In Laos, warm hospitality, traditional architecture, local food, handicrafts and an unspoiled environment are the things that make the country attractive and interesting to tourists. If you ask the typical international tourist why they chose to visit Laos, many will reply “because the country is still quiet and traditional” or “everything is so green and natural.” Because it is getting easier to come here and travel around the countryside, the number of tourist arrivals is rising every year. As more and more people decide to visit Laos the demand for good quality guesthouses, hotels and restaurants is also increasing and presents a good opportunity for investment.
But what do these tourists want in terms of accommodation and food? Is it necessary to build large 5 star hotels stocked with western amenities? In most cases no, but of course there will be a need for this type of accommodation in Vientiane and some larger towns. What the typical international tourist and a growing number of Lao people that live in cities prefer is a clean, well managed small hotel or guesthouse located in a quiet natural area that is built of wood and bamboo. They prefer to eat local food and sleep in a room decorat- ed with Lao handicrafts and furnishings. Also, most international tourists are very environmentally conscious and want to stay in a place that does not negatively affect the environment. Designing and operating this type of accommodation, an ecolodge, is the focus of this book. What we have written for the investor is an overview of the main design concepts behind a good ecolodge, and for managers highlighted many issues one needs to consider in order to professionally operate the business. We also provide some examples
of existing ecolodges right here in Laos. If you are interested in investing in this type of responsible and profitable business, please read on to learn more about the basics of how to design and operate a successful ecolodge in Laos.
Vincent Fischer-Zernin Steven Schipani Vientiane, August 2005
4 DESIGNING AND BUILDING AN ECOLODGE IN THE LAO PDR • SUGGESTIONS FOR LOCAL INVESTORS