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Luxury eco travel club launched

Posted by Richard Hammond at 04:09 on Friday 14 December 2007

A new travel club for the upmarket eco traveller has launched.

The Nature & Kind Travel Collection describes itself as a "direct booking solution and travel club for discerning travellers who enjoy living healthy, adventurous and fulfilling lifestyles".

Founder Andrew Harding, previously Sales and Marketing Director of the exclusive Alladale Wilderness Lodge and Wildlife Reserve in the Scottish Highlands, said "travellers increasingly demand more authentic, personal travel experiences that are environmentally and socially responsible, without compromising high levels of guest comfort, personal service, style and value".

Nature and Kind features over 350 holidays in over 75 countries, featured by over 100 'Trusted Partners' - including luxury travel brands Abercrombie & Kent, the Ultimate Travel Company, CC Africa and Virgin Unlimited as well as a range of specialist adventure travel and wellbeing retreat operators including Wild Frontiers, Journeys By Design, Hands Up Holidays, Wildfitness and Yogoloji.

The site offers "eco-friendly, luxury accommodations, tours and retreats around the world to suit a range of personal interests, needs and budgets, ranging from family holidays, romantic escapes and wellbeing retreats".

One of the features of Nature and Kind's site is a search facility for an 'Expert Guide', which recognises the "unsung heroes of the travel industry"... guides, tour leaders, instructors and therapists. Included in their personal profiles are their language skills, areas of expertise and links directly to the tours and retreats they are associated with in the Nature & Kind Travel Collection. An example is the Mongolian tour guide Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar who was commended in the 2007 Paul Morrison Guide Awards.

See also these features on greentraveller:

The Responsible Traveller Column - Luxury Holidays
Ten Best Luxury Responsible Holidays


Sustainable Luxury

It is interesting, but perhaps not surprising, that the research supplied in cannes showed the luxury travel in rude health, but other surveys suggest the sector is in for a tough time. Its commercial sustainability will be sorely tested.

The key for the industry is to be able to embed sustainable values into the product planning and delivery as a core value, not a green flag waving exercise. Those luxury providers shouting about green luxury are basing this activity on an outdated understanding of luxury. Luxury consumers (High Net Worth as opposed to aspirational) are looking for experiences that feed the soul more than the ego. These clients want their luxury travel providers to have thought through and acted on sustainability issues, not tacked them on to the marketing campaign.

An example of this approach can be found at www.shaktihimalaya.com where an entire product that is high end luxury follows sustainability principles as a core value, addressing community, resource use, and impact issues whilst delivering an experience for guests that is “green” without shouting about it.

Sustainable luxury is increasingly a reality and an important part of the industry’s own sustainability. This year may sort out those who believe that there is such a thing as luxury toilet tissue from those with a firmer grasp of the real definitions of luxury and sustainability.

Re: Luxury eco travel club launched

Wow its amazing and gorgeous too.. Luxury travel is booming according to new research presented in December at the International Luxury Travel Market. The global luxury travel business now comprises an estimated 25 million annual arrivals (3% of total international arrivals) accounting for 25% of international tourism spend – at least US$180 million. On average, spend per trip is estimated at between US$10,000 – 20,000.
Travel Deals

Luxury travel with a conscience

By Catherine Mack, Freelance travel writer, Responsible tourism

The travel market is most definitely starting to listen to the green traveller. A seminar entitled “Luxury Travel with a conscience”, held at the World Travel Market this year was actually turning people away at the door.

Lieran Stubbings, Director of the Luxury Global Forum, moderated the event, reminding the attendees of the obvious paradox of a luxury tourism market, where the ‘haves’ now have a duty to help the ‘have nots’. Jane Kaye Bailey who describes herself as a philanthropist, (which must look good on a passport application) listed examples of generous philanthropic gestures to her charity, The Butterfly Tree. This organisation supports rural communities in Zambia, now decimated by HIV/AIDs. She is a firm believer that there are countless philanthropic travellers out there, giving money and time towards making a difference to the places they visit. She praised the work of Sun International in South Africa, which she described as a ‘hotel with a conscience’, with numerous humanitarian projects and a proven record of sourcing food from local areas.

Angela Clarke, Managing Partner of Lumiere Associates Ltd, a business consultancy specialising in sustainable business practices had a direct, honest message for luxury travel providers; “Consumers are driving the issues at the moment. The green tourism market is up by 25 per cent in the last year”. Clarke pointed out that luxury travellers are particularly attracted to resource intensive features such as golf courses and spas, yet on an optimistic note there were examples of luxury resorts practising sound environmental policies and not just offering ‘green gimmicks’. She cited The Conservation Corporation in Africa, Como Hotels and Resorts, Sextantio in Italy, Punta Canta Resort and Kudat Riviera Villas in Borneo as examples of luxury resorts which have undergone total environmental transformation rather than just changing the lightbulbs. Assuring delegates that Urban Eco is catching up on recent trends, Clarke held up the Ariston Hotel in Milan and Hotel Triton in San Francisco as glowing examples of ecochic in the city.

Tricia Barnett from Tourism Concern voiced her concerns about such tourism developments, saying “Tourism development displaces more people than anything else. This debate must also be about human rights, not just about the environment”. Jeff Senior, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Fairmont Hotels USA, was quick to sing the praises of his organisation’s efforts, “Sustainability is not so much an initiative, but part of our DNA”. He gave examples of Fairmont Hotels ‘local partnership’ projects, such as the Thames River Conservation Project which guests staying at The Savoy in London can take part in. Not too much evidence of that on the website though, and I can’t imagine too many of their guests up to their uxters in polluted Thames mud in between trips to the theatre and The Ivy. However, he told us about The Fairmont St. Andrews’ commitment to a local biofuels project, hotels which have golf courses with hybrid grass which can be watered by sea water, and other similar projects which are part and parcel of the hotel chain’s Green Partnership Programme. Consequently Fairmont won the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards 2006.

As the seminar drew to a close, and the various speakers polished their glowing green halos, we were invited to ask questions from the floor. I asked the panel if they agreed that in order to achieve responsible tourism in destinations there needed to be changes put into place at government level. Perhaps big money players like themselves at the high end of the market might be able to influence the governments of countries which are happy to host their luxury resorts. Only one panelist responded, Bernard Donoghue, Head of Government and Public Affairs at Visit Britain, saying “I believe that it is downright immoral for hotels to still have televisions on standby.” I was, admittedly, looking for bigger solutions than turning off the telly, but Donoghue was not shy in voicing his opinions to the other panelists. “This is an industry which creates the largest voluntary transfer of money from the developed world to the developing world. We all need to gain a healthy appreciation of what is right and what is wrong, remembering also that greater sustainability is better for the bottom line”.

I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting any of the places named above, so I can’t vouch for their eco-credibility. Nor was there much evidence of any of the big money players using their financial influence to bring the debate out of the private sector to the public arena at government level. However, what I can say is, this time last year at the World Travel Market, the only time a luxury player was seen talking about green stuff, it was the one which had dollar signs on it. Even if responsible tourism is seen to be a way of making them even more of the ‘green stuff’, at least they are waking up, albeit slowly, to the issues that really matter.

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