Asa Wright, Hadco exploring online activities for reopening

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: The main house and other buildings at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Blanchisseuse Road, Arima.

The Asa Wright Nature Centre, which announced on Monday it will reopen in 2022 in partnership with retailer Hadco, is exploring online activities to include in its eco-lodge experience.

In a brief interview with Newsday on Thursday, Dr Judith Gobin of the Asa Wright board said while it has not finalised the details of the reopening yet, the team is considering online activities to engage visitors.

“When people come to an eco-lodge of this type, they come for a full experience,’ she said. “Part of the experience is the lodge in the rainforest…where we would be involved in tours of the grounds (and) birdwatching on the veranda. With schools closed, that took a back seat, but we hope to revise all of that in a new way.”

The centre announced its closure in January this year but had reported difficulties in staying open owing to covid19 restrictions implemented in March 2020.

In a statement on Monday, it said it invited proposals for running the eco-lodge at Spring Hill Estate in September. In response, the centre received several proposals from the corporate sector but ultimately decided to partner with Hadco Ltd. The company is known for its food and beverage services.

Gobin said the company will run the eco-lodge, which is separate from the trust which oversees the conservation, research, and education aspects of the centre.

“We made the decision to separate the trust. (The eco-lodge) is only part of the operations at Asa Wright. We wanted to move into a new model of operation and allow another entity (Hadco) to run the eco-lodge for us.”

She said Asa Wright will work with Hadco to amplify the eco-lodge.

“At the moment we have committees within the board looking specifically at what type of activities…to engage young people (and) people at different levels and engage them wisely.”

She said the team is still working out the details of the reopening, but the nature centre will be a safe zone.

Gobin said a reopening date has not been set yet, as the contract between the two is still being finalised.

“Hopefully we will be finalising that in the new year, Then the new operator will announce the date for when they will be reopening.”

In January, chairman of the board Marina Narinesingh said the centre had to close because of limited visitors after covid19 restrictions were implemented. Set in the Northern Range seven miles north of Arima, it is a run by a not-for-profit trust set up in 1967. It is named after an Icelandic-born previous owner of the Spring Hill Estate who hosted scientists and researchers there.