National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World continues to expand with the recent addition of eight new members, bringing the hand-picked collection to 51 properties on six continents less than two years after its launch. The newest members to join reflect the diverse and singular experiences that the collection encompasses, ranging from a medieval European castle to a beachfront eco-lodge in the Galápagos. To help travelers find the experience they seek, National Geographic has recently published a series of lists highlighting the “Bests” of the collection.
Among the “Best Family Getaways,” for example, is new member Ashford Castle, an 800-year-old castle set on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, Ireland. The castle recently underwent a stunning top-to-bottom refurbishment that erased years of neglect and also revitalized the local community. While guests of any age are enchanted by its medieval splendor, many activities at the castle are perfect for families, include riding horseback in the surrounding parklands, learning falconry or archery, going zip-lining, boating with a local guide, and catching a movie in the castle cinema.
Three of the newest members are featured among the “Best Places to Get Immersed in Another Culture.” In the mountains of China’s Yunnan province, Banyan Tree Ringha is a group of beautifully restored Tibetan farmhouses that invite guests to experience the warmth and hospitality of ethnic Tibetan culture and explore the stunning landscapes around Shangri-la. In Kenya, the thatched tents of Sarara Camp are nestled within a conservancy run in partnership with the local Samburu people. Many of the lodge staff and safari guides come from local communities, and visits to nearby Samburu villages allow guests a rare and intimate encounter with the timeless culture. Further south, Bushmans Kloof Wildlife Reserve and Wellness Retreat is situated amid otherworldly sandstone formations of South Africa’s Western Cape. Along with 18,000 acres of wilderness that’s home to zebras, gemsbok, and much more, the reserve also harbors more than 130 ancient San rock art sites, which guests are free to examine with a lodge expert.
Wildlife enthusiasts can find out which lodges are best for witnessing a great migration, whether it’s sea turtles swimming to the island of Dominica to nest or thousands of elk wintering right near the Bentwood Inn in Jackson Hole. Or they can search for close-up encounters with wildlife: Guests at the seaside Finch Bay Eco Hotel in the Galápagos Islands find themselves immersed in one of the most pristine wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and can snorkel, bird-watch, and stroll among sea lions within a few steps of the property. Segera Retreat on Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau provides a fantastic wildlife experience imbued with a sense of romance—the yellow bi-plane in which Robert Redford flew Meryl Streep in Out of Africa is a beloved fixture on the property. And Lone Mountain Ranch is located so close to Yellowstone that guests can enter this so-called “Serengeti of North America” on horseback or cross-country skis. Other top ten lists target specific interests, such as hiking, cuisine, and even the “Best Places to Watch Nature’s Light Shows.”
Each lodge offers guests who book through National Geographic an exclusive, complimentary experience such as a private cooking lesson or a behind-the-scenes visit with a resident biologist. At the Bentwood Inn, wintertime guests are invited on a private sleigh ride in the National Elk Refuge. Those who stay at Segera Retreat have the opportunity to meet with researchers to track the endangered patas monkey, learning about the species’ behavior and ongoing conservation efforts.
National Geographic offers a full-service booking experience: Working with reservations specialists, travelers can reserve rooms on a nightly basis, book a private expedition that features the lodge, or create a custom trip tailored to their specific interests.
For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit www.nationalgeographiclodges.com or call 1-888-701-5486.
About National Geographic Travel
National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; digital travel content; travel books; maps; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (six issues per year) has 13 international editions. National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the Society, offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 80 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, journeys with G Adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of nearly 14 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips. Follow National Geographic Travel @NatGeoTravel on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.