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Seabourn Announces Alliance With UNESCO

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Seabourn, the luxury, small-ship cruise line, recently announced an alliance with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to help protect as well as promote World Heritage.

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Why Go on an Adventure with Kammok

Kammok @ Yosemite with OnLocation from Jordan Bellamy on Vimeo.

We enjoy discovering great new travel brands, companies, and products—especially ones that incorporate great design and do good.

There are so many reasons to like Kammok. Initially crowd-funded, the innovative outdoor brand launched in 2010 with the “Roo,” a smart closable bedding solution to help people in malaria-stricken countries. The lightweight flexible hammock easily attaches to two trees, works in tight spaces (like camp cabins and orphanages), and is even being used in yoga studios and on city terraces. Not surprisingly, word about the high-tech, comfortable hammock spread.

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Ecuador Declares Environmental Emergency in Galapagos

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A cargo ship that ran aground last week prompted Ecuador's government to declare an environmental emergency yesterday.

Nineteen-thousand gallons of fuel have already been removed from the Galapaface I, stranded off of San Cristobal island, but the environmental ministry's statement highlights the continued threat from the remaining cargo, including chemical products and bilge water.

In effect for 180 days, the declaration opens up federal resources to remove both the dangerous products and the ship itself.

Thankfully, the government's fast response has minimized any potentially disastrous effects, leaving the island's unique ecosystem relatively unscathed. Here's hoping the cleanup process remains so successful.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins

Glacier Skywalk Opens For Fearless Views of Jasper National Park

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Starting today, visitors to Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies can view the glacial vistas and sweeping pine valleys from the Glacier Skywalk – and the breathtaking glass observation platform that extends from the cliff’s edge at a staggering height of 918 feet.

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Eco-Luxe Vacation Ideas In Honor of Earth Day

Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

As an editor of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Awards, I’m always on the lookout for travel companies that can raise the bar for both sustainability and luxury. In honor of Earth Day, here are five new properties that are getting it right.  (If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to celebrate by booking a stay, stat.)

1. Pikaia Lodge, Galapagos: Think of the Galapagos as a cruising destination? Pikaia puts the traditional model on its head, with 14 stunning rooms (think floor to ceiling windows, private plunge pools, and enormous bathrooms) perched atop an extinct volcano crater. When it opens in September, it will have already spent four years rehabilitating the surrounding land—previously deteriorated from cattle farming—and trained locals in sustainable tourism practices to replace the debilitative trade of shark fishing.

2. The Brando, French Polynesia: Just 30 miles north of Tahiti is Tetiaroa, a pristine archipelago of a dozen islands surrounding an incredible lagoon. It’s also the site of The Brando, where 35 thatched-roof villas each get private pools and secluded beach access. Sound over the top? It’s impressively sustainable—the whole property was built with local materials, air conditioning comes via a unique seawater-powered system, and a blend of solar and coconut oil-based energy grids have brought the resort to near carbon neutrality.

3. Ion Hotel, Iceland: Set against the dramatic lava fields of Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, an hour north of Reykyavik, this ultra-minimalist, geothermal-powered resort is a dreamy backdrop for the Northern Lights. A sprawling list of nature-based activities await (hot spring and glacier tours; snorkeling; hiking)—but you’d find me at the ten-meter-long pool with views of the surrounding valleys.

4. Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts: Meet the Caribbean’s latest eco-resort: Its colonial-inspired guesthouses are spread among 400 acres of working farmland. The spa is set in an ancient mango forest. Original crops and fruit trees have been preserved as natural obstacles for the golf course—dubbed the world’s most edible. And with a quarter of the island doubling as protected national park, it’s a haven for tropical birds, flora, and fauna. It officially opens later this year (we hear December).

5. Kestrel Camp, Montana: This new lodge on the site of the American Prairie Reserve’s giant conservancy offers a clutch of high-design yurts (yes, yurts) with a decidedly Wild West feel. Expect geologist-led hikes, bison sightings, and exceptional sunsets over the prairie—best witnessed from your private wraparound deck.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

Photo courtesy of Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel

Dutch Debut World’s First Glow-in-the-Dark Highway

Glowing Dutch Highway

Earth Day News: Just outside the Dutch city of Oss is a 500-meter stretch of highway that glows in the dark. Like a set from a sci-fi film, the photo-luminescent road markings illuminate the lanes with an otherworldly emerald light.

The technology is part of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde’s vision to bring innovative, sustainable designto everyday infrastructures. In a partnership with Dutch engineering firm Heijmans, he created a revolutionary paint with the ability to absorb daylight for energy, and radiate an eye-catching hue at night.

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Green Hotel Trend: Wooden Key Cards

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Hotel chains have been going green for years, but the latest eco-friendly initiative to catch our eye are wooden key cards by Sweden-based Sustainable Cards.

According to head of sales Johan Kaijser, 30 billion plastic cards are produced every year—that’s 150,000 tons of plastic. Using cards made from wood can reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. So far, hotel brands such as Radisson Blu, Westin, Four Seasons, Accor, and Kempinski—plus retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods (which use them as gift cards)—have signed on. The European hotel company Scandic was an early supporter, while Mövenpick is the first to adopt them across the brand.

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Call for Applications: T+L’s 10th Annual Global Vision Awards

Global Vision Awards

We're looking for a few good travel companies that are changing the world.

Now in its tenth year, Travel + Leisure's Global Vision Awards recognize the standard-bearers for responsible travel—companies that are investing in the communities around them, protecting natural and manmade treasures, lightening their footprints, and inspiring others to follow their lead. From airlines to hotels, tour operators to cruise lines, the winners represent the travel industry’s best ideas for a better world. (You can find the 2013 Global Vision Awards here.)

Please drop a note to TLGlobalVision@timeinc.com if you know of a company or organization that should be among this year’s winners, or encourage them to submit an application, available here. The deadline is April 1, 2014.

Related Links:
2013 Global Vision Award Winners
Coolest Up-Close Animal Encounters
T+L Hiking Guide

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins/Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

Enterprise Debuts Electric Cars in Orlando

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If you’re planning a vacation to Orlando this winter, you may want to consider renting an electric car. In an effort to make the Sunshine State a shade greener, the Electrification Coalition has partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, among other area travel companies, to launch their new Drive Electric initiative. The project is a big step towards eco-friendly travel, especially since Orlando is one of America's most visited cities (according to Forbes), attracting over 50 million guests annually.

Besides shrinking your carbon footprint, the perks also extend to your wallet. Orlando's metro area boasts over 300 charging stations—many of them free—with complimentary re-charging at participating hotels like the Peabody Orlando. And with no gas tank to go empty, you won’t have to waste time filling up between Kingdoms.

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"Inspire, Educate, Raise Awareness, and Transform": Q&A with the Founders of Epic Road

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Mark Lakin and Marc Chafiian believe that travel can not only change a person, but the world. Longtime friends and world travelers, Lakin and Chafiian saw a major hole in the luxury travel market: High end packages that combine philanthropy with luxury. Together, they created Epic Road, a New York City-based luxury travel boutique that creates customized holidays combining adventure travel with charity and conservation work in Africa and the Arctic.

We sat down with the Lakin and Chafiian in their photography-filled gallery in Greenwich Village to talk about distributing solar powered lights to locals in Africa, transformative travel, and running from wild elephants.

What makes Epic Road different from other travel boutiques?
We try to blend experiences. Our clients will go on an incredible safari, and then on top of it they’ll have a humanitarian or conservation experience that’s meaningful for all parties. We find that people get very excited about it. Our real hope is that our clients' trips become a catalyst  for understanding, for empathy, and that we can create a movement for the issues we’re addressing when clients come home. Our thing is about positivity. It’s about going into a place and having fun, having an adventure.

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