With a goal of advancing the tourism industry’s contribution towards sustainable economic, social and environmental growth, The United Nations 70th General Assembly declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Officially kicking-off January 18, this International Year aims to foster a better understanding among people everywhere and inspire greater awareness of global cultures through environmental protection, social inclusiveness and diversity and heritage.
In celebration of the #IY2017, Hawkins International PR has outlined seven sustainable travel trends that will impact the luxury travel sector in 2017.
LEAVING YOUR MARK
Instead of encouraging souvenirs, travel companies are inviting guests to leave their marks on a destination via sustainability initiatives. This June, Wilderness Safaris will open Bisate Lodge, a sanctuary integral to one of the company’s largest conservation efforts. Located within a natural amphitheater of an extinct volcanic cone along the Albertine Rift in Rwanda, the lodge is surrounded by a reforestation program in conjunction with Tuzamurane Cooperative that has planted more than 7,000 indigenous trees…and counting. Guests can join the effort, planting a sapling that will lead to natural re-colonization by endemic and indigenous bird, amphibian, insect, reptile and mammal species. Big Five Tours & Expeditions is similarly committed to sustainability, offering tours that include environmentally friendly practices and activities. For instance, The Galapagos Islands: Of Fish & Fishermen, with guest participation in sustainable fishing and small-scale farming at an organic coffee plantation; and President’s Picks: Botswana & South Africa, with engagement in a facial recognition project for animal conservation.
“LIKE A LOCAL” WITH A PHILANTHROPIC TWIST
Social inclusiveness, reducing poverty and creating employment opportunities is identified as one of the key areas of focus by the UN for this coming International Year. In line with this initiative, hospitality brands and tour operators have implemented programs that take their associates out of the office and into their community to help support, educate and empower locals. The Hearts of Montage program of Montage Hotels & Resorts empowers the talent behind the luxury brand to support their communities with opportunities including children’s education, senior citizen care, family socio-economic assistance, healthcare/disease prevention, and environmental protection and education. In Africa, Wilderness Safaris supports Children in the Wilderness, a nonprofit focused on facilitating sustainable conservation through leadership development. The program has impacted the lives of 10,000 children in seven countries through initiatives that combine leadership skills, environmental education, and recreation in a safe wilderness environment. Family-owned Mountain Lodges of Peru does its part by working with Yanapana, a nonprofit civil association focused on reducing poverty and improving quality of life through sustainable community development in the Andean Highlands. In particular, Yanapana trains locals in income-generating initiatives such as textile, jam, honey and organic coffee production.
Enhancing the farm-to-table experience, hotels and resorts are inviting guests to enjoy fresh dining at its source with garden and farm dining experiences. At Omni Bedford Springs Resort enjoy an educational series and tastings in the one-acre Chef’s Garden, with service by a resort chef and seating around a custom-built table crafted from wood hand-cut on the grounds. The Organic Garden is a new dining venue at The Tryall Club in Jamaica, with availability for groups for lunch or dinner in a beautiful, shaded structure and meals fashioned from freshest garden ingredients such as sorrel, okra, spinach, sage. At Hotel Caesar Augustus on the island of Capri, guests can sip homemade Limoncello among lemon groves and enjoy dinner in a two-acre garden overlooking panoramic views of the Bay of Naples. Though located in downtown Burlington, Hotel Vermont can arrange trips to nearby Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit educational enterprise for guests to explore before enjoying lunch outdoors overlooking Lake Champlain. In summer head for the Studio Garden Bar of fine-dining Studio restaurant at Montage Laguna Beach for an exclusive seasonal menu that pays homage to the bountiful produce of southern California. And for a real foodie fantasy, forage your own local ingredients at Madeline Hotel and Residences in Telluride, Colorado, where guests can hunt for wild onions, edible flowers and mushrooms on-property during the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, followed by an al fresco, four-course mushroom dinner with wine pairings, edification from a local mushroom expert, and extraordinary views of the San Juan Mountains. Outdoor Farm Dinners at Sunrise Springs Spa Resort will be offered once a month beginning Spring 2017 and last through Summer where guests will tour the lush property and gather at Willows raised bed gardens and greenhouse (farm coming soon) to learn gardening techniques to produce the most flavorful, nutrient-dense organic ingredients. Chef Rocky Durham uses the bountiful Spring and Summer harvest in delectable dishes served in a unique al fresco dining experience.
Many hospitality companies are going above and beyond standard environmental initiatives like recycling and reusing linens to get downright creative with sustainability. As part of its alignment with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, InterContinental New York Barclay is reinforcing its commitment to sustainable food sourcing by serving only East Coast Oysters at The Gin Parlour as well as supporting the Billion Oyster Project with a donation of $1 toward restoring oyster beds in New York Harbor for each signature Billion Oyster Plate sold. As part of its pledge to marine life education, The Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Florida, regularly relocates overgrown sharks, reef fish and coral from its meticulously maintained aquariums to local museums and public institutions such as South Florida Science Center & Aquarium and Museum of Discovery and Science. At Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Wilderness Safaris supplies engines, piping and pumps to operate 22 of the park’s 57 “boreholes,” which pump underground water to sustain wildlife. Meanwhile, at Toka Leya Camp in Zambia, Wilderness Safaris is rehabilitating indigenous flora through systems including a greenhouse and nursery to grow seedlings, an environmentally friendly wastewater treatment plant, and a worm farm where earthworms transform organic kitchen waste into rich compost. Since opening the Three Camel Lodge luxury ger camp in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert in 2002, Nomadic Expeditions has planted more than 6,000 native trees and plants to preserve indigenous foliage and provide cover for migratory birds; launched a “no plastic bags in the Gobi” program; joined the Ongi River Movement,a prize-winning organization that aims to protect the river from drying out and help preserve the environment; and actively fought animal poaching and unauthorized removal of dinosaur fossils. The world’s leading hotel operator, AccorHotels, drives its Planet 21 in Action sustainability program toward positive change striving for, among other things, 100% low-carbon buildings and 1,000 urban vegetable gardens in its properties by 2020. And Hotel Vermont is an emblem of sustainability within its eco-friendly state with offerings including dedicated charging stations for electric cars, a re-purposed bicycle program for guests to bike Burlington, and partnership with local artist Duncan Johnson to create the large-scale artwork Color Code, created from local reclaimed wood.
“Forest bathing” was the hot trend last year, but this year resorts and spas are inviting guests to literally soak in the beauty of the open air while cleansing themselves of stress and tension with soothing bathing experiences. In New Mexico, Sunrise Springs Spa Resort‘s new open-air soaking experience, Ojitos, invites guests to sink into a magnesium-based soaking tub perched above a natural spring for a detoxifying outdoor bathing experience surrounded by Santa Fe’s natural beauty. In Virginia, The Spa at Omni Homestead‘s geothermal Octagon Pool features water sourced from the property’s two natural hot springs, allowing guests to soak in a naturally heated pool full of soothing minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium. For an outdoor bathing experience for two, Spa Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui invites couples to take in Maui’s tropical scenery while enjoying an outdoor coconut milk bath in a stone-carved tub followed by outdoor couple massages in the breathtaking outdoor treatment room.
BIKING THROUGH NEW TERRAIN
Biking has always been a go-to eco-friendly activity, but it’s no longer limited to summer with the trend of Fat-tire bikes which allow bikers to soar through rough and snowy terrain. At Omni Bedford Springs Resort, guests can enjoy miles of biking trails through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, with cycles fitted with four-inch tires to glide through pristine forests and over mounds of snow. At Omni Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire, hop on a bicycle with five-inch tires and soar seamlessly across winter landscapes on designated trails including the Deception Trail System and Fabyan Fields Trail System. Out west, Madeline Hotel and Residences in the Mountain Village of Telluride, Colorado encourages adventurers to explore the beauty of winter in the Rockies on fat bikes or book a local Fat Bike Adventure Tour through snowfields or high alpine mountains.
SUSTAINABILITY OF SELF
Going beyond the green meetings trends, hotels and resorts are inviting groups to discover the path to personal sustainability by infusing mindfulness into meeting breaks. The Omni Bedford Spring Resort new Shamanic and Reiki Healing Breakouts offer a Reiki Master and Shaman to restore and renew attendees via reduction of emotional stress and relaxation of the mind, body and spirit. Taking wellness into the boardroom, Carillon Miami Wellness Resort invites groups to discover a path to happier, healthier work/life balance with Wellness Meeting Breaks tailored to specific needs and desires – for instance, a sound and color acupuncture class, shamanic journey, or guided meditation walk. In Zurich, The Dolder Grand’s Meet in Balance menu divides team-building options into four “pillars” including “Meet Relaxation” such as group yoga or meditation; “Meet Detox” meditation, body shaping or core training; “Body Ritual by Kerstin Florian” with Eco Chic Spirulina wrap and massage; and “The Dolder Grand Detox Relax Ritual.” Ideal for executive retreats, Sunrise Springs Spa Resort offers wellness-focused gatherings and strategy sessions where group’s agendas will be thoughtfully interspersed with engaging mindfulness activities including animal interactions, meditation, integrative wellness sessions and horticulture classes, which combine to enhance group creativity, productivity and team cohesion.