Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa Opens September 1 On Easter Island

Easter Island is getting a new, 75-room luxury boutique hotel, located just a five-minute walk from the only town of Hanga Roa.

The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa officially opens on September 1, with a soft opening August 31, for which guests will receive 30 percent off nightly and package stays if they book now.

The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa is being deemed an integral tourism property based on sustainability, located in the most remote inhabited island in the world, 2,181 miles from mainland Chile.

Each detail of the hotel’s architectural design and functionality is on the cutting edge of green technology due to the ecologically and culturally sensitive environs. Energy-saving measures, water filtration and reuse systems, waste recycling programs and the use of organic and locally sourced food products at the property’s two restaurants are some of the green methods used by the hotel.

The Hangaroa’s 500-square-foot Kainga double rooms and 800-square-foot Ma’Unga suites are made of volcanic rock, clay and wood, including washbasins and freestanding tubs. The hotel’s lounge spaces, reading room and lobby are designed to resemble a traditional casa bote, a traditional Rapa Nui house that appears as an upside-down canoe. Manavai Spa utilizes holistic as well as high-tech treatments that incorporate ancestral techniques of the Rapa Nui.

The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa philosophy is to bring the community into the project. More than 75 percent of the hotel’s staff members are local and ethnic Rapa Nui, and the Hangaroa has developed a series of educational and professional training programs that also seek to maintain and conjoin the Rapa Nui’s beliefs, rites and traditions. The Hangaroa will also donate funds to local educational programs and environmental causes every year.

As part of the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa’s desire to give back to the local community, the hotel subcontracts acclaimed local tour company Mahinatur to provide cultural experiences for guests, such as visits to the Rano Raraku quarry, the Ahu Tongariki with 15 standing moais and the Rano Kau volcanic crater.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Ndecam]


Tahiti greens up its tourism

Tahiti ain’t cheap. And, at least in the past several decades, it’s also had a reputation for crappy food, cheesy resorts, a seriously sketchy scene in Papeete, and a general lack of sustainable tourism. But that’s all changing.

CNN reports that small-scale, eco-oriented tourism is thriving in Tahiti, especially in the mountainous interior, and on the peninsula of Tahiti Iti. An influx of B & B’s, guesthouses and bungalows have cropped up, making a visit to the island paradise more affordable to budget travelers (after you cough up the plane ticket, but Air Tahiti Nui offers promotional prices and family discounts). The less-populous inland has loads of hiking trails, waterfalls, and remote beaches accessible only by foot, and outfitters such as Tahiti Evasion offer guided hikes for non-DIY’ers. On the luxury end, some properties, like Bora Bora’s InterContinental Resort, are reducing their carbon footprint by using high-tech cooling systems that use pumped-in, deep-sea water, instead of A/C units.

Additionally, great public transit and a thriving local food scene make it easier for culturally-inclined travelers to get a true taste of Tahiti. Roulottes, small food trucks found along Papeete’s waterfront, offers local ingredients and traditional dishes, while the central market, Marche Papeete, sells all manner of locally-grown produce. On rural Moorea, check out family farms, and slip into the relaxed, local way of life.

[Via Mother Nature Network]

[Photo credit: Flickr user D.[SansPretentionAucune]]

WHS new “Tentative List”: Places to Love–Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii

For the Gadling series “World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love” we are covering the 14 sites that have been submitted for possible inclusion as an official World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites will not be posted in order of importance or in the order they appear on the list.

Number 10

Name of Site: Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii

Location: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the surrounding waters. Go 140 miles northwest of Hawaii’s main islands and you are there. The span of this monument continues for 1,200 miles as you keep heading northwest. To see a selection of maps of the area, click here.

Reason for importance in a nutshell: This “string of islands and adjacent waters represents the longest, clearest, and oldest example of island formation and atoll evolution in the world.” The islands are also culturally important because 1,000 years ago people lived here and their artifacts can be seen today.

Jamie’s Take: Where does one begin when talking about a site that covers 137,797 square miles? First of all, this is the best coral reef system in United States’ waters and the “largest marine conservation area in the world.” It’s the least disturbed and the healthiest, probably because it so far enough away from Hawaii’s main islands that people don’t just hop on over on a moment’s notice.

Secondly, along with the green sea turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, 14 million seabirds and other land birds call this home. Add in the diversity of the plant and marine animals found in the area (1/4 of them are only found here) and we’re talking a mega treasure trove of natural wonders.

The area includes: NWII Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary, and the NWHI State Marine Refuge.

As a note, the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge was designated in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt making it one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.

Also of significance, these islands are a bridge between cultures–the Hawaiian and Polynesian. 1,000 years ago people settled on two of the islands leaving behind their traces. Artifacts have been found that possibly connect the islands’ once inhabitants to Marquesas and Tahiti. Along with those artifacts are ones that connect the islands to more recent happenings. Pearl oyster harvesting, fishing and guano mining once happened here, as well as, the World War II Battle of Midway.

Within the atolls, there are more than 60 vessels and 67 aircrafts that have created a rich history below the ocean’s surface.

Whether or not the World Heritage Site folks name the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii one of the official sites, this is definitely a place to be treasured. I’m happy that there are so many sanctuaries and preserves involved in its protection. What a wonderous place past the boundaries of the Hawaii most people think of when they travel there.