Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences

April 30, 2019 by  
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Conscientious travelers often worry about the impact of their dollars and whether or not tourism improves lives in the local communities they visit. Now Bee + Hive, a not-for-profit association made up of hotels and other travel industry partners, is launching a booking engine to help travelers choose sustainable tourism experiences. Starting in June, Bee + Hive plans to take the guesswork out of global sustainable travel . “People are interested in traveling responsibly, but the process of identifying and selecting genuine sustainable options is complicated,” explained Bruno Correa, Bee + Hive founder. “In addition, there is growing interest in making travel choices based on experiences that are unique and transformative. Our booking engine will help do both.” Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability So, what qualifies as sustainable? Canada-based Bee + Hive has worked with Conservation International to identify a group of indicators by which it evaluates prospective members’ impact on the local community  and the experiential impact they provide to guests. Areas of examination include sustainable management, cultural connections, nature, experiences offered and social-economic impact. Bee + Hive helps members develop an action plan to up their sustainability quotient. A much-cited 2013 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that in most all-inclusive package tours, 80 percent of travelers’ money benefited airlines, hotels and other companies with headquarters outside the country the person is visiting. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), when a traveler from a developed country visits a developing country, only about 5 out of every 100 dollars spent stays in the local economy. Correa wants to improve upon this figure. “A responsible hotel cares about developing the local ecosystem and its community,” Correa said. “The best way to do this is by offering authentic activities that reflect the destination. As a not-for-profit, all of Bee + Hive’s revenues will be reinvested on promotional efforts for legitimate and inspiring sustainable hotels and experiences, in a virtuous circle where more hotels join our movement.” + Bee + Hive Images via Bee + Hive

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Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences

Sparkman Wharf cargotecture restaurants revitalize Tampa’s Water Street neighborhood

April 30, 2019 by  
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Any successful restaurant requires communication among workers, but when you’re turning out quality food in a 30 by 8 foot space, even more cries of “below,” “behind” and “heard” are necessary to keep staff from trampling each other. “There’s not enough room to open the oven door and the beer cooler at the same time,” says Tampa restaurateur Ty Rodriguez, co-owner of Gallito. Rodriguez’ newest restaurant opened last November and occupies a former shipping container in Sparkman Wharf, a major project revitalizing Tampa’s Water Street neighborhood in Flordia. Sparkman Wharf , formerly known as Channelside Bay Plaza, is the southern anchor of a $3 billion district called Water Street Tampa. The plan includes about 180,000 square feet of office space, 65,000 square feet of ground level retail, a park and recreational lawn. Yet the most eye-catching feature is the collection of repurposed shipping containers which now house nine places to order a meal, get a coffee or an ice pop. Seating is outside — sorry, the micro-restaurants barely contain the staff. Related: Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project Strategic Property Partners, LLC, who owns the wharf, worked with local art studio Pep Rally Inc. to paint a mural encompassing all the containers. SPP describes the result:  “The collage pattern of the mural includes natural elements and imagery celebrating the history and culture of Tampa. Water currents and raindrops move through mangrove roots. Egret, blue crabs, and anoles crawl through the artwork. Oranges and tobacco leaves are set over bricks, reminiscent of Ybor City. Nautical patterns as well as the latitude and longitude coordinates featured in the Sparkman Wharf brand are a nod to the wharf itself and to Port Tampa Bay. The varied and vibrant color palette complements the energy of the outdoor space and the diversity of the food concept available within the dining garden .” While the containers look gorgeous and upcycling materials always sounds like a cool idea, there is more than meets the eye at the Wharf when it comes to these small restaurants operating inside shipping containers. Rodriguez gave Inhabitat the lowdown. First of all, the owners had a lot of experience before opening Gallito . Rodriguez and his best friend, Chef Ferrell Alvarez, already own Rooster & The Till , named the top restaurant in 2018 by the Tampa Bay Times. Alvarez was a 2017 James Beard Best Chef South nominee. Tampa entrepreneur Chon Nguyen is the third partner in Gallito. The three had worked together prior to opening the Nebraska Mini Mart, a 400 square foot restaurant in a former drive-up market. So these guys know what they’re doing — even in small spaces. When they first heard about Sparkman Wharf, the partners were intrigued. “We thought it was an extremely interesting idea,” Rodriguez says. “What can we do in a 30 by 8 foot container that’s successful, good and most importantly, is feasible to pump good food out of an incredibly small area?” Since the other chefs involved were friends and colleagues, he was confident the wharf would have quality restaurants. The concept behind Gallito is an upscale, family-friendly taqueria with high-quality ingredients . “We wanted to do something palatable for a mass audience,” Rodriguez says. To work efficiently in a small space, they chose a pared-down menu with two appetizers, five tacos and a limited choice of Mexican beer, wines, sodas and house-made sangria. “We don’t have a wide variety of everything, but what we do is unique.” Prep was the biggest challenge. Even though Gallito doesn’t open until noon, the sous chef and cook get there at seven. On weekdays, three to four people are usually working. On the busy weekend days, the staff maxes out at six — which is all the container can hold. “If I went in there on a Saturday and tried to help, I’d just be in the way,” Rodriguez says. To keep things simple in the fast casual container, they also had to trim down the point of sale so that every product they sell fits on one screen, rather than having separate screens for drinks and appetizers, as they do at Rooster & the Till. “How many steps is it going got take to complete this taco?” Rodriguez and Alvarez ask themselves. Gallito’s front of house staff garnish the tacos as they come out, something that wouldn’t be done in a more formal setting. Since seating for both Gallito and Nebraska Mini Mart is all outdoors , Rodriguez has become addicted to the daily forecast. “I can tell you more about the weather in Florida than I care to talk to anyone about. We live and die by the weather.” If it rains, they have to cut labor and shorten that day’s operating hours to stay afloat. This will be Gallito’s first summer at Sparkman Wharf and he’s hoping Tampans will brave the heat. Rodriguez may be serious about food, but he’s not above the occasional cargotecture pun. “Because of tight quarters and where everything is situated inside the container, you have to think outside the box.” Images via Inhabitat

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Sparkman Wharf cargotecture restaurants revitalize Tampa’s Water Street neighborhood

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