Recognition for Matava at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2010

Matava has won in the Best in a Marine Environment category at this year’s Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2010 organised by

The Judges said “Matava is a beacon for responsible tourism and an example to other dive sites. They maintain a strong commitment to both the conservation of the marine environment and the development of the local Fijian community. All staff and dive guides are from local villages, they have signed an agreement with local villages designating 3 established marine reserves as 100% no-take zones, across large geographic areas, and even succeeded in assisted in getting marine conservation on to the Fijian National Curriculum.”

At a ceremony hosted at World Travel Market (WTM), Docklands, London, on Wednesday 10th November, the Awards were handed out by Justin Francis, managing director of, organisers and founders of the Awards, and Amanda Wills, managing director of Virgin Holidays, headline sponsor of the Awards.

Justin Francis, founder of The Responsible Tourism Awards and managing director,, organisers of the Awards said:

“This year I have been heartened by the depth of commitment and connection our winners have shown to the local communities in their destinations. Their successes and pioneering spirits are remarkable and the very real and authentic experiences they have created, set responsible tourism apart. They also remind us that holidays can be both luxurious for visitor and enhancing for local people – helping build schools, water pumps, clinics and conserving cultural and natural heritage.”

For more information about Matava: Matava

5th Responsible Tourism Award Winners including our own Sarinbuana Ecolodge in Bali

Singapore, October 21, 2010 – Wild Asia announces the winners for the 5th Responsible Tourism Awards 2010 from Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka at ITB Asia.
After months of short-listing the finalists and making site visits to the final six properties and tour operators, Wild Asia’s judging panel has finally selected its 2010 RT Awards winners.
Operators such as Heritance Kandalama (Sri Lanka), Sarinbuana Ecolodge (Indonesia), and Andaman Discoveries (Thailand) have surpassed judges’ expectations by scoring high against the Awards checklist and are this year’s award winners for the following categories of accommodation operators respectively – large; mid-sized to small; and tour operators.
Now in their fifth year, the Awards are part of Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative to promote sustainable practices through tourism. With one billion tourists expected to hit the road by 2010, the tourism industry’s impact on environment and communities throughout the world is immense. This is where the RT Awards come in. The Awards showcase exemplary resorts, hotels and tour operator ventures that are committed to sustainable practices.
“The purpose of the Awards is not to give out ‘gold stars’ to candidates each year. Our intent is to share the best practices of responsible operators to a broader audience and seek out new operators engaging in innovative programmes,” says Dr Reza Azmi, Wild Asia founder and director.
This year’s awards attracted a larger and more diverse number of participants spanning all across the Asian region, from places such as India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, all the way to China, Philippines, and even Irian Jaya in Indonesia.
“We received a selection of high quality checklists and this proves to show that the network and awareness of RT is building up. Travel operators from around the region are truly striving to make a difference for a better and greener future,” says Deborah Chan, Wild Asia’s Programme Manager.
Every year the WA judging panel reviews submitted checklists (based on the UNWTO Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria) from operators throughout Asia. Two finalists for each category are shortlisted based on some of the following criteria:
• Sense of place – whether tourists understand their destinations in terms of the cultural
and ecological context better through the operators’ efforts.
• Sustainability – whether these RT efforts are long-term.
• Involvement of guests – how much does the operators involve their guests in their RT practices?
• Internalisation – how much is sustainability part of the day-to-day operations?
• Reach – how far are these ideas and practices shared across the destination or even the
• Continual Improvement – how do the operators strive to improve their RT efforts?

Understanding and internalising the essence of responsible tourism, these operators are catalysts for positive change within their sphere of influence, inspiring others to embark on the green journey while at the same time, still affording customers with the memorable holiday experience the travel for in the first place.
Mr. Jeevaka Weerakone, general manager of Heritance Kandalama noted that “it is a great honour to receive the Awards and will continually raise the game in making Heritance Kandalama an example in Sri Lanka and to the world, at the same time a learning center for responsible tourism.”
Norm vant Hoff, owner of Sarinbuana Ecolodge, the winner of the small to mid-sized to small accommodation category expressed that, “winning the Awards has helped us increase our profile thereby bringing in more conscious travelers and increasing revenue streams for the local community.” Wild Asia would like to congratulate winners and finalists for their commendable efforts and commitment in achieving high standards of environmental protection and social responsibility that form the critical pillars of their business philosophy.
Wild Asia’s 2010 Responsible Tourism Awards Winners:
Heritance Kandalama, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Heritance Kandalama has a unique architectural design which blends the hotel into the natural surroundings and maximizes natural light in order to reduce energy use. The entire hotel is built on a raised platform allowing water to flow under the hotel.
It also allows the free flow of wildlife under the hotel, leaving minimum impact on the eco system.
Situated in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle’s heartland, Heritance Kandalama is flanked by two UNESCO world heritage sites – the 1st Century BC Dambulla Cave Temple and the 5th Century AD Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel is surrounded by rocky outcrops, lush forests, and overlooks the glistening Kandalama Tank. This sanctuary is teeming with biodiversity and wildlife.
For avid bird lovers and take morning walks for bird watching or visit an ancient village, Puranagama to have lunch with the locals and experience authentic village life. For more exquisite taste to your palettes, try traditional Sri Lankan dining in a cave or at an organic farm.
Sarinbuana Ecolodge, Bali, Indonesia.
Nestled in the rainforest of Mount Batukaru, in the northwest region of Bali, Sarinbuana Ecolodge offers a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist track, and a refreshing experience that most people do not feel when visiting this island. Sarinbuana Ecolodge, which was started ten years ago, is run by Linda and Norm vant Hoff and their extended Balinese family. The eco lodge demonstrates a clear and committed practice of responsible tourism in every aspect of its operation.

Although a small lodge, with only 4 villas, Sarinbuana Ecolodge has had an enormous positive impact on the local village. Since the arrival to the Sarinbuana village, the vant Hoff family has dedicated themselves to improving local livelihoods, establishing a good relationship with the community, and learning the local language and culture in order to truly integrate with the local community.
At Sarinbuana Ecolodge, one can embrace the cool mountain breezes, lush tropical rainforests, rich Balinese culture, and appreciate life at its purest. The eco lodge operates in a truly holistic manner, exemplifies sustainability environmentally, economically and socially, and provides comfortable and pristine surroundings for true peace of mind.
Andaman Discoveries, Phang Nga, Thailand
Andaman Discoveries (AD) previously known as North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR) stemmed from tsunami relief pioneered by Bodhi Garrett to serve communities he had lived with and respected. After the initial rebuilding of homes through community driven tsunami relief, it soon progressed into long-term post tsunami development programs. Participatory workshops and community meetings sparked the idea of potential tourism as a means of economic renewal. Villagers wanted to welcome tourists in a way that will not bring negative and harmful impacts like that of mass tourism.
The idea was to maximize and utilize local knowledge and local people as a means of tourism.
Villagers return empowered to set up home-stays and design a holiday experience for guests.
Now, guests can choose from six villages to stay in – mostly fishermen communities.
Accommodation is simple and clean often with a fan, mattress and mosquito net for a good night rest. Guests are assigned to different host families whom they will spend their time with. Often times, guests leave with great memories of relationships being made. Some even stay to volunteer.
Wild Asia’s 2010 Responsible Tourism Award finalists:
• Large Accommodation Operators
Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa, Malaysia
• Mid-sized to Small Accommodation Operators
Soneva Gili, Maldives
• Tour Operators
Pepy Tours, Cambodia
For more information:
About Wild Asia, the RT Awards and Responsible Tourism or for high resolution photos of the
winners contact: or visit
Also, check out our blog at
TEL: +60 3 4251 4518
EMAIL: ????

I’m off to Dominica on Sept. 8, 2010

It’s not enough that I list eco lodges anymore. It’s time that I went and actually helped run one. With that in mind, my friend Jem Winston of Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge has invited me for a 3 month stay that may well work into a more permanent move. Needless to say, being at an eco lodge with alternative energy sources I may not have power at all times so please bear with me if I don’t get back to you right away.
Lise Tyrrell
Eco Tropical Resorts

Grand opening of Hacienda Puerta del Cielo Eco Lodge and Spa in Nicaragua

Earlier this year, Juan Carlos Espinosa, a Nicaraguan Architect and Yacht Designer, held the grand opening for Hacienda Puerta del Cielo, an eco-lodge he designed and had built in Nicaragua. It was originally intended as a second home for him and his family – “family is first, then work,” referring to his wife and two grown children.

He changed his mind shortly after purchasing the land. “I thought, why don’t I share this with everybody?” With “nobody around for miles”, Hacienda Puerta del Cielo Eco lodge and Spa, whose name loosely means ‘Doorway to Heaven,’ has vistas of a volcano high above and a lake below. “It’s on the edge of a precipice, it’s just outrageous,” he says.

He designed the lodge so that the guests are in the outdoor environment almost all the time. It’s a concept that he’d like to introduce more into his yacht designs, too.

To have a look at Espinosa’s results on his quest for designing the perfect luxury eco lodge, visit the Hacienda’s web site at  The website may be down.

Rainforest & Reef Vacation Sweepstakes

The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize’s award-winning luxury eco-lodge in the jungles of Central America is offering all inclusive vacation packages to the lucky winners of its Rainforest & Reef Vacation Sweepstakes.

These fun-filled holidays of a life-time are being provided to friends & families who would like to enjoy an exceptional and exciting potpourri of specialized Maya Temple Exploration and Reef Snorkeling tours free of charge.

Since 1981 Chaa Creek has provided unique adventure travel experiences for thousands of travellers looking for an in-depth yet very civilised Belizean experience, with a focus on our unique and vibrant ecology, culture, natural history and rich Maya civilisation and archaeology.

To enter the Rainforest & Reef Vacation Sweepstakes, you must follow Chaa Creek on twitter or facebook and submit an essay (minimum of 300 words) explaining why you would want to vacation in Belize and at The Lodge at Chaa Creek.

The essay must be submitted via email to and will be published anonymously on the Chaa Creek Travel Blog.

The Rainforest & Reef Vacation Sweepstakes closes on October 2nd 2010. All qualified entries will be placed in the drawing barrel and the winning tickets for the four prizes will be drawn and monitored by the Board of Directors of Chaa Creek Limited in the Cayo District of Belize.

Winning vacation packages accommodate two persons and are inclusive of the following:

Round trip transfers from International Airport or Belize City
A visit to the Belize Zoo with transfer on arrival or departure
Four Nights CottageAccommodation
Full breakfast, lunch and dinner
Guided visits to our Natural History Museum, Butterfly Farm, and Belize RainforestMedicinal Trail
Canoeing on the Macal River
Guided Early Morning Bird Watching
One Full & Half Day Tour to Belize’s Maya Temple Sites, Sacred Caves, or Nature Reserves
Snorkeling tour to Belize’s magnificent barrier reef off South Water caye
This All Inclusive Vacation Package has a value of US$3479.00

Four prizes will be given away which are as follows:

First Prize – Complimentary

Second Prize – 50% Discount

Third Prize – 40% Discount

Fourth Prize – 30% Discount

For more information about the Rainforest & Reef Vacation Sweepstakes, contact the property at 877-709-8708, or visit the web site at

Disclaimer: Please note that vacation prizes are non-transferrable and cannot be used for existing reservations. The following are Not included in this package.
Optional tips to drivers and guides
Visa and border crossing fees
Park entrance and park guide fees
Alcoholic drinks, sodas and juices
The Lodge at Chaa Creek

Sustainable Water Workshops at El Jardin Eco Lodge in Mexico

Tropical WaterFeatures/Landscaping
Gray water Irrigation
Presented at El Jardin –Yelapa, Mexico
October 21-26, 2010
Price for workshops: $225.00 for 6 days
Lodging for workshop participants: $225.00 includes breakfast and lunch
Please call or email to register :
Yelapa phone 209 5284
US phone 831 535 3059

Water Feature/Landscaping
Workshop focuses on design, installation, and maintenance of residential water features. Learn basic water feature design with hands-on instruction. This workshop will include start to finish design and installation of stepped pools and pond. Combined water feature design with landscaping ideas for water plants and areas surrounding a feature. Water used for the fountain will be from a rainwater harvesting system.

Gray Water Landscape Irrigation
Learn the basics of utilizing the water that is so oftened misused, mishandled or allowed to runoff into waterways, further polluting our oceans and streams. We will be exploring ways of turning waste water into a valuable and ecological resource, with hands– on instruction and installation of a laundry and shower graywater irrigation system. Read more

Matava Foundation and Hydroports Dive Centre partner to provide dental care to remote villagers in Kadavu

KADAVU, FIJI ISLANDS – 28 July 2010 – In June 2010, Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort, through the Matava Foundation, partnered with HydroSports Dive & Travel to bring a Dental Mission from USA to provide dental treatment for the children and people of Kadavu Koro village.

The initial idea was Mark Fischer, owner of HydroSports Dive & Travel in Oregon, USA.

“Returning from a recent Fiji trip I decided to pioneer a Dental Mission. I partnered with Coach Ramey Stroud, a Mill City diver, and Stuart Gow, Director of the Matava Eco-Resort on the island of Kadavu. Together we identified dates for our trip, solicited the cooperation of Air Pacific, the national airline of Fiji, the Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association and the Fiji Ministry of Health. Salem Hospital generously shared information about our trip with their staff.” Mark said.

“This project was an excellent opportunity to achieve long term goals of Matava in regards to assisting the children and people of Kadavu” said Matava Director, Mr Stuart Gow. “It was a natural fit for us, and we have found much common ground in our activities with those of Mark and Hydrosports”.

“Through the Matava Foundation we assist the people of Kadavu in many ways, and concentrate on community assistance .” he continued. “The Matava Foundation is driven by Matava Resort owner’s passion for the Fiji Islands and the communities which live here. The Foundation makes social investments that help the people of Fiji to have fuller lives by sharing the benefits of sustainable development, protecting the natural environment and supporting the local communities in which Matava’s customers, employees, investors and suppliers live”

Mr Fischer continued, “I traveled with Dr. Mike and Mrs. Carrie Litchfield and Dr. Sean Hanson of Salem and Jim and Gina Jepsen from Ione, Oregon. Dave Beard from Tasmania met us at Matava and joined our team. Air Pacific allowed us each to bring an extra 50 pounds of medical gear. Mike and Sean had received hundreds of toothbrushes, toothpaste samples and dental supplies from their suppliers. Mike brought a portable dental station as well.”

“During the week the Dental Mission had the opportunity to serve nearly 200 villagers from Kadavu Koro. Carrie taught 75 children how to brush their teeth. Numerous rotted, damaged and decayed teeth were removed, mostly from adults, a few from children.” continued Mr Gow.

For more information about the resort: Matava

Go Green Belize An Eco-Package for Responsible Travelers

Travel, when conducted mindfully can be a powerful tool for positive change, inspiring awareness of environmental responsibility and social commitment.

By choosing responsible travel, you can have the fabulous vacation that you’ve dreamed of, while ensuring that the money you spend at your destination is benefiting the environment and the local people.

What is Responsible Travel?

Responsible travel is travel with a purpose. When choosing destinations, accommodations, and tour operators, consider which ones work to protect the environment and assist the local communities who inhabit it.

Who travels responsibly? Anyone can be a responsible traveler. You can get back to nature, or bathe in luxury… hike into the rainforest, or explore the city… stay close to home, or travel to the exotic location of your dreams.

Making informed choices before and during your trip is the single most important thing you can do to become a responsible traveler. With a little planning, you can improve the quality of your trip, while making a real difference to the people and places you visit.

Giving Back to Conservation & Communities

Through our new ? Go Green Belize? package The Lodge at Chaa Creek is continuing its longstanding commitment to the wise use and preservation of Belize?s magnificent natural resources and to the support and advancement of the Belizean people, their communities, and social projects.

Chaa Creek is now offering our guests the opportunity to get involved and help make a difference. We are encouraging our guests to enrich their travel experience by giving back to the well-being of the local communities that they visit.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is inviting all responsible travelers to take advantage of our new responsible tourism ?Go Green Belize? package. The All Inclusive Green Vacation package offers discerning guests itineraries that focus on local culture, environmental conservation, sustainable development, traditional healing, the ancient Maya, and social and environmental stewardship.
3 Nights lodging in beautifully appointed luxury cottage accommodations traditionally constructed by local artisans utilizing indigenous hardwoods.
All meals with daily special recipes featuring the seven Belizean ethnic groups, Maya, Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, East Indian, Chinese and Mennonite.
A guided tour of our organic Maya farm where freshly harvested fruits and vegetables are grown for our varied regional and European menu.
Hiking on well maintained trails along our Ruta Maya Trail System where our professionally trained naturalist guides will offer environmental interpretation of the surrounding tropical forest and its plants and animals.
A guided tour of the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre where visitors receive a comprehensive introduction to the natural history, geography and cultures of Belize.
A guided tour of the Chaa Creek Butterfly Farm focuses on the life cycle and miraculous transformation of the magnificent Blue Morpho butterfly.
A guided interpretive tour of our Rainforest Medicine Trail which showcases traditional Maya folk remedies that are extracted from the plants of the surrounding tropical forest.
Early Morning Bird Walk with one of our Naturalist Guides within Chaa Creek?s 365 acre nature reserve where over 308 species of birds have been documented.
Guided horseback riding within our Ruta Maya Trail System where your naturalist guide will highlight the various unique plants and wildlife species native to the reserve.
Canoeing along the Macal River that is home to numerous species of tropical birds as well as giant Green Iguanas.
Presentation on responsible and sustainable tourism that outlines Chaa Creek’s commitment to the fundamental principles of ecotourism.


Share a Pound Program. We encourage our guests to share one pound of their luggage space for materials (pens, pencils, etc.) to be donated to a local school or pet care supplies to be donated to the Humane Society. Guests can also financially sponsor school books for a school child.

We also encourage guests to take advantage of our Carbon Offset program on our website to reduce their carbon footprint while traveling.

Sustainable tourism must be firmly rooted within the local community and must provide true and lasting benefit to all. This is the fundamental philosophy behind Chaa Creeks commitment to community development and sustainable tourism since its inception as Belize’s first jungle lodge in 1981. We recognize full well that it is the local hard working Belizeans who breathe the life into our tourism product and form the heart of the Chaa Creek experience.

Book now at The Lodge at Chaa Creek for dates between April 13-16, April 26-30, May 1-30 and June 1-30 and get 15% Discount on this Belize Ecotourism Package.

Matava is the First Resort to achieve “Shark Safe Certification”

Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort and The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education take a leading role in the world with a major shark conservation initiative in the resort and tourism community.

KADAVU, FIJI ISLANDS – 14 April 2010 – Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco-Adventure Resort is proud to take a world wide leading role in the the international Shark Safe Certification program by becoming the first resort to be certified Shark Safe.

Shark Safe certification program

The mission of the Shark Safe certification program is to protect oceanic ecosystems by encouraging practices that do not negatively impact shark populations. By increasing public awareness of the need for shark conservation, we endeavor to change the way people think about sharks, thereby reducing the sale, use, and trade of shark products.

The Shark Safe certification program uses an easily recognizable logo to endorse restaurants and select businesses that distinguish themselves through their manifest dedication to shark conservation. Establishments earning Shark Safe status may proudly display the logo to attract customers. The logo also serves to engage dialogue from patrons, thereby further promoting awareness of shark and ocean conservation.

Matava Director Stuart Gow said “We have worked hard over the past few years to ensure that all the food, not just the fish, within our resturant ‘The Terrace’ here at Matava are sustainable and natural”

“Matava, and our on site fishing charters Bite Me Gamefishing Charters, are the first in Fiji to sign up and be awarded certification. We are now actively promoting, coordinating and distributing information about the Shark Safe certification program around Fiji.” he continued.

Goals of the Shark Safe certification program:

Increase public awareness of the need for shark conservation.
Reduce the sale, use, and trade of shark products. Shark Safe certification is designed to give discerning customers confidence that their choices help protect sharks.
Restaurants and businesses recognized as Shark Safe have met scientific criteria and stringent guidelines, and they are awarded the authorization to display the Shark Safe logo. The logo and its associated recognition and prestige will help attract customers to the business.

Since sharks are universally recognizable and tend to attract attention, customers and passers-by not already familiar with the program will still be drawn to the displayed logo and will be inquisitive. Participating establishments can provide literature about the Shark Safe program, explain the basic premises, and direct people to the website.

To learn more about Matava, please visit: Matava

Balamku Inn on the Beach receives Award for Green Hotel

Balamku Inn on the Beach in Mexico in has been nominated for a Leading Green Hotel award. They received the below from World Travel Awards:

It is a pleasure to inform you of your company’s nomination in the 17th Annual World Travel Awards, in the following category (categories):
Mexico & Central America’s Leading Green Hotel: Balamku Inn on the Beach, Mexico
Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the “Travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscar’s”, the World Travel Awards are the most comprehensive and most prestigious awards programme in the global travel industry. World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the world’s travel and tourism industry. With thousands of votes cast by travel professionals from 183,000 travel agencies in over 160 countries across the globe, winning a World Travel Award has become one of the highest accolades a travel product can receive.
All the nominations can now be viewed on our website at

For more information about Balamku go to: Balamku Inn on the Beach