Washington (United States) – May 9, 2015 – Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan is a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members. The National Geographic Society announced its newest foray in world-class travel experiences: National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence. Selected through a rigorous evaluation process, these lodges offer an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices. The initial collection — numbering 24 properties on six continents — further builds National Geographic’s travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveler magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community.
As part of a comprehensive vetting process, every lodge in the collection was judged on the following criteria:
The Property— The design and character are unique and authentic, and the property 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 local people to wildlife encounters with seasoned naturalists.
Sustainable Tourism Best Practices — The property demonstrates a commitment to conservation and green operations; it actively supports the protection of cultural heritage; and it provides tangible benefits to local communities.
National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinize the lodge’s impact on the local environment and community and ensure that these criteria were met.
“By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognized 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 world-renowned sustainable tourism expert and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges. “Travelers 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.”
The Unique Lodges collection ranges from thatched bungalows nestled in the coastal jungles of Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula to luxury tented suites overlooking Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Australian Outback. Many have devised their own renewable energy solutions; all prioritize locally sourced food and provide economic and social benefits to the local community. Each lodge offers a special “National Geographic Exclusive” experience to guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. This is a complimentary opportunity to delve further into the local culture or environment, such as a private sunset wildlife cruise at British Columbia’s Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge or a special research outing with the on-site scientist at The Brando in French Polynesia.
“The National Geographic brand is universally recognized for its commitment to exploring and protecting the planet, so we are uniquely positioned to unite and promote these exceptional properties and to set a new standard for tourism,” said Lynn Cutter, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Travel and Licensing. “These lodges share the Society’s vision of preserving the planet for future generations and they demonstrate that sustainability and a world-class guest experience can go hand-in-hand.”
To help raise the profile of these properties, National Geographic is implementing a broad promotional campaign, including advertising, digital marketing, publicity and social media. In addition, National Geographic will assemble an advisory group of charter lodge members in order to help facilitate the sharing of best practices and to provide input on direction and strategy as the program develops.
“We’re proud to safeguard and share the splendor of Mongolia for many generations to come,” said Jalsa Urubshurow, of Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi Desert. “As a Unique Lodge of the World, we can work with National Geographic Society to enhance our efforts and be part of the positive change we want to see in the tourism sector.”
National Geographic Unique Lodges offer travelers a full-service experience from booking to checkout. Travelers can browse all of the properties on the Unique Lodges website and make a reservation at a lodge, join a National Geographic Expedition that features a Unique Lodge or book one of National Geographic’s new Private Expeditions, offered in partnership with Virtuoso, the leading international network of luxury-focused travel agencies and advisors.
National Geographic’s Private Expeditions is a new series of itineraries specially crafted for independent travelers and the traveling companions they choose — whether it’s two or 10 — and many include a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge. Guests can explore Ecuador on a private expedition that combines the colorful culture of the Altiplano with a stay at Mashpi Lodge in the heart of the Chocó rain forest. Or they can immerse themselves in Berber hospitality at the Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains on a trip that also includes the mesmerizing cities of Marrakech and Fez. Travelers may also contact a reservations specialist to customize a trip.
For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit www.nationalgeographiclodges.com
For more information about Zhiwa Ling Hotel, visit www.zhiwaling.com
About National Geographic Travel
National Geographic Travel is the travel arm of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, founded in 1888. National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; travel books; maps; digital travel content; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (eight issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 17 international editions. National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the Society, offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 60 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group, shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of 6.5 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips.
About Zhiwa Ling
Zhiwa Ling officials said National Geographic liked the fact that the hotel was fully owned by Bhutanese, with authentic Bhutanese architecture, and that 99 percent of its staff are Bhutanese. Zhiwa Ling is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st century comforts,” states the National Geographic review. “This is the first five-star Bhutanese-owned hotel, and its 45 beautifully appointed suites look out over the emerald foothills of the Himalaya.