National Geographic World Legacy Awards - Judging

Cayuga Collection, Costa Rica and Nicaragua

"Delivering world class luxury lodging sustainably isn't easy. But when you meet the challenge and make it happen, it is amazing."

-Hans Pfister, Co-founder and President

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

Many traditional hoteliers don't think that sustainability has any place in luxury lodging. Our hospitality management company works hard every day to show that it is possible to combine very high-end experiences with state-of-the-art sustainability practices. Achieving results while staying true to this commitment is challenging, so to be selected as a World Legacy Award finalist is Cayuga's greatest achievement. We are also excited that this honor allows us to share our business model for managing sustainable luxury hotels and lodges with other owners who want to practice tourism differently and make a real positive impact.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Cayuga Collection?

Sustainability is in our DNA - we cannot imagine being part of any other kind of tourism. After seeing the damage that conventional tourism can do to destinations, we are working hard to offer an alternative model for hotel owners and travelers alike. It isn't always easy to convince luxury lodge guests not to drink water from plastic bottles, to embrace menus with no imported or endangered food, and to be a bit more forgiving when served by an entirely local hospitality staff. But ultimately, making everything we do revolve around sustainability has had an incredible impact on the lives of our staff, our guests, and the communities in which we operate throughout Central America.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

We are most proud that we are not "specialists," but instead try to excel in all areas of sustainability: Efficient operations, community development, nature conservation, education and opportunities, health and well-being. We aid scientific research to protect and save highly-endangered species. Our water treatment plants reuse wastewater to irrigate green areas. Biogas is used for staff cooking and solar panels heat all water. We are proud to work with a 100 percent local staff and employ them year-round, even in the low season. We are proud to have managers who started in line-level positions or even on hotel construction crews. We are proud to pioneer initiatives such as providing a company doctor to staff in remote areas, a Dock to Dish Sustainable Seafood program that connects local fishermen with chefs to save ocean species, and a partnership with Earth Equilibrium NGO to provide hundreds of local children with environmental education to ensure they make better conservation decisions. Through each effort, we are proving that the concepts of luxury and sustainability can not only survive, but thrive, together.

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, Ecuador

"For our hotel, occupying a very small role in Galapagos Islands dynamics is a privilege. We believe that with that privilege comes the responsibility to protect this unbelievably rich environment for our children, our country and the world."

- Javier GÓmez, Hotel Manager

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is thrilled to have been selected as a Finalist in the World Legacy Awards, an honor that motivates us to keep improving. At a broader level, it allows us to highlight our best practices and galvanize others to replicate them here in the archipelago and around the world. Every day our team works to provide a fulfilling travel experience while reducing our environmental footprint in this unique nature and wildlife destination. We aim to inspire guests through our actions, both large and small, demonstrating how sustainable tourism and their own personal efforts can play a key role in conservation.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel?

The Galapagos Islands represent a treasure trove of information for humanity as well as a truly inspiring opportunity for personal transformation. The communion of human beings with intrepid, unusual wildlife that occurs here can be found in very few parts of the world. Sustainable tourism offers an unequalled opportunity to "do well by doing good." By acting in line with our personal and professional ethics, we can contribute to maintaining this extraordinary space for the long term.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

As the first eco hotel in the Galapagos, we have pioneered technologies to reduce our own environmental impact. One promising pilot project scales down the amount of imported foodstuffs required on the island through hyperlocal organic vegetable production. But we feel our greatest accomplishment is the solid waste management program in which we participated as part of our holding group's Fundación Galapagos Ecuador. As a stakeholder in this project, we helped to develop an incredibly effective recycling program which achieved a reclaim rate far greater than any other program in Ecuador. Launched as a local grassroots initiative, it has now brought 70 percent of the populated areas on Santa Cruz Island access to municipal recycling collection. Organic materials are turned into compost for local agricultural production. Glass is used in paving stones right on the island. Citizens of all ages have gained awareness of the need to lessen consumption of plastic, paper and cardboard, and the project recovers many of these materials for new uses. Today, visitors and island locals have become far more conscious of the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle, working together to keep the archipelago garbage-free.

ITC Hotels, India

"Responsible luxury is our personal mission and also an expression of our times. Consumers are increasingly committed to brands that take a planet-positive approach to business."

- Dipak Haksar, Chief Executive - ITC Hotels & WelcomHotels

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

For decades, National Geographic has been a global pioneer in promoting sustainable tourism. The meticulous attention to detail of the World Legacy Awards judging process makes us confident and honored that our recognition as a Finalist is a true endorsement of our responsible luxury ethos. This commitment permeates from a triple bottom line approach to business that takes not only economic, but also social and environmental concerns into account. As a result, we have become a beacon of Indian hospitality and earned the distinction of 'Greenest Hotel Chain in the World.'

Why is sustainable tourism important to ITC Hotels?

For ITC Hotels, sustainable tourism is not one of the ways, but the only way to do business. This philosophy is increasingly consistent with the values of today's environmentally-aware consumers. We embed sustainability in each property's fundamental design. Our commitment to responsible luxury is evident throughout our 11 LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified luxury hotels, our eco-easy services, and our eco-sensitive associates. Our parent company, ITC Limited is the world's only organization of its size and scope to have been carbon positive for 11 years, water positive for 14 years, and solid waste recycling positive for 9 years. These accomplishments have garnered global recognition, and made integrating sustainable, ethical practices into our hotels a natural extension. The special challenge and achievement, however, has been doing so in a business category typically seen as indulgent.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

Our team is most proud to have demonstrated that it is possible to successfully integrate the two incongruent concepts of luxury and sustainability in our ITC Hotels. Earning 11 LEED Platinum certifications only further motivates and encourages us to explore new avenues for expanding our sustainable practices. We're also pleased that a concept like this can motivate people both inside and outside of our organization. Internally, our associates are driven by a true sense of purpose in the jobs they perform, while externally we are seen as a thought leader. In this way we are able to engage and inspire all stakeholders to contribute to planet-positive luxury experiences.

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