating? “The completion of Itz’ana!”
As are we, Shawn. And with you at our helm, the future is looking very bright.
Want to take a tour of our beachfront property with Shawn? Talk to our team today to arrange a visit!