Photo by Sally Guillaume.
These three travel companies offer sustainable opportunities to see — and even help save — the planet.
Ahead of its time when it was originally founded in 1996, South American travel operator Aracari is highly regarded in the sustainable travel industry. Founder Marisol Mosquera defines sustainable travel simply as travel that does not destroy the
destination, which in today’s standards means low impact, low-volume tourism. These pillars of tourism have been part of Aracari’s mission since it began, in order to promote natural landscapes.
One of the most important ways Aracari maintains such high standards of sustainability is by educating guests throughout their trips, to “treat the local communities and sensitive environments with great respect,” Moquera states. To follow through, the company works tirelessly with the other businesses they work with to help ensure their self-imposed regulations are effective across the board. For example, Mosquera says the company seeks boutique hotels that are more stringent on standards like waste management, energy consumption, community involvement, et cetera. With these methods incorporated into their business model, Aracari is able to fulfill
clients’ travel needs while making a smaller impact on the surrounding environment.
“People travel to learn and experience new things, and our region is very rich with cultural and natural attractions,” Mosquera says, attractions that they strive to find new ways of highlighting through their bespoke travel tours. One upcoming tour in May 2020 is an eight-day excursion in Bolivia, hosted by National Geographic photographer Max Milligan, based in Kachi Lodge which is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Nestled next to Tunupa Volcano, these transparent igloo tents afford wonderful views and a unique sense of isolation while guests enjoy delicious food, hot water and comfortable accommodations.
Kachi Lodge | Bolivia
Kachi Lodge is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.
Photo courtesy of Aracari.
Guests can travel to archaeological sites like Machu Picchu with Aracari’s Peru tours.
Photo by Marcella Echavarria.
Another tour featuring Milligan is an adventure through the mountains of Peru at El Albergue Ollantaytambo, where guests can visit local communities, archaeological sites like Machu Picchu, and an organic garden that stretches from the glacial snowline to the tropical cloud forest.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya
Photo by Stevie Mann.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya
Cottar’s Safari Camp provides an authentic and individualized safari experience by ensuring a legacy of wilderness, wildlife, comfort and security.
Photo courtesy of Steppes Travel.
Steppes Travel creates eco-luxury holiday trips that are tailor-made for people who are interested in wildlife. While it highlights giving a behind-the-scenes look into many different sensible wildlife environments and discovering different cultures, at the core, Steppes Travel focuses on giving back to the environment and communities their teams visit. An avid traveller himself, Rob Gardiner fit in perfectly at Steppes Travel as the Commercial Manager for the Africa sector with his overall knowledge and love for travel. “I love the people that you meet, I love the lessons that you learn from it, and I think it breaks down barriers, changing our perception of different places and alters our prejudices,” Gardiner says.
Gardiner says that the company’s focus on sustainable travel is driven by a need to look after the communities they visit and keep those wilderness areas as pristine as possible. Steppes Travel also works with community members and conservation groups to ensure proceeds are given back to those areas, noting that, as a whole, travel can be a force for good. “If you’re lucky enough to go to Zambia, Tanzania or Botswana on safari, for example, there should be money that goes back into the local economy so they too are incentivized to look after what they have.”
Regarding the tours, Gardiner says that the wildlife aspect is what helps keeps sustainability in mind for both guides and travellers. He notes that often these trips provide a unique educational experience, granting travellers a new, real perspective on conservation while taking part in projects like tracking rhinos in South Africa or working on a jaguar safari project in Brazil. Tourists can go further by becoming ambassadors for certain regions and work with communities around the world to be more conscious of endangered environments.
“As much as possible, we don’t believe in cocooning our clients away from the streetlife in Delhi or living with a nomadic family in Mongolia,” Gardiner affirms. “I think it’s about getting to know the people and about having that personal human connection.”
According to Sally Guillaume, owner and founder of sustainable travel company Undiscovered Mountains, her reasons for starting the company were driven by a personal drive to create a better world, “to do things in a way that everyone benefits without exploiting people or environments.”
Focusing on trips located in and around the French Alps, Guillaume wanted to steer away from mass tourism and “build a sustainable approach to tourism both for the communities and the rich natural environments they live in.” In doing so, she built a business that not only focuses on preserving natural environments, but also helps clients to discover authentic Alpine communities, not usually found in mainstream Alpine travel.
Guillaume’s vision of a sustainable world includes less consumerism and a deeper appreciation for experiences. And while Undiscovered Mountains, Steppes Travel and Aracari are all model companies, there is a long way to go in sustainable tourism — from updating local infrastructure to promoting lower-impact travel methods such as train or “green” vehicles. She notes, however, the ethical standards of travel companies have become more and more important consumers in recent years, as well as the destination and activities involved.
From touring preserved natural environments with abundant wildlife and flora on the southern French Alps, to immersive tours in both Nepal and Norway that are launching soon, Undiscovered Mountains will continue to make its mission about serving the environment, which has always shaped the culture around them. “The type of food people eat, the architecture of old buildings, the choice of where villages are situated is all to do with how people have survived living off the land of the mountains for centuries.”
The French Alps
Travelers can learn to paraglide and fly above the mountains on one of Undiscovered Mountain’s paragliding courses.
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
The French Alps
From ski touring to dogsledding with huskies, …
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
The French Alps
Undiscovered Mountains offers a wide assortment of winter activities that are fully customisable, all in the French Alps.
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
People who come to Tamarack rarely want to leave. A fortunate few don’t have to.
The Village at Tamarack is the latest ski-in/ski-out residential addition to the renowned Tamarack Resort in Idaho’s scenic Valley County. Located 90 miles north of Boise and nestled at the base of the Payette River Mountains at an elevation of 4,900 feet, Tamarack is more like a small, inviting hometown than your typical sprawling, mega-resort destination.
Surrounding The Village is Tamarack Resort, a four-season, boutique-style resort with world-class skiing for every skill level. This area welcomes families to the good life without pretense. Here, what you see is what you get. And what you see is nothing short of spectacular, no matter which direction you turn.
There’s the towering beauty of the mountains, the quiet majesty of the pine forests, the peaceful depths of Lake Cascade, and the rushing waters of the Payette River. Many of these vistas can be taken in from the comfortable perch of your own inviting residence at The Village at Tamarack.
This pedestrian-friendly alpine town is home to narrow, winding lanes, unexpected shops, eclectic dining options, and 129 well-appointed condominium residences—all just a few hundred skiable yards from the nearest lift.
3,600-Acres. Four Distinct Seasons. Unlimited Possibilities.
When you live at The Village at Tamarack, you can ski out to the lifts in the morning and ski in from the slopes at the end of the day. Then again, skiing is just the beginning of a long list of outdoor activities your family will share at The Village.
In addition to Alpine, Nordic and backcountry snow skiing, Tamarack boasts snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and snowboarding in winter. In the summer months, there’s water skiing, wake surfing, sailing, and paddle boarding on beautiful Lake Cascade, as well as fly fishing and white water rafting on the renowned Payette River. Zip-lining, golf, mountain biking, birding, hiking, and guided adventures can be enjoyed from spring well into the fall.
For you, downtown is downstairs.
After a day of nonstop activity on the mountain, slow down and relax in The Village’s retail district, located just below your residence. Mingle with neighbors at one-of-a-kind boutiques, bars, and coffee shops. Escape to the spa to relax and unwind after a long day on the slopes. Enjoy family-friendly meals at restaurants ranging from casual cafes to gourmet dining establishments.
Not far from Tamarack, there’s even more to see and do in the laidback, western-style towns of Donnelly and McCall. Boise, America’s most livable city in 2019, is also just an easy road trip away.
With so much to do outdoors, you may never want to come inside. Once you do, however, you’ll be met by warm, inviting, carefully considered interiors.
The Village’s first offering of luxurious, fully furnished condominium residences ranges from comfortable studios to spacious penthouses with multiple indoor and outdoor living areas. Most floor plans feature natural stone accents, full kitchens with waterfall islands, and inspiring views from nearly every angle.
Select floor plans include outdoor dining spaces and additional interior lock-off areas—which can be treated as guest space when needed or separated for rental use in the property’s management program.
Whether The Village at Tamarack is your primary residence, a second, or even third home, it’s likely to be one your family returns to for generations to come. Given the area’s low cost of living and family friendly environment, there’s no better place to raise kids. For adults, Tamarack is an ideal location for refreshing the spirit, rekindling connections and strengthening family ties.
Ready to make this enviable resort life part of your life? Get in touch with Trisha Sears,
The Village at Tamarack’s exclusive onsite broker.
Owning a home at Tamarack Resort may well be the chance of a lifetime. But with only
a limited availability of residences, the opportunity to own at the Village won’t last anywhere near that long.
Energy efficiency is a top priority for many architects, but Scott Rodwin, founder of Rodwin Architecture, seamlessly blends green building techniques with elegant contemporary aesthetics to design breathtaking residential and commercial buildings.
His Colorado-based firm is responsible for the creation of multiple near net-zero energy homes, and makes energy efficiency a priority in all of its structures that shine against the mountainous landscape.
Among the projects that the Rodwin Architecture team has completed, “Deck House” stands out as an imaginative and whimsical hillside residence.
The 4,200 square foot home, which was originally built in the 1970s, was completely remodeled by Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction. The home’s previously choppy and confined floor plan was switched out for a brighter, more airy design with new views of the surrounding mountains, higher ceilings and of course some added outdoor decks.
There are plenty of places to entertain in Deck House, including the elegant dining room and large great room, which are anchored by a double-sided gas fireplace. Hosting social events at Deck House is made even easier by the home’s gourmet kitchen, complete with a bright breakfast nook, and a jewel-box wet bar, accessible behind a custom barn door.
Deck House features several quirky amenities that delight homeowners and visitors of all ages. Next to the home’s great room is a raised platform bed called a “bonco,” which serves as a cozy reading nook. The bonco has a hidden door that leads to a secret playroom for the kids of the house, but adults can enjoy some of the home’s secret features too. In the master bathroom, there is a secret window that offers stunning views of the Flatirons, and there is a hidden laundry chute in the main hallway that is concealed by a picture frame.
The home’s settings are adjusted to the owner’s liking via smart home technology, while passive solar design, LED lights, high-efficiency HVAC and “Tuned” Energy Star windows help Deck House score high in energy efficiency.
Deck House is one of many dreamy Colorado creations for Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction. However, the project stands out for its transformation into a sunny, expansive home rich in mountain views that maintains hidden treasures from its past.
Photos courtesy of Scott Rodwin.
Developed by Dream Hotel Group and designed by Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects, The Chatwal Lodge will be nestled among 26 acres along the wooded shores of the 1,000-acre Toronto Reservoir.
The five-star luxury retreat is expected to open in spring 2020 with 34 private villas and suite accommodations, refined rustic design and world-class, farm-to-table culinary experiences by DUCASSE Paris, founded by multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.
The groundbreaking ceremony for this exciting development took place in December, and featured New York State Assembly Member Aileen M. Gunther and Bethel Town Supervisor Dan Sturm as keynote speakers, leading members of the Dream Hotel Group team Chairman Sant Singh Chatwal, CEO Jay Stein, and Vice President of Operations, Luxury Division Ashish Verma, as well as Chapin Estate Developer Steve Dubrovsky, Architect Nunzio DeSantis, and Granite Associates Chairman & CEO Alan Gerry, among others.
Rustic and refined, The Chatwal Lodge offers an elegant and charming play of details literally carved straight out of the woods from which it stands. The luxurious hideaway features hand-hewn timbers, oversized stone fireplaces and mighty trunks of 40-foot white pine trees towering from floor to ceiling in the Main Lodge.
New York State Assembly Member Aileen M. Gunther:
“We’re grateful for Mr. Sant Chatwal and his Dream Hotel Group team bringing The Chatwal Lodge to the region. The caliber of this project is remarkable, and, once open, will become a world-class destination and an extraordinary addition to both New York State and Sullivan County.”
Luxurious meeting and event venues located at water’s edge are ideal for corporate retreats, social events and lavish destination weddings. Harmonizing with nature, its serene spa offerings will also include some of the most desirable wellness services.
The opening of The Chatwal Lodge is part of a larger economic development plan for the town of Bethel, New York. The Chatwal Lodge is located within The Chapin Estate along the shores of Sullivan Country’s two largest lakes.
Sullivan County has seen an increasing number of visitors due to its vast recreational activities, as well as growing arts and culture community. The Chatwal Lodge is expected to generate tax revenue and create new jobs, while also offering the growing residential and business communities a new reason to work and play in the countryside destination.
“The Chatwal Lodge is born from our signature New York City location and five-star luxury brand The Chatwal,” says Sant Singh Chatwal, Chairman of Dream Hotel Group. “Within this decadent and simply unprecedented country retreat, The Chatwal Lodge is a magical destination where luxury meets nature, and we are committed to embracing the natural resources of the area to create an enterprise that truly redefines the town and country luxury living experience.”
Photos courtesy of Dream Hotel Group & Chatwal Hotels.
Chalets originated in Switzerland and other alpine regions and are best known for their wooden features, prominent eaves, and convenient proximity to ski slopes. These cozy yet high-end chalets have something for everyone.
The careful decor paired with ultimate comfort is ideal for a secluded vacation among the mountains and nature. The spacious rooms and added details are also perfect for entertaining family or friends.
Photo courtesy of Ultimate Luxury Chalets.
Photo courtesy of Ultimate Luxury Chalets.
Choose a chalet for a romantic getaway, a cozy family gathering, or an exciting stay away from home with friends.
Chalets usually offer stunning views of the mountains and easy access to world-class skiing, but it is becoming more and more common for chalets to include a pool or spa area as well. Whether it’s a hot tub, jacuzzi, infinity pool or other water feature, they are as luxurious as a resort. Outdoor pools and spas are nestled among the finest views, offering a truly serene experience.
Why Choose a Chalet
Chalets are great for entertaining family and friends. The spacious homes allow each guest to have their own privacy while keeping everyone together. The large rooms are perfect for relaxing after a great meal or a long day on the slopes.
Surrounded by mountains, nature, and most likely plenty of snow, chalets are a world away from the hustle and bustle. Whether you’re escaping the city or trying to reconnect with nature, the gorgeous views and surrounding wilderness is sure to impress.
Find Unforgettable Chalets Around the World
Options for chalets are plentiful, but these are the top locations that offer luxury and more.
Les Gets, France
Courchevel Tourisme, France
Photo courtesy of Ultimate Luxury Chalets.
HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt 2018 has teamed up with Luxury Portfolio International for the seventh consecutive year, kicking off the quest to find the ultimate luxury home in several categories, including waterfront homes, curb appeal, homes with history, and more.
Voters browse a list of some of the world’s most luxury homes and vote for their favorites, and then they are officially entered in a $10,000 sweepstakes. Each category features spectacular properties, and these three are just a few examples.
This kitchen is arguable the most important spot in the home, for gathering to share a meal and making memories cooking alongside loved ones. These state-of-the-art kitchens are nothing short of gourmet and stunning.
Mountain Views Kitchen in Avon, Colorado
This six-bedroom home has unobstructed views of the mountains from its high-end kitchen.
Farmhouse Kitchen in Atlanta, Georgia
A kitchen that combines modernity with rustic comfort, the exposed beams, vintage cabinetry and clean marble countertops make for a truly unique kitc
Seaside Villa in Sardinia, Italy
Price Available Upon Request
The villa is secluded, tranquil, and utterly breathtaking, off of the Costa Smeralda.
Luxury Beach Home in Boca Raton, Florida
This massive 10,780-square-foot mansion is move-in ready, surrounded by 202 feet of waterfront.
River Views in Quebec, Canada
This property provides panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River from all three floors.
Sustainability in Dallas, Texas
Each element of this home was locally sourced, so homeowners can be sure the environmental impact of this home was minimal.
Photos courtesy of Luxury Portfolio International
An increased appetite in healthy living and the age-old desire to explore are satiated by companies crafting custom journeys for active travelers.
By Sarah Binder
In his autobiographical book Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, American writer Edward Abbey wrote, “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
With an increased focus on health and wellness, a need to unplug from daily life, and a desire to go off the beaten path, more and more travelers are booking active luxury vacations. Once centralized around destinations where physical activity is inherent, such as Machu Picchu or Alaska, active journeys today combine fitness and culture in unexpected locales such as Spain’s Mallorca Island and Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
Through their worldwide luxury tours that engage all five senses, award-winning travel providers such as Gray & Co. and Trek Travel live by Abbey’s timeless observation and help their adventure-seeking guests do the same.
To Cari Gray, founder and director of Gray & Co., active journeys surprise and delight, causing guests to wonder what they will see just around the corner.
“When you’re biking and kayaking, you’re actually watching a living museum. You’re listening to the birds, looking at the constellations, looking at the people in all of their glory. You’re wondering what fruit it is that is hanging off of the trees,” Gray says. “The world is unfolding in front of you and you see it in a very flowing and beautiful way.”
Gray, who spent 14 years with Butterfield & Robinson, noticed a developing niche — an opportunity to serve a clientele seeking higher-end active trips than what was available on the market. Gray & Co. hosted its first trip in 2009 and has focused since its inception on luxury-level service and a higher ratio of drivers, vehicles, and guides to guests.
All of Gray & Co.’s trips are private and designed from scratch — from the drinks guests want in their cooler to the type of hotel room they prefer. Throughout their itinerary, guests dictate the pace that works best for them.
“Whether that means only riding in the morning or the afternoon, or only having bistro-style meals, we get to know our travelers very well to anticipate the needs they don’t even know they have,” she explains. “We don’t design a trip for anyone thinking that it will be the only trip they will take with us.”
Gray & Co. regularly visits new destinations so the team is posed to craft well-rounded itineraries. A trip to South Africa in early January featured a visit to Timanfaya National Park to explore the lava fields and an optional round of golf at Arabella Golf Club. Numerous bike rides highlighted South Africa’s picturesque villages, coasts, valleys, and vineyards, with accommodations in Lanzarote, Canary Islands; Hermanus; Franschhoek; and Cape Town.
“South Africa is not highly popular from a biking perspective; however, from our perspective, it has good pavement, amazing hotels, and super-high-quality food,” Gray says. “When we were in Cape Town we managed to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It was a big highlight to see this mega project that is not going to open until September.”
Even with its heavily researched itineraries, the Gray & Co. team occasionally has to improvise to take its customer service to the next level. “We were touring with a family all around Sydney. To get them out of traffic, we chartered a jet boat to pick them up close to Bondi Beach and drop them off right at the Park Hyatt Sydney. It was a neat opportunity for them to see the harbor and have a jet boat all to themselves, making the transfer a bit of an adventure itself.”
As for new adventures, the team recently took journeys to Bergen, Norway; Sri Lanka; and will visit Australia’s Sunshine Coast Hinterlands this spring. “We’re eagerly awaiting the new lodges that will open in Bhutan; Six Senses is opening up amazing new lodges there later this year. And the Galápagos Islands is definitely on our list as well; we want to check out Pikaia Lodge,” Gray notes.
Photos courtesy of Gray & Co
Suitable for travelers of all riding abilities, from beginners to experienced cyclists, Trek Travel, born of Trek bikes, offers luxury biking vacations around the world. Each guest is provided with an award-winning Trek bicycle, such as the all-new Trek Domane SL 7 carbon fiber road bike with electronic Di2 shifting, the Trek FX hybrid, and the electric-assist XM700+.
Trek Travel’s expertly guided trips can be booked privately and modified to suit guests’ preferences. Alternatively, the company’s trip design team can work with travelers to create completely customized tours. For example, the team recently designed a 22-person trip to Switzerland, intended to celebrate the family’s heritage and introduce everyone, from ages 6 to 80, to the town their matriarch and grandmother hailed from.
“When you slow down and get on a bike you are able to immerse yourself in a region more than if you’re on a bus from point A to point B. You can feel the terrain, stop on the side of the road and take pictures, and smell the lavender fields you’re riding by,” explains Meagan Coates, Trek Travel’s trip design manager. “How you’re welcomed by locals when you arrive in a tiny town in Italy on a bike is a different experience. You’re able to connect more easily.”
While some destinations, such as Yellowstone or California wine country, sound ideal for a cycling vacation, others may surprise. “Time is of the essence to get to Cuba,” Coates explains.
Launched early this year, Trek Travel’s eight-day, seven-night Cuba itinerary welcomes all abilities for a trip that starts in Santa Clara and ends in Havana. One day’s ride, for example, covers approximately 40 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing, pedaling through the Valle de los Ingenios, the lush green valley once the center of the island’s sugar industry. The trip’s wide variety of non-cycling activities includes visits to the Bay of Pigs museum and Manaca Iznaga Sugar Plantation, people-to-people exchanges such as meeting a local author in Trinidad, and savoring traditional homemade dinners at paladars — private, family owned restaurants.
All tours allow guests to set their own pace — it’s encouraged to skip a ride in favor of a spa treatment, if desired. Last May, the company launched a new collection of trips designed to maximize the relaxation portion of one’s vacation. A partnership with Scenic luxury river cruises allows Trek Travel to offer tours on the Danube and Rhine rivers.
“The ships are like floating luxury hotels, and at every port there is a spot where you can get off and ride,” Coates says. Day three of the Rhine River Cruise, for example, features an afternoon ride through Germany’s romantic Neckar Valley to the foothills of the Odenwald Forest, followed by a classical concert in the Baroque Mannheim Palace.
“With the support that we offer, you don’t have to worry about anything,” says Coates. “The biggest thing I tell beginner or non-riders is ‘Just go.’ More often than not, when you want to start doing anything new, the hardest part is just getting started.”
Photos courtesy of Clockwise: Norway ©Tony Ferlisi; Ojai courtesy of Trek Travel; Yellowstone ©Zack Jones Photography; Cuba ©Leanne Welbourne