Hilton | ?
The idea: Hilton sets meaningful and transparent diversity targets—linking progress directly to corporate leadership compensation and reporting numbers in a public dashboard.
Details: Hilton is broadcasting its internal diversity numbers in a live dashboard for the public to track progress toward its targets. Like many hospitality brands, Hilton has publicly committed to improving the diversity of its workforce. In April 2021, it set a target to achieve global gender parity and employ 25 percent people of color at its corporate-leadership levels by 2027. The hotel brand has made the rare move of linking progress toward its diversity-hiring goals directly to leadership compensation—an obvious way to ensure these goals remain a priority long after the press release goes out.
Why it matters: Many brands set diversity targets, but Hilton sets a precedent for its transparency and accountability from the top down.
Habitas | ? ?
The idea: In once insular Saudi Arabia, this hospitality group aims to dramatically transform the country’s landscape, culture, and attitudes.
Details: After decades of restricting travel, Saudi Arabia opened to international visitors and is sharing its treasures with the world. While the restoration and opening of its ancient sites has been international news, the buzz about the area can also be attributed to the arrival of the trailblazing hospitality group Habitas. The brand, which caters to upscale hipsters seeking a wilderness hit (its 2016 flagship hotel is in Tulum), scattered 96 tented, light-touch villas across the area’s Ashar Valley, all decorated with local textiles and equipped with outdoor showers. Nearby is Caravan by Habitas, a newly launched collection of 22 Airstream trailers (and three food trucks) on a lush oasis arranged around tented common areas.
Why it matters: Habitas is just part of a growing number of high-end properties built to usher in this fresh age of tourism in Saudi Arabia. It will soon be joined by an outpost of Janu, the recently launched sister brand to Aman, and Sharaan Desert Resort, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel.
Rancho Pescadero | ???? ?
The idea: Fresh off a four-year renovation, this beachside resort has partnered with its local community to create a haven for regenerative and sustainable travel.
Details: When Lisa Harper opened Rancho Pescadero in 2009, the 12-room resort was a quiet escape in Todos Santos, a sleepy surf town on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Fast-forward to today, and both the town and hotel have exploded in the tourism world—the latter transforming into a 103-room property, complete with private plunge pools and wellness programs. To support hotel staff and the full-time community, the high-design resort has invested in 170 affordable homes (as well as a slew of educational opportunities) and gone green, adding a solar farm for energy.
Why it matters: Rancho Pescadero proves that hotels can (and should) enhance local communities. Aside from plans to be completely solar-powered within the next three years, the resort is introducing a new composting program to the region, manufacturing organic bamboo straws for local businesses, and working with local sanitation providers to ensure proper waste disposal.
Slow | ????
The idea: Slow has drawn on the insights of the slow movement to build a group of hotels and hospitality offerings that invite a literal change of perspective.
Details: Through adaptive reuse, regenerative agriculture, and a community of designers, farmers, writers, artists, and architects, the collective seeks to “build and nourish locally rooted places that offer a deeper, more conscious form of hospitality.” To do this, the brand has established locations and gatherings in Mexico, Spain, Germany, and Portugal that offer immersive journeys that seek to reconnect one with nature, oneself, and the shared human experience—not just an escape from the hectic day-to-day. Cofounded by tourism mogul Claus Sendlinger, who founded Design Hotels, the four organic modern properties utilize decor and materials sourced from the surrounding local communities and the collective of creatives that make up Slow.
Why it matters: Their ethos—as it appears on their website—while harkening back to simpler times, is surely one future for the travel space: “To be slow is not merely to decrease the pace of life. It’s about taking the time to reconsider our actions and think more deeply and responsibly about how we live.”
Hotel Marcel | ? ?
The idea: Two miles from the imposing pseudo-Gothic towers of Yale, this long-vacant 1970 brutalist monolith by Bauhaus master Marcel Breuer has received a second life as the first fossil-fuel-free hotel in the United States.
Details: Connecticut architects Becker + Becker acquired the building from IKEA, ripped out asbestos, and restored the distinctive façade. Brooklyn studio Dutch East Design transformed offices and research labs into minimalist concrete-gray-and-caramel rooms and lobbies. Now Marcel lives under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton as a 165-room hotel, which is expected to be Passive House-certified by 2023. “The beauty of Breuer’s precast concrete is that it lends itself to the triple-glazing system and thermal insulation required for a Passivhaus system based on centuries-old efficient heating and cooling building methods,” explains Dieter Cartright of Dutch East Design. Solar paneling and a cunning Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting system provide energy—and it’s also conserved, with electronic shade treatments, all-electric kitchens, and other eco-ploys.
Why it matters: Hotel Marcel is on track to qualify as America’s first net-zero hotel by 2023, creating a crucial blueprint for the country’s hospitality industry.
Churchill Wild | ?
The idea: While primarily known for their polar bear safaris, outfitter Churchill Wild is introducing travelers to an even more elusive species: the cloud wolf.
Details: Not only does this Manitoba, Canada-based tour operator give travelers a glimpse of the otherwise inaccessible Hudson Bay Lowlands, but it also allows guests to contribute to the study and preservation of species. Churchill Wild’s newest safari, launched in 2021 and titled Cloud Wolves of the Kaska Coast, focuses on the Canis lupus nubilus, a subspecies so remote that no scientists have studied it—and Wikipedia erroneously lists it as extinct. Along with a team of naturalist guides and expert photographers, guests (or “citizen scientists”) embark on 10-day expeditions, snapping photos and taking data-centric notes that are sent to scientists to help keep tabs on the animals. It fits perfectly with the brand’s ethos to simultaneously minimally impact and improve the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic.
Why it matters: With melting ice caps and a climate that is constantly affecting Arctic wildlife, seeing wolves in the wild is not only a bucket list experience—it’s an increasingly urgent one that needs to be preserved.