Jan Telensky, entrepreneur and founder of Aquacity, an eco-resort in Slovakia, has proved that the concept of green consumerism works, combining his strong passion for environmentalism.
Telensky, who also runs 15 other businesses, has been campaigning for green issues before it became fashionable. He opened the AquaCity resort ten years ago with the objective of proving that affordable, green luxury can go hand in hand. In a new development, the resort has opened the world’s first solar-powered complex.
In an exclusive interview, Telensky tells BTN about his green ethics, his vison for AquaCity and what he likes to do in his spare time when he’s not tied up with running 15 companies.
BTN: Can you tell us about AquaCity’s green credentials? How high is being ecologically friendly on your list of priorities for AquaCity?
Telensky: AquaCity saves around 27 tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere every single day, compared with a similar sized resort burning fossil fuels. It is virtually self-powered using geothermal water, wind and solar power and adheres to strict policies of best environmental practice.
AquaCity was the first European destination to achieve Green Hero status, having attained Green Globe certification for economic, social and environmental management and Green Apple accreditation for environmental best practice.
Being ecologically friendly is top of the list of priorities for AquaCity because the energy savings we make by using non-fossil fuels saves us millions of euros in fuel costs each year, enabling us to offer levels of service and standards that would simply not be affordable otherwise.
BTN: What prompted you to create the world’s first solar powered swimming pool complex?
Telensky: The need for an additional, freely available energy source. The solar energy generated by the photo-cells in the façade of the Blue Sapphire pools centre is used to power the massive heat pumps at AquaCity. They’re the largest in Europe, at 3.5 mega watts, and are used to draw off heat energy from the geothermal water, reducing it from 48¼C down to 22¼C by using the energy to centrally heat the buildings, and the water to supply the pools, hotels and showers, then heating it up again, re-using the heat energy, before reducing the temperature down to 3¼ and returning it back to the earth.
BTN: How are you able to ensure that you do not compromise on luxury or value with your green initiatives? Surely the two do not automatically go hand in hand?
Telensky: By generating our own energy, we save three million euros a year compared with conventional fuel costs. These savings are ploughed back into the resort to offer competitive hotel rates and day passes, while investing in luxurious surroundings, comfortable hotel rooms and high standards of service.
BTN: When did you first become concerned with protecting the earth and conserving energy?
Telensky: Ten years ago I realised that the most valuable and precious commodities for the future would be energy and water. At AquaCity I have both, for nothing.
It’s not a matter of `being green’ for green’s sake, it’s commercial decision as much as an environmental one. Using green technology gives me a business edge by saving money.
It fits in with my personal ethics as I don’t want to destroy and I don’t want to waste, so I respect the world around me and do as much as I can to preserve it, not least, for my own son’s future.
BTN: How should the travel industry tackle climate change? How can tourism growth and sustainability grow hand in hand?
Telensky: The travel industry should do far more than just pay lip service to climate change. Many companies adopt the `green’ badge for marketing purposes that simply have no depth or foundation to them.
Tree planting schemes and contributions to carbon offset charities are all very well, but it takes more than 20 years for a tree to be mature enough to generate significant levels of oxygen and financial donations to offset carbon emissions are a drop in the ocean if they’re not ploughed into practical energy conserving schemes.
To ensure sustainability and growth, travel companies need to look at ways of conserving energy and natural resources by investing in alternative energy sources and by educating their staff and customers in comprehensive environmental best practice.
They need to recognise that being green can be highly profitable. If it wasn’t for the savings we make at AquaCity by using freely available power sources, we wouldn’t be able to offer such high standards at such competitive prices. We’ve created a resort that the average person couldn’t afford without the use of green technology to power it.
BTN: What was your original vision for AquaCity? How do you see AquaCity evolving in the next few years?
Telensky: My vision was to create a holiday destination that changes the way people think about the environment and travel. A resort that changes their whole perception about being `green’, by demonstrating that it’s possible to have affordable, green luxury.
Plans for AquaCity include further leisure projects and continued development of alternative energy sources.
BTN: What does your wealth of experience in other industries bring to the picture when it comes to developing and running AquaCity?
Telensky: Developing and running AquaCity draws on the same principles as any business. I make sure I’m surrounded by really good people who understand specialist nature of the business, who can develop and grow it within their particular skill areas,
BTN: What do you like to do in your spare time, when you are not busy running the 15 companies in your global portfolio?
Telensky: I enjoy music, literature and reading and I play the violin. I’m also passionate about education and giving young people the best start in life, therefore I’m actively involved with young people’s award schemes, including the Annual Dunstable College SkillsTrain Awards and the YOPEY scheme.