As the travel industry looks ahead to the future, brands near and far are seeking ways to move forward in a more sustainable way. For instance, luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso is focusing on a ‘conscious comeback,’ which will be crucial for the future of sustainable tourism as hotels begin to reopen in new and innovative ways. Meanwhile, CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and six other global nonprofit organizations have banded together to form the Future of Tourism Coalition, asking travel companies around the world to commit to a set of guiding principles that aims to make these sustainable practices the norm.
In line with these standards, the following properties around the world have been leading the way on the sustainability front and continue to take responsible steps forward, from supporting local communities to protecting coral reefs to reducing wasted food.
Hotels and travel companies showed support for communities around the world when the pandemic hit, from delivering meals on wheels to keeping an entire staff on payroll to personally showing up for hospital shifts. Now, as communities begin to recover and rebuild, the following properties will continue to be a support system for the long run.
In Africa… andBeyond and Africa Foundation’s collaboration spans over 28 years, with the care of 73 rural communities across 6 African countries, with a shared vision of community-conservation development. Project successes include the 180,000 conservation lessons for local children, 56,000 community members with access to clean water, and 101 community jobs created.
In Myanmar… Dr Hla Tun has been the onboard doctor for Belmond Road to Mandalay, which has been traveling along the Ayeyarwady River since 2004. In addition to his service for guests, Dr Tun disembarks the river cruise three days per week to lead Belmond’s health clinic that launched in 2011 as a free service to locals as well as patients who travel for miles on foot.
In Peru… Belmond helped found the Q’omer Wasicha Project in 2015 to promote organic vegetable management and cultivation in local communities as well as fair trade practices. Several communities in the Cusco region are now trained in the production of vegetables and herbs; the sustainable greenhouses allow the harvest of organic crops that would not usually survive the high altitudes of the Andes, including tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
No Food Wasted
An estimated 133 billion pounds of food – 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s supply – goes to waste according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. While hotels and restaurants have historically played a significant role in the waste, the following properties are taking steps to reduce their impact.
In Cape Town… Chef Rudi Liebenberg at Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town is known for his rotating five-course Wasted! tasting that features re-imagined scraps and byproducts of fruits, vegetables and meats. Hosted at the Chef’s Table, guests will be able to watch as ginger trimmings and buchu become cordials while trout trimmings are transformed into tartare and tempura.
In Africa… andBeyond has been low-waste since before it was cool (there are no garbage trucks in the bush!). At andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, andBeyong Ngala in South Africa and andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodgein Tanzania, food waste is quickly taken to local pig farmers to feed the pigs.
In Oxfordshire… Belmond Le Manoir Quat’Saisons is a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association as well as the Considerate Hotelier Association. In Chef Raymond Blanc’s kitchen, 59.2% of the wine list is organic and biodynamic certified; 100% of corks are recycled; restaurant serves Belu water who gives 100% of their profits to charity WaterAid; scallops are hand-dived; crab, lobster and langoustine are creel or pot caught; all fats and oils are recycled. Guests can join vegan masterclasses, a new series created by Raymond that focuses on sustainability, zero-waste, and fresh, seasonal produce.
Women are leading the way to a sustainable future from wildlife conservation to F&B to marine life.
Cindy Pawlcyn is the chef behind Mustards Grill, a Napa Valley landmark for more than 30 years. She opened the restaurant when the region was still largely pasture, with few restaurants and even fewer chefs (none whom were women!). Then, at 28 years old, Pawlcyn was also among the first to plant an organic garden outside her restaurant. Today, Mustards is still a Napa favorite, and has served more than one million pork chops – her signature dish.
Charity Cheruiyot was the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Having grown up in a small village as a member of the Kalenjin tribe, Charity paved her own way to a future in the bush. She now is a favorite ranger among guests of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, teaching the brand’s values of care of the land, wildlife, and people.
Emma Bell is the resident marine biologist at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. Her role is to implement the coral restoration project as well as training and improving the resort’s sustainability footprint as a whole. Guests can partake in guided snorkeling trips, presentations about marine life in the Maldives, as well as information about coral nursery creation.
Sea turtles play in an integral role in balancing marine habitats. For over 200 years their survival has been challenged by factors like human encroachment, habitat destruction, and climate change – and most sea turtle species are now considered endangered.
In St. Martin… On the French side of the island, Baie Longue beach is home to not only Belmond La Samanna, but also a community of sea turtles. The property partnered up with the nonprofit organization, Sea Shepherds, to protect the land and the turtles that reside. Beginning in April 2021, private groups will have the chance to join a guide after nightfall to spot the turtles in their habitat – and just might witness the babies hatch and begin their journey out to sea.
In Jamaica… Guests staying at GoldenEye this fall have the rare opportunity to witness sea turtle nesting and hatching at the neighboring Golden Sea Beach. Sea turtle lovers can meet with Mel Tennant, local sea turtle expert known as the “turtle whisper,” to observe the sea turtles in their natural habitat and learn the procedures to releasing turtle nests and reclaiming their habitat. In recent years, more than 13,450 sea turtles hatched on Golden Sea Beach – an 3,745% increase in hatchings since launching the program in 2005.
In Zanzibar… At andBeyond Mnemba Island off the coast of Zanzibar, Green Turtle nesting season is year-round, peaking in February and March. The turtles lay their eggs on the beach and in September and October, baby turtles emerge into the world. With only 12 thatched roof bandas on the island, guests can watch the tiny hatchlings make their descent into to the water without a crowd.
In Bali… Nature-lovers can adopt, name, and release a baby sea turtle at Belmond Jimbaran Puri. The property can arrange visits to the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre in Serangan to learn more about the protection of sea turtles, with an opportunity to join a sunset cruise to personally give the newly hatched babies a helping hand into the sea.
Protecting Coral Reefs
Not only are coral reefs a beautiful locale for divers, over 500 million people worldwide depend on them for food, income, and coastal protection (a healthy coral reef absorbs 97% of a wave’s energy). The following properties are doing their part in protecting the world’s coral reefs, which are reeling from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable fishing.
In St. Barth… After St. Barth was ravished by hurricane Irma, the need for a healthy reef system to buffer the swells of the increasing frequency of hurricanes in the Caribbean was a focal point. The Christopher in St. Barth has partnered with Artireef to help rebuild the reef of Pointe Milou (the peninsula on which the hotel sits). In addition to creating a barrier to the shore, the reef will be more resistant to high water temperatures and pollution.
In Jamaica… After a series of natural and man-made disasters in the 1980s and 1990s, Jamaica lost 85% of its once-bountiful coral reefs. Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Foundation is restoring the coral reef as a means to bring back marine life. In recent years, through the Foundation’s efforts, the Bay saw an increase of fish presence by 1,800 percent. Because of its success, the template is being replicated in other fish sanctuaries across Jamaica. New this year, Blackwell’s hotel GoldenEye in partnership with the Oracabessa Foundation opened a new dive shop that is open to locals as well as guests, offering coral planting opportunities, with profits going back into the foundation.
In the Maldives… Coral bleaching from factors like climate change and El Niño has led to the death of 60-90% of the Maldivian reefs. As the only luxury property that is located both on the beach and on a coral reef, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers guests the chance to adopt a coral frame ($175 USD per frame) during their stay. The coral frames are built using broken coral fragments found on local reefs, which are then rehabilitated in the property’s coral nursery and left to grow and regain their health.
In Mozambique… andBeyond’s Oceans Without Borders initiative identified that a diminishing population of apex predators was threatening the coral reefs. Without grey reef sharks, smaller predators flourish, eating the algae-eating fish causing an unchecked growth of algea that killed off young corals, hurting the reefs. As apex predators like these sharks are vulnerable – they tend to grow slowly and have low rates of reproduction and are often fished, with 100 million to 270 million sharks killed globally each year. andBeyond launched a monitoring program and currently has 15 giant trevally and seven sharks tagged to oversee movements and keep them safe.
The following properties go above and beyond with employee support and have made their staffs’ education a top priority.
In Brazil… UXUA recruits and trains locals with little to no prior experience in hospitality. Wilbert Das has invested in providing language training and university tuition reimbursement as well as one-on-one mentorship for those who need help in certain subjects that might have prevented them from completing secondary education. Despite classes being one-hour bus ride each way, three staff members completed their degrees in 2019, with 10 currently enrolled.
In Jamaica… Island Outpost implemented the “Oracabessa Small Business Incubator Program” this summer to support employees who have been impacted from Covid-19. The program includes business development training and technical assistance for agricultural entrepreneurs.