Need a real break? Escape with us to WildSpring Guest Habitat, Oregon.
WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford, Oregon, is a remarkable place with an incredibly serene energy that creates a sense of connection to the land and to those who have shared it through the years. There is a sense of timeless reverence here, and it’s easy to lie in one of the hammocks looking up at the treetops swaying in the wind and dream of a different — better – life.
We spoke to Michelle Duarte, who owns WildSpring Guest Habitat together with her husband Dean. Michelle paints a picture of a hotel passionately committed to preserving its environment and being more than “just” a weekend retreat. We are splitting all this incredible information into two parts – today you will read about what makes WildSpring so unique, what sustainability means to Michelle Duarte and where she likes to vacation.
Green Pearls: What makes WildSpring Guest Habitat unique?
WildSpring feels like you’re removed from the real world… it’s peaceful, quiet, the best of nature. Luxury that prizes comfort over design. Our guests often tell us it feels like a magical place outside of time, a haven from ordinary life. They also comment on our attention to detail, which we take great pride in. We want guests to feel cared for here, that we put a great deal of thought and effort into their wellbeing.
We have a walking labyrinth in a glade surrounded by 100-foot trees. The morning sun filters through the pines, onto the deer that munch the clover, creating a Hallmark tableau. Guests can enjoy hammocks, picnic tables, lounges throughout the forest, and overlooking the ocean.
But the heart and soul of WildSpring is our open-air slate jetted hot tub overlooking the ocean. It’s 1,000 gallons, 4 feet deep and simply amazing. You can sit up, with the steaming water up to your chin, and whale-watch by day, or see the Milky Way at night.
There is nothing like WildSpring on the Oregon coast. Its unique combination of luxury and natural beauty on five acres of old Native American grounds overlooking the Pacific ocean makes people feel like they’re honored guests at a private estate. It does not feel like commercial lodging.
GP: What does sustainability mean for you?
Doing things in a way that protects and improves our beautiful environment for the future.
For us, this includes wide and varied initiatives during development, construction and operations. We are particularly proud that we situated everything in our forest of 100-foot trees in a way that we only had to cut down two living trees for our five-acre development.
Everything we do, all our choices, were made with three questions in mind: Will it be beautiful in a natural way? Will it help protect and enhance the environment? Will it make guests feel cared for?
GP: What does WildSpring do specifically to ensure sustainability?
Acting sustainably is paramount and flows through everything we do, from the big stuff like the construction of the hotel, to smaller things like repurposing the cellophane we use to wrap the chocolates we offer our guests. One of the things we are most proud of is that WildSpring is carbon neutral.
GP: Tell us more about how you incorporated preservation and sustainable construction into the design and development of WildSpring:
We used responsible local contractors who would understand the need to be kind to the land and vegetation within their own community. We were able to situate the cabins and dig deep enough – below the root balls of the trees – for all the various infrastructure pipes, that we only had to remove two living trees during the entire development.
Our design concept intended that everything guests see or touch be made out of natural materials. We wanted to create an environment that felt organic, but luxurious. We paid attention to every detail and, rather than compromise development by having to make cheaper decisions, we stopped work until we had the money to proceed correctly.
All our vegetation is native to this area or suitable to its natural cycles, including a spectacular collection of rhododendrons, sea grasses, ground covers, trees, heritage bushes, junipers and wild irises. The grounds are kept kempt and park-like, but not groomed like a garden, allowing the natural environment to express itself.
All of the wood furniture in the cabins is vintage and antique pieces were rescued from garage sales and restored, as are most of the lighting fixtures and decorative pieces.
GP: How do you create a sustainable work environment for your staff?
Sustainability has to start with the people who make WildSpring work. We treat our employees as partners and ask for their input: do they have ideas to improve our operations? To make our guests feel even more cared for? The work they do in housekeeping and grounds management is where “the rubber meets the road”, where philosophies meet the real world and create the guest experience. We have a profit sharing program so they feel both appreciated and valued here. All our operations and protocols have been shaped by input from our employees over 10 years.
GP: What is your favourite place to travel to and why?
Big Sur, California. There is a sense of timelessness there, of enduring mystery. The drama of a place where the mountains and forest meet the crashing seas. The peace of a place that has changed so little over time.