Take a Walk on the Wild Side
How resorts use nature to give guests an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
In the age of experience-hungry travelers, resorts are looking for ways to give themselves a competitive edge in their offerings that go beyond amenities. According to the 2016 Luxe Report by Virtuoso®, a network of luxury travel agencies, unique experiences are one of the top motivators among travelers—beating out rest and relaxation. Resorts are taking note and using their immediate location to draw in guests. One of the best ways to do this is to connect them to nature.
To engage guests, consider offering activities and excursions they can’t necessarily find on their own, such as exclusive guided landscape tours and opportunities to see and interact with rare animals that inhabit a destination. Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, in Sabah, Malaysia, collaborated with the State Wildlife Department in Sabah to turn part of its property into a nature reserve to conserve the flora and fauna native to the area. “Rasa Ria Resort is surrounded by the beach and jungle and thus is an ideal location for a nature program,” says Regina Sulit, director of communications at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa.
The resort’s nature ambassador spearheads all educational and adventure hikes in the 64-acre forested area; these excursions include a nocturnal night-vision trek, during which guests can travel through the reserve after dark, and the Sandakan Orangutan Day Trip, during which a guide leads hikers to see orangutans in the wild. “The treks around the reserve have been specially designed to show guests how the ancient native people of Sabah navigated their way through the jungle by following animal tracks,” Sulit says.
In Florida, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, on Amelia Island, has a nature center that rehabilitates and rehouses rescued animals such as parrots and turtles. Guests can observe and interact with the creatures during designated hours. Activities also include a guided kayaking tour through the island’s marshes at sunrise and Shark Tooth Hunt, on which kids learn about different shark species and comb the beach for shark teeth they can take home. The kayak tour has drawn 1,250 guests this year, and nearly 500 have participated in the Shark Tooth Hunt.
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