Sustainable luxury travel, Cayuga style
SHOULD YOU have been following the course of Essential Journeys over the past four years, you will recall that our launch title was Eco Travel Guide, with a strong focus on sustainability, wildlife and conservation. Those aspects of travel and tourism still play a major role on the website, which is why we continue to run with a section dedicated to Green Tourism.
The United Nations proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. So what a great opportunity to spotlight sustainable travel. In Cayuga’s case, the year will give more exposure to sustainable luxury travel. As an experiential luxury travel magazine, that works well for us, too! Sustainable hospitality pioneers Cayuga continue to break new ground in eco-lux travel, so here are the new trends the company has spotted while observing people search for ways to travel more responsibly and reduce their footprint. These trend predictions are based on interactions with guests at the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Food as a new force in travel: Cayuga has found that their guests will choose or skip a hotel or resort based on its culinary offerings. They will go out of their way to have a great real-deal meal. It is not about fancy dining, but rather sampling fresh local ingredients prepared in a simple and honest way (if the chef is a character, even better!). Cayuga’s guests love hands-on cooking lessons, visits to on-site herb and vegetable gardens and trips to nearby farmers’markets. They want to understand where the food comes from, who is preparing it and whether the recipes are local, global or a fusion of the two. With programmes like Dock to Dish gaining momentum in different parts of the world, how food is caught, butchered and harvested is being questioned, so you had better have the answers.
A deeper dive into nature: Guests that visit the Cayuga Collection are looking for an active experience which often includes soft adventures. They do not mind getting wet, dirty and sweaty if it means delving deeper into nature. They want to explore places in their ‘raw’ state before they change. They love to find what feels undiscovered and often do their own exploring. Their desire to go local has them seeking out the company of knowledgeable naturalist guides; evening discussions on conservation and wildlife preservation are really popular at Cayuga hotels and lodges. While guests appreciate knowing there is a pool and a soft lounge chair when needed, their inner explorer often takes over. Cayuga has found that offering guided tours in the morning and evening not only enhances the guest experience, but it is often the way guests become friends.
Wellness is a way to connect with humanity: Wellness at the Cayuga Collection is so far from just plopping down on a massage table in an air-conditioned room. Guests always say they feel so healthy, happy and free when they visit. So, Cayuga came up with the term Pura Vida Wellness, which encompasses all the elements of a vacation experience in Costa Rica. It involves hiking in a dense rain forest, perhaps even hugging a 600-year-old tree, and then taking a shower back on your private deck during a tropical rain shower. It involves jumping into the pool of a gushing waterfall, and then sharing a craft beer and a typical dish with locals at a small restaurant. Wellness is about connecting with humanity. Say, having a really interesting conversation with your waiter about why Costa Rica has no army. It also means doing a digital detox and jogging along a beach which you have all to yourself at 5.30am. Guests of the Cayuga Collection love forest bathing and planting trees, they love the large variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices on offer, and they also love learning about how Cayuga manages their sustainability impact with signature behind-the-scenes tours. All of these experiences contribute to guests’ wellness.
Intelligent versus senseless luxury: Sustainability – that word again. Cayuga’s guests admit that they do not choose the hotels and lodges because of their status as world leaders in sustainable hospitality. However, once they take the back-of-the-house sustainability tours and learn about all Cayuga does to keep their patches of the planet safe and protected, it really sinks in that there needs to be no compromise between sustainability and a pampered vacation experience. For Cayuga, senseless luxury means plastic water bottles, eating ingredients from one continent while on another, recipes that call for endangered fish, and driving a car when it is shorter to walk or ride a bike. As a new approach, intelligent luxury is about authenticity and doing things in a responsible manner.
Nothing like the people power: We are living a new reality in travel. Automated check-in kiosks, smart phones as room keys, self-order tablets replacing wait-on staff at restaurants. For business travel, it may be working wonderfully, but when guests look to unwind and let go on vacation, it is not what they are looking for. Every day, Cayuga sees how much their guests love to interact with the staff, loving to learn about their culture and their individual lives, sharing their vacation experiences or just enjoying pleasant small talk. What is great about travelling in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is that the people are friendly, welcoming and curious. While in other countries there is more of an invisible barrier between staff and guests, at the Cayuga Collection, guests and staff connect at the same level. It is this connection, the people power, that guests mention as the most appreciated experience of their holiday.