Archive for May, 2011

Indonesia: Yoga ‘ Togat Nusa’ Retreat

Indonesia's Togat Nusa' Yoga Retreat

Check out this little gem!

This new Yoga/surfing retreat just opened in Indonesia located on a private island, catering to small groups of 6. Nestled amongst the palm trees on Pitojat Island, Togat Nusa Retreat is said to be ‘truly a magical place.’  A private, tropical island sanctuary perfect for those looking to escape, relax and unwind, their position in the surf rich Mentawai Islands chain has us surrounded by some epic scenery and waves.
Morning and evening classes of yoga, with surfing and massage, delicious food, and personalized services, makes for one inspirational holiday.

With three traditionally inspired Bungalows, each uniquely designed and built in the same style as the main building, they’ve used recycled timbers and driftwood. Each bungalow is setup to accommodate 2 (unless already organized) people , for a total of 6 guests on the island at any one time. All have private bathrooms with running hot water.  The funky interior design incorporates hand built custom furniture and antique lighting and fixtures left over from Dutch fishing vessels an each bungalowalso has fans to help stay cool.

Using local Mentawai builders, under the guidance of John E Ocean, Togat Nusa Retreat maximizes its local surroundings and functions as a partial eco- resort, yet still delivers a very high standard of accommodations and personal space. The natural beauty, said to be… astounding.

Togat Nusa Bar

Breakfast for early birds is fruit, yogurt and home made granola, coffee and tea and you can also order what you like; omellettes, pancakes, french toast with home made bread, bacon and eggs. Lunches and Dinners are served buffet style and that can mean a variety of different meals… from pizza, burritos, pasta, and curries, to some Indonesian dishes like ren dang, lumpias, soto ayam, fresh fish, roast chicken, and fresh salads.

A little bit more about the location itself: Part of the Mentawai Island chain, Pitojat lies off the North Western corner of Sipora Island, approximately 80 kms off the West coast of mainland Sumatra, Indonesia. Ringed by beautiful white sand beach, the 12 hectare island can be circumnavigated in just half an hour. Looking out over a turquoise lagoon at the front of the island, Scarecrows, a long left hand wave peels around the fringing coral reef.  The other end of the Island drops off quickly into a deep enchanting channel and offers impressive views to the south of the palm fringed mainland and waves breaking on distant reef passes.

Following a path through the centre of the island will have you walking amongst a lush, tropical rainforest abundant with flora and Fauna such as native orchids, climbing vines, large monitor lizards and home to many bird species.

$250 US/surfer/day
$225 US non-surfer/day

Sicily’s Eco Steal

Relais Torre Marabino - Sicily, Italy

This just in! Essential Italy is offering reduced rates in May at this fantastic eco-hotel in Sicily. For stays from May 15th -31st. If you  stay 5 nights and pay 4 nights on all types of rooms.

£135.00/night for 4 nights and £110.00/night for 5 nights B&B

(FYI – Usual price is £145/night)

Relais Torre Marabino

This small hotel is just a short distance from the sandy beach at Pozallo. The building dates back to the 1500’s and is now home to an eco-friendly and intimate hotel where all 7 rooms have been furnished and decorated originally; with each one given a different name of a wine produced in the cantina at Torre Marabino. The views across the Sicilian landscape from all rooms are, in one word, enchanting, and produce from the hotel’s farm is used in the kitchen. Did we also mention that they make their own fabulous organic wine – yep, the label is Torre Marabino.

Location: Ispica 3km, Siracusa 60km, Catania 110km, Palermo 302km, Modica 18km, Taormina 165km, Noto 22km, Pachino 20km

Hotel Andaluz – LEED Certified

LEED(c) Gold Certified Hotel Andaluz

We’re all about LEED so, when a new swanky hotel gets certified, we like to let our peoples know. To that end, The Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico announced last week that it has been awarded LEED® Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

As you probably already know, LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. What makes Hotel Andaluz so unique is that it’s the only historic property to be certified LEED® Gold in the Southwest and the second in the United States. In short, they don’t just hand out LEED certifications. It takes quite a bit of work to get one for your very own.

“The Hotel underwent a $30 million dollar renovation in 2009 with an eye on sustainability,” explained Gary Goodman, Hotel Andaluz owner. “At the top of our priority list was long-term sustainability and good environmental stewardship.  We are proud to have achieved this prestigious distinction.”

The Hotel Andaluz’ LEED certification was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. For instance, the hotel uses less energy than traditional buildings by using solar heated water, high performance windows, fluorescent and LED lighting and a state of the art energy management system.  The hotel also has reduced its water usage over 45%.  In addition, the hotel has a comprehensive recycling program that recycles cardboard, paper, plastic, metal and all food waste is composted.

Hotel Andaluz King

As buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity means greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Over 32,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems. By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

Doesn’t that make you feel good? We think so too.

Hotel Andaluz, managed by Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, joins the Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills and the Carlton Hotel in New York City as swanky sister properties.

Voluntourism Cambodia

Project Abroad's Cambodia Beach Clean-Up

Conservation and Environment Volunteering in Cambodia

This week we wanted to highlight one of our favorite Voluntourism companies, Projects Abroad.  Pioneering conservation and research activities are at the forefront of protecting and researching diverse marine environments and Project Abroad doesn’t just stop at the well known diving locales, but also at the smaller lesser known beaches… like those in Cambodia.

Located on the tropical Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia has pristine uninhabited islands and over 200 miles of coastline. Their project is the first of its kind in Cambodia and supplies the Cambodian Fisheries administration with much needed data to help in their marine conservation efforts. The Conservation Project base is situated on the stunning island of Koh Rong Samleom, a two hour boat ride from the lively coastal town of Sihanoukville. The island, home to a small fishing village, stunning beaches and a lush jungle, is just one among several Project Abroad options that provide a feel good bonding experience that actually leaves something valuable behind… a cleaner coastline… and data.

A walk on Cambodia's (cleaner) beach...

Diving & Marine Project

Volunteers are also involved in a wide range of current projects including:

  • Diving-related conservation work that focuses on both marine surveys and salvage diving. The investigative survey projects include seahorse surveys including video and photographic behavioral and ID studies, coral & fish biodiversity surveys, and habitat & mapping surveys.
  • Community Projects that operate in full cooperation with the local village on the island. Volunteers get involved in important community work which includes environmental awareness activities with local children such as beach clean-ups and education classes.
  • Beach Clean-ups, which are regularly carried out, often with the help of the local community.
  • Fisheries Projects, where volunteers are involved with fishing surveys and catch-monitoring with the local M’Pai Bei fishing community.

Prices for the Diving & Marine Conservation: 2 weeks – $2,895; 1 month – $3,495; 2 months – $4,495; 3 months – $5,545; Extra month – $1,445


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