Editor’s Pick: The Visionary
Jochen Zeitz, Founder of Segera Retreat, Laikipia, Kenya
Former Puma CEO and chairman Jochen Zeitz is on a multiple-front crusade for ethical commerce across the globe. Tasked with overseeing the sustainable-development efforts at luxury-goods conglomerate Kering (whose holdings include Bottega Veneta, Gucci, and Saint Laurent), he has now turned his attention to travel. His 50,000-acre Segera Retreat, in northern Kenya, has transformed a stylish, eight-villa safari retreat into a model for conservation and thoughtful community development. And then there’s his Long Run campaign, which is certifying and championing sustainable resorts and lodges across the globe (many of them previous T+L GVA winners).
Tourism can play an important role in safeguarding the pockets of distinctiveness that inspire and shape our travel experiences. As this year’s winners demonstrate, the best preservation efforts are as attentive to living culture as they are to the accretions of the past.
Winner (tie): Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
What It Is: A high-design inn that’s revitalizing a remote island in Newfoundland.
How It Works: As Canada’s cod fisheries dried up in the 1990’s, so did the prospects for Fogo Island (population 2,435). Tech maven Zita Cobb, a Fogo native, built the 29-room inn to showcase the region’s traditions—and boost its economy. International designers worked with local boatmakers and quilters to create the inn’s interiors. Fishermen act as tour guides and hosts. Foragers supply the excellent restaurant. And, crucially, all the profits are directed back to the community.
Take the Trip: Explore the island’s rugged terrain on a geologist-led hike. $$$$
Winner (tie): The Kyoto Center for Community Collaboration, Kyoto, Japan
What It Is: A nonprofit safeguarding Kyoto’s pre–World War II architecture.
How It Works: Faced with the rapid destruction of the city’s machiya town houses, marked by their distinctive latticework and open-air courtyards, KCCC launched a campaign to help owners—some 70, to date—restore these houses and open them to visitors as living museums.
Take the Trip: Learn about the city’s culture and history on the Deepest Kyoto walking tour with a machiya resident. $30 per person.
Runner-Up: Fundación Altiplano, Arica y Parinacota, Chile
To protect the heritage of the centuries-old Aymara villages in Chile’s Andes, this foundation is restoring 31 Spanish-colonial churches, each embodying distinct religious practices, and turning them into a draw for travelers. The result? Enlivening the area culturally and economically.
Take the Trip: Trek the Ruta de las Misiones connecting Aymara’s churches. From $80 per person.
Even the most remote landscape needs defending these days. The primary mission for our winners: introduce travelers to endangered places, while plowing the profits back into conservation. It’s a simple plan, but one that requires perfect execution to create a destination that’s both appealing and protected.
Winner: Patagonia Sur Reserves, Chile
What It Is: A for-profit conservation company with two low-impact lodges and a goal of protecting southern Chile’s wilderness.
How It Works: Patagonia Sur uses tourism to its properties to support and showcase its innovative environmental efforts. A reforestation program—the largest in Chile—plants native-species trees (500,000 and counting) on both its own reserves and in national parks. These trees will eliminate an estimated half a million tons of carbon dioxide over the course of their lifetime—offsetting the equivalent emissions of 10,000 average U.S. households. In addition, Patagonia Sur’s foundation provides English-language education, economic development programs, and sustainable jobs to nearby villagers—recognizing the essential link between conservation and community.
Take the Trip: See Patagonia’s ancient lenga forests and wild pampas on a horseback ride through the Valle California reserve. $$$
Runner-Up: Camp Jabulani, Hoedspruit, South Africa
A family-run safari lodge on a private reserve near Kruger National Park, Camp Jabulani keeps wildlife stewardship at its heart. Its Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center rehabilitates at-risk animals and reintroduces them into the bush, while the six-suite lodge helps fund local land conservation and zoological research.
Take the Trip: See the bush—and the Southern Hemisphere stars on an evening elephant-back safari. $$$$$
Runner-Up: Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, Clanwilliam, South Africa
Intent on restoring its 18,500 acres to their original state, this luxury resort has been replacing the area’s alien species with indigenous ones and saving endemic populations, such as the Cape mountain zebra, from the brink of extinction.
Take the Trip: Visit between July and October to catch one of the world’s most diverse wildflower displays. $$$$
People are the heart and soul of any journey—and the inspiration for the efforts of our winners. These companies build schools and houses, support literacy, and develop infrastructure. But most important, they integrate locals into their business plans, offering “a hand up, not a handout,” according to juror John Wood.
Winner: About Asia Travel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
What It Is: A small-scale tour company devoted to supporting education in Cambodia.
How It Works: When founder Andrew Booth learned how few tourism dollars from foreign-owned companies stay in Cambodia, he resolved to mend a broken system. All of his tours’ profits go toward funding rural schools in the Siem Reap province—108 so far, with 53,000 students. In 2012 alone, this meant donating thousands of uniforms, digging wells, and delivering more than 30,000 sets of supplies. Plus, the program provides training, transportation, and fair wages to teachers, ensuring that quality education reaches beyond the city limits.
Take the Trip: Visit the floating fishing villages of Tonle Sap Lake, in central Cambodia, on one of AboutAsia’s weeklong journeys. $$$$$
Runner-Up: Solms-Delta Wine Estate, Franschhoek, South Africa
An award-winning winery that is empowering the farm workers behind its labels through profit-sharing partnerships, housing loans, college scholarships, and music-based heritage projects.
Take the Trip: Learn how Cape music inspires Solms’ wines on a tasting and tour complete with performances.
Runner-Up: Reserva do Ibitipoca, Minas Gerais, Brazil
This eight-suite lodge is charting a new course for rural Brazilians, not just by offering employment and literacy programs for its neighboring communities but also by creating vital infrastructure for a once-disconnected area.
Take the Trip: Explore the reserve on one of Ibitipoca’s Mangalarga horses. $$$$
Responsible travel is in the very DNA of these winners. Though their chosen campaigns vary widely in geography and content, they are each, in their way, standard-bearers for the industry. You could be touring Europe, cruising to Antarctica, or simply spending a night in a business hotel, and you’d be in good company with any of these three honorees.
Winner: Overseas Adventure Travel, Boston Founders, Alan and Harriett Lewis
What It Is: A philanthropic group-tour outfitter with global itineraries and a local cause.
How It Works: Since 1992, the company’s Grand Circle Foundation has pledged $97 million toward education and preservation initiatives in more than 30 countries around the world, from a farming project in Costa Rica to classroom building in Zimbabwe. Last year, owners Alan and Harriet Lewis turned their attention to their own backyard in Boston, launching a $10 million program aimed at high school students. The lofty goal: to more than double the number of four-year college degrees attained in the city’s most underserved neighborhoods by 2018 through mentoring and leadership training.
Take the Trip: Visit the Pucruto Primary School, near Cuzco, on a tour of Peru and the Galápagos. 15 days from $4,495 per person.
Runner-Up: Lindblad Expeditions, New York City
A small-group expedition-cruise company, Lindblad immerses its guests in cutting-edge marine conservation research, from studying leopard seals with naturalists in Antarctica to tracking humpback whales in Alaska. By shining a spotlight on environmental issues, the company, in alliance with National Geographic, has raised $10 million for ocean restoration, education, and preservation of the Galápagos Islands, the fleet’s flagship destination.
Take the Trip: See South Georgia Island’s king penguins on a 19-day trip through the Falklands. $14,990 per person.
Runner-Up: Hilton Worldwide, McLean, Virginia
This hospitality powerhouse—with 10 brands and more than 4,000 properties—has made sustainability a company priority. Its LightStay program, which evaluates each location’s footprint, has helped Hilton cut overall carbon output by 10.9 percent, water use by 7.5 percent, and waste by a full 23.3 percent over five years. Meanwhile, an array of initiatives—hospitality training for at-risk youth, for instance—enrich the myriad neighborhoods that Hilton calls home.
Take the Trip: Spend a night at Edinburgh’s Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. $$
While governments waver on how to approach climate change, private businesses are stepping into the void. These three winning hotels have embraced the challenges of sustainability, finding innovative ways to lighten their footprints—all without sacrificing the traveler’s experience.
Winner (tie): Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, California
What It Is: A historic army post turned hotel that’s a model of adaptive reuse.
How It Works: The 70-acre Fort Baker was given new life five years ago, when it was transformed into a 142-room hotel—the first on the National Register of Historic Places to receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The retrofit salvaged 75 percent of the original interiors and added rooftop solar panels, drought-tolerant landscaping, and a water-reclamation system that saves 2 million gallons a year.
Take the Trip: Sample local wines and produce at Cavallo Point’s culinary school. $$$
Winner (tie): Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Wolgan Valley, Australia
What It Is: A beacon of environmental efficiency in Australia’s Blue Mountains.
How It Works: Set on a 4,000-acre reserve, this 40-suite retreat—built largely from reclaimed materials—maintains an exceptionally light footprint. Solar and wind power minimize carbon emissions, while a replanting program aims to reverse 190 years of agricultural damage.
Take the Trip: Observe wallabies on a guided drive in the reserve. $$$$$
Runner-Up: Nikoi Island, Nikoi Island, Indonesia
This private-island resort champions the local ecosystem and its community alike, with 50-plus sustainability measures that leave no detail overlooked. On the checklist: line-drying laundry, cleaning the beach daily, and eschewing in-room appliances.
Take the Trip: Snorkel Nikoi’s reefs to spot stingrays, sea horses, and puffer fish. $$$
Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000