Travel that Gives Back

November 15, 2023 by Hidden Doorways

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought what better time to reflect on the spirit of giving that defines the season. Across the globe, our travel partners are doing just that—finding creative ways for travelers to positively contribute to the places they visit. From tree-planting programs that encourage guests to literally put down roots of their own seedlings to pioneering conservation initiatives, we’ve collected some of the most impactful projects from our partners, many of which directly engage guests during their stay.


AmericaShare’s Transformative Legacy

Micato Safaris specializes in luxury Custom African Safaris and Small Group African Safaris, and they take pride in giving back to the local community in which they are based, calling it ‘a joyous fruitful duty’. The company’s non-profit arm Micato-AmericaShare has been engaged for over 35 years in helping improve the lives of the children living in Mukuru, the second-largest informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 2007, they built the Micato-AmericaShare Harambee Community Centre, a multi-purpose facility funded through the generosity of past Micato travelers. Depending on which East African safari they choose, safari guests can spend time at Harambee Community Centre during their time in Kenya. Driving through Mukuru, guests get a chance to witness what everyday life looks like for many Kenyans and see firsthand how the community is improving itself against daunting odds. Many Micato guests cite their transformational visit to the Centre as one of the highlights of their trips.


Regenerating a Tortoise Sanctuary One Seed at a Time

The Galapagos aren’t just home to heaven-sent resort Pikaia Lodge and its impressive 31 hectares land but to 15,000 or so giant tortoises. Tragically those numbers were once 250,000 and so Pikaia has made part of its mission to protect the species with its private Giant Tortoise reserve – the only hotel in the entirety of The Galapagos Islands to have such. Here, they rest, they roam free (and guests will encounter them when exploring the lodge estate on foot or bike) and they reproduce, thanks to Pikaia’s constant protection to stop those numbers from dwindling further.

On top of that, Pikaia Lodge invites guests to be a genuine part of its reforestation program by planting a native scalesia tree before they leave. Over 12,000 have taken root on the extraordinary archipelago thanks to their efforts, providing food and nesting spots for birds as well as shade for the beloved giant tortoises on the reserve. Its gestures like these that not only help to offset their own carbon emissions but give safe harbor to its diverse wildlife so their numbers can gently increase. Day by day, stay by stay, the hotel and its guests positively contribute to the island’s regeneration.


An Expansive Island Farm

Turtle Bay embodies what is called the North Shore Legacy – a culture of respect and responsibility for the planet established by the ancient Hawaiians.

A particular focus for Turtle Bay has been living off the land, leaning into its unique location to work with farmers growing a bounty of island produce. The resort has dedicated 468 acres of land to its on-property farm. Today Kuilima (which translates as ‘holding hands with the land’) Farms provides fresh produce not only to the resort but also to surrounding communities.

Guests looking to explore the farm can take a guided stroll to learn and share in the island’s culture and farming practices. They’ll get the chance to discover local medicinal plants and native crops like Maiʻa (banana), Kalo (taro), ‘Awapuhi (ginger), ‘Uala (sweet potato), ‘Uhi (yams), ‘Ulu (breadfruit), and Niu (coconut).


Reenergizing the Ocean

Being set on a private island surrounded by azure ocean and close by to the Looe Key Reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, it makes sense that Little Palm Island’s core ethical practices are aligned with the deep blue sea.

Looe Key Reef is a refuge – it’s the third largest living coral reef in the world – and Little Palm Island’s partnership with MOTE Marine Labs means it can help sustain its valiant restoration efforts and scientific breakthroughs. For guests who want to make a direct impact to the reef, there’s even a curated package that includes a donation to MOTE. As well as the reef, Little Palm Island is also dedicated to restoring the natural coastline, assisting in replanting native sea grasses following the devastation of Hurricane Irma. It also supports the Conch Republic Marine Army that is dedicated to cleaning the island chain’s mangrove habitats following the destruction with 422,734 pounds of debris cleared so far to reveal the mesmerizing crystal waters of the Florida Keys once more.


A 360-Degree View of Sustainability

When a luxury resort cares as much about the greater good as it does every detail in its guest experience, you know you’re heading to someplace special. ‘Making sustainable waves’ as the Financial Times put it, The Brando is serious about planet protection with a program called We Care driving its many, many efforts.

With three clear orientations: We Care for Environment, Nature & Culture, and People, The Brando is able to make a difference across all aspects of sustainability. From solar water and Seawater Air Conditioning to repurposing food waste into compost using eco digesters, from lagoon coral and fish preservation activities to its mandate with not-for-profit Tetiaroa Society to maintain the atoll’s reef and 12 islets, and from charitable donations to the local community and schools to supporting local artisans, The Brando’s wholistic approach continues to be a model of sustainable tourism.


Investing in and Innovating Grassroots Education

Like so many of our partners, Cape Town’s blissful boutique resort Ellerman House set on Bantry Bay has a variety of sustainable programs in place to make a daily contribution to the welfare of the planet and all who live on it. Commitments to significantly reduced water usage and local sourcing to reduce its carbon footprint are worthy efforts but it’s Ellerman House’s community initiatives that really set it apart.

The property’s owners, The Harris family, established Click Learning in 2012, a non-profit education initiative that deploys online literacy and numeracy programs in underprivileged primary schools across the country. The program was built on the idea that the correct use of technology can shift the education paradigm in an efficient and scalable manner. Ellerman House opens its doors each year to host the annual charity art auction, ArtAngels, which includes a limited auction of fine art pieces, kindly donated by some of South Africa’s most revered artists. Just this year, the event raised a remarkable R6.1 million to support Click Learning and additional beneficiaries in the education space.


Endangered Tiger Conservation

Conservation is deeply rooted in SUJÁN’s ethos, which is evident throughout its three luxury safari camps located in Rajasthan, India. Its founders Anjali and Jaisal Singh are some of the most respected voices and visionaries advocating for positive change for India’s endangered wildlife conservation and local communities. Among the numerous community initiatives SUJÁN supports, the company is the primary donor to the Village Wildlife Volunteer Program run by Tiger Watch, which plays a crucial role in the region’s anti-poaching efforts.

A stay at any of the three spectacular camps contributes to its vast conservation efforts while supporting its wildlife populations, local schools, and nearby communities. While staying at SUJÁN, you will become connected to India on a deeper level, whether by getting up close to entrancing leopards on billion-year-old granite rock formations or immersing yourself in local culture by walking with a Rabari herdsmen at JAWAI, spotting Royal Bengal Tigers at Sher Bagh, or marveling at the local craftsmanship that blend into its desert surroundings at The Serai.


Small-Scale, Sustainable Fishing

Located in the pristine Kadavu Islands, south of Fiji’s mainland, Kokomo Private Island is the perfect island paradise for travelers seeking luxury, adventure, romance or simply time to reconnect with loved ones.

In 2018, Kokomo launched the South Pacific chapter of Dock to Dish, a community-supported sustainable fishing venture committed to restoring the relationship between seafood producers and consumers. An international network of small-scale fishermen, marine biologists and sustainable seafood advocates, Dock to Dish supports the growth and development of small-scale fishing communities, while prioritizing fresh, flavorsome seafood.

For the complete Dock to Dish experience, guests can join one of Kokomo’s skilled fishing teams on an excursion and bring their catches back to shore to have them transformed into decadent meals by Kokomo’s culinary team.


Wild Horse Sanctuary

A passion project in its truest form, Madeleine Pickens, an American businesswoman and philanthropist, founded Mustang Monument to save the rare wild mustangs and bring travelers closer to America’s iconic Western culture.

Time spent on horseback across its 900 square miles of sprawling plains allows guests to see the sanctuary that has been carved out for them so that they have a safe place to call home. Over a century ago, there were more than two million wild mustangs in America. Today those numbers stand at 30,000. Proceeds from every stay at the Mustang Monument ranch directly benefits those horses that remain, sustaining their lands, their care, their feed, their home.