Colin and Barry Edmonds on their wild aspirations
The father and son duo share with Tien Chew their plans to leave the world with more than just wealth, starting with The Sticks, an eco-conscious glamping retreat.
The sunny jungle morning atmosphere that occupied our surroundings was suspended for a brief moment as I sat down with Barry Edmonds and posed a difficult question with gravitas. “What is your life goal?” I asked. Barry took a moment to ponder before voicing out his thoughts. “You can’t take anything with you when you die apart from what you leave behind,” he said, the weight of his answer a stark contrast from the jungle’s vibrancy. “My goal is to create things that still exist after I’m dead and gone. I want to leave ideas, principles, systems and values behind, not wealth,” he added with conviction in his tone.
Barry is one of those young folks fortunate to know what they want in life and have the drive to pursue their goals. It didn’t take long for Barry’s heartfelt passions to become apparent to me, as we continued to chew over life aspirations with some hot coffee alongside his father, Colin, at Barry’s latest enterprise, The Sticks, an ambitious eco-conscious glamping retreat located about an hour’s drive north from the KL city centre. After being in planning for the last two years, this hideaway recently opened its gates and was well received by the public, thanks to its casual resort-cum-camping nature and educational approach to Malaysian flora and fauna.
Our weighty exchange was off to a fitting start and I took the opportunity to press Barry further in order to paint a better picture as to where his values and passions in life originated. I wanted to know what drove him to open such a destination. For this young entrepreneur, I discovered that three areas in his life take dominance when it comes to shaping the man he has become today.
“If I were to ask you who founded Coca-Cola, you probably wouldn’t know, but you still like it and drink it. Whoever created Coca-Cola definitely left something very special behind,” says Barry, revealing the fire in his belly to create an enduring entity. Inspiration is a powerful motivator, a quality that Barry opines should be shared. By inspiring one individual, there is the chance that the inspired person would then go on to influence others to achieve excellence as well.
When it comes to having passion for life’s undertakings, both this writer and Barry agree that it is fundamental to have the tenacity to fulfil your aspirations, be it for anything that you set out to achieve. Isn’t it hard to succeed in something unless you truly feel like you are on the right path? We both agree that passion is a fundamental part of the equation for success.
This leads us to The Sticks, the aforementioned glamping (glamour camping) retreat that grew out of a conversation between Barry and his friends when reminiscing about the amazing resorts that they’ve visited in Chiang Mai and Bali. Realising that Malaysia is blessed with a similar bountiful ecosystem as its neighbours, what started out as banter soon turned into a desire to create a local destination that captured the same spirit as their travels abroad. In essence, they wanted to build a venue where they would be able to proudly showcase the nation’s natural splendours.
“The idea came about first and foremost for our own satisfaction, starting with the cool factor of owning a resort before we started talking about the reality of creating such a place. When reality kicks in, suddenly the cool factor goes down a notch,” says Barry with a hearty laugh. “Now you’re challenged with real numbers and real figures. When you’re dealing with landscape architects, interior designers, contractors and gardeners, everything becomes more serious as we want to make sure this works well.”
Barry’s determination to get things done is also something he shares with his father, an affable man possessing a charm that is hard to dismiss as soon as he enters a room. Playful by nature and always ready with a humorous quip or two, Colin Edmonds is a loving father with a big heart. Visiting The Sticks for the first time, Colin took the liberty to explore his son’s latest endeavour on arrival and became fast friends with one of the establishment’s guide dogs affectionately named Fei Poh.
Taking a moment to speak with me, Colin stresses that he has always emphasised the importance of persistence in life’s undertakings, a trait that his son has taken to heart by learning from his father’s examples. “I always tell my boys—we work hard and we work smart. If we wake up a little more successful than others, we can always afford to lend a hand to the needy. Never forget family values and how we all came from humble beginnings,” he proclaims with sincerity.
To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of our July 2016 issue, out in newsstands now.
Creative direction and Photography: Allan Casal; Hair: Anita Tang of A Cut Above; shot on location at The Sticks