The Philosophy behind Jardin de Helena and the Galeodan Suites
How we develop this land and share it with our endemic neighbours and human visitors is shaped partly by responsibility but mostly by a genuine desire to celebrate and protect this unique and fragile corner of paradise.
We designed the Suites, with split drainage for recycling and solar power among other features and had thought to call them “The Galeodan Eco-Suites”. But it has taken us several years to get even this far and lately it seems that every other establishment in the Galápagos is an “Eco-Hotel” or “Eco-Lodge”, all to often in little more than name. The “Eco” prefix is rapidly becoming a cliché in hospitality and tourism in general. So we thought again and decided they would be just ”The Galeodan Suites”.
Besides, Jardin de Helena is a lot more than the Suites themselves. It really is a garden - An oasis of green space, preserved in one of the most desirable tourist-development locations in the Galápagos. San Cristóbal and particularly these lots have tremendous commercial potential but we will leave most of it untouched. This is our home, the home of our children and, if we love and care for it, a home for future generations.
The 5 lots which constitute Jardin de Helena (light green on the right) occupy some 2,800 m2.
The Galeodan Suites, offices, concrete walkways and access ramp occupy 330m2 which is only 12% of the total area. In the future we will be building a new home and, possibly, an additional block of suites on the lower lots. Even then, the total developed area will be less than 25% of the total area of Jardin de Helena.
Between Jardin de Helena and the main road to Playa Mann is 1,100m2 of Common Green Space (dark green in the map). This part of the Torre de las Iguanas subdivision is shared by all the owners and must remain free of development.
With the help of the Charles Darwin Foundation, we have developed an Endemic Garden between the Penthouse and the road. As the name suggests, the garden features plants that grow only in the Galápagos Islands. Initial landscaping and planting was performed in 2012 and the Garden will be expanded to completion in 2017.
Light-weight, Efficient Structure:
All the Suites are built with reinforced concrete floors and columns and block walls. We make extensive use of ceramic block, particularly on exposed walls. Ceramic block is lighter than concrete and has superior insulating qualities allowing significant energy savings, particularly in the hottest months. The concrete floors are a honeycomb of concrete and foam blocks (fully enclosed). They allow lighter overall construction (using less material) and like the ceramic block: excellent sound and heat insulation, particularly on the areas exposed to sunlight.
Al the windows, doors, beds, closets and shelves are solid wood, crafted by local carpenters. The walls and ceilings have an unpolished, rustic finish in keeping with the surroundings.
All our construction is undertaken using local labour and, where feasible, local materials. The doors and windows are all wood. The windows use tinted glass for energy saving.
Split Drainage Plumbing
The Pelagic Suites feature a split drainage system. Black water (from the toilets) goes directly to the septic tanks while grey water, from the kitchen, sinks and showers is directed to tanks for re-use.
At this time, the Galeodan Suites are served by conventional power. However, when complete, the final (Terrace) level of the Pelagic Suites will support an extensive array of solar panels which will significantly reduce our overall energy consumption to “near-zero”.
While most lodgings in San Cristóbal only provide shower-head electrical heaters, each Galeodan Suite has its own, more efficient and much safer, on-demand,tankless water heater (calefon) providing hot water to the kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as the showers. At this time, the heaters are gas-fired but the Suites are also wired for electrical induction heaters once they become an ecologically viable alternative - With increased solar capture.
We use energy saving LED bulbs throughout the installations.
For comfort in the warmest months of the year, we provide high-efficiency, quiet, split-system air-conditioners in every suite. Still, we ask guests not to be wasteful in their use and turn them up, or off, when out for a period (such as on an excursion). All the Suites have ceiling fans, and screened openings, front and back, to promote natural ventilation.