Talking about Eco-Immersive hospitality. As we all wake up to the impact of our travels, opting for a more eco-conscious friendly hotel is naturally the easy choice. It feels good to minimize one’s own carbon footprint, knowing that we’re leaving a place in a similar shape to how we left it. But what do the eco-conscious hotels of the future look like? Is it just about conserving resources, or can it be more than that?
The next frontier of eco-consious travel is more pro-active and more immersive. “People protect what they love,” says the free-diving, trash-cleaning Michael Boyyd in his video starring adorable harbor seal, Mowgli. This truth presents a unique opportunity for hotels to empower guests to connect with nature in ways they might not experience at home, fostering a deeper love for the environment.
But what does this transformative journey look like? It varies from one destination to another, as each culture holds its own unique stories and connections with nature that we can learn from. But the last thing we want to do is make people feel like they’re back in school, sitting in on a science and history lecture! So here are our best tips for building a more loving, beneficial relationship with Mother Earth into the travel journey.
Lean Into the Local Narratives
Throughout history, nature has been at the core of a culture’s legends, myths, and folklore. These stories drive collective behaviors and offer valuable lessons & truths, if we listen. They provide a context for the unique bond a culture shares with its land, enhancing our appreciation of the environment.
These stories can (and should) be told in fun and interactive ways. For example, in the forests of France there is a traveling duo that puts on musical shows to teach families about the different kinds of flora and fauna in the region. By weaving this education through storied songs, the viewers are immersed and the bond with nature is deepened.
The more often we have moving experiences in nature, the more we are likely to want to keep it out of harm’s way. This is how we become stewards of the land. But spending time in nature is not always enough – that emotional connection must be there.
Connect Nature with Personal Purpose
Our travels are often an opportunity to slow down in a way that we rarely do in our typical day to day life. When we’re in a place that is unfamiliar, our senses are heightened. So why not take advantage of that? Instead of just going on a hike, what sort of actions or rituals can guests take during their hike that instills meaning?
For example, in Peru there is a beautiful ritual where those dealing with heartbreak will take a rock, pour all of their emotions into the rock (yelling, screaming, crying), then cleanse the rock, anointing it with flowers, sing to the rock, and then pour the water in the base of a tree. This symbolic and emotional experience deepens one’s connection to nature, giving the time spent in nature a purpose.
So often we think of eco-conscious experiences through the lens of “how can the traveler make a positive imprint on the local destination?” But using nature as a catalyst for personal growth and evolution is an incredibly valuable way to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Because the more we grow and flourish, the more our environment can grow and flourish!
Reveal The Ripple Effects
It’s easy to fall prey to the thinking that one person’s actions can’t make a difference. We often forget that while our actions can look small and insignificant, they’re really part of a much bigger collective movement.
Connecting with real local people and witnessing how our choices affect their lives can open our eyes to our impact and the ecological reality. After all, humans are an important part of nature’s ecosystem. Observing the well-being of the people inside of an ecosystem will give us a good indication of whether or not the ecosystem is thriving. An unwell environment is often a reflection of an unwell society.
When we can observe children and animals playing in clean water free of trash, we feel good about our cleanup. So, hotels should be asking themselves: what are some ways you can foster connection with the locals, so that guests can see the ripple effects of their efforts?
The natural world has endless gifts to share with us if we open ourselves up to them. The more hotels can create unique opportunities for this magic to unfold, the more people will be inspired to protect and preserve this precious magic for generations to come.
Samantha Hardcastle (Founder of The Storied Experience and Reverie) is rewriting the rules of exploration, discovery, and connection. Over the last 13 years she has worked with hoteliers to help them differentiate and stand out in a competitive market. She specializes in conceptualizing immersive properties and enriching experiences that are truly one-of-a-kind.