Another major international business and brand has thrown its hat into the boutique hotel ring – but this time it is not a hotel operator, but instead the National Geographic Society.
The organisation, which is behind an empire of magazines, books, TV channels and travel expedition operations, has launched National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, which it says is a collection of boutique hotels in “extraordinary places”, which have shown a commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.
National Geographic has initiated a promotional campaign for the new collection and is also assembling an advisory group of charter lodge members to help them share best practices and provide input on direction and strategy as the program develops.
Initially, the collection comprises 24 properties on six continents, selected after experts were deployed to evaluate each site, meet staff and scrutinise their impact on the local environment and community.
“By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognised sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet,” said Costas Christ, a editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine.
“Travellers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places.”
Through the Unique Lodges website, travellers will be able to browse through all the properties and book their stays. They will also be able to join a National Geographic Expedition featuring one of the hotels.
According to information on a website for hotels interested in joining the collection, members could have the opportunity to have their properties promoted in National Geographic’s digital and print publications, as well as access to its experts and photographers.
The following criteria will be used to evaluate each application by hotels looking to join the collection:
The Property – The design and character is unique and authentic, and 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 the destination, to culinary excellence and personalized customer service.
Sustainable Tourism Best Practices – The property demonstrates a commitment to conservation of the natural environment through green operations and environmental management; actively supports the protection of cultural heritage; and provides tangible benefits to the local peoples and communities.
Among the initial member hotels is Kasbah du Toubkal, a 14-room retreat located in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco.