The hospitality industry should be doing a lot more to address social and environmental issues, a St. Petersburg real estate developer says.
Jared Meyers, founder and CEO of Legacy Vacation Resorts, hopes his recent project in Indian Shores will help set an example for the industry.
Legacy, with eight resort properties in four states, is a certified B Corporation, a designation for businesses that voluntarily meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose through third-party review. Legacy is the first B Corp-certified, multi-site hospitality company in the United States, and one of just 22 B Corp companies in Florida. Another is Salt Palm Development in St. Petersburg, where Meyers is chairman. Last month, Salt Palm broke ground on The Royal, a 13-unit townhome development built with sustainable living in mind.
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Legacy just finished a four-year renovation at the 40-unit resort-style property, located at 19607 Gulf Blvd. in Indian Shores.
Meyers showed it off Wednesday morning, highlighting eco-friendly features such as LED lighting, improved energy efficiency in air conditioning systems, water reduction features in showers and sinks and on-site recycling. The company provides reusable water bottles to all guests, discouraging the use of one-time plastics, as well as 100 percent carbon footprint offsetting.
“We have tried to make this a unique boutique special resort experience here on the coast, specifically for those travelers who are not looking to be in large mega structures you might find in Clearwater or in St. Petersburg — not that there aren’t some nice ones there, but this is a different type of vacation,” Meyers said.
The company’s true differentiator is that it stands for more than money, and that can be verified through the rigorous requirements of meeting B Corp standards, Meyers said.
“If you design a system and are thoughtful in how you lay it out, you can in fact accomplish all that good and be profitable,” he said. “It’s not just a feel-good movement. I’ll admit, I was attracted to it at first because of the feel-good aspect and got to the other part by doing more research. A lot of businesses say they can’t afford it … but we live in an era where there’s a confluence of events, where the feel-good components and the profit-creation components are working together.”
He cited the World Economic Forum in Davos that’s underway right now, where there’s a focus on “stakeholder capitalism,” according to Brookings. That’s the idea that the purpose of a corporation is not just to create financial return for its shareholders, but to create benefits for all of its stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.
“One of the biggest differences we can make is through our guests,” Meyers said. “They’re coming to us to enjoy their vacations, so we need to respect that and make sure they enjoy that, but … if we can introduce them to more responsible products, B Corp products or other responsible companies, we go a step further, and start encouraging our guests to think in a different way when they go back home. They can become more conscious consumers. They can start making the world better through their daily actions and what they’ve learned just by being on vacation.”