A Q&A With Plastiki Adventurer David de Rothschild On The WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign

Three years ago, adventurer, entrepreneur and activist David de Rothschild sailed from San Francisco to Sydney on a catamaran made of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles.

His goal with the Plastiki project was to bring awareness to environmental issues like global warming and plastic pollution, and he has continued to stay active in the environmental movement. Most recently, de Rothschild signed on as an advisor to WHOLE WORLD Water, a three-year campaign that aims to unite the hospitality and tourism industry to combat global clean water issues.

Launched on March 22 to coincide with World Water Day, WHOLE WORLD Water uses a social enterprise model to generate funds for the clean water movement. The process of signing on is relatively simple. First, hotels and restaurants sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign for a nominal per-property fee. Then, they use the suggested Vivreau water filtration system to filter, bottle and sell their own water to guests. Finally, they donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water fund, which benefits safe, sustainable clean water projects in the places that need it most.

Founders Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig estimate that if the world’s three largest hotel groups joined the campaign and sold just one bottle of water per day, the campaign could raise up to $1 billion for its mission, while contributing up to 25 percent toward the company’s bottom line. The campaign has already signed on a number of well-known hotel groups, including Virgin, Dusit and Banyan Tree, along with a number of restaurants, nightclubs and Ritz Carlton properties. Advisors include high-profile names like Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, designer Yves Behar, actor and filmmaker Edward Norton and de Rothschild.

In an email exchange, de Rothschild shared with Gadling what sailing the Plastiki taught him about the world’s water supply, why he decided to sign onto the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign and what travelers can do to get on board.

What did sailing the Plastiki teach you about the world’s water supply?

What the Plastiki taught me is sometimes it’s just as important to unlearn as it is to learn. We had to unlearn that it wasn’t all plastic that was the issue, but rather dumb uses of the material. And more importantly it was about redefining the story we tell ourselves about the value of the material – moving it away from valueless to valuable. That in turn will then have an influence over how we use and reuse. I believe the same applies to water issues; we all have to start to leave behind the concept that we have an endless supply of water, if we are to have any chance of creating a future.

Why did you decide to sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

I can’t see any reason not to! I have been working for a while now to ban plastic straws across the world of hospitality so this seems like an easy and logical extension.

Why tackle hospitality of all industries?

Has to be a whole system approach to have an impact!

What will the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign achieve that other water campaigns haven’t?

That’s yet to be seen, but I have no doubt with such a great team behind the campaign it will produce something positive!

What can travelers do to support the efforts of the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

Just say no to plastic water bottles! And encourage establishments that you come into contact with who haven’t engaged to sign up!

[Photo Credit: WHOLE WORLD Water]

Maldives reverses spa ban

maldives spa banJust days after a blanket ban on spa services in the Maldives was announced, the country’s President announced that services will be made available to tourists.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said he expects the court to rule that the law is unconstitutional. “We have lifted the ban and all the services will be available for tourists,” President Nasheed told Reuters today.

The ban, described as “essentially a political standoff between the Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and the opposition Adhaalath Party” by Hotels Magazine is partially in response to a protest organized in December by Adhaalath advocating for stricter enforcement of Islamic law in this relatively liberal Muslim country. The ban also included alcohol and pork.

For the most part, hotels ignored the ban, including Banyan Tree and Four Seasons.

“Several have raised concerns over our decision,” tourism minister Mariyam Zulfa told the press. “We are considering allowing resorts to operate spas.”

This is great news for the hotel industry in the area – so rest safely, Maldives visitors… you can now get your massages without worry. You just might have to forego the bacon and martini sides.

Image via Four Seasons Hotels.

Ten great hotel bars to see and be “scene”

hotel bars - Banyan Tree ShanghaiCraving insider access to the latest celeb hot spots? We’ve got the skinny on the latest “it” venues brimming with notables, views to die for and parties you just can’t miss. With venues such as these we advise you to tread carefully, for your name may be the next to end up splattered across the front page of Page Six… don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Thompson Toronto
Bringing guests one step closer to living the life of a rock-star, the recently opened Thompson Toronto has quickly become a local hot spot boasting a chic private rooftop lounge where VIP’s can sip signature Hot Toddies while taking in views of the Toronto skyline. We hear the 102-room hotel has played host to celebs such as James Franco, the Kardashians and Usher along with many more. With trendy signature restaurants including famed Chef Scott Conant’s, Scarpetta and the hot late-night staple, The Counter, Thompson Toronto is rating Extra Hot on the “Ultimate Hang Out” meter.

The Waikiki EDITION
Discreet entrances and uninhibited dancing are just a few reasons why Crazybox at the Waikiki EDITION is one of the hottest new venues around. The hot, new nightlife favorite has an exclusive VIP section with its own private entrance that is elevated above the dance floor positioning notables such as Christina Aguilera, Bruno Mars and Woody Harrelson into the center of the action, while still maintaining their privacy. For party goers who prefer the daytime scene check-out the hotel’s Sunrise pool, where the luxury set are seen sipping Mai-Tai’s and enjoying poolside spa treatments or canoodling on private day beds.

The PuLi Hotel and Spa
Pink Champagne flows freely in Shanghai’s The PuLi Hotel and Spa. The PuLi is home to a scene of its own featuring Shanghai’s “longest” wine and champagne selections by the glass. The hotel’s Long Baris usually a buzz with in-the-know locals and glitteratti alike, sipping favorites from the menu and taking in the breathtaking views from JingAn Park. Frequent movers-and-shakers include high-rollers from LVMH and The Gucci Group along with famed designer Giorgio Armani. The bars atmosphere uniquely transforms in character and mood throughout the day creating chameleon-like experiences patrons can call their own.

Hotel Cipriani

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go,” said Truman Capote, the famous author and comedian. Travelers looking for such a sweet retreat can opt for Hotel Cipriani, located on the secluded lagoon island of Guidecca in Venice. The world-renowned Orient-Express property regularly hosts such celebrities as George Clooney. Guests can even enjoy a cocktail that is inspired by the “sexiest man alive” – the “Buona Notte” – honoring the premier of “Good Night, Good Luck” at the 62nd Venice Film Festival. Boasting a panoramic view of St Mark’s Square, the waterfront Cip’s Club is an idyllic spot for those looking for a dazzling view while being seen amidst affluent travelers.

InterContinental London Park Lane
As the city – and world – prepares for this generation’s historic Royal Wedding, InterContinental London Park Lane announces the launch of a brand new bar, fittingly called The Arch Bar. Offering sweeping views of the outside gardens and parks as well as the iconic Wellington Arch, The Arch Bar is largely gin-focused, with a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients and complete with its own botanical apothecary. A wide spectrum of the highest quality spirits are available – as well as a number of virtually undiscovered artisan London producers – including 25 different gins. Favoured by notable guests during the whirlwind periods of London Fashion Week and the Frieze Art Fair, the hotel’s bar plays host to royals, key designers and artists alike, with highlights from the cocktail list including Mother’s Ruin made with Six o’Clock Gin; Tuppence Duty, a mix of champagne, fresh lemon and Fifty Pound Gin; and Ernest Roots – a new take on the classic Hemingway Daiquiri.

Mount Nelson Hotel
Mount Nelson Hotel is proud to announce the newly opened Planet Restaurant. Reflecting the hotel’s popular, celebrity-studded Planet Bar, the glamorously restyled restaurant underwent a stellar four month face-lift and now features a celestial chic design with Swarovski crystal tiles, deep blue carpet featuring the constellations and chandeliers emulating the illusion of shooting stars. Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s legendary springbok pie and tomato variation dishes are still featured on the menu, as well as a daily soufflé and indulgent degustation menus for all. Star Gazer Alert: We hear that A-listers such as Kate Moss and Prince Harry have been spotted sipping cocktails at this newly opened hot spot.

The Surrey Hotel
Be seen at The Surrey hotel located on Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side neighborhood and just a half block from Central Park. Step inside the hotel’s Bar Pleiades after a long day of shopping on Madison Avenue to join the scene or simply people watch over a seasonal mixed cocktail. Designer Lauren Rottet’s vision for the bar as a “stage” has come to life as The Surrey has become the newest Upper East Side haunt of mover-and-shaker neighborhood residents and the socialite crowd. During the warmer months, hotel guests can relax on the rooftop garden terrace which offers a true urban oasis with unbeatable views of the city and nearby Central Park.

W- Washington DC
Even the President knows where the celebs in DC go to party, at none other than the rooftop POV Lounge at the W Hotel. Overlooking the White House lawn, the former Hotel Washignton has been renovated into a hostpot for Beltway insiders like Valerie Jarrett and Reggie Love as well as celebs including Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Common, John Legend and many, many more. In cool weather, ask for a blanket and cozy up to their warm sips like Hot Peanut Buttered Rum and S’More Whiskey.

Hotel St. Barth Isle de France
Want to vacation like a celebrity? Hang with the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce and Fergie on the hottest island in the Caribbean – St Barth. The exclusive Hotel St. Barth Isle de France welcomes guests to its gorgeous resort positioned on the picturesque Flamands Bay. Situated amidst enchanting tropical gardens and pristine beaches, Isle de France boasts 39 rooms, suites and villas that have become a home away from home for A-listers around the world. Take in the scene at the patio bar, walk the white-sand beach, take a dip in your privateinfinity plunge pool and relax in the beauty of an intimate Caribbean retreat full of classic European charm.

Banyan Tree Bangkok
The place to be seen in Bangkok, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, located on the 61st Floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel, is unique in presenting a different yet aesthetic urban landscape of Bangkok with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Since its opening in January 2002, it has fast become a hot spot for locals and visitors from all parts of the world. With a 100-guest capacity, this open-air rooftop lounge is divided into three sections – a dining courtyard, a private party lounge and the Moon Bar – for a romantic tête-à-tête, birthday celebrations, fashion launches or just to relax under a canopy of stars.

10 new and notable luxe hotels to visit in 2010

Travel took a hit in 2009, but with a new year brings new opportunities. The silver lining of 2009’s travel industry was hotels – rates dropped, and new properties like CityCenter took center stage just as travelers closed out their year-end budgets and found a few extra dollars in the bank.

Analysts have predicted that hotel prices are on the rise in 2010, so the sooner you book the better the savings. Thankfully, the options are endless. New hotels popped up all around the world and some of the most notable were here in the U.S. I’ve highlighted a few of the new and notable North America hotels that opened their doors in 2009 and are worth a visit in 2010.

So, where will you spend your first overnight?

1. Mandarin Boston: The Mandarin Oriental Boston is located in the city’s Back Bay, one block from Newbury Street and within walking distance from Boston’s best restaurants and nightlife. The hotel opened its marble doors and welcomed guests to a feng shui-style wonderland in the fall 2009. For travelers looking for a little zen, don’t miss out on the Mandarin’s signature spa treatments.

2. Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe: The ski-in, ski-out access makes this particular Ritz-Carlton a must-visit in 2010. You can enjoy the outdoor adventure of Lake Tahoe while also indulging in the luxury that accompanies the Ritz-Carlton name.

3. Banyan Tree – Mayakoba: – Banyan Tree’s first North America resort welcomes guests into Asian-meets-Mexican-style villas with outdoor pools, Jacuzzis, and rooftop terraces. After you’re perfectly relaxed, take a riverboat ride through the forest to the white sand beaches, courtesy of the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. (We just got word that the Banyan Tree will be opening its Banyan Tree Cabo Marques in Acapulco in February 2010.)

4. Viceroy Miami: The Viceroy Miami (pictured above) is a feast for the eyes. Located in Biscayne Bay, the hotel features one of the most expansive roof-top infinity pools in Florida, a roof-top bar, full-service kitchens in the rooms and a decadent spa.

5. Intercontinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, Scottsdale: The 35-acre Arizona retreat is built to resemble an Andalusian pueblo blanco. The Intercontinental Montelucia hideaway is made up of four “villages” decorated with fountain-filled courtyards, garden terraces, and landscapes of Camelback Mountain.6. Canyon Ranch – Miami: A staple in Massachusetts and Arizona, the Canyon Ranch moved into Miami in 2009 and is giving other spas a run for their money. Between yoga, fitness and nutritional programs, you can spend a night on South Beach and replenish your soul the next day at the Canyon Ranch Miami.

7. The Standard New York: The glass-and-concrete hotel towers over the Meatpacking District in New York, making The Standard a soon-to-be-recognizable landmark. Inside the hotel are supped-up suites with glass-enclosed showers and walls of windows showcasing the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, and views of Manhattan.

8. The Nines – Portland: The future of green hotels sits in Oregon. The Nines was inspired by Ralph Pucci and Tiffany decor, and received its LEED Silver certification, making it one of the greenest luxury hotels in the nation.

9. Hard Rock HTH Las Vegas: The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas debuted its 374-suite tower with rock-star amenities, including in-room juke box systems, leather sleigh bed and black out drapes. Guests looking for a truly unique experience can rent one of the penthouse suites, complete with virtual women and virtual gaming.

10. ARIA- Las Vegas CityCenter: Sin City hit a new level when CityCenter opened its doors to guests earlier this year. The focal point is the 4,004-room ARIA Hotel & Resort, which features a a spa, 16 restaurants, 10 bars, three pools (including one adults-only pool) and entertainment featuring Viva ELVIS™ by Cirque du Soleil.

Hotels to watch for in 2010:

Fashion 26 – a Wyndham Hotel: Located on West 26th Street and steps away from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Fashion 26 is garnering major buzz from New York city-goers eager to get a glimpse of the fashionable digs. Rumors have the hotel opening in March 2010.

Hard Rock Punta Cana: The Hard Rock Hotel is going all-in with the Moon Palace Resort and opening its first all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana in spring 2010. The resort will have 1,800 guest rooms, a 48,000 square foot casino with 40 table games, eleven swimming pools, a kids’ pool and lazy river, a and floating wedding pavilions.

Hotel Palomar, Chicago: Kimpton is opening its newest hotel in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, near the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and McCormick Place. The Hotel Palomar Chicago‘s most unique feature is its “green roof,” covered with grass and plants intended to collect and clean rainwater and improve air quality.

Wonders of the Kapalua Rainforest

I recently went on a “Maunalei Magic Hike” at the Kapalua Maunalei Arboretum Rainforest in Hawaii, and if you think you have to leave the United States to find rich, tropical biodiversity and exotic plant life you’ve never heard of, think again. The Maunalei Arboretum, just below Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, is home to an endless supply of plants thriving in the volcanic soil — some local, some planted in 1926 by D.T. Fleming. And it’s less than an hour to the nearest Office Max.

I saw many amazing things up there — and ate guava and passion fruit right from the trees — but want to tell you in particular about three: banyan trees, moa and awapuhi.

Banyan trees are ficus relatives which grow to over 100 feet tall and have “aerial roots,” long roots that grow down from the branches and eventually plant themselves in the ground, where they continue to grow and eventually look like tree trunks themselves. The aerial roots can cause one banyan tree to look like a whole forest, as was the case with the particular tree above in the Maunalei Arboretum. This tree was so old and so vast, the ground space it covered was larger than my apartment — and you can swing on the aerial roots (click here to watch me do it) and even bounce on the root-filled ground beneath it (above). Can you do that on your ficus? I bet not.
MoaMoa is, as our guide Jaclyn from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment center at the Ritz-Carlton (she’s featured in that root-bouncing video above) told us, is “nature’s gold bond powder.” Scrape the little yellow bits off this bright green plant and put them wherever you’re sweating — yes, even in your pants — it’s what Hawaiians have been doing for centuries. Oddly enough, “moa” means “chicken.” The weird, section-y, bumpy texture of the plant made ancient Hawaiians think of a chicken leg.

AwapuhiAwapuhi, also known as “shampoo ginger,” is an ingredient you might find in your Paul Mitchell shampoo. Why? Because if you squeeze that bud, it has a rubbery crunch and a natural shampoo pours out — locals have been known to use just that to wash their hair; no other ingredients necessary.

There are a lot of good reasons to visit Maui, but a hike through the Maunalei Rainforest is one of the best. If you’re still not sold, check out the views from the near-summit (mountaintops are sacred in Hawaii, the path stops just a few feet below) in the gallery!

This trip was paid for by Kapalua Resort & The Ritz-Carlton, but the views expressed within the post are 100% my own.