Eco-minded: Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño
With Earth Day coming up on April 22, hertelier is unearthing eco-minded women in hotel operations and sharing what inspires them. First up, we meet Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño, owner and proprietor of the 18 suite Las Alamandas in Mexico.
Born in Paris, hotelier Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño is the daughter of the late British financier Sir James Goldsmith and the granddaughter of “Bolivian Tin King” Don Antenor Patiño. Isabel inherited a wild and beautiful tract of 2,000 acres along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, known as the Costalegre, from her grandfather, Don Antenor Patiño, who passed away just before realizing his ambitious development plans to create a large hotel and residences on the site. (Fun fact: he had already built Las Hadas, the fabled resort in Manzanillo where the 1979 movie “10” with Bo Derek was filmed.)
When Isabel took over the property, situated on a lonely stretch of the Pacific coast and a ninety-minute drive south of Puerto Vallarta, it consisted of an infrastructure of unpaved roads cut into the jungle, a landing strip for small planes, and little else. She fell in love with this remote paradise, with its perfect half-mile-long beach, its lagoons rich in wildlife, and the setting amidst low hills covered in trees and cactus.
She had no intention of creating a miniature Acapulco as her grandfather had planned. Instead, working with architect Gabriel Orosco, she created Las Alamandas, an eco-friendly boutique resort with just 18 suites that has since become one of Mexico’s most exclusive hideaways. She named Las Alamandas after the yellow Copa de Oro, an exquisitely beautiful flower that grows wild in the region. Isabel has long been involved with a variety of philanthropic endeavors, particularly ones that focus on the environment. Most recently, she has spearheaded several environmental projects to protect and preserve the Mexican coastline.
What inspired you to build a hotel?
My grandfather, Antenor Patiño bought the property and had started building four units which he planned to extend into 200 condominiums. He passed away at the initial stage, only cement bases had been completed, so I modified them to become four villas, creating a property more sympathetic to the environment, inspired by the beautiful natural colors of the local flora and fauna.
How do you create the resort experience?
My best tip is to ask yourself, “What do you like about the place? How would you like to live there?” First, visualize yourself as the client and go from there.
What do's and don'ts have you learned along the way?
Do not think that your project is finished, it evolves and there are constantly new details that can be added or adjusted. I invest every year in something new.
Definitely do listen to your clients, their feedback comes from their experience and will be a personalized point of view. If there has been a problem, listen and apologize, people forgive if they feel heard and appreciated.
How do you incorporate environmental practices when opening a resort?
Evaluate your resources, for example: will water be an issue? Capture rainwater for your gardens. Do not be wasteful with water or electricity use. Recycle and compost. Avoid plastics, evaluate all packaging, only use what is necessary.
Natural beauty is a draw for travelers, think how can you mindfully accentuate that. We have a bird sanctuary within the grounds, home to more than 100 species of wild birds, which has helped conserve the local bird population and is a highlight of our guest experience.
Las Alamandas has just completed an eco-friendly renovation, the property has reopened with refreshed suites and a new villa, Casa Bougainvillea, bringing the resort’s total to 18 luxurious suites among eight villas. Managed like a stylish, secluded private estate where guests feel completely at home, Las Alamandas is set on its own private sweep of white-sand pacific beach, just two hours from Puerto Vallarta and an hour and 30 minutes from Manzanillo. The resort also offers a 3,300-foot airstrip for guests arriving by private plane.