Celebrating Women in Travel: International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021 by Hidden Doorways


As March 8th marks International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate inspiring women who pave the way in the travel and hospitality industry especially during the challenges of the past year. Check out our interviews with these trailblazing women whose passion, empathy and compassion continue to create equitable opportunities, preserve wildlife through conservation and elevate local communities and female voices.

 

Read on to learn about the extraordinary women behind Great Plains Conservation, Mustang Monument, Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Worldwide.

Beverly Joubert, Co-Founder of Great Plains Conservation in Africa

Discover about Great Plains Conservation.

 

An award-winning filmmaker, photographer, wildlife conservationist and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large collaborating on many projects with husband Dereck Joubert. She is photographed with Maasai women at the Maasai Olympics in Kenya.

 

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

A reminder that every day of the year needs to be filled with respect and equal opportunity for women around the world.

 

What led you to pursue a career in the travel industry?

To protect vast tracts of vulnerable land and in turn protect all the animals living on the land. Creating corridors for migratory animals like wildebeest, zebra and elephants. By doing this we also create an economy for all the communities that buffer these areas. They are now the future conservationists as they understand and see the benefit of living animals, not dead ones bringing in money to their families through tourism.  Great Plains’ motivation has always been about how we can create positive change, like putting the right conservation practices in place. In two areas that were hunting concessions (the Selinda Reserve in Botswana and the Sapi Concession in Zimbabwe), when we took them over, we stopped the hunting and saw incredible benefits to wildlife. It took time for the natural change to happen but after six years, we were in awe of the incredible change. They are now true paradises that bring tourism and a really good economic benefits to the communities and for wildlife conservation.

 

What contribution during your time at Great Plains are you most proud of?

At the core of Great Plains is conservation and making a positive impact for the environment. Each and every project has been bold and innovative. One is Rhinos without Borders, which is about rescuing 100 rhinos from the highest poaching area in southern Africa, raising funds and relocating them by air to safer secret locations. The rhinos have adapted so well in their new locations and have had 58 calves born in the wild. What a testament to a successful project and showing that compassion does not only have to be towards our fellow man and women on the planet. It should be to every living creature we share the earth with.

 

What is your favorite detail, hidden gem or insider tip at your camps?

Being part of the environment is so important to us, not upstaging the natural areas. Blending in a subtle way is the objective. We do not want to feel we could be anywhere else in the world as these areas are so unique and beautiful.

 

How has Great Plains continued to connect with your local community?

We work very closely with the local communities and education is key. We hire from the communities (almost 700 employees to date) and have started the Great Plains Academy with the goal of teaching vocational skills related to tourism and hospitality. We have great children’s conservation camps where they go on a safari and are educated by all our guides who volunteer to be part of sharing their conservation knowledge and giving back to their communities. Last year we sent a group of Motswana women to the Barefoot College in India for six months to learn the skills of solar power system installation and small businesses skills. They literally came back with the ability to give power and electricity to the communities. All of this wonderful work is done through the Great Plains Foundation.

 

How have you seen the travel and hospitality industry evolve to empower and support women?

Women have been empowered in tourism especially at Great Plains as they are so comfortable in hospitality. In many of our camps in Botswana woman are the majority of the staff, they have embraced learning all the skills and are managing many of the camps today.

 

Have there been any challenges or setbacks that you faced?

Changes are constant especially when there have been great successes in environment policies, this is when we are very aware that there will be aggressive push back to turn a positive environmental policy around. We have lived a roller coaster of emotions as we continue our work, but it is not about ourselves it is all about these last remaining pristine areas.

 

What positive impacts have you seen female General Managers and women in leadership roles?

In our company and in our circle, both in the film media, conservation and tourism businesses, we take special effect to promote women in terms of equal wages per job tier and with equal opportunity to grow into any position available. Beyond the company policy, we are always on the lookout for women we can give a helping hand and give a second chance to empower. We have been gratified to see how successful this has been.

 

Any career advice for aspiring women in the travel and hospitality industry?

Don’t let anyone tell you that any role in conservation or tourism is not open to you because of your gender. All we ask for as a level playing field as women.

 

It is important for all of us, not only women, to bring our best each day and to show up. Been authentic, compassionate, and caring in everything we take on, from leading and guiding staff to hosting international guests. Sharing cultures and new exciting adventures in a loving way.

 

What is a silver lining that you experienced from this pandemic?

One important silver lining from the pandemic has been Project Ranger. This is a program that the Great Plains Foundation began during Covid to ensure that wildlife rangers and an anti-poaching teams across Africa are able to continue to perform their essential roles at the frontlines of conservation despite a loss of incredible losses in tourism revenue. We are honored to be able to support these conservation champions.

Madeleine Pickens, Philanthropist and Founder of Mustang Monument in Wells, Nevada

Discover more about Mustang Monument.

 

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It means hallelujah! It’s about time!  It is great to see how far women have come and can excel at what we do naturally.

 

What led you to pursue a career in the travel industry?

The travel industry is a leader in sharing an understanding of circumstances and spreading awareness about the plight of the American Mustang to the world. I have realized that tourism and the travel industry have the power to showcase such incredible issues to gain awareness and support especially related to endangered animals and mother earth. The travel industry has helped bring this awareness that the world, and they have the power to truly transform the tragedy of the plight of the American Mustang.

 

What contribution during your time at Mustang Monument are you most proud of?

I’m proud….

Being a steward of the land.

Providing a safe sanctuary for the horses to live out their lives.

Creating a non-profit foundation for the preservation of America’s wild horses.

And excited that the travel industry has created the opportunity so that we could share the story of the American icon, the Mustang, and turn its home into a luxurious resort, a true American safari.

 

What is your favorite detail, hidden gem or insider tip at your property?

When I see the smile on our guests and their children’s faces when they actually start to feed a thousand wild horses.

 

How has Mustang Monument connected with your local community?

Surprisingly, after years of uncertainty, the community has really started to engage with us. Specifically, on a project to farm the land and now we are able to grow our own vegetables and fruits which are organic and healthy. It’s not only the food for the resort at Mustang Monument but also for the community to enjoy.

 

How have you seen the travel and hospitality industry evolve to empower and support women?

I seem to notice at the travel trade shows that the majority are women, which is fantastic. I think our industry fulfills a curiosity of travel and allows us to truly experience and take home and share these experiences with our clients as only women can do.

 

Have there been any challenges or setbacks that you faced?

Yes, numerous to the point that I almost look forward to it so that I can knock it out of the way!

 

What positive impacts have you seen female General Managers and women in leadership roles?

Women bring a sense of clarity, empathy, clearer understanding, and joy.  We want to share and listen about our travels and vacations and are easily able to talk and connect.  Women excel when they’re managers because we can multitask in ways that are essential in travel and business.

 

Any career advice for aspiring women in the travel and hospitality industry?

To be prepared to be totally and utterly knocked out by what you’re going to find out there – we live in such an incredible world, there’s no limit on what we can experience and learn!  Travel is a means of growing up and exposure is the best form of education.

Marteyne van Well, General Manager of Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives

Discover more about Six Senses Laamu.

 

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing global attention on areas requiring further action. Women’s equality has made positive gains, but the world is still unequal, and we need to continue to inspire and drive change. For me, this day acts as an opportunity to reflect and admire all the women who have inspired me. First and foremost, certainly my mom; she was a constant strength and constant inspiration to me. She is irreplaceable and offers, even without her physical presence, a kind of comfort and warmth in my heart that can never be taken away.

 

What is a silver lining that you experienced from this pandemic?

I think the silver lining has been that team and guests all seem to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose. The way everyone at Six Senses came together and supported each other has been amazing to see. The spirit of camaraderie and unity among teams as been inspirational and it gives me confidence that we will come out of this stronger than before. Guests and hosts alike, we have all experienced it and the pandemic impacted us all. The silver lining is that this crisis has taught us to cherish and care for the people in our lives. Cherish and care for our fragile environment. Leading during the pandemic has created immense opportunities for rethinking the way we work, the impact we have, on each other and our world, and good can come out of this. If we continue to work on the much-needed paradigm shift in how we use and care for the earth’s natural resources.

 

What contribution during your time at Six Senses Laamu are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the successes that are our team’s successes. I am surrounded by an incredible group of passionate individuals who assist me each and every day in ensuring I am the best leader I can be. With time, we have been able to build an amazing team. Through our actions and care, especially as they relate to the contribution in various forms of sustainable developments and environmental conservation. We have been able to integrate and ensure the community here at Laamu truly believes in and appreciates Six Senses’ values.

 

One contribution that I am particularly proud of is the creation of MUI, the Maldives Underwater Initiative. MUI is a multiple award-winning marine conservation initiative based at here at the resort. MUI consists of staff from the resort, as well as our three partner NGO’s: The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and The Olive Ridley Project. We work together to reach research, guest education and community outreach goals. Our mission is to lead the tourism industry in the Maldives (and beyond) through meaningful marine conservation efforts based on research, education and community outreach. Our vision is to empower a local and global community of marine stewards that will create a culture of positive action for our oceans in Laamu and beyond.

 

What is your favorite detail, hidden gem or insider tip at your property?

Go snorkel in the seagrass meadows! It is such an amazing experience. Seagrass meadows are a vital habitat for the Maldives and the globe, but their importance is often poorly understood. Seagrass meadows help fight climate change because, like plants on land, they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Seagrass meadows also provide habitat, shelter and food for numerous organisms. As is the case at Six Senses Laamu, seagrasses are often found adjacent to coral reefs where they help prevent coral diseases by trapping nutrients and pollutants from reaching corals. Crucially, they also help protect Maldivian islands from erosion by reducing wave energy. We protect our seagrass and one absolutely must go for a snorkel there when next at the resort as you will be amazing and in awe of the many charismatic species one sees on these experiences. Definitely an experience to put on your bucket list when visiting the resort!

 

How has Six Senses Laamu connected with your local community? 

We have a close relationship with our local community. The depth, warmth and sincerity of those relationships is something I am very proud of. As the first resort in Laamu Atoll, we recognize that we have a responsibility to the environment and its people. We are fortunate to have an amazing Education and Community Outreach Manager on our team who helps drive and manage our outreach initiatives.

 

We believe in an open two-way communication with community groups and leaders and we also want to help foster environmental stewardship in young people. We aim to build local capacity by providing training and infrastructure to Laamu’s residents so that they are well equipped to tackle environmental issues they face. Some examples are our Laamafaru Festival aimed at raising awareness for the plight of turtles and other marine creatures. Eku Eky (meaning Together in the local language) is an initiative that is aimed at ensuring regular community meetings. The pandemic put a temporary halt on many of our initiates as local islands are currently off limit for guests, but we are working remotely and staying in touch to ensure our work continues.

 

How have you seen the travel and hospitality industry evolve to empower and support women?

Looking at the changes over the years, I think the industry is more accepting and understanding that the gender diversity must be a priority. Celebrating female success have also helped. I think by championing success (in this case for female leadership but in general for all success stories), we help highlight the importance of diversity and help celebrate the strengths and accomplishments when diversity has played an important role. I have also seen more support for professional development of women. We have definitely evolved as an industry in offering better, more inclusive, training for your staff on topics such as implicit bias, inclusion, diversity, sexual harassment. I am hopeful we this will continue as more and more issues women face will become talking points. These issues help evolve training and policies. Personally, I would love to see more work done on creating opportunities for professional development for women in the Maldives and beyond.

 

Have there been any challenges or setbacks that you faced?

Sure: as is often the case for every two steps forward, there is often one step back. But important to continue to focus on the positive and continue to take the two steps forward. After all, +2 minus 1 is still +1. 100 times +1 = +100; let’s make a difference together.

 

What positive impacts have you seen female General Managers and women in leadership roles?

I have been inspired by women in leadership roles; in the hospitality industry and beyond, in corporate roles, in NGO’s, in politics and in sports to name a few. I think women are great culture carriers and women’s ability to empathize and seek compromise is a powerful asset. I think we have resilience and once that is combined with outside-the-box thinking, these qualities may help us overcome setbacks more easily and allow us to show others how to do same. The women that have inspired me have shown me how to be more inclusive and collaborative in my decision making and leadership style. One finds in female leaders; integrity, empathy, humility, passion, resilience, an open mind that values diversity and positivity and the ability to surround yourself with great talent and extraordinary people.

 

Any career advice for aspiring women in the travel and hospitality industry? 

My advice to aspiring women is to follow your dreams and commit. In order to succeed, we all have to do the hard work, be committed and engaged. What we do matters so make certain what you do is something you care and are passionate about. Someone wise once said, “Work is expending effort on things we don’t want to do. Passion is expending energy on things we love to do. The goal is to do no work!”

Marie Giuge-Perry, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

Discover more about Six Senses, Worldwide

 

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

I have mixed feelings about the fact we as women still need to have ‘a Day’ to be acknowledged, recognized for our accomplishments – every day of the year is a Women Day in my mind. However, I also feel it is deeply needed in a world where so many women and young girls continue to struggle for equality and basic human rights. It is important to continue the good fight.

 

What led you to pursue a career in the travel industry?

My desire to live abroad fresh out of University and particularly to Vietnam back in 1995 led me to the opportunity to work in Ho Chi Minh City for Exo Travel. Vietnam has been a springboard for many more opportunities and adventures that led me to Six Senses 16 years ago. The Travel Industry has given me the chance to explore the world, meet different people, different cultures. I have never felt stuck in a routine.

 

What contribution during your time at Six Senses are you most proud of?

I am particularly proud of Six Senses being recognized three years in the row as “Best Hotel Brand” in the world by Travel + Leisure readers. It has been an amazing achievement and recognition for all the efforts passion and dedication we put into the brand.

 

But of course, it is all about teamwork and that is what I am the proudest about: the team I put together from scratch with many members who have been working with me for the past 16 years. Each and every one of them has shown amazing strength, creativity, resilience particularly during this Pandemic making Six Senses even stronger.

 

What is your favorite detail, hidden gem or insider tip at your properties?

Six Senses are so much more than the beautiful destinations the properties are set in, the views, the architecture of the buildings. Our Sustainability and Wellness programs are really what define us, and the beauty of the brand lies in the hosts who work relentlessly behind the scene, in the back of house. Don’t forget to ask your ‘GEM’ (Guest Experience Maker) to give you a tour of our Earth Lab showing you all the sustainability efforts done on properties.

 

 How has Six Senses continue to connect with your local community?

All our hotels with the support of our Vice President of Sustainability have continued working with local communities through diverse charity and environmental projects despite the Pandemic. Even our hotels which are closed down never stop their sustainability efforts. For instance, Six Senses Krabey Island hosts recently trained our neighboring local Ream commune household on how to compost, reuse and decrease waste. The compost will serve as fertilizer for organic vegetable gardens. The hotel closed down in April last year and is scheduled to reopen on October 1, 2021.

 

How have you seen the travel and hospitality industry evolve to empower and support women?

I strongly believe the Travel Industry is very inclusive, in general, as you see amazing Travel Agencies’ female owners, CEOs or board members. The Hospitality Industry has still a longer way to go but it is great to see more and more female General Managers in luxury properties. We have three at Six Senses and more to come.

 

Have there been any challenges or setbacks that you faced?

The past 16 years had great challenges for me, such as restarting the company when it was sold 9 years ago and the recent integration with IHG, on top of finding and growing new markets for all our destinations. However, the past year has put us all to the test. Despite having some properties still closed, we have managed to work well in several of our destinations with local markets as well as international business in Maldives, Seychelles, Portugal and Turkey. The biggest challenge is to brush away the Covid Fatigue on a daily basis and continue innovating and reinventing ourselves to be ready when international travel will be back fully.

 

What positive impacts have you seen female General Managers and women in leadership roles?

Our female General Managers are particularly strong, very determined, details and service focused. I particularly believe they understand and breathe our core value of ‘Emotional Hospitality’.

 

What is a silver lining that you’ve seen from this pandemic?

We are beginning to see a glimmer of light that international travel is coming back. The Maldives and Seychelles’ results are proving the huge pent-up demand is there. As soon as the Prime Minister in the UK announced travel will be allowed after May 17, bookings started to come again. We started receiving enquiries for all our long-haul destinations, even for hotels still closed down, for Q4 2021 and 2022.

The vaccination program that has started in many countries around the world is giving us lots of hope. In the meantime, we continue to grow domestic markets in Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Thailand.

 

Any career advice for aspiring women in the travel and hospitality industry?

Follow your dream, never give up. The world is your oyster!

 

 

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