In August, Joaquin and I were at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa, Palawan, experiencing the famous underground river close-by and the eco-resort’s many other attractions. On the last full day, we were picked up by a WWII jeep and driven a very bumpy 5 minutes along the beachside path to see for ourselves Palawan’s lush mangrove forest – a community project run by local volunteers. As our boat took us through the stunning mangrove, Joaquin took photo after photo. He spotted a reptile sleeping in a tree and snapped it. That one photo started a chain of events that will put Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa in front of an audience of 100m worldwide and bring worldwide awareness of Palawan and the Philippines to add to its Conde Nast accolade as the ‘Best Island in the World‘.
Later that day, after a spa session, Joaquin posted the photos on his Facebook and we went on to enjoy an amazing dinner on the beach, under the stars. Next morning Joaquin found an e-mail from Paul Greig Smith of Greig Smiths Travels, one of many close contacts connected with Joaquin on Facebook, who had seen the possibilities of hosting filming of a planned wildlife documentary by the well-known naturalist Nigel Marven at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. Nigel will also lead a wildlife tour organised by Greig Smiths Travels in June this year.
Nigel Marven has hosted numerous wildlife documentaries as well as the series ‘Prehistoric Parks’. Nigel is well known for diving in and enjoying getting right up close to some of the world’s most obscure animals, bringing their habitats and lives to TV screens across 100 countries and with an ultimate TV and DVD reach of 100 million. A passionate conservationist and champion of eco-tourism, Nigel’s most recent series, made by his company Image Impact, have featured “Untamed China” and “Wild Colombia”.
The Philippines archipelago of over 7,000 islands is one of the world’s top biodiversity hot spots with over 200 threatened animals, many found nowhere else on earth. The Philippines has a network of protected areas for which eco-tourism is key in conserving their diversity. Nigel will visit many of these reserves to show the opportunities for tourists to encounter spectacular wildlife and to visit in a sustainable way.
In the flurry of e-mails which followed Paul’s initial contact, Joaquin put Paul in contact with destination management companies in Manila, whose services were very much needed both for the filming and for the tour as well as with Philippine Airlines. Paul was already in contact with Philippines Department of Tourism in London, as the documentary is clearly going to be big news for the Philippines and put the country in front of many people completely unaware of its huge appeal. As a host resort, Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa will share in this exposure.
In February, Nigel will stay at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa as he seeks out the best places to film the documentary – we feel sure we will see the Palawan mangrove forest there – as well as the best spots to take the wildlife tour in June, which will also stay at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. If you are interested in taking part in the tour, which is also to raise funds for turtle conservation, contact Greig Smiths Travels.
In the meantime, the image of that reptile in the tree in Palawan’s mangrove forest is a moment frozen in time for SmartOtels, showing the power of relationships and the effect that one photo will soon have for Palawan and for the Philippines at large.