Hotels & Resorts

What Is Regenerative Travel and How Do You Do It?

More than sustainable travel, the next big thing is regenerative travel. Here are some of the best experiences that help us give back to the places we visit.

Plata Island, Ecuador. Courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions

By Marissa Carruthers

Jul 7, 2021

THE MINDFUL AND CONSCIENTIOUS AMONG US will be pushed for choice once travel resumes, as the next trend slated to explode on the scene is regenerative travel. Pushing further than its sustainable sister, it is experiences that gives vacationers the chance to truly contribute to their surroundings and leave the destination better off than it was when they arrived. 

“Regenerative travel is always important,” says Alexandra Morales, of Kontiki Expeditions. “But even more now with the pandemic as it will help communities reactivate their small economies.” Kontiki Expeditions is gearing up for its two nine-berth yachts to set sail on their inaugural cruises on coastal Ecuador this summer – and curating unforgettable experiences that benefit the community is ingrained in its philosophy.

Courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions (3)

Every single village where the yacht stops receives specifically tailored socioeconomic help from the company. Did you know Panama hats are actually from Ecuador? Well, they are. And the village that makes them has been hemorrhaging young people for years, as with so many rural towns around the world. So Kontiki is helping to train them in digital marketing and finance to help both keep the next generation in their hometown and to keep this historic millinery tradition alive.

Another example: on the itinerary is a community that carries out artisanal fishing in its mangroves, which are home to a special indigenous shellfish. The guest experience here is delicately collecting these shellfish before heading to the beach with the chef to cook up a delicious ceviche de concha. The Kontiki contribution is helping to protect the mangroves, which are basically the superheroes of coastal zones and, consequentially, this native species.

Courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions (2)

They’ve actually hired a sociologist to help them work with the communities to make the guest experience as memorable and immersive as possible and the corporate social responsibility projects the most fruitful. It’s a win-win on all counts. “Respect for nature, learning from communities and sharing with guests this beautiful harmonic way of living is our biggest aim,” Alexandra adds.

If a regenerative escape sounds up your street, but you cannot yet get to Ecuador, check out this consortium of responsible resorts and experiences around the world — and peruse our list of the best Southeast Asia has to offer:


Nay Palad Hideaway

Courtesy of Nay Palad Hideaway (3)

Rest assured that when you check out of Nay Palad Hideaway you’ll leave nothing more than footprints in powder-white sands and the knowledge your stay is helping protect this precious pocket of paradise and its indigenous inhabitants. Located on the coral-fringed island of Siargao in the Philippines, the resort is a big-time champion of sustainability and invites guests to get involved. Regular coastal cleanups help protect endangered turtles and fish, while mangrove-planting conserves the delicate ecology that makes this enchanting island so special. In addition, the hideaway supports The Medical Mission to improve the health of thousands of children on the island as well as local schools, including Malinao Elementary School.; from US$1,460 for two nights, all-inclusive


Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket

Courtesy of Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket (3)

If you plan to appease the travel bug with Thailand’s Sandbox plan now that Phuket is welcoming international visitors, then book a meaningful break at Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket. Recently, the hospitality brand rolled out its Dusit Local Explorer packages offering curated experiences that connect visitors with communities across properties in seven Thai destinations. While the rest remain temporarily closed, Phuket vacationers can embark on a two-day journey alongside the island’s dwindling sea gypsy population. Exchange stories with residents of Baan Tha Chat Chai community and learn the unique fishing techniques that have been passed down through generations. Helping keep delicate local economies alive, the excursion includes meeting lobster farmers and batik painters.; doubles from US$66

The Pavilions Phuket

Courtesy of The Pavilions Phuket (4)

In response to the rise in travelers wanting to give back, The Pavilions has launched a series of Curated Journeys unique to each of its resorts. If cute and cuddly creatures are your thing, then The Pavilions Phuket’s “Feeling Good” is the perfect option to help you discover what makes Thailand’s most famous island so special. The five-day adventure includes a trip to Soi Dog Foundation to spend some time with rescued street dogs and cats. Monkey madness awaits at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre and unforgettable memories can be forged at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary watching the gentle giants bathe, eat and chill.; villas from US$195 per night; five-day Feeling Good experience US$775


Cempedak Island

There’s nothing better than indulging in some downtime on a jaw-dropping private island. At Cempedak Island, you can do just that while giving back to communities living on neighboring islands in Riau Archipelago in northern Indonesia. During a stay, you get the chance to witness first-hand the incredible work being carried out to elevate livelihoods of villagers living on the remote islands and protect the pristine waters that lap them. Among the mix of memorable excursions is the chance to meet a reformed fisherman, who was the last in the area to hunt critically endangered dugong, and join villagers for a traditional kelok boat race.; from US$475 for a one-bedroom villa



Creating strong connections with your surroundings sits at the heart of Templation, an eco-friendly resort close to Cambodia’s majestic temples of Angkor Wat. Innovative design sees the resort live in harmony with its environment, with vegetated rooftops, lofty spaces that enhance the natural airflow and solar panels connected to its grid. It also actively engages with communities, carrying out a series of social, health and environmental activities. The resort supports Katha Bopha Children’s Hospital in the town, curates regular fund-raising events for local social and educational organizations and promotes Siem Reap‘s burgeoning arts scene. It also recently launched Templation Organic Farm, which will spread the word about organic produce to young farmers in this predominantly agricultural province. And a series of immersive experiences forge priceless vacation memories that give back. This includes finding your spiritual side with a trek across verdant meadows and rainforest to Vihear Phnom Bei monastery to be blessed by monks and getting a taste of village life.; doubles from US$129

A simple subscription helps direct cash to the causes you care about most. —By Scott Bay

So you want to save the world (or at least make it better). Where do you start? Like many people, entrepreneur Lulu Luchaire was often frustrated at the complexity involved in choosing charitable organizations. “I never knew where to put my dollars or what projects were most urgent,” she says. “So I decided to create a very simple platform where you give monthly, and experts handle the selection of the projects.” In February, Luchaire founded Planet Buyback, which supports land and ocean conservation by funneling monthly subscriber contributions to eco-conscious initiatives, such as a plastic-recycling plant in Uganda or coastal preservation in Indonesia.

Planet Buyback vets potential recipients based on factors like leadership, scalability, and fiscal transparency. Final selections are then made by cofounder Gillian Wynn, who sits on the leadership council for Conservation International (she is also the daughter of billionaire hoteliers Steve and Elaine Wynn). Luchaire believes Planet Buyback has strength in numbers: after all, if 1 million people give just US$5 a month, it becomes a sum with a wide reach.

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