Giraffe Manor: Guests get up close with Rothschild giraffes at conservation-supporting boutique hotel- Life & Soul Magazine

There’s few boutique hotels in the world that can lay claim to visitors rubbing shoulders with giraffes over the breakfast table other than Kenya’s Giraffe Manor.

Giraffe Manor, set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, is a wonderful and delightful vacation for anyone who has an affinity with the graceful and elegant mammals that are giraffes, namely the Rothschild species.

The boutique hotel, which is situated at one end of land used as a sanctuary by the Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife for this rare species of giraffe, is often visited by a herd of Rothschild giraffes morning and evening, who sometimes poke their long necks into the windows of the dining room in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary.

The giraffes are nurtured within the 140 acres of the estate, until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wilds of safer National Parks and game reserves wherever possible.

The Rothschild giraffe is one of the most endangered species of giraffe with under 2000 estimated to be left in the wild in 2016. One of the tallest giraffes, the Rothschild giraffe can grow to 19 feet in height and weigh about 2,500 pounds, with the males weighing more than the females by several hundred pounds.

Giraffe Manor, an English-style country mansion, has been supporting the conservation of the Rothschild giraffe since the 1970s when the then owners Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville first adopted an orphaned Rothschild giraffe, Daisy.

Now owned by The Safari Collection, Giraffe Manor has become a world-renowned boutique hotel, with 12 rooms offering guests old country house charm. Managed like a family home, dinner is served at a long table in the dining room, and after drinks served by the fire on the terrace overlooking the rolling lawns.

The Safari Collection supports several initiatives that protect local wildlife, including the Mara Cheetah Project, and operate sustainable practices throughout its portfolio of hotels aimed at reduce its  energy, water and materials and emissions.

A popular place to stay in Kenya, mainly because of its resident four-legged friends, Giraffe Manor recommends booking 1-2 years in advance prior to travel.

Images Credit: Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Hotel Taselotzin: All female-run Mexico-based hotel "with an indigenous heart" empowering Nahua women- Life & Soul Magazine

Hotel Taselotzin, located in the Sierra Norte mountain range of Puebla in Mexico, is a sustainable hotel run by indigenous Nahua women.

Taselotzin, which in Nahuatl means “small plant or shoot”, started life as a hotel “with an indigenous heart” in 1995 as a result of the collective effort of the female-led organisation Masehual Siunamej Mosenyolchiacuani (“Indigenous women who support one another”).

Masehual Siunamej Mosenyolchiacuani was originally set up in 1985 to empower women within the community whilst protecting their indigenous heritage and traditions. Created and managed by more than 100 Nahua women of the region, many of whom are crafts people, the aim of the collective was to help indigenous women sell their crafts at fair prices and to improve their quality of life by creating jobs so to limit the number of community members needing to emigrate.

By 1987, the women’s collective realised that it was not enough to obtain income, and so on the advice of a student from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), who told the indigenous women that their embroidery could turn profitable beyond their home community of Cuetzalan, the idea of a community-owned hotel arose.

Cuetzalan, nestled in the northern mountains of Puebla, is a small village rich in indigenous history and heritage that is known for its coffee plantations, greenery, cobblestone streets, waterfalls, and caves.

More than 80% of the town’s inhabitants are of Náhuatl origin and live under customs of ancestral community management. These customs are based on conservation and respect towards nature, which have helped prevent the arrival of mining businesses into the area. The remote village has also become popular with conscious travellers looking to experience indigenous customs and traditions.

Hotel Taselotzin – which came about to provide work, preserve culture and halt migrations to big cities and other countries – is preserving the region’s indigenous way of life. Located a 10-minute walk from the city centre of Cuetzalan, Hotel Taselotzin offers basic accomodation decorated simply with Nahua symbols in the 14 bedrooms, a restaurant serving native dishes, traditonal crafts and herbal remedies sold at the hotel, and spa services which include a temazcal sweat lodge and massages.

Rufina Edith Villa, the Nahuatl leader who manages Hotel Taselotzin, said: “In a council meeting we considered this dream [Hotel Taselotzin]. What we wanted was to have our own resources, and not depend on any institution.”

More than 100 indigenous families benefit from the profits of the hotel, which enables indigenous women to be empowered. All profits are distributed among the community members, depending on their participation, during the annual meetings. The crafts are sold under a fair-trade policy and these profits are invested into a fund established to encourage continual product development. In addition, the hotel has its own microcredit system, which is accessible to all members in case of need.

The women say that each room at Hotel Taselotzin and each space is embedded in the pacha mama, the mystical earth mother. The spirit of the pacha mama is said to sip into the rooms, blessing the mountains and Cuetzalan.

Sustainability is a natural part of everything the women’s collective do at Hotel Taselotzin. The hotel participates in composting, and the women also support and partcipate in the conservation of green spaces.

Rufina Edith Villa added: “This place is rooted in nature and our hotel is like a plant, if we do not take care of it, it can wither. It is up to us.”

Hotel Taselotzin does not currently have its own website but rooms can be booked via Booking.com and other online travel companies

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Actor Matthew McConnaughey helps design Australia-based eco-cabin to reconnect guests with nature

True Detective actor Matthew McConaughey has joined forces with Australian tiny house startup Unyoked to design an off-grid, eco-cabin.

Known as The Reserve, the rustic-style eco-cabin with its dark wood-panelling, was built with sustainable materials and is solar-powered. Featuring large windows and a firepit and with no TV nor WiFi, The Reserve was designed to “help people disconnect and get back in touch with the benefits of the wild”. Basic amenities include a queen-sized bed, a gas stove, plates, linens and even a concealed bourbon bar.

The Hollywood actor was involved in the eco-cabin’s design from conception through to construction, and added his own personal touches to the interiors, including vintage books and a range of tapes that can be played in the cabin’s vintage cassette stereo system.

The eco-cabin, which is currently located in the Central Coast region in Australia, is available to rent from this month for up to two guests at a time.

The Reserve was launched as part of liquor brand Wild Turkey’s “With Thanks” initiative to get more people to “reconnect with the wild” while also protecting the environment. Matthew McConnaughey took on the role as Creative Director of the Kentucky-based liquor brand in 2014.

In a statement, Matthew McConnaughey said: “I’ve always been in awe of Australia’s natural beauty. My hope now is that The Reserve will inspire Australians to reconnect with nature as an antidote to the frenetic pace of life.”

Unyoked aims to make the Australian wildnerness accessible to those in need of respite and balance through state-of-the-art cabins designed to help connect guests with nature.

The eco-cabin, which can be booked via the Unyoked website, costs AUS$293 per night on weeknights and AUS$353 per night over weekends.

A percentage of proceeds from The Reserve eco-cabin will be donated to Unyoked’s charity partner, the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, an NGO that aims to protect Australia’s wildlife and wilderness.

Unyoked

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

2020 to see sustainable travel continue to go mainstream with the rise of “slow travel”, industry experts say- Life and Soul Magazine

2020 is set to see sustainable travel continue to go mainstream with the rise of “slow travel” and conscious travellers, according to ABTA, the association for travel agents and tour operators.

The rise of “slow travel”, a shift towards electric aviation, and an increased focus by travellers on the environmental and social impacts of travel are among five key travel trends for 2020 highlighted in an ABTA research report.

Holidaymakers are choosing to slow down the tempo and make more genuine connections with local people and cultures on their travels, according to The Travel Trends 2020 report, based on market information and consumer insights collated by ABTA.

“Slow travel” is as much about enjoying the journey as it is the destination, and a less packed itinerary takes the pressure off having to visit all the usual tourist hotspots. With more time in one destination, it can potentially reduce the journey footprint and provide travellers with the chance to support more locally run businesses – resulting in a positive impact on the local economy and community.

Another trend for 2020 forecast by ABTA is a shift towards electric powered aircraft, as advancements in technology and increasing demands for more sustainable modes of travel have made the concept of commercial electric flights a very real prospect for short haul travel. With aviation under increasing pressure to improve its carbon footprint, “the future for electric aircraft looks bright, both for leisure and business travel” the ABTA report states.

With sustainability on the rise and climate change in the spotlight throughout 2019, industry experts are predicting 2020 will be the year of conscious travel.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “Sustainability issues are now firmly in the minds of holidaymakers and are a continued thread throughout the report – from cruise industry initiatives to influencing three of our five trends. The travel industry continues to develop plans and initiatives which support local communities, their economies and the environment, so that tourism is a benefit to everyone.”

Other key trends expected to shape holiday choices in 2020, identified by ABTA research, include adopting digital customer service methods and personalised touring.

ABTA also revealed its “12 destinations to watch” which include Basilicata, Chicago and Lake Michigan, Georgia, Grenada, Madrid and its surrounding cities, Morocco, Namibia, South Korea, Singapore, The Netherlands, Uruguay and Vienna.

ABTA

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Sustainable Stays: Arctic Bath, Sweden- Life & Soul Magazine

A new floating hotel and spa in the Arctic that floats in warm weather and freezes into the ice when temperatures cool is set to open in the heart of Swedish Lapland in January 2020.

Built on the water, Arctic Bath is located on the Lule River near the small village of Harads in Swedish Lapland, around 31miles south of the Arctic Circle. Situated under the northern lights in winter, and the midnight sun during the summer months, Arctic Bath is a unique hotel and spa experience that welcomes guests to immerse themselves in the elements while leaving a minimal environmental footprint behind.

Constructed using sustainable materials – wood, stone, leather and luxurious textiles – and with very little impact on the environment, Arctic Bath hotel and spa is the latest environmentally-friendly venture from the team behind the nearby Treehotel.

AnnKathrin Lundqvist, partner at the Arctic Bath, said: “We have a strong environmental focus. We’ve chosen so many materials that are locally produced.”

The hotel itself is comprised of six detached floating “cabins” and six additional cabins on land which are connected via floating walkways. The flotilla of floating cabins offer Scandi-chic interiors with double bed, shower room, underfloor heating and an exterior wooden deck, ideal for spotting the Northern Lights during the winter months or reaping the sunshine of the midnight sun over the summer months.

There are also six more elevated cabins built on the tree-lined shore, which are positioned on stilts above the ground so the cabins don’t disturb the natural growth below.

Central to the Arctic Bath complex is the Arctic Bath itself, a spa area which is inspired by “the timber floating era which recalls how felled trees were transported downriver for processing”.

The circular-shaped timber framed Arctic Bath, which is centred around an open-air plunge pool, also houses one spa treatment room, four saunas, a hot bath, outdoor and indoor showers, and two dressing rooms. The open centre of the bath invites guests to sunbathe, ice bathe or sit back to view the Northern Lights or star-filled skies.

A dip in the bath itself is consistent with the Arctic tradition of a cold-water plunge with the water maintained at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and combines well with the warmth of a sauna and spa. A special technique has been developed to keep the centre of the bath open during wintertime, adding to the atmospheric setting.

The circular building, which is accessed by a walkway, is also home to the wellness centre offering treatments including hot stone massage and unique therapies such as bespoke crystal healing. Designed by architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kaupp, native birch trees were used to surround the lodge and a tool used to dislodge log jams as inspiration for the shape of the cabins.

An on-site restaurant will be run by a Belgian and an indigenous Sámi chef with a menu described as Sámi fusion, including foraged ingredients and reindeer.

The Arctic Bath will also host several activities for visitors including hikes and paddleboarding during the summer months, and in the winter, northern lights expeditions, and cross-country skiing.

Arctic Bath

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Arctic Blue Resort: Finland eco-hotel to charge guests based on the carbon footprint of their stay — Life & Soul Magazine

A new eco-hotel in Finland is set to charge its guests based on the carbon footprint of their stay.

Arctic Blue Resort, which opens in the small city of Kontiolahti in 2022, will be the world’s first resort where the price is emission-based – meaning the smaller the guest’s environmental impact, the less they pay.

Visitors of the resort can influence the cost for example by consuming less energy, attending ecological activities and making sustainable dietary choices.

From the same people behind the Arctic Brands Group, who make high-quality artisan spirits from ingredients found in Finnish nature, the Group believe that companies are obligated to find new solutions to fight climate change.

Mikko Spoof, the Vice President and founder of Arctic Brands Group, said: “We want to offer people a world-class eco-vacation and encourage them to make sustainable choices by having emission-based pricing for their stay. We want the resort to be a place of true tranquility and thus encourage our guests to be more present in the moment and embrace digital detox.

“With Arctic Blue resort we want to lead an example by putting emphasis on environmental responsibility and by creating solutions to minimise the negative impact of tourism.”

Arctic Blue Resort is designed to be as sustainable as possible – built with natural materials, powered by renewable energy
sources, and with its own water treatment system, the eco-hotel will be self-sustaining. Keeping in line with the natural surroundings, guests will also be able to choose from rooms where they can sleep under a starry night sky or enjoy a 360-degree view of the forest.

In addition to a restaurant serving locally sourced food, Arctic Blue Resort will also offer guests nature-inspired activities and excursions – including ice-swimming and snowshoeing in winter, and berry-picking and rowing in the summer.

Arctic Blue Resort

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Slow Cabins: Off-grid cabins pop-up in secret Belgium countryside locations to help guests connect with nature

Sustainable cabins in secret locations, otherwise known as Slow Cabins, are popping up outside the city of Belgium in a bid to help people connect with nature.

Each cabin, built using eco-friendly materials with wooden interiors, is off-grid and self-sufficient through the use of solar panels, a filtered rainwater system and ecological dry-toilet. There are cabins of two kinds to suit individuals, couples and families.

The nature-based locations of the Slow Cabins are only revealed to guests after they’ve booked a cabin. Slow Cabins are mobile and frequently rotate locations, making for new sights and experiences for those looking to book a second trip.

The interiors of the Slow Cabins are natural and minimalist with its raw-look wooden floors and walls, and wooden furniture. Insulated glass windows frame views of surrounding fields and woodland, and there’s a wood-burning stove to cosy up in front of – and a small deck. The double beds consist of eco-textiles layered on a natural latex mattress, with large windows for gazing out into the surroundings.

The insulated cabins are kept toasty in the winter with wood-burning stoves, while the kitchen contains a pair of cooking plates alongside a sink, small fridge and a food preparation area. In the bathroom you’ll find a shower, wash basin and eco-friendly dry toilet. A fireplace and ceramic BBQ offer warmth and cooking options outside.

A stay also comes with a basket of locally-sourced produce and spring water.

The Slow Cabins experience is as much about making guests aware of their environmental impact. Slow Cabins say: “Each of our cabins comes equipped with a smart display that shares your energy and water use with you. By actively seeing your energy usage throughout your stay you become aware of your impact on the environment and what a positive and ecological footprint might look like.”

The Time For Two couple’s retreat costs from €175 per night, while the Time For Family cabin, which sleeps 3-5 people, costs from €185 per night.

Slow Cabins is expanding its off-the-grid concept across Europe and looking for partners.

Slow Cabins

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com