Monday, July 28, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Travelling Green: The World’s Top Eco-Friendly Hotels

Price comparison site HotelsCombined names the Top Sustainable Hotels around the world

Travellers are recognising the importance of environmental conservation and are increasingly seeking accommodation that supports environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism. Acknowledging this, hotels around the world are developing award-winning environmental, economic, and socio-cultural programs that preserve both the culture and support the local economy. 
Global PR and Content Manager at, Alycia Simons says that responsible tourism practices are beneficial to both hoteliers and guests.
“There is a growing interest in environmental conservation and understanding the impact of tourism on a destination. With the help of hoteliers, it is possible for tourists to experience and appreciate natural spaces and cultures, while conserving and minimising their effect on the environment,” Ms Simons said.
"The planet is fragile, and it is important that both tourists and suppliers work together to lessen the impact of tourism and protect some of the world's most beautiful destinations."
HotelsCombined recently examined its database of 800,000 properties to bring you ten exceptional 'green' hotels from across the world offering guests an eco-friendly and world-class holiday experience:

10. Hi Hotel, Nice, France

A boutique hotel offering a private beach and rooftop pool, the Hi Hotel Eco Spa & Beach has received Green Globe certification for using recycled paper, organic paint, eco-friendly cleaning products and organic food. Located in Nice, France, the hotel departs from conventional luxury, focusing on contemporary living and changing up ordinary spatial structures.
Photo: Hotel, France.jpg

 9. Hix Island House, Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico

A tropical Caribbean oasis, the Hix Island house offers guests an elegant, rustic island escape. With a focus on nature, the Hix Island House runs on batteries charged by solar power. It also recycles rainwater, was designed to catch cooling winds and returns grey water to the environment.
The design of the hotel is in harmony with the countryside and upholds the concept that less is more. Built to withstand the natural elements, the hotel is hurricane, earthquake and fire proof.

8. Garonga Safari Camp, Phalaborwa, Africa

An exclusive 12 bed camp in South Africa, the resort supports the local community through economic empowerment. Locals are offered employment opportunities, with potential for career development, while food and goods are sourced locally where possible. Additionally, guests are invited to offset their carbon footprint by assisting with the planting and growing of Spesbok Trees in the Eastern Cape.
The safari is run in partnership with the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town, and the camp is designed to blend in with the earthy surrounding. Guests will enjoy a unique experience with spectacular views.

7. Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Gargnano, Italy

In the heart of the Riviera dei Limoni, the various structures of this five-star resort are integrated into the village's hill slopes to reduce energy and heat dispersion.
The hotel focusses on overall wellness, a theme which remains constant through the food, outlay and peace of the hotel. The interior design makes use of local materials, while the design of the hotel was fashioned in respect to the surrounding landscape and environment. Rainwater is collected, and the hotel has a sustainable approach to waste management.

 6. Thala Beach Lodge, Port Douglas, Australia, Port Douglas, Australia

This beautiful art-deco resort has been awarded with one of the highest eco-tourism accreditations, Eco certified – Advanced Tourism. Located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, the resort is actively involved in assisting the environmental rehabilitation process. Situated on 145 acres of property, Thala invites elders of the Kuku Talanji community to take guests through a journey of their culture; from healing plants to foraging for bush food.

5. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Maldives

The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa integrates environment and modern design to offer guests the ultimate luxurious experience. Various parts of the hotel are built over the water in the Indian Ocean in order to minimize interference with the natural environment. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has been the recipient of a silver EarthCheck certificate and is the only resort in the Maldives to be awarded by Earthcheck for both design and construction.

4. The Park Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India

Situated within a 10-minute car ride from the centre of Hyderabad the Park Hyderabad's stunning exterior maximizes natural light, reducing the need for electricity. Green transportation, bikes and electric cars, is encouraged. The hotel fuses local culture with exceptional design and has achieved Leed Gold certification.

 3. Spice Island Beach Resort, St. George’s, Grenada

Owned and run by Sir Royston Hopkin and his family, the Spice Island Beach Resort is a luxurious destination for guests hoping to bask in the natural beauty of the Isle of Spice. A short walk from the famous Grand Anse Beach, the resort aims to blend into and co-exist with the island's native environment.

The resort uses solar heating, desalination plants and all forms of energy conservation. There is a focus on maximising the preservation of the island via community clean-ups, replanting and non-chlorinated pools. Smoking of any kind (even e-cigarettes) is forbidden in all areas of the resort which places an emphasis on body and soul renewal.

 2. Alila Villas Soori, Bali, Indonesia

Located on the southwest coast of Bali, guests of this resort will enjoy a relaxing haven, far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Set between the rice fields and coastline the hotel was designed in accordance with the EarthCheck international environmental standards.

The resort is completely water efficient with rainwater optimised to meet all of their water needs. More than half of all ingredients, goods and services are purchased from the local area. Locally sourced materials such as sand stone and natural stones were used in building the resort, which incorporates a combination of indigenous volcanic rock and abundant plants to organically cool the villas.

A five-star resort in the archipelago islands, Six Senses Con Dao has been recognised as one of the world’s top eco lodges by National Geographic Traveller. Built using sustainable building materials, the structure of the resort is designed to maximize air flow to reduce the need for air conditioning.

The resort and staff are passionately committed to both social responsibility – via education- and reducing the carbon footprint. Close to the beach and surrounded by greenery and jungle, guests will enjoy a relaxing stay in the stunning and very private location.

To watch the official HotelsCombined video (available in HD), follow this link:

About HotelsCombined
HotelsCombined is the world’s leading hotel price comparison site, allowing travellers to find the best prices from all the best travel sites in one search. More than 300 million people every year use the free service to find the best prices for over 800,000 hotels in 120,000 destinations across the world. HotelsCombined is available in over 40 languages and delivers prices in 120 currencies. Established in Australia in 2005, HotelsCombined is Australian-owned and employs more than 200 people both domestically and internationally.


Sunday, July 27, 2014




Get Up & Go's guest blogger David Ellis has a tale of the South Pacific to tell . . .

WHEN the missionary John Harris arrived off the South Pacific island of Tahuata from England back in 1797, he was horrified by the sight of local labourers coming aboard-ship to off-load cargo near-naked – and worse, accompanied by robust female companions bare-breasted and nothing more than a leaf or two draped from vines around their waists.
And when his ship’s milk-providing goats decided that those few modest leaves instantly represented lunch – thus leaving the women equally-instantly naked – missionary Harris lapsed into near-apoplexy.

Early lithograph of a Marquesan warrior by L. Le Breton in 1846. (The
Wayfarer’s Bookshop)

Yet it was nothing compared to what awaited in those then-heathen Marquesas Islands north of Tahiti. For when he went ashore just days later with a fellow missionary to begin their evangelical work, Mr Harris was greeted by an affable local chief who had set-aside two modest village huts for the men at the behest of white island-traders who’d long lived there.
And he told Mr Harris that as he was going away for several days, in a spirit of friendship he was leaving him his wife “to treat as if his own” whilst he was absent.


Draftsman James Webber on Captain James Cook’s ship Resolution,
sketched this early scene in the Polynesian Islands. (The Wayfarer’s Bookshop)

Harris, here to protect and not abuse even such-heathen souls, was aghast and fled to his hut in horror. But despondent, and “considering herself neglected,” the rejected wife called upon female friends to that night, when Mr Harris fell asleep, “satisfy themselves concerning his sex” – doing so in a reportedly “not very peaceable way.”
Being so roughly awakened as Harris later said, “by so many enquiring hands,” he had been “greatly terrified and alarmed at what they were doing… (and) determined to leave this place where people were so abandoned and given to such wickedness...”
But before he could flee, the women made-off, laughing uproariously, with his outer clothing, leaving the poor man in just his underwear.  Panicked, he re-dressed from his travelling trunk and fled in darkness to the beach in the hope of attracting the attention of his ship still anchored off-shore. Unsuccessful, he was sitting awaiting daylight when a group of local village men came upon him – and for the second time that night, John Harris found himself stripped to his underwear.


Delightful beaches await the visitor to the Marquesan Islands aboard Aranui 3
today. (WikiMedia)

A compassionate passing fishermen came to his aid by swimming out to the ship, and a boat was sent to collect Mr Harris. Back aboard, he was described as “being in pitiable condition, like one out of his senses...”
Others aboard had previously, however, questioned his suitability as a missionary in the first place, observing that “he disapproved of every thing (sic,) complained of the poverty on the island, judged the scene before him a solemn one, and seemed entirely to have lost his firmness and ardour.”
And while his London Missionary Society companion who had gone ashore with him, William Crook, expressed disappointment at Mr Harris’ return to the ship, he wrote in his diary that he was “not shaken by this desertion, (but) it would have greatly increased my happiness to have a friend and assistant who might comfort in time of trouble.”


The cargo-passenger ship Aranui 3 in a spectacular Marquesan setting. (Aranui
Remarkably Mr Crook remained alone on Tahuata for two long years, at times almost starving to death amongst the islanders who largely ignored him, and then spending four years in Tahiti before sailing to Sydney where he worked tirelessly for his church, including establishing the first boarding-school in Australia. He returned to Tahiti from 1814 to 1830, and on his final return to Australia worked assiduously until his death at 71 in 1846.
After Tahuata, John Harris also spent some years in more-welcoming Tahiti, and moved from there to Norfolk Island in 1800 to become chaplain and teacher within its penal community. He later moved to Green Hills (now Windsor outside Sydney,) before returning to England in 1808 to become a Curate in County Durham.
Tahuata meanwhile dreams on; it’s the lowest-populated island in the Marquesas group with just 700 residents, has no airport (the nearest is 4km away on Hiva Oa, with village boats running between the two as required,) a 4-bedroom guest house, but no hotel.


Churches abound across the Marquesas Islands today as the result of the work
of John Harris, William Crook and other early missionaries. (Tahiti Tourisme)

The 3800 tonne Papeete-based cargo-cum-cruise ship Aranui 3 has a day here for swimming, snorkelling, sightseeing and a picnic lunch on its twice-monthly, 14-day Marquesas voyages with up to 200 holidaymakers; see travel agents about Aranui’s unique fly/cruise packages or visit            ……………………


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Alternative accommodation - a delightful solution

In the current (Winter edition) of Get Up & Go magazine we have an article on Airbnb. There is some controversy around the company in the USA at the moment but we promote the concept as it is another way for travellers to experience up-close-and-personal local attractions and people. Get Up & Go is not endorsing the product but just sharing the various experiences.
                                             Rob & Ro Porter, from Victoria, Australia.
We interviewed a couple from Victoria, Rob and Ro Porter who do most of their accommodation stays with Airbnb as it suits their frequent travels all over the world. Following is Ro Porter's experience and advice on choosing this way to stay:

In our twenties, Rob and I were happy to be on the Hippy Trail of travel where accommodation had to be cheap and lively. Now, in our sixties, accommodation has greater priority but we still seek an atmosphere of vitality along with the ‘luxury’ of private bed, bath and sitting rooms.

Airbnb has been a delightful solution for us. Essentially we love the variety of excellent value accommodation we now access in fabulous locations. However, the most fabulous aspect for us is the interaction we enjoy with our ‘local’ hosts and hostesses. 

                                              Top: Apres dinner on Sardengne.
                                              Above: Best homemade jams in Provence.

Because we value the chance to be in special locations and to enjoy interaction with local people, we have developed this approach to using Airbnb.

When booking a place, we make sure we give a very quick description of why we are heading their way. There is always a lovely meeting-cum-handover-key time and if they have a feel for you and your travels, they are so happy to provide you with information and ideas to enhance your stay. As you can imagine, there is nothing better than getting a local to tell you the transport, dining and wining tips.

                                                   Studio in Montmartre.

If we are planning to stay for a week or longer, we look for somewhere that gives us access to our own kitchen and sitting room as well as the usual bed and bathroom. This sometimes means that our host/hostess leaves their apartment to us while they stay elsewhere.  This was our experience in Montmartre and it was perfect.  It could mean that we find ourselves in holiday rental apartments such as we did on Sardinia. If you take this option, be aware that out of season these can be somewhat desolate. Also, some commercial places use Airbnb. They are easy to spot from the booking site so you can avoid them. We found in places like Morocco they were often riads that were already listed in guide books. 

                                             Top: The Lighthouse and the family in Morocco.
                                             Above: A family gathering in Lisbon.

If we have a short stay, we find the traditional B+B style of being in the actual home with our host/hostess is good. Again, one gets the same lovely local information as well as private bathroom but the other spaces are shared. However, we have found that we appreciate the chance to meet and talk with family members.
Airbnb possibilities are everywhere: we have stayed in a lighthouse! If you have a hire car, make sure there is parking available. Remote locations are wonderful but do ensure you know if you need to be self-catering or if meals other than breakfast can be provided. Although the name Airbnb implies breakfast is provided, it is one of the wild cards we appreciate. Usually, if your host/hostess is on the premises, it is either wonderful or sublime. However, some are best described as interesting or adequate. Many times we have been invited to dinner with our hosts and hostess. Often, we have been given little tours or taken to enjoy a favourite site or activity. You just never know what will eventuate.

                                         On the beach in Dubai with our Airbnb apartment owner.

Finally, Airbnb is very efficient so bookings, payments and directions are painless. Do read the reviews before you book to get an idea of what is ahead of you. Trust your instincts: if it doesn’t sound like you, then don’t book it. Smart phones and tablets are useful so you always have your directions and contact details on hand.
Airbnb has meant we feel as though we have made new friends. Their quirks, foibles and generosity of spirit have made our travels something we live, rather than simply observe.