“Luxury & serenity” promised as eco-lodges in Great Diamond to be completed in time for CPL

Some of the eco-lodges being constructed (Tassia Dickenson Photo)

By Tassia Dickenson

The construction of 30 eco-lodges at Great Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), which is expected to provide additional accommodation for persons travelling to Guyana for the upcoming Caribbean Premiere League (CPL) is progressing smoothly.

This is according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DuraVilla Homes, Rafeek Khan, who provided this publication with an update on the project during a recent tour of the construction site.

Khan explained that the production of the homes began on June 1, 2023, but was conceptualised around mid-May and is expected to be completed by the end August.

“We’re expected to have this project completed before CPL. Our goal is that when you come back here at the end of this month, you will see at least 30 structures completed here [and] you will see 30 homes. Our objective is to hopefully have everything completed by the first week of September, all things considered.”

Chief Executive Officer of DuraVilla Homes Rafeek Khan

According to Khan, the thirty 500 square feet structures, which are being constructed on two acres of land, will give a feel of luxury and serenity to all guests.

“This home here is the first of its kind. We have never done this before. This eco-lodge is going to be one bedroom, it will have a complete kitchen, complete living, and complete veranda. Everything will be complete like you’re going to a luxury hotel.”

The CEO explained that the homes will be fully furnished while revealing that the lodges will feature unique wooden chairs specially made by a group from the Rupununi.

“Because this is going to be a resort type of project, we want to make sure the design is creative so when your guests come in here, you’re selling the idea of beauty. So, what we have done, we have reached out to a team from the Rupununi and we have given them a concept and they have fine-tuned it. You’re going to see a very specialised chair that was built by persons from the Rupununi, eight persons came together and built this chair using waste wood.”

He added, “Inside of this home we’re going to have furniture presented, ideas presented from the locals. We’re going to have a featured wall with local painting, we’re going to have chairs made here locally. This is actually an opportunity to showcase talent in every aspect when it comes to housing, construction, and furniture.”

Rafeek Khan giving a tour inside one of the semi-completed eco-lodges

The lodge will also feature a unique table using the outer bark of the tree, called live edge. Khan explained that typically, only 40 per cent of this wood is recovered, but through this initiative an expected 80 per cent is expected to be recovered.

“This is wood that we don’t recover much of, but in building this table we’ll probably recover 80 per cent of the log and typically we recover 40 per cent. And we’re going to be building a bed inspired by locals and perfected by DuraVilla homes. Once this project is done, you’re going to see a bed, sofa, a featured chair, and a dining table that could not duplicate itself around the country by locals in every region,” Khan shared.

However, Khan further explained that DuraVilla Homes is solely responsible for the design-build concept of the project, adding that it will be managed by 100 women through an initiative started by President Dr Irfaan Ali sometime last year.

“We’re just the company that was asked to present the design-build concept. This is considered a prototype project, but to my knowledge, it is going to be used for rental, owned by 100 women, a private-public partnership of the sort, and the idea here is that women will be managing these eco-lodges and have the rental income to be able to cover the cost of this project. It is a prototype, we’re yet to see at the final stage what all the cost works out to.”

“Once this project is completed, we will be able to know the entire cost, our scope is the only foundation to roof and design-build, but they’re many other aspects that go in here, landscaping, infrastructure works, spa, gym, and other things that are going to have to come in here, lighting to give you the whole ambiance as a hotel,” he added.

An artist’s impression of what the lodge will look like when completed

Speaking on the scope of works, Khan shared that to complete this project within the specified timeline, they are working with sub-contractors as well as vendors who are supplying them with building materials.

“We have 12 sub-contractors on this site. We have at least 22 vendors who are supplying us on this site, we have 120 employees that we would have employed between durable wood products and DuraVilla homes for manufacturing panels in our job site. We have other consultants on this project. The majority are all locals so in total we will be at least 170-200 persons contributing to the value chain from the production of homes in the factory and foundation all the way to the roof.”

The project is expected to be sustained by rental income. DuraVilla is also working with consultants from Dubai who provide valuable insights into modern building techniques.