Sustainable—like authentic and experiential—is a word that’s increasingly ubiquitous when we talk about travel. And it’s a great thing that so many hotels and resorts, say, encourage guests to reuse sheets and towels or install a few LED bulbs or solar panels.
But some visionary (and well-funded) owners of extraordinary lodges, camps, ranches and hotels take sustainability a whole lot further. For them, conservation is the organizing principle; they wouldn’t bother welcoming paying guests if it wasn’t to raise money to support their conservation efforts.
A case in point is Alec Wildenstein, who inherited his family’s estate in Kenya, Ol Jogi, and opened it as an exclusive-use rental property several years ago. Guests swoon over the glimpse into a flamboyant lifestyle and the general extravagance of the house, with its antique furnishings and closets full of crystal and china. But when Ol Jogi opened to guests, Jamie Gaymer, Wildenstein’s wildlife and security manager, said, “All of that is for this,” meaning the anti-poaching work that he oversees.
Similarly, Ted Turner, who owns more than 2 million acres of the United States (much of which he shares with paying guests), recently opened his own home at his Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico.
At the opening of Case Grande this summer, he said, “I have too many properties to enjoy them all myself. This planet is the only one we’ve got. We might as well enjoy it.”
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