Travel + Leisure (USA)
MONGOLIA RIVER OUTFITTERS + FISH MONGOLIA
Taimen, the largest members of the salmon family, can grow to six feet and more than
200 pounds, fattened by a diet of whitefish, grayling, and even beavers and gophers. But numbers have shrunk drastically as their home waters—which once ranged from the Danube Basin to the Pacific—have been increasingly polluted and dammed. Today, two of their only sanctuaries can be found in Mongolia. The first, founded in 2008, is on the Onon River in the country’s northeast; the other came five years later on the Delger, in the north. Both are managed by Mongolia River Outfitters and Fish Mongolia, subsidiaries of tour operator Nomadic Journeys that focus on fly-fishing. Only catchand-release is allowed—and only with permits, limited by the government to 100 per river per year. Dozens of jobs have been created, with former poachers being hired as guides. Some
600 miles of river have been protected, helping to both stabilize taimen populations and to grow hope for their future. mongoliarivers. com; fishmongolia. com. — J.C.
While many modern explorers are preoccupied with the race to space, Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the great marine conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is busy probing the deepest fathoms of our own planet.
After all, says the record-holding diver, “the oceans are indispensable to solving earth’s biggest problems.”
Working with designer Yves Béhar, Cousteau has drawn up plans for Proteus, a state-of-theart research center that, upon completion, will be capable of housing up to 12 aquanauts for weeks at a time. Designed to reside at 60 feet below sea level, off the coast of biodiverse Curaçao, the 4,000-square-foot facility will allow experts to discover new species, develop emergent theories, and gain an unprecedented knowledge about the effects humans have on these habitats.
Cousteau predicts that Proteus’s research will benefit all of earth’s creatures. “The knowledge that we uncover underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above,” he says. — H.M.
In 2013, chef Rodrigo Pacheco and entrepreneur Dayra Reyes took over an abandoned green-pepper farm on the coast of Ecuador and began restoring the degraded land. They called it Bocavaldivia: an 80-acre experiment that now includes a renowned restaurant that draws from the surrounding “edible forest”; Tanusas, a small luxury hotel recently reopened after extensive renovations; a cluster of new villa residences; and a research center that integrates science and sustainable development.
An eight-hour drive southwest of the capital, the reserve covers four distinct types of ecosystem: marine, transitional shoreline, dry tropical rain forest, and cloud forest. Nearly all of what Pacheco serves is foraged, grown, or fished there, from the pineapple and pumpkin to the snapper and sea urchin. Seafood or produce might be slowly smoked using different woods, a technique he learned from the area’s Indigenous people.
“Many of these products I had been using in France,” says Pacheco, a graduate of the Institut Paul Bocuse, in Lyon. “When I started investigating my own land, I realized: We are the origins. There is so much wisdom here. Yet we haven’t been recognized for it—and we haven’t recognized it.” The team has just opened a second restaurant, Foresta, in Quito. bocavaldivia. earth. — J.C.
Centered around what has long been regarded as the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-Élysées is today dismissed by many Parisians as a traffic-plagued tourist attraction.
To save it, last year the city announced an ambitious $300 million transformation, to be overseen by architect Philippe Chiambaretta and his PCAStream design firm. The project, says Chiambaretta, is less about designing buildings and more about designing experiences. “It’s reprogramming a new and healthier way of living in and engaging with a city,” he explains. “That’s the key to the urban planning of the future.” A big piece will be drastically reducing the number of cars and replacing trafficclogged roads with greenery for art exhibitions and outdoor dining. Other areas will be converted to pedestrian zones and bike lanes, as well as new retail spaces for local businesses.
Chiambaretta hopes the renovations, which will be completed in phases over the next eight years, will not only entice Parisians to return to their beloved avenue but also serve as a model for cities around the world.
One of the world’s largest casinohotel groups is betting big on the future. The company’s first push for the environment came when construction began on a 160acre solar farm at Wynn Las Vegas. Since its completion in 2018, it has helped reduce the Strip hotel’s carbon footprint by 20 percent.
But what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas: Wynn expanded its sustainability efforts to all of its properties, from the Encore Boston Harbor—which gets energy from a rooftop solar array and fourmegawatt batteries— to the Wynn Macau, where restaurant kitchens have cut 70 percent of food waste since 2019.
The brand has set the goals of reaching netzero carbon emissions across its portfolio by 2050 and switching 50 percent of its energy use to renewables by 2030.
Such longterm goals are the responsibility of any truly great company, notes CEO Matt Maddox. “We may not live to see the impact ourselves,” he adds, “but this is what the future demands of us.” wynnresorts. com. H.M.
Five years ago, the government of the south Indian state of Kerala unveiled a groundbreaking new agency. Its charge: to use tourism as a platform to eradicate poverty, empower women, and safeguard the environment. Its philosophy? “Making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.”
Since then, the Responsible Tourism Mission has carefully mapped the state, identifying communities with rich but overlooked cultural expertise. A new database connects artists and performers with players in the tourism industry. Farmers are trained to host visitors on their land. And new itineraries highlight (and produce new income streams for) artisans.
These include visits to ceramists in the hamlet of Nellarachal and metalworkers in Kunhimangalam—a town long known for its handcrafted bells and Hindu idols.
RT Mission also has environmental initiatives—cleaning waterways, for example, and implementing more efficient waste-management practices—in nearly two dozen communities, from the Arabian
Sea village of Mararikulam in the west to Thekkady, on Kerala’s eastern border, which abuts a sanctuary for elephants and Bengal tigers. keralatourism. org. — J.C.
first carbonneutral buildings, sequestering carbon and running entirely on renewable resources. The structure also happens to be beautiful. Interiors are a vision of minimalist hygge, with a striking timberlined theater, museum, library, and conference center, plus the 205room Wood Hotel, which has three restaurants and a spa.
“Sara stands as a showcase, leading the way in the transition to carbonneutral construction,” says Robert Schmitz, a partner at White Arkitekter. “It shows that it is possible, and economically viable, to build sustainably with timber.” sarakulturhus.se.
Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmström Shivdasani put the Maldives on the traveler’s map in 1995 when they opened the Indian Ocean archipelago’s first luxury resort, Soneva Fushi, in the Baa Atoll. Now the couple, who currently operate four properties under the Soneva Resorts banner, are tackling the far greater task of saving the country from rising sea levels.
In response to dire warnings from climatologists, they have established
SCIE:NCE, short for Sustainability and Conservation for Island Ecosystems through Nurturing Collaborative Endeavors. Led by Dutch biologist Dr. Bart Knols, the group is at the forefront of coral propagation, using 3D printers at its Soneva Fushi lab to restore and regrow damaged reefs. The center’s scientists are also enacting solutions to other pressing environmental issues, such as eradicating invasive mosquitoes, banning singleuse plastics, and recycling wastewater.
All breakthroughs and resulting programs are shared with the Maldives’ other resorts and islands in an effort to create widespread change at a time when, Knols says, there is no alternative. “The impacts of climate change hit us in the face faster and more dramatically than we could have envisioned,” he says. “I don’t need to provide more reasons for doing what we do. We have no choice.” soneva.com. H.M.