Romantic ecofriendly destinations to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. If you’re still looking for ideas to sweep your loved one off their feet, read on and act fast!

From an amorous evening in high atop a mountain with a view over St. Moritz’s valley to a couples massage by a river in Bali, here’s a list of earth-friendly hotels where you can spend some unforgettable time with your loved one.

On the Snow

Experience pure romance for St. Valentine’s Day on the snow, at the Romantik Muottas Muragl in Engadine. Take the funicular railway 700 meters (0.4 miles) to the hotel and enjoy a bottle of champagne upon arrival. Spend the day downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, or tobogganing (sledding).

Then have a romantic four-course Valentine’s candlelight dinner in Muottas Muragl’s restaurant resplendent with panoramic views of the mountains and the Upper Engadine lakes. Start off with a special Valentine’s Day aperitif and an appetizer of gilt-head bream tartar with pink pepper. Next, are heart-shaped ravioli filled with ricotta and lime with spicy red pepper butter. For the main course it’s Swiss sirloin steak with Roquefort sauce, potato gratin and vegetables. Dessert is white chocolate panna cotta on a strawberry-basil salad and truffled Brie de Meaux cheese with fermented beetroot-ginger mustard.  The complete menu is CHF 115 (US$115) per person. Romance through the night at the hotel from CHF 659 (US$660).

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Together Forever

If your love feeds on art and pampering then Villa Ammende is your ideal destination. Enjoy special moments with your loved one in Pärnu (Estonia) and seal the day with a special Valentine’s Day dinner.

Built in 1904, Villa Ammende is a carefully restored art nouveau mansion located just a short-distance from the Old Town and close to the beach. According to legend, if a couple holds hands while walking along the Parnu’s seawall and kisses at its endpoint they’ll stay together forever.

Villa Ammende’s spa offers two romantic packages:

  • Luxurious Relaxation features a night in an accommodation of your choice in-room massage for 2, complimentary Damman tea, surprise on arrival, breakfast a -la-carte and 2 nightclub tickets.
  • The Rose Package includes accommodation in a suite or jr suite, romantic dinner à la carte for two, followed by Rose Petals Bath, sparkling wine, candles and of course a bouquet of beautiful roses!

Valentine’s dinner is €33 (US$37) and rooms range in price from €89 (US$102) to €255 (US$292) for the Ammende Suite. One hundred years ago, the Ammende Suite used to be the living room of the Villa and has a romantic fireplace, as well as a sauna in the bathroom, and a balcony overlooking a beautiful garden with a bubbling fountain.

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Kissed by the Sun

Bucuti & Tara is an adults-only carbon neutral beach resort located on the white powder sands of Eagle Beach in Aruba. If you want a tranquil, romantic beach vacation, this is the place!

At the resort, a personal concierge is available to help guests book jeep safari tours of the island, diving or sailing excursions, horseback riding trips or a round of golf.  

Elements, the on-site restaurant, is offering a Valentine’s Day dinner in a spectacular oceanfront setting. The meal begins with an appetizer of veal tenderloin with tuna tartar and caper mayonnaise. Next, is a creamy bisque of lobster and crawfish. Beef steak slow-cooked for six hours with truffle gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, and stuffed mushrooms is the entree. For dessert there’s Amarena cherry ice cream with strawberry sauce and a caramelized nut crisp. The price is US$75 per person.

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La Sultana Dinner on the roof

A Thousand and One Nights

If romance AND adventure is your thing, book the “Romance & Adventure” package at La Sultana Marrakech in Morocco. In addition to a Moroccan daily breakfast, a bottle of champagne, and a turn down with rose petals scattered on your bed and throughout the bathroom, you can choose from three different romantic adventures. Pick the one that matches you and your loved one best! Choose from “Retro”, a three hour side-car tour in the Marrakech Médina or “Adrenaline,” a morning hot air balloon flight or “Epicurian,” a private country lunch in the gorgeous Atlas Mountains home to some of North Africa’s most remote Berber villages.

The “Romance & Adventure” package is available from February 1st to February, 28th, 2019 for 2300MAD (US$240) per person.

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Romancing in London

Sweep your loved one away for a night that’s “Romantically” satisfying at London’s Hotel 41. Voted the number one luxury hotel in Europe by TripAdvisor in 2019 and awarded the 2018 Best Green Hotel by Condé Nast, this five-star private hideaway has staff that outnumber guests two to one.
Receive a red rose upon arrival and sip champagne by the fire in the Executive Lounge. Spend the evening catching a flick at The Electric Cinema in nearby Notting Hill. It’s one of London’s oldest movie theaters and definitely the most romantic. Why? The front row seats are made up of luxurious, velvet-lined double beds, which are ideal for a little smooching.
Back at Hotel 41, in your room there’s a romantic turndown with scattered rose petals, massage oil, chocolate dipped strawberries, candles. The morning after, enjoy a full English breakfast with champagne. Prices start from £490 (US$638) per night.

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Love rituals

Located near Ubud in Bali along the banks of the Ayung River, Fivelements wellness resort offers a variety of romantic getaways and wellness retreats inspired by Balinese philosophies.
A one night romantic getaway includes a stay in a riverside suite, as well as their “Hibiscus Prema Signature Couples Ritual” by the Ayung. While listening to the sound of the rushing water get a head to toe couple’s massage with their signature patchouli and rose-scented oil, “Prema.” Then complete the experience by a floating in a red hibiscus flower bath while enjoying a glass of chilled rosella kombucha tisane.
There’s also a five-night wellness retreat complete with Balinese healing rituals for purification, balancing, and regeneration. If you book by February 28th you’ll receive two complimentary nights! These retreats feature a variety of experiences combining meditation, deep bodywork, and “prana” (life force) energy performed by gifted healers.
Package prices begin at IDR10,430,000 (US$700).

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6 Organic Restaurants to Enjoy When Traveling

Organic restaurants to enjoy when traveling

One of the greatest things about exploring a country is getting to know its culture by tasting the local culinary specialties. Whether it’s fluffy Ladakhi bread baked in the house of the former king or a celery and green apple granita in a Portuguese vineyard, we’ve put together a list of some of the best sustainable restaurants available in hotels around the world.

Junei Hotel Kyoto Imperial Palace, Japan

 

Let’s start from the first meal of the day. Indeed, breakfast sets the tone for the whole day and at The Junei Hotel , guests can enjoy an original Kyoto Vegan Breakfast experience. The meal is made from organic vegetables and gluten free foods, which do not use egg, milk, wheat, dairy products, meat, fish- no gelatin and any animal ingredients. Ingredients and seasoning are mainly organic. And what makes this even better is that this experience is currently available for free to travelers that book through Wayaj. A complimentary healthy breakfast is definitely one of the best ways to start a day exploring Kyoto!

ecofriendly Kyoto Vegan Breakfast at The Junei Hotel

Located next to the renowned Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Junei Hotel strives to offer an authentic experience of Japanese culture in a modern and sustainable way. Not only the hotel spaces are designed in traditional Japanese style, but it also offers several cultural experiences like the kimono dressing day and traditional Japanese dance show that allow the guests to immerse themselves in this unique culture.

Find The Junei Hotel on Wayaj and enjoy exclusive offers!

Nimmu House, India

 

Nimmu House, a glamping and eco-resort located in Leh, in Northern India’s Jammu and Kashmir region, is known for its traditional villages, Buddhist monasteries, and trekking areas. Overlooking the old town’s bazaar and maze-like streets, is the 17th-century Leh Palace, which is modeled on Tibet’s Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s former home.

Staying at the resort, the manor of the former king of Ladakh, allows one a chance to enjoy the very unique Ladakhi cuisine. Breakfasts are served with fresh juice and fruit salad from their orchards and Ladakhi bread with homemade jam and butter. This traditional bread is thicker and made with whole-wheat flour. Cut the bread in the middle and add butter and almond jam to taste its sweet, melty goodness!

 

Lunches and dinners offer Indian, Asian, Mediterranean and French specialties, in addition to Ladakhi cuisine like momos (dumplings) and thukpa (a Tibetan noodle soup). Meals are served in a charming dining room or outside on the terrace with views of the Himalayan mountains.

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El Tigre Vestido at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation, Costa Rica

In the mountains of Santa Bárbara in Heredia, Costa Rica, enjoy the lush, natural beauty of the countryside by horseback or hike along scenic trails and marvel at the waterfalls dotted throughout the jungle. Traverse through Braulio Carillo National Park, home to the 2,906 meter (9,534 feet) tall Barva Volcano and the magnificent Barva Lagoon.

When staying in Santa Bárbara, the Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn offers a lasting positive impact with a minimal footprint at its El Tigre Vestido restaurant, which is set on a large terrace surrounded by gardens and orchards. Revel in breakfast amidst the aroma of coffee from the plantation and savor fresh fruits and vegetables from the organic garden, as well as eggs retrieved daily from their happy free-ranging hens.

For lunch and dinner try Latin fusion cuisine like grilled baby ears of corn bathed in lime butter and served with Rosa Blanca coffee mayonnaise. Their chef, Jose Pablo Gonzales also makes a delicious pork loin served with a java-laced salsa and fresh roasted carrots and onions.

 

The Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn takes pride in more than providing meals made in the culinary tradition of Costa Rica. They also support creating a positive environmental impact with the inn receiving the highest level possible from the Costa Rican Certification for Sustainable Tourism program.

Find Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation on Wayaj!

Museum Hotel, Turkey

 

According to industry insiders, Turkey is going to be one of the hottest tourist destination this year, and Cappadocia is definitely one of the most spectacular Turkish regions, from a natural as well as cultural point of view.  Attractions include its distinctive “fairy chimneys” or “hoodoos,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations, Bronze Age homes carved into the valley walls, which were later used as refuges by early Christians, and the deep Ihlara Canyon houses with its numerous rock-face churches.

For an authentic and eco-friendly sojourn in Cappadocia, the Museum Hotel is the ideal place. The site has been meticulously restored and renovated from ruins, caves, and old houses to become the first luxury establishment in the area. It’s in a fantastic location to watch the hot air balloons that fly by on a daily basis.

At the hotel is Lil’a Restaurant. Ingredients from apples to walnuts are grown onsite using sustainable farming methods. If the food doesn’t come from their own land, local farm products from the neighbors are used. There’s nothing mass-made here! Care is also taken to employ the local population in eco-farming, beekeeping, and tending to the free-range poultry on the grounds.

Lil’a’s Chef Saygın Sesli enriches and interprets the flavors of the region by blending local ingredients into traditional dishes of Cappadocia like Tandoor Ribs with wheat stew cooked slowly over a wood fire. Chef Sesli also offers cooking lessons. Meet him in the morning to visit the butcher and spice shop and to pick ingredients from the hotel’s farm. Then, it’s off to the kitchen to start cooking! Guests can learn about the local cuisine and enjoy a delicious meal.

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Six Senses Douro River Valley, Portugal

 

Winding its way through the Douro River Valley, the River Douro passes through panoramic scenery encompassing magnificent viewpoints and river beaches. This area just happens to be one of the oldest wine-producing region in Europe and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

A carefully restored 19th century manor house, the Douro Valley Six Senses Hotel has inherited some of the local historic wineries. Oenologists with a passion for antique vintages can explore the original cellars, and taste special selection of Port wines aged in wooden casks for as long as 100 years!

Foodies, gourmets and Masterchef-wannabes can also enjoy a variety of experiences at this sustainable hotel, that scores 82 in Wayaj’s eco rating system.

From cooking classes, to learn some of the finer points of Portuguese cuisine, to secret destination dining experience with tables tucked into the woods by the river

(which sounds like the perfect setting for a marriage proposal 😉 )

and even a sit at the “Chef’s Table”, right in the kitchen to see all the action live.

The Vale de Abraão restaurant at the hotel is a celebration of the regional cuisine interpreted in a contemporary way. Vegetables and herbs, such as those used to make their original celery and green apple granita, come fresh from the onsite organic garden; while a wood-fired stove takes care of  bread baking and local oven dishes, like the duck pie (empada de pato). The hotel offers  several dining experiences: the Open Kitchen, an open space cooking station, on the Terrace, with spectacular valley views, and in the Dining Room, a more formal setup to dine in modern elegance.

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Reserva do Ibitipoca, Brazil

Ecoresort Reserva do Ibitipoca - Kitchen

The State Park of Ibitipoca is famous for its landscapes of waterfalls, peaks, ridges, caves, and natural pools. Many species of animals, like the endangered primate “Muriqui-de-Norte,” can only be found in this habitat.

Around the State Park sits the Reserva do Ibitipoca Hotel. Born out of an environmental project to preserve and increase the local wildlife, since in 2008, it has been expanded into a hotel with the objective to bring economic development in the region while fostering a passion for nature, the local community and guests’ wellbeing.

Here guests can experience high quality Brazilian cuisine privately or communally, which is a great way to meet other guests. Breakfast and lunch are buffets, while dinner is a three-course affair showcasing the Reserva’s homegrown organic produce. Special occasions call for a dinner on “the beach,” a sandy area high on a nearby mountain.

Be sure to try their “Pao de Quejo”. These typical bread balls are made with cassava flour and a local semi-soft cow’s milk cheese. You can even pop into the kitchen to see them made; the scent of warm cheesy bread just adds to the experience!

Top Eco-Friendly Winter Gear

Top Eco-Friendly Winter Gear

There’s a revolution happening with sustainable materials! Here at Wayaj we’re discovering winter products that are not only vegan, but eco-friendly as well.

One such material is “Thermore Ecodown,” a feather free filler that keeps you warm even in frigid temperatures; then there’s a luxurious faux fur made from recycled PET plastic, and ski poles made out of bamboo, just to name a few.

Manufacturers are using aids like the Higg Index, a suite of tools that enables brands to accurately score a company or product’s sustainability performance. “REACH certified” is a regulation of the European Union which was adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks posed by chemicals. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals.

So, with sustainability in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best eco-friendly winter gear to keep you warm, toasty and dry all season long!

Columbia Alpine Traverse Jacket

Columbia Alpine Traverse Jacket  ColumbiaColumbia products are known for their quality and environmentally friendly materials and practices, and the Alpine Traverse Jacket™ for women and men is no exception. Made with water-resistant fabric, it’s perfect for everything from outdoor adventures to running errands. All Columbia products are measured using the Higg Index, a suite of tools that enables brands to accurately score a company or product’s sustainability performance. For that reason you’ll never find their products, even water-resistant ones like the Alpine Traverse Jacket, made from perfluorinated compound (PFC), which can harm the environment.

People Tree Winter Accessories

People Tree Textured Scarf

People Tree was established over 30 years ago and is considered one of the pioneers of fair trade fashion. Its winter products feature a collection of hand knitted and embroidered women’s cardigans, scarves, warm socks and more, made of eco-friendly fabrics such as fair-trade Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton and other ethical and sustainably sourced natural fibers like wool. GOTS is the world’s leading textile processing standard for organic fibers. People Tree’s hand-knitted scarves and gloves are made by an organization that employs 2,500 artisans in Nepal under fair-trade conditions. By using skills such as hand weaving, hand knitting or hand embroidery People Tree creates employment in rural areas where work is often scarce.

Fabulous Furs

 

Fabulous Eco-Friendly Fur ThrowsFabulous Furs began with a passion for animals and the belief that cruelty-free fashion could be achieved. Featured on “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” They’re a classy, synthetic alternative to natural fur. The collection offers soft, luxurious alternatives for mink, fox, and shearling some with vegan leather trims. Check out the throws, which are perfect for hunkering down on a snowy day. With small, medium, and large sizes you don’t have to be cozy alone! They also have coats and jackets for women, men, and kids.

Love Thy Beast Hoodies and Sweaters

LoveThyBeast Ecofriendly Pom Pom Dog Sweater

Even our doggies can be eco-friendly with an ultra-soft hoodie by Love Thy Beast, a company committed to minimizing environmental impact. Made with bamboo knit fleece, bamboo trees are fully sustainable, regenerate in 55 days, and require little irrigation. The cozy bamboo knit textile in navy blue and pink is perfect for pups that might normally experience allergies since it’s hypoallergenic. It’s also machine washable and dryer safe and comes in sizes from XS to XXXL! Their navy, pink, and grey pom pom sweaters are fair-trade products as well and provide employment to craftswomen in Nepal.

BHAVA Aspen Winter Hiker

Handcrafted in Spain from vegan leather with brass hooks and contrast stitching, the BHAVA Aspen Winter Hiker women’s boot comes in black, ivory, and natural. Each pair includes a second set of colorful laces so you can switch up your style whenever the mood strikes. The insoles are removable and can be taken out and air-dried or replaced with orthotics. Best of all, these boots are REACH certified. REACH, a regulation of the European Union, was adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. Consequently, you’ll never find any PCP, formaldehyde, phthalates or other harmful toxins in BHAVA products. The company’s tagline, “Thoughtful by Design,” means that they source products ethically and under fair trade conditions and are committed to lessening fashion’s impact on the planet.

Hoodlamb Nordic Parkas

 

HoodLamb Sustainable Men's Nordic Parka

The men’s Nordic Parka by HoodLamb features a natural, water-resistant hemp and organic cotton herringbone outer shell, which means it’s light and sturdy. The inner shell is insulated with “Thermore Ecodown,” a feather free filler that keeps you warm even in frigid temperatures. The parkas are lined with natural hemp and the removable faux fur trim is made from recycled PET plastic but you’d never guess by looking or feeling the soft, fluffy material. Did you know that hemp is the only CO2 negative textile fiber, meaning its growth actually reduces carbon emissions in the atmosphere!

Drysure Ski Boot Dryers

Drysure Boot Dryers

While most ski boot dryers use batteries or electricity, Drysure has no power source and can be reused over and over again, making the product a more sustainable option compared to the normal type. Drysure boot dryers come in two styles: Active for low ankle footwear like running or cycling shoes and Extreme for ski and snowboard boots. Their unique design consisting of moisture-absorbing silica oxide beads surrounded by a shell that helps airflow, allows wetness to be absorbed from your damp or sweaty ski boots twelve times faster than regular air drying. Drysure boot driers also help reduce bacterial and fungal growth, which improves odor.

Phunkshun Wear Thermal Tubes

Phunkshun Wear Ecofriendly Thermal Tubes

Add your own eco-friendly style to the slopes with a funky and functional Phunkshun Wear® Thermal Tube. Use graphics of your own design or choose one of their cool designs. These ski and snowboard facemasks are made out of plastic bottles that are recycled into yarn. Plus, they provide UV protection and the fabric has DWR (Durable Water Repellent) properties. Phunkshun Wear Thermal Tubes are also treated with a microbe-inhibiting odor-control application, which keeps your mask smelling better, longer. All scrap fabric generated is collected and recycled back into fabric. Phunkshun Wear also makes Ballerclavas® (balaclavas), and scarves.

Kamik boots

Kamik Nation2 Sustainable Boot

Kamik, a Canadian, family-owned company has been making boots for men, women, and kids since 1898.  With classic designs, seam-sealed waterproof construction, and 3MTM Thinsulate™ insulation, their winter boots and rain boots will keep you warm and dry. Their footwear is made using a low consumption process thanks to hydroelectricity, reusing water, and a 100% material waste-recycling program. With these greener manufacturing initiatives, they’re doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint. Even their boot liners are made from plastic bottles!

Shred Optics Ski Goggles

Scraps recycled from making snowboards, as well as organic cotton and reclaimed rubber, go into Shred Optics ski goggles, which look as good as they perform. The goggles utilize ShredWide™ technology, a unique lens and frame design that enables riders to see more of what’s ahead and around them for fantastic peripheral vision.

Shred’s Contrast Boosting Lens™ enhances image definition, contrast, and the vividness of colors in a broad range of light and weather conditions. For even more visual clarity, Shred’s patent pending NoDistortion® technology uses a semi-permeable valve to equalize the pressure between the dual lens chamber and current atmospheric conditions. The company also supports the efforts of the non-profit group “Protect Our Winters” to combat climate change and educate the public about its effect.

Niche Snowboards

Niche creates super cool snowboards using environmentally conscious materials and manufacturing practices. Their boards are produced in a factory that runs off 100% hydropower and boasts zero CO2 emissions. All manufacturing waste and the products themselves can also be recycled. The wood cores are made from sustainable poplar, paulownia, and bamboo and the inks used are non-toxic and water-based.

Grown Skis

 

With an environmental footprint that is 40% less than conventional skis, you’ll be feeling as light as the powder underneath you when cruising the slopes on a pair of Grown Skis. Made from hemp and over 70% certified sustainably harvested wood and held together with pine tree resin-based glues, Grown Skis are designed with environmental performance in mind. The skis also feature a recycled base and use reinforcing fibers from volcanic basalt rock instead of glass and carbon fibers. Last year at one of the leading sports trade fairs in Europe they presented the first skis with a 100% industrial hemp fiber-paulownia wood composite core construction. The use of hemp fibers is a substitute for non-renewable fibers like glass and carbon.

Grass Sticks Bamboo Ski Poles

Bamboo ski poles have taken the skiing world by storm in recent years. They’re lighter, stronger, better looking, and better for the environment than the average aluminum or carbon fiber pole. Grass Sticks Bamboo Ski Poles are amongst the most sustainable, high performing ski poles in the world. But that’s not all! The straps are made from 100% recycled polyester and you can also order customized ski poles to suit your color preferences and height. These poles will definitely spark conversations on the lift line!

 

Holmenkol Natural Ski Wax

 

It’s easy to forget about the lasting impact some products have on the environment and ski wax may not be the first thing that springs to mind.  However, according to the team from Holmenkol Natural Wax, when one skis down a slope, small bits of wax come off.

Any wax that contains fluorocarbon will stay in the snow until spring then run off into rivers and lakes, affecting the local ecosystem. Yikes! Holmenkol developed a biodegradable hot wax bar for all snow types and temperatures that is fully biodegradable while still fast and long-lasting.

Find it on Wayaj: Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald

Find it on Wayaj: Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald

Just in time for the peak ski season, today we launch our series of hotel profiles with Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald a century old family run property which combines traditional Swiss hospitality with a commitment to modern sustainable practices.

Sustainability efforts

 

“The decision to be more sustainable came from my parents in 1986,” says Philip Hauser, great-grandson to Johann Hauser who built the Belvedere. In 1907 Johann named the establishment “Belvedere,” which means “beautiful view.”

According to Philip, climate change has been obvious to the family for many years. “Therefore, a decision was made that we have to help conserve our nature, as well as our heritage.”

At the Belvedere, every effort is made to respect nature and conserve resources. The hotel was awarded the “Travelife Gold” certificate for ecologically responsible hotels and utilizes a wide range of energy-saving technologies, some of which are unique to the Bern area.

“Our hotel is connected to a wood-fired heat plant at the bottom of our valley, the first of its kind in the region,” Philip explains. “The idea of this plant came from a local hotel owner and was built by the area’s hotel association in cooperation with BKW (the Bernese power provider) and the local municipality.”

The plant is fired by waste wood from sawmills and construction sites, as well as storm-felled wood from local forests and is CO2-neutral.

At the hotel, more wasted energy is also utilized in the form of “waste heat,” or in this case, the heat wasted by being released into the environment from the air conditioning/ventilation system. This source is used to heat water for the Belvedere’s indoor pool.

The 56-room hotel also installed heat pumps to warm the indoor pool area and the outdoor saltwater Jacuzzi. The transfer of heat with heat pumps, which use electricity rather than combustion, is another highly efficient option. All electricity for the Belvedere is generated in a nearby hydroelectric power station.

“Instead of a highly energy-intensive system for air conditioning,  the hotel is cooled by cold water from the ground  during the summer”, says Philip “The plan is to then use this warm water backflow to again heat the pools and water for other facilities.”

Read more about Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald’s sustainable practices

Restaurants

 

The hotel’s Restaurant Français is a member of the French gourmet association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and offers inventive cuisine using fresh, homegrown ingredients featuring Swiss specialties, as well as light fusion food with a Mediterranean influence.

On Monday evenings the hotel offers a peek behind the scenes with a visit to the kitchen with chef Florian Stadler and his crew. Thursdays feature an extensive dessert buffet and Friday is steak tartare night when Philip’s dad Urs Hauser prepares fresh steak tartare right at your table.

Also onsite is the rustic Spycher fondue restaurant where you can enjoy a raclette, the typical cheese fondue, or special Belvedere-style fondue “chinoise.” This type of fondue is similar to Japanese shabu-shabu and features thinly-sliced meat and vegetables cooked at the table in a pot of beef broth and wine accompanied by delicious dips.

The hotel

 

The southern-facing rooms at the Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald offer panoramic views of the Eiger, while those on the north side look out on the Wetterhorn peak. The hotel also features a saltwater Jacuzzi outdoors in the garden in addition to an indoor whirlpool next to the pool.

On the property you can also enjoy a Finnish sauna and a glacier steam bath while the whole family can warm up in the “heat mine gallery.” According to Philip, this unique type of sauna has a temperature of 50-55 °C (122-131 °F) so it’s a bit cooler than the typical Finnish sauna. Finish off with a tropical rain shower or an icy mist!

Did you know that …

 

The Eiger is considered one of the  10 most difficult mountains to climb, so much so that its north face side has earned the nickname of Murder Wall, and for this reason it has been the protagonist of several movies like “The Eiger Sanction” (1975) directed and starred by Clint Eastwood, and “North Face” (2008).

The Jungfrau region

 

Outside the hotel the Jungfrau region offers endless possibilities. Since the hotel is located in the Bernese Alps, it’s a prime winter sports region with skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and winter hiking. Stay three nights and you’ll receive a two-day ski pass or hiking/sledging pass.

Discover the 213 kilometers (132 miles) of slopes in the three ski areas of Grindelwald-First, Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen and Mürren-Schilthorn. Each has amazing views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains. Also the non-skiers of the party can enjoy the region that has numerous winter hiking trails and spectacular sleigh runs like the “Big Pintenfritz”, the longest sleigh run in the world snaking down a full 15km (9.3 miles)!

For those on their first foray to the slopes, BodmiArena recreation area offers ideal conditions for novices. Also nearby, the Snowpark Grindelwald-First Park has beginner’s slopes, as well as an expert zone plus half pipes and bag jumps where you can try the craziest single or double flips and spins.

Click here for info on activities in the Jungfrau region.

Whether it’s winter or summer, this is a great location to spend some time enjoying nature if you want to do it in a sustainable way, look out for Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald on Wayaj!

5 Great Eco Adventures Off the Beaten Path to Do in 2019

5 Great Eco Adventures Off the Beaten Path to Do in 2019

At the beginning of each year, we are inundated of lists of the most popular things to do in the next 12 months: the hippest this, the trending that, the upcoming what… Well at Wayaj, we like to be ahead of curve, so we put together our list of the best eco adventures that will be popular not this year, but next or maybe the following, or … whenever! They are just beautiful natural locations still off the radar, untouched by the major tourist waves, and therefore they allow Wayajers to enjoy authentic and uncontaminated experiences worth bragging about!

If you like to be one step ahead of the crowds of hipsters and aspiring travel bloggers, these are 5 unique destinations you should visit in 2019.

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Ideal for: altitude hikers, archeology buffs, lovers of Andean native cultures, modern shamans

When most people visit The Andes, they head to Peru, Chile, or Argentina with Bolivia getting short shrift. However, the country offers several spectacular experiences like exploring the Royal Andes Range and Lake Titicaca, a region renowned for the unique ecosystem.

Legends say that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of the Inca people, and to this day this extensive body of water maintains that legendary quality thanks to the numerous archeological sites along its shores. The magic of the ancient times also survives in the unique traditions and crafts still practiced by the native peoples like the floating islands and the distinctive boats built with reefs.

Where to stay

Located on Isla del Sol, also known as the Isla Sagrada, Sacred Island, on the South-Eastern shore,  Ecolodge La Estancia boasts fantastic views of Lake Titicaca and the Andes. The rooms and suites are built on restored agricultural terraces (tacanas), from the pre-Incan era and designed and decorated in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner by the local Aymara community, an indigenous nation of the Andes.  

The lodge offers tours and activities that give a fascinating glimpse of the lifestyle, culture and heritage of the local Aymaras, including boat tours, archeological sites, shamanic ceremonies and visits to the local villages. 

In the nearby town of Challampa it is possible to visit the Golden Museum of the Sunken City which features a great collection of artifacts and treasures discovered underwater in the area.

Find it on Wayaj

Location

Myall Lakes National Park, Australia

ideal for: koala spotters, eco-surfers, tree-huggers

Myall Lakes National Park in New South Wales, Australia has one of the largest coastal lake systems with 25 miles (40 kilometers) of beaches and rolling sand dunes. Depending on the shifting sands, it is possible to find stone tools, bones, and shell deposits that have been hidden for thousands of years.  

Bushwalking through the park, you can spy the unique fauna that calls this place home: sea eagles, pelicans and egrets, as well as wallabies, kangaroos, bandicoots (small marsupials), goannas (Australian monitor lizards) and even the occasional koala. 

On the way from Myall Lakes National Park to the quaint town of Seal Rocks be sure to stop at New South Wales’ tallest tree, the Eucalyptus Grandis.

Seal Rocks is known for its many surfing beaches and its peaceful resistance to developers attempting to commercialize the small, picturesque fishing village. The slogan “Save Seal Rocks The Last Frontier” has been painted repeatedly on the road into town for the last 30 years.  

(Photo credit Chad Ajamian – Flickr)

Where to Stay

The perfect spot for your base to explore this part of the world are the Bombah Point Eco Cottages, offering a stylish combination of modern comfort and wilderness.

The property forms a buffer zone for the national park as it actively restores the land restoration and promotes bush regeneration, so the vegetation can be a natural pollution filter for the fragile lakes ecosystem.

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Gunjur, The Gambia

ideal for: safari, hippo lovers, heritage travel

In case you haven’t heard it yet, Africa is the hottest destination in 2019, so if you want to get on the trend and still enjoy a unique experience of this continent away from the crowds, head for The Gambia, or, officially, the Republic of The Gambia, the smallest country within mainland Africa, Thanks to its unique geographical location, snaking around both sides of the majestic Gambia River, there will be plenty of opportunities to discover the wildlife and culture of this region.

The Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve are home to monkeys, hippos, and leopards, just to name a few.

In the Gambia River National Park the main attractions are the five island rainforests and the chimp rehab center; while in Niumi, a coastal preserve visitors can spot endangered species like humpback dolphins and green turtles. 

For cultural and heritage travelers, the Kunta Kinteh Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the first outposts of the Europeans in this part of the world, is a prominent historical site of the Western African slave trade.

Another UNESCO site, or better sites, in this country are the Senegambian stone circles which constitute the largest concentration of megalithic stone circles in the world. Scattered on an area of 30,000 kmq across Senegal and The Gambia, they are evidence of a flourishing civilization  that occupied this lands between the third century B.C. and the sixteenth century AD.

Where to stay

The Footsteps Eco Lodge located on the Atlantic shore just south of the mouth of the river Gambia, strives to offer a first class experience to its guests while minimizing the impact on the magnificent environment around them. Upon arrival, all guests receive a chilled-reusable stainless steel drinking bottle of purified water.

Feel free to enjoy the fruit off the trees while you wander the property!  

From the lodge you can join bird-watching excursions, go for walks and bike rides on nature trails, or meet the locals at the thriving market and fish market in the nearby village of Gunjur.

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Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park, Spain

ideal for: nature lovers, movie buffs, slow travel

With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, landscapes of cliffs, beaches, bubbling creeks and salt flats, the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata is a hidden jewel on the Eastern end of the Andalusia in Spain.

Spot flamingoes at Las Salinas, discover the thriving marine life in the Posidonia Oceanica meadows or hike to secluded coves with golden sands like the Cala Enmedio, where you’ll enjoy views of the Mesa Roldán (Roldán Table). This coastal area with a lighthouse and the remains of a watchtower was part of the land of Mereen in season 6 of “Game of Thrones”. Actually, several famous movies have been filmed in this region: “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, guided tours to the locations are available for the happiness of all the traveling movie buffs.

Photo credit: AtlasofWonders.com

Where to Stay

Nearby to the park is La Joya de Cabo de Gata, an ecological retreat with cozy cottages, as well as a “Haymah” (Bedouin tent) for those looking for a unique experience. Wander through the fig trees and pick off some fruit as you walk to the beach or explore the surroundings on horseback. What’s really unique about the property is that La Joya de Cabo de Gata encourages people to join the “slow option,” a global movement that embraces slowing down. Staying at the hotel allows you to take advantage of “slow travel,” “slow cooking,” and a slower lifestyle!

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Sian Ka’an Biosphere, Mexico

Photo credit: Doug Finney - Flickr
ideal for: nature lovers, bird watching, water cave explorers, Indiana Jones types

Yes Riviera Maya has been popular for a few decades, yet Sian Ka’an natural preserve remains one of those rare destinations that offers both top cultural and natural attractions and is not overcrowded yet.

One of the most ecologically diverse places on earth, Sian Ka’an is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, which is why the region, a 1.6 million acres site, became a designated “Biosphere Reserve” in 1986.  A year later Sian Ka’an was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.

 

 

Located two hours south of Cancun and near Tulum, a feature of the area are the cenote caves with crystal waters and amazing flora to explore,. The reserve is particularly famous for bird-watching, and for the spectacular Meso American reef is filled with fish rays,  manaties, turtles and dolphins.

Archeology lovers can explore numerous ruins of Mayan towns scattered along ancient canals, and, of course, visit the world renowned Tulum site.

Where to stay

Set amidst the lush palm trees of Sian Ka’an, Mukan Resort, is the only self-sustaining luxury resort in the reserve. Sustainability is key to every aspect of the property, from generating energy to water purification, to the construction materials used to build the rooms and bungalows on the 600 feet of white-sand shore. Mukan also offers gastronomy classes like how to cut a coconut, how to make tamales, and tequila tasting sessions!  

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