The National Geographic Society has announced its newest foray in the travel industry: National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with "a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence."
These lodges, we hear, offer top experiences "while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices." (Sounds good to us.) The initial collection consists of 24 properties on six continents, each of which was judged on the following criteria:
The Property — The design and character are unique and authentic, and the property provides guests with a true sense of place by celebrating the surrounding landscape and cultural heritage.
Guest Experience and Quality of Service — Guests are offered top-quality service and exceptional and inspiring experiences — from activities that enable them to engage with local people to wildlife encounters with seasoned naturalists.
Sustainable Tourism Best Practices — The property demonstrates a commitment to conservation and green operations; it actively supports the protection of cultural heritage; and it provides tangible benefits to local communities.
National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinize the lodge's impact on the local environment and community and ensure that these criteria were met.
The Unique Lodges collection ranges from thatched bungalows in the coastal jungles of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula to luxury tented suites overlooking Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Australian Outback. Many have devised their own renewable energy solutions; all prioritize locally sourced food and provide economic and social benefits to the local community.
Bonus: Each lodge offers a special "National Geographic Exclusive" experience to guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. This is a complimentary opportunity to delve further into the local culture or environment, such as a private sunset wildlife cruise at British Columbia's Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge or a special research outing with the on-site scientist at The Brando in French Polynesia.
National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members are:
- Fogo Island Inn, Canada
- Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
- Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
- Kapari Natural Resort, Greece
- Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
- Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
- Lizard Island, Australia
- Longitude 131°, Australia
- Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
- Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
- Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
- Rosalie Bay Lodge, Dominica
- Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
- Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
- Sayari Camp, Tanzania
- Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
- Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo
- The Brando, French Polynesia
- The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United States
- Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
- Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
- Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
- Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
- Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan
Explorers can also book one of National Geographic's new Private Expeditions, offered in partnership with Virtuoso. National Geographic's Private Expeditions is a new series of itineraries specially crafted for independent travelers and the traveling companions they choose — whether it's two or 10 — and many include a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge. Guests can explore Ecuador on a private expedition that combines the culture of the Altiplano with a stay at Mashpi Lodge in the heart of the Chocó rain forest. Or they can immerse themselves in Berber hospitality at the Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains on a trip that also includes the cities of Marrakech and Fez.
For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit www.nationalgeographiclodges.com. For more information about National Geographic's Private Expeditions, visit www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/triptypes/privateexpeditions.