It’s time to reveal the shortlist for this year’s PURE Awards – and for you to vote for your winners.
Judged by our panel of experientially-minded, expert travel journalists, over 230 entries from around the world have been whittled down to the below contenders. With a new (and very popular) category of Unsung Hero alongside all the old favourites, we received a wealth of incredible applications from both established and newbie PUREists.
See what our judges thought of this year’s crop of talent in the video below, as well as discovering who’s up for the gold P in 2017. The power is yours…
An immersive, perspective-shifting itinerary that challenges and inspires the sophisticated traveller on a deeply personal level, creating emotion through the powerful medium of storytelling and transforming their life for the better.
Digging Deep in La Paz City
The ‘digging deep in La Paz City’ programme aims to show the diversity and authenticity of the world’s highest city, La Paz City. It takes visitors through the everyday lives of those who bring it to life: the lady that sells fresh juice on the street, the artist who promotes her culture, etc; enabling visitors to get close up to tourist sites never before included in the traditional routes around the city.
CASCADA EXPEDICIONES/ECOCAMP PATAGONIA
The Dientes Trek is a “back to your roots” wilderness experience. There is virtually no trail infrastructure: it’s un-crowded and the immersion in nature and disconnect from the world is absolute. There is only you, silence, and the mighty peaks and legendary waterways of Tierra del Fuego. Trekkers leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the power of nature, as well as themselves as humans in the world, where our actions have real consequences for the future of the planet.
Arctic Glamping in the Barren Lands of Northern Manitoba
Arctic Glamping gives guests a taste of the vast Arctic tundra, while providing a signature, world-class experience during a two-night glamping adventure in the breathtaking, remote Barren Lands of northern Manitoba. Along the ancient migratory path of the Qaminurjuaq caribou herd, guests learn about the rich ecosystems of the area and explore an area that sees less people than the summit of Mount Everest – a truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
SPLIT APPLE RETREAT
Taking Ultra-Luxury Wellness to a New Level
Split Apple Retreat created an innovative, immersive, ultra-luxury wellness experience with Dr. Lee Nelson, a wellness physician, who keeps up with the latest innovations in diet, exercise and stress reduction while preserving an ultra-luxury experience. Utilising the newly-built yoga pavilion in the rose garden, anti-inflammatory gourmet thoughtful food, and new kinds of meditation, including high tech brain entrainment and energy meditations, guests experience a new level of wellbeing.
Travels Through Dali with a Leg of Ham: Connecting with Yunnan’s Culinary Artists
The passion for food meets you at every doorway on the Travels Through Dali itinerary, which follows in Mei Zhang’s footsteps of her book, Travels through Dali: with a leg of ham. As they enter the kitchens of Yunnan’s culinary artists, travellers become immersed in local life and connect with communities through their passion for cuisine. By offering travellers a deeper connection to local people, they are immersed in the challenges faced and changes embraced by communities in one of China’s most diverse and quickly urbanising provinces.
CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
A project or initiative that puts Planet Earth on centre stage, showing due responsibility to our natural resources and going above and beyond to protect our legacy – for the good of not only the tourism industry, but the rest of the world.
Groundbreaking Solar Technology at Singita Kruger National Park
The solar project’s aim was to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by harnessing energy from this sun-rich part of the world to provide solar power. In 2015, 1188 photovoltaic solar panels were installed and connected to state-of-the-art batteries and inverters to power the lodges. In 2017, the Tesla Powerpack system was introduced. The combination of solar and Powerpack enables sustainable energy generation, consumption and storage. The system has already reduced diesel generator usage by over 70% and is forecast to reduce annual carbon emissions by 1,000 tons.
THE BRANDO ON TETIAROA PRIVATE ISLAND
The Brando: A Unique Sustainable Vision Becomes Reality
Tapping into the power of the natural environment, sustainability strategies were pursued resulting in the world’s first post-carbon resort on an island where innovative technologies enable a self-sustaining environment for resort guests, residents, and scientific research. Strategies included innovative design; use of local, renewable and recycled materials; a pioneering deep seawater air-conditioning system; water treatment systems; and renewable energies such as solar power and coconut oil. The Brando achieved LEED Platinum certification due to conservation and sustainability efforts in the design and operation of the island resort.
THE PAVILIONS HIMALAYAS
Innovation, Sustainability and Nature’s Love
Innovation, sustainability and nature’s love is at the heart of The Pavilions Himalayas, where a permaculture ecosystem has been implemented, tested and refined. The cycle of food production, waste reduction, rainwater and manure reuse ensures food is sustainably grown and prepared. They generate their own energy (biogas for cooking, solar for electricity), harvest rainwater, use natural materials and run a farm. At full capacity, they sustain and feed 80 people with minimal waste.
ULTIMATE SAFARIS NAMIBIA
Saving Namibia’s Micro Desert Adapted Black Rhino Populations
Ultimate Safaris recognised the challenge the Huab Conservancy had in attracting partners to aid their custodianship programme for black rhino. They set up low capital investment activities in the area with maximum return for conservation, offering unique experiences in the form of a seasonal camp, multi-day hikes and sleep outs. To date, the Huab Conservancy is the only communal conservancy in Namibia that has not had an incident of rhino poaching. As a result of tourism-generated revenue in the area, they have employed rangers, equipped them with solar e-bikes, brought VHF radio communication to the area, drilled for permanent wildlife water and paid a staggering 25% of all revenues generated to the conservancy in aid of conservation.
A project or initiative that strategically and sensitively integrates the local community, aligning itself with the values and priorities of the inhabitants and protecting the authenticity of the culture, while enriching the experience of the traveller.
Karawara Culture on a Secluded Island
Guests swap their current reality for life on a secluded island, under the guidance of the neighbouring Karawara people, in the tropics of Papua New Guinea. Karawara Islanders visit guests daily on Kabakon island, supplying their extensive knowledge, time and rich customs, teaching how to forage, hunt, weave, connect and play. Guests are then left to their own devices until the next visit. The project offers an additional income stream for the local community and reignites pride in the continuation of local traditions and cultures.
THE LODGE AT FELINE FIELDS
Community Engagement for the Next Generation with the Feline Fields Trust
In Tsao there was no space for young children to play and learn. Feline Fields Trust created a community-led facility they would have ownership over, with the assistance of the Trust. Trust volunteers constructed a new community playgroup where children can play games, socialise, learn and celebrate their cultural heritage. Forty children now attend, the first time many San Bushmen children have joined a playgroup.
INNOVATIVE AND ENGAGING MARKETING
A clever campaign that uses innovative or unusual methods to encourage personal engagement with a travel product, while staying true to the independent, experiential ethos of the brand.
BUTTERFIELD & ROBINSON
Fifty Years of Sabering, Celebration and Suds
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Butterfield & Robinson encouraged brand engagement, showed appreciation to travellers and reminded them of B&R’s rich history of establishing active luxury travel. Through brand association with an exhilarating, extravagant act, B&R involved 2016 travellers by completely owning the act of sabering. On every published departure, anniversary jerseys and a commemorative saber were given to celebrate 50 years of “Slowing Down”. Over 40,000 contacts engaged with anniversary-related marketing across multiple channels.
GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION
Great Plains’ Vinyl Revival
Prior to the modern, slick, digital-era PURE, there were old-school trade shows that were like lifting a needle carefully on to a vinyl record to be heard. That’s what a Berlin show is still like, where you need to manually grab your target listeners by creative packaging to get the listen. A campaign of four pre-show emails followed a vinyl theme of new tracks on Side 1 and classic hits on Side 2, inspired by everything from Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy to Great Plains’ classic tracks. The result? A sell-out show; maverick brand awareness; and great feedback from the non-trade show audience.
TERRAMUNDI VIAGENS – BRAZIL
Terramundi Creators – Peru
This initiative involves an innovative approach to a travel content marketing campaign, in order to promote destinations from a travel designer perspective, made by Brazilian creative minds and local destination opinion leaders. Using unexpected narrative and marketing content to create a campaign tailored to our Brazilian market, we increased engagement with clients and reached an audience of 1.9m.
Outstanding examples of high-end design that contribute to the emotional experience of the traveller, using exquisite aesthetics and creative ingenuity to offer a new perspective and showcase the richness of its locality.
Contemporary Safari Lodge Imbued with Local Tradition and Zambezi Spirit
andBeyond engaged Form Studio to incorporate the rich heritage of Zimbabwe into the lodge design and honour life on the banks of the Zambezi. It draws inspiration from the traditions of fishing and basket weaving, and uses materials such as wood, stone carvings and copper, reflecting the region’s mineral riches. Understated tones and tranquil interiors focus the attention on the river, which works its drama on the mind of the guest.
GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION
Duba Plains Camp
Duba Plains represents a very personal set of the Jouberts’ influences: for example, deep reds and greys reflect the stunning imagery of recent Okavango rhino releases, where a red scarf was used to cover a rhino’s eyes. Campaign furniture, Zanzibar doors and arches from an old Rajasthan castle give it the look and feel they were originally aiming for, which speaks to the influences of a unique concept we now know as ‘safari’.
Sorris Sorris Lodge
The design of Sorris Sorris was driven largely by its location, overlooking the highest mountain in Namibia, and the desire to explore a more contemporary approach to safari lodge design. At the same time, the design also needed to be “in tune” and sensitive to its surroundings. The decision to use rammed earth walls as a key part of the construction process achieved two main goals, reducing the environmental footprint of the lodge by sourcing the sand locally. This allowed the construction team creative license to blend the colours of the environs around the lodge into the walls.
Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition. The spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture. Bisate not only offers guests something completely unique to the Rwandan landscape, but also a lodge that is steeped in local design, culture and traditional architecture.
CONTRIBUTION TO EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL
An individual whose efforts have directly influenced the development of the experiential travel movement – a true maverick whose commitment, curiosity and daring sets new standards for the industry at large.
Mike Reimer, co-founder of Churchill Wild, is a true entrepreneur and adventurer. The first to offer walking safaris through polar bear inhabited regions of northern Manitoba, he’s always one step ahead, planning new experiences for guests. From safe, on-the-ground polar bear encounters to an innovative way for people to snorkel with wild beluga whales to a remote Tundra Camp set up in the Barren Lands for an Arctic glamping experience, Mike’s insatiable curiosity for what’s possible keeps guests intrigued and engaged.
Charles McDiarmid turned inclement weather into a sought-out experience by sharing his true love of the West Coast of Vancouver Island and the phenomenal storms that grace our coast. In Charles’ words: “The fascination with storm watching in general is I believe something that is just part of our DNA, stemming from the earliest times in our history when we sheltered ourselves in caves looking out over the plains of the Serengeti and marvelled at the unfolding spectacle of mother nature displaying her vast powers for all to see.”
Seventeen years ago, while buses dropped off tourists at the Great Wall, Mei Zhang was pioneering luxury experiential travel in China. In 2016, Mei took this to the next level when Penguin published her first book, Travels through Dali: with a leg of ham. Chronicling Mei’s return to her hometown in search of the region’s traditional cuisine, the book is a globally recognised and critically acclaimed insight into the importance of cultural preservation and cultivation in a rapidly urbanising China.
Recognising the dedication and passion of the guides who go an extra mile to offer a truly transformation experience to their guests, often through some of the most remote areas of the world.
African Bush Camps
Lewis Mangaba is not only a guide; he is a man whose pulse beats in time with the heart of Africa. He is a storyteller, a poet, and a man who inspires passion for preserving our wildlife heritage to all who encounter him. Lewis’s intuition in the bush ensures a fantastic experience for his guests. He’s affectionately known as the medicine man, and once trekked deep into the wilds of Mana Pools to find a plant to treat mosquito bites because a guest, who had been bitten, was averse to repellents.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camps
Enock is a lovely, passionate guide always working hard with no fuss; smiling, polite and making everyone feel comfortable and included. He has a natural ease and grace that shows he was born to be a guide. Enock learnt Spanish to better connect and guide Spanish clients. He is a Silver Level certified guide and he is studying for his Gold Level, which he is hoping to pass this November. He is very involved in his community and offers himself as a Primary Teacher in Siana on Wildlife Conservation and the Environment on his days off.
Mountain Travel Sobek
John is a rock star guide. He’s a naturalist, former National Park ranger (Yosemite, Glacier Bay, Mount Rainier, Kenai Fjords, Point Reyes and Golden Gate) and veteran Alaska guide with 25 years’ experience. As well as guiding over 100 trips in Alaska for MTS, John has gone out of his way to organise free outings in the San Francisco Bay Area (starting Oct 2016) – with attendance of up to 80 hikers!
GEORGE NJUNJA JAMES
George is extremely dedicated to rhino conservation in the Okavango Delta, having been actively involved in Wilderness Safaris’ pioneering Botswana Rhino Reintroduction programme for the past 10 years. His daily patrols cover large ranges of habitat to monitor rhino movements, so he can record detailed information on the condition and behaviour of each rhino. His collaborative work with the DWNP Anti-Poaching Unit and the Botswana Defence Force has played a vital role in the prevention of poaching.