Nature of Business went international this week to Mendoza, Argentina, and the Uco Valley. I spoke with Fran Lalas, Director of The Vines Resort and Spa. The Vines Resort and Spa is part of The Vines of Mendoza and Lalas spearheads their corporate social responsibility initiatives that play an integral part in the creation of an extraordinary destination. (The resort and spa officially open spring 2013). We spoke about these initiatives that include a deep commitment to the surrounding community, their use of local construction materials, as well as a commitment to producing sustainable wines.
It was particularly interesting to interview Lalas after hearing Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, speak at the recent GreenBiz VERGE conference in San Francisco about his company’s core values — collision, community and co-learning — and how they have manifested themselves in creating happier employees, a vibrant surrounding downtown Las Vegas, and an overall sentiment that making money not only shouldn’t but can’t be the sole priority if a company is to be viable long term. (See Kristine Wong’s piece.) This is clearly the modus operandi of the resort and spa.
There is no mistaking that The Vines is a place of beauty being that is surrounded by 1,000 acres of vineyards with the ever-present backdrop of the Andes mountains. But it’s their ethic that caught my attention. Families in need all over the community are looked after, employees volunteer in the local schools, English classes are provided — there is an overarching sentiment that the valley is a place to care of not take over.
Even the materials the resort is using for construction are local and regional. They are relying, for instance, on concrete and natural stone design for a many of its fixtures including their sinks, fireplaces, bathtubs, and furniture. And they are not sacrificing quality to do so. They are working with the re-known architecture firm Bormida & Yanzon that have won accolades and awards for designing some of the best wineries in Argentina.
As for the future of the resort, the plan is to be a leader in the economic growth of the region and to do it in a way nurtures the local customs and strengths of its people and employees. With a commitment from the top executives down, as Vines' motto goes, “Nada es impossible.” Nothing is impossible.
Now to just get down there myself…