PURE AWARDS WINNERS 2014
BROUGHT TO YOU BY TOURISM NEW ZEALAND
Now in its second year, the PURE Awards 2014 once again uncovered the inspirational, celebrated the passionate, rewarded the diligent and honoured the brave. In short, we unmasked the heroes of experiential travel. The PURE Awards ceremony at the Palais des Congrès was followed by the PURE Welcome & Awards Party at Royal Palm Marrakech, where the PURE community celebrated their winners in style.
After listening to our community, we decided that this year they would be our judging panel. Nominations took place in Phase 2 of the appointment system, when all those attending PURE 2014 had the chance to cast their vote.
The PURE community has spoken. From a truly outstanding [fuel_tooltip tooltip=”click here to see the shortlist”]shortlist[/fuel_tooltip], the winners of the PURE Awards 2014 have been announced…
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Alaska’s Ultima Thule Lodge – The Land Remote Beyond Reckoning
Defined as ‘the land remote beyond reckoning,’ Ultima Thule sits deep in the heart of North America’s largest national park. The timeless luxury of the lodge only enhances the already indescribable natural setting – the theory being that indulging creature comforts and simultaneously overwhelming the senses is the ideal formula for creating emotionally rich experiences.
From March through to October guests can take part in flight safari adventures. Thanks to the light bush airplanes used – which are specifically designed to ensure minimal impact to the natural world – they enjoy a heightened level of personal experience, effectively ‘strapping on a pair of wings’ to explore untouched wilderness where no humans may have ventured before, unrestricted by itineraries and uninterrupted by the rest of the world. They find themselves in a world removed from civilization, picnicking in the middle of the largest non-polar glacier on earth, walking atop a high alpine plateau among arctic flowers to sample wild berries, fishing in a salmon stream alongside grizzly bears, or soaring among 18,000 foot-high peaks en-route to the Pacific coastline to witness 1000-year-old glacier ice crash into the surf.
Yet the thing that makes Ultima Thule truly extraordinary is the authenticity experienced on a human level. Guests are welcomed into the daily lives of the Clauses – a modern day pioneering family who live hundreds of miles ‘off the grid’ within a small, self-sustaining community of their own creation – where they are invited to live and share the dream of wilderness adventure and stewardship.
&Beyond – White Rhino Translocation
Fuelled by rising demand, the illegal trade in rhino horn has seen the number of rhinos poached across Africa reach an all-time high. In 2013, over 1000 rhino were poached in South Africa alone – up from 668 in 2012 and 448 in 2011. A rhino is now killed every nine hours.
&Beyond believes that translocations are fundamental to securing the ongoing survival of endangered species and ensuring that they are protected for future generations to enjoy. In 2013 they carried out the first private game reserve donation of rhino to another country, translocating six white rhino from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa to Botswana’s Okavango Delta. As part of preparing for the arrival of the rhino, &Beyond provided intensive tracking and monitoring training for game scouts from Botswana. After quarantine in a holding pen in Botswana the rhino were successfully released, with one female confirmed to be pregnant. She has since given birth and all seven rhino are doing well in their new environment.
Following the success of this project, &Beyond is working with industry partners to translocate up to a further 100 rhino. Following the release, top experts in technology, security and anti-poaching initiatives will work with the Botswana Defence Force and the Ministry of the Environment to secure and monitor the new rhino population. The final phase of the project will focus on community education and outreach to aid the continued conservation and protection of rhinos across South Africa and Botswana.
Wilderness Safaris – Children in the Wilderness
Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is a non-profit organisation supported by Wilderness Safaris, which aims to facilitate sustainable conservation by educating children from rural areas on their natural heritage, thus inspiring them to become custodians of these areas in the future.
This is achieved in a variety of ways: Eco-Mentor Training aims to develop both children and local community members by increasing their environmental understanding and enabling them to better implement school and village environmental projects and initiatives. Throughout the year, Eco-Clubs provide the chance to meet, learn, discuss and expand knowledge of environmental issues. More than 2,000 children have become members of 67 Eco-Clubs throughout Africa.
A selection of Wilderness Safaris’ partner camps are closed to paying guests for a few days each year in order to host three- to five-day educational and fun-filled programmes – including environmental lessons, games, practical sessions, life-skills orientation and wildlife activities – that aim to increase children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments, as well as demonstrating the different career opportunities that exist for them in the ecotourism industry. Since 2001, some 5,000 children in seven southern African countries have participated. The Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) programme then identifies those children with interest, commitment and potential and helps to prepare them for a possible career in nature conservation.
CITW also extends its involvement to other initiatives aimed at community development – including school feeding schemes, school infrastructure development, access to clean water and scholarships.
Butterfield & Robinson – The Slow Road (blog)
Butterfield & Robinson’s blog, The Slow Road, provides discerning travellers with the insight, experience and expertise they need to fully immerse themselves in a country or particular region. Using strong imagery, B&R’s irreverent brand voice and a joke or two, they leverage B&R’s years of travel experience to provide a resource that can turn would-be travellers into savvy world wanderers, as well as creating a more human brand identity and facilitating personal relationships between their staff and customers.
From a business perspective, the blog constitutes the foundation of B&R’s content marketing strategy, serving as a content engine that allows them to demonstrate their deep and longstanding regional expertise and provide a value-added resource to existing customers, as well as increasing their audience and brand saturation. Their Accolades section allows them to share feedback and positive reviews from both press and travellers.
Content is rolled out according to a monthly editorial calendar that reflects B&R’s monthly and quarterly sales trends, with a focus on two to three key regions per month. The blog is pushed out via monthly emails to over 60,000 subscribers and the brand’s various social media platforms. In addition, each of the trip pages on the B&R website and the online confirmation packages sent to customers who’ve booked with B&R are supplemented with a ‘Notes from the Road’ section that pulls in links to relevant blog posts, providing visitors to the main website with supplemental information about the regions they’re considering visiting.
Aqua Expeditions – Aqua Mekong
Designed by Saigon-based architectural firm Noor Design, Aqua Expeditions’ newly launched Aqua Mekong is small enough to be intimate, but equally spacious and luxurious enough for the discerning traveller, with an incredibly high attention to design detail throughout. Its outward-facing design suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows and some have balconies, enabling guests to relax and watch Asia float by, for uniquely connected ‘eye-level cruising’. The Indochine-influenced interiors are built entirely of local sustainable materials and incorporate natural fibres with artisanal touches of the Mekong’s many cultures – such as Malaysian Ekowood and smooth teak. The sleek bathrooms are adorned in handmade tiles from Thailand and feature the latest eco-sensitive technology, as well as a large walk-in shower with rainforest showerhead.
Understated elegance realised in modern, natural materials continues in the ship’s social areas. In the sunlit dining room, fresh tropical flowers add a subtle pop of colour and Mekong-influenced cuisine is served on fine Cambodian china. With its sleek, contemporary interpretations of the region’s woven cane planter chairs, the top level Observation Deck has been designed to seamlessly connect guests with the constantly shifting landscape along the mighty river. Meanwhile the exterior deck – with its river-facing plunge pool and lounge bar – has been created entirely from Reysta – a material made from recycled rice husk and vegetable oil pressed into boards to give the appearance of tropical hardwood – which has won awards for its sustainability credentials. There is also a generously sized spa and fitness centre, library and screening room aboard.
George Butterfield – Butterfield & Robinson
In 1980, George Butterfield introduced (or more accurately, reintroduced, after a few valiant attempts and innovative spins) the concept of immersive deluxe biking trips for adults, virtually creating from scratch the category of travel that’s now known as ‘luxury active’. But doing so was many years in the making…
In 1966, law student George Butterfield teamed up with his brother-in-law Sidney Robinson and wife Martha to create and lead a 59-day bike trip from Naples to London with 43 students. They rode around Bavaria, hiked the Swiss Alps, explored the quays of Paris and visited the galleria and palazzi in Florence, savouring the local specialities as they went. George thought he had struck on something special. So in 1974, B&R joined with Lufthansa to offer an adult version of the trips in the Bavarian Alps. Not one person booked.
In 1979 another great travel idea emerged: Shipwreck Travel. For $600 each, travellers would be taken to a deserted Caribbean island with just a bathing suit, a plastic sheet and a bucket – simulating real survival in a beautiful place. Despite planning 15 departures in the first year, he ran one trip. Everyone hated it.
But George remained undaunted. A true entrepreneur, he knew that success in business depends upon three things: innovation, surrounding yourself with talented people and good timing (along with persistence, of course). In 1980 he relaunched his bike trip concept with far more success… We would say the rest is history, but we’d hate to be so cliché.
The inaugural PURE Awards last year cemented our belief that the PURE is home to true mavericks… But this year set the bar even higher. After much deliberation, the shortlist was drawn up, showcasing the most outstanding entries in each category.
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