6 • RESTAURANTS AND COMMON AREAS
The restaurant is an essential structure that should
be built first. Why? Because a restaurant will allow you to produce immediate cash flow and draw additional customers that are not staying at your ecolodge. When people eat at your restaurant they also have the chance to see the ecolodge’s nicely designed rooms and garden. Also, another reason to build the restaurant first is that because ecolodges
are generally located outside of town, your guests will need somewhere to eat!
The restaurant should be located at a central and easily accessible location. It should not be too close to the rooms because guests will be bothered by noise from the restaurant or the exhaust from kitchen fans. Odors from kitchen waste should not be blowing into guest’s rooms or the restaurant.
Tourists like a restaurant with a beautiful view
If there is a view of mountains, a river or any other attractive natural feature from your property, consider building the dining room in a place where tourists can have a full, unobstructed view from their tables. Build both open air and covered dining areas because tourists like to eat under the stars. If you are building a bar, do not build it so that the guests are looking at a boring back wall with liquor bottles. The bar should also have a good view for the guests to enjoy.
How many tables should you have in the restaurant? To answer this you will need to estimate how many outside customers will be using the restaurant in addition to the number of people that can sleep at your ecolodge. Minimally, there should be enough places to sit for the maximum number of guests you can accommodate in your rooms. If you are targeting large groups for receptions, or your ecolodge is close to an urban area, you should consider making the restaurant large, up to 100 seats. If you decide to have a large restaurant it should be located a
good distance (at least 50 meters) from the guest rooms.
Decorate the restaurant using furnishings that have traditional designs and are made locally from wood or other natural materials. Don’t use
bright lights, plastic, or play the music too loud.
An example of a restaurant built from local materials
There should not be a television in the restaurant. Tourists like hanging lamps made from bamboo baskets or mulberry paper. Table cloths and napkins should be made from local textiles, and plates, glasses and utensils should be simple and match. You can use Lao ceramics for serving bowls, and coasters made from rattan add a nice touch to table settings.
12 DESIGNING AND BUILDING AN ECOLODGE IN THE LAO PDR • SUGGESTIONS FOR LOCAL INVESTORS