For a truly one-of-a-kind stay in a spectacular location, intrepid travellers can cast away at National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World.
And since its launch last year, the number of properties in the collection have nearly doubled — from 24 to 45.
Whether you are keen to explore diverse coral reefs in the Bahamas, see beluga whales or polar bears up close, these lodges are as diverse as they are picturesque.
Over the last few months, there have been seven new extraordinary properties added to the collection.
The most recent additions, which include locations from the Seychelles to northern Canada, were selected due to their outstanding guest service and experiences on offer, as well as their leadership role in promoting sustainable tourism and protecting cultural heritage.
Among those is Churchill Wild — Seal River Heritage Lodge in Canada, where guests often wake up to the sight of polar bears ambling around outside and at Winterlake Lodge in Alaska’s back country, cooking classes with a well-known chef are a normal part of a traveller’s itinerary.
Another newcomer is China’s Banyan Tree Ringha, located in a secluded valley near fabled Shangri-La. It is the perfect place to experience ethnic Tibetan culture and stay in suites inspired by Tibetan farmhouse design.
The stunning Fregate Island Private Lodge in the Seychelles is made up of thatched villas that appear hidden away from the island’s shores.
Not only that, but the Fregate’s owners have worked diligently to restore the island’s natural habitats, meaning you are nearly guaranteed a wildlife spotting along the pristine beaches.
And if you are keen to embark on a Greek odyssey, travel high in the Pindos Mountains, far from the sun-baked shores of the Aegean Sea, to witness leafy and sparkling alpine lakes at the Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas.
On the other side of the pond, Tiamo Resort in the Bahamas is located in an unspoiled spot that offers a gateway to extraordinary coral reefs, a place where ecosystems are rich and healthy and wildlife thrives.
Guests can check into thatched-roof villas, tucked on a sandy stretch of shoreline only accessible from the sea.
On the other end of the scale, those seeking a little piece of Montana’s history and to explore the great wilderness of the West should explore Lone Mountain Ranch.
Finally, the lush Atlantic Forest meets a wild collection of caves and canyons at Reserva do Ibitipoca, where a restored 18 Century farmhouse celebrates age-old Brazilian culture.
What is also vital for the collection is that the hotels not only defy the imagination in their design and detail, but that they also demonstrate that they are founded on a deep desire to protect the cultures and precious ecosystems that surround them.
An onsite inspection is undertaken by an expert to assess hotel operations, to meet staff and to evaluate the lodge’s sustainable tourism practices.
“We built NatGeo Unique Lodges of the World to serve as a shining example of sustainable tourism around the world, and we are thrilled to see the remarkable growth of the collection this past year,” said Lynn Cutter, NatGeo’s executive vice-president for travel.
“By providing such fantastic guest experiences while demonstrating how travel can be a force for good, we hope to elevate sustainable tourism and inspire others to join us.
“We look forward to providing travellers with an even broader array of unique opportunities around the world as we continue to expand our collection in the years to come.”
The seven lodges accepted into the NatGeo collection over the past few months:
Fregate Island Private, Seychelles
Churchill Wild — Seal River Heritage Lodge, Canada
Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas, Greece
Tiamo Resort, Bahamas
Reserva do Ibitipoca, Brazil
Banyan Tree Ringha, China
Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana, United States.