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Integrated travel management, hotel and private lodge operator Tourvest has made extensive use of Eva-Last  decking products and credits Eva-Last ’s environmental consciousness with sparking the group’s own drive towards sustainability.

Eva-Last  Was Perfect For Structure With Zero-Footprint

Gary Elmes, CEO of the Tourvest Accommodation & Activities Division, which owns, operates and manages the group’s portfolio of hotels, lifestyle retreats and game lodges, says Tourvest became aware of Eva-Last’s decking products some eight years ago, and the first installation is still going strong.

“Around that time we were starting to refurbish and replace some decks up in Africa. We first used Eva-Last ’s hollow-core original decking product at Lemala Kuria Hills in the northern Serengeti. The Tanzanian government requires us to operate with zero footprint, which means we need to construct our facilities so that when our concession ends, we should be able to break down the camp and leave as if nothing was ever there.”

“The Tanzanian government requires us to operate with zero footprint” – Elmes, Tourvest

That requirement, in conjunction with Eva-Last ’s environmentally friendly credentials, drove Tourvest to start considering the environmental impact of other divisions of its business. “Since we couldn’t have any permanent buildings involving bricks and mortar, and since I am also passionate about not using indigenous woods or even imported hardwoods because of deforestation, we decided to eliminate all wooden decking as and when we can. We’ve taken all plastic bottles out of our business, among other measures.”

Focused on Environmentally Friendly Decking

Eva-Last ’s decking materials feature reclaimed, recycled plastic co-extruded with environmentally friendly bamboo fibers to create an environmentally friendly material with outstanding longevity and durability.

Elmes says the first Eva-Last  deck has “outshone itself” in terms of its performance, longevity and low maintenance requirements. “We’ve continued to use Eva-Last® and their products have developed dramatically in that time. Our next major project was constructing rooms and walkways at the Wild Waters Lodge Private Island in Uganda, which is situated in an indigenous forest and where Eva-Last®’s non-slip surface has been a big advantage. People had been slipping on the decks, which were themselves rotting in that environment. We ripped out all the infrastructure and put in steel underframes with the Eva-Last  deck.”

“We have a rule now: every deck we do must be of a composite material.” – Elmes, Tourvest

In line with Tourvest’s focus on environmental sustainability, the group now makes use of recycled steel for its decking substructures, which it obtains from China and has extruded in Nairobi, Kenya. “We have a rule now: every deck we do must be of a composite material. We use these decks and five and six-star luxury lodges and we’ve only ever had positive comments from visitors who actually love that we’re using recycled materials in our decking,” says Elmes.

Tourvest has installed Eva-Last  decks throughout southern and eastern Africa, including at Lemala Mpingo Ridge in Tarangire National Park, at Elephant Camp at Victoria Falls and at Makalali Private Game Lodge. “Eva-Last ’s products keep evolving and I think the latest products look phenomenal. They also help us to deal with termites, which are a massive problem in Zimbabwe. This is an added benefit of our story of using recycled products, which has become an environmental campaign throughout Tourvest,” he says.

No Warranty Claims In 8 Years

In the last eight years Tourvest has not had any warranty claims on Eva-Last® products – something Elmes says would be practically impossible with timber decking, which deteriorates in such environments.

“It is now standard practice for us to replace wood with composite materials.” – Elmes, Tourvest

“I can see that without our programme of refurbishing and replacing existing timber decking, we will have deck failure and potential injury. It is now standard practice for us to replace wood with composite materials. It can be an expensive exercise to replace decking that has been maintained over the years, but to build from scratch there is a maintenance cost clawback which makes Eva-Last® the sensible option which is why we’ve made the investment.”

Elmes says the availability of testing information, certification and credentials online was an important part of being comfortable about making the switch. “Their environmental, fire resistance and safety credentials were naturally the biggest part of the decision, and the trust relationship developed from there. The information available online gave me confidence they’d done the right tests. We’ve almost become a showcase for the evolution of Eva-Last ’s products because of how many we’ve done.”

And the benefits are clear, according to Elmes. “Ordinarily, we’d have to shut down a lodge while we sand, coat and treat decks. Now, if we build a deck, it’s a composite and that’s that. We don’t even look at the economics.”

Eva-Last  is a globally recognised and trusted brand that manufactures and distributes specialised bamboo-plastic composite products and building solutions, namely, decking, cladding and indoor flooring. With over a decade of experience in all stages of the industry, from production to installation, Eva-Last  has both practical and technical knowledge that is used to assist owners, developers, architects and building professionals alike in achieving their design objectives. Eva-Last® strives to continually improve and innovate, delivering revolutionary composite products and attentive support to all customers. 

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