Nature Unplugged @ A Little Dressed Up
From South Africa to the North Atlantic - Lodges Speak A Specific Language That Bring Our Spirits Home In The Wild
At The Edge of the wild North Atlantic
As nature's fragility is amplified, so is the need to experience it. Here are some places that lure people from all over the planet to sample the world. Through the artistic lens of a lodge and all of the inspired minds that play, work, thrive and dwell there, here is a small exploration of some big places.
A Bit about Fogo
The Inn, located on Fogo Island, off the remote northeast coast of Newfoundland, is perched on the furthest edge of the Earth and surrounded by whales, seabirds, and icebergs. The 29-suite property stands on crooked pilotis on the dramatic and rocky coastline, providing panoramic views through its wall-to-wall, floor-to- ceiling windows.
The opening is a milestone in the work of The Shorefast Foundation and its founder, visionary Zita Cobb. Following a career in the high technology industry, Cobb returned to Fogo Island, her birthplace, to invest millions of her own money – with support from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada – to reinvigorate the waning economy. The local economy was bruised after a 1992 moratorium on the traditional cod fishery. One of the goals of the foundation is to create jobs while fostering cultural resiliency; the Inn is operated by a staff of 70 – most of whom are Fogo Island residents.
Fogo Island Inn picture this
People and place are inextricably tangled up with one another on Fogo Island. It is crucial to hear stories from the people who have lived here before truly being able feel this place and understand how everything fits together. Fogo Islanders are naturally friendly people: whether on the ferry ride or during a music festival, visitors are bound to strike up a conversation with a local person. This is just a part of the culture – it’s how we are.
Fogo island Inn has an international reputation for exceptional, embodied, place-specific hospitality and bold, thoughtful, humanistic contemporary design.
Nature links us and places inspire us. Lodges in the wild elevate and celebrate place with their unique flavor. The heritage and lineage of a lodge can be long with deep roots and family narratives or daring and raw perched the edge of the world like an open book. You get the idea and you get to write the story.
These splurges are worth it when you go large and into the wild. If you fly across the world to a remote place, chances are that place is doing something helpful (or I won't mention it here), for the land, the people, the imagination and wildlife. Think of a trip to an incubator of inspiration as an investment in the world and yourself. It's not all about the lodge or you but they make you feel like it is.
Sandibe Lodge Botswana
Each bring something to our internal compass and craving to explore. Whether a young innovative architect from a completely random entry point (and country) creates a structure that interprets the land, or a legacy family or steward extends a life long passion for conservation through a deep rooted relationship and history, lodges take us in.
Rhino near Londolozi
My time @ Londolozi
When I traveled with my Aunt to Africa, my maiden voyage was with an 80 year old mama lion in the incubator of Londolozi,which taught me that nature is the ultimate equalizer inspiring spirits from any age across the world.
Our first lodge Londolozi, seduced us into the culture The New Africa with a classical safari heritage and bush chic architecture at four camps laid out with different themes. There is something in the air that felt familiar to my history of spending time in Big Sur at Esalen and growing up between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a mentality that is slightly folded in the ethos of Londolozi as the young guard, the children of Dave Varty are at the helm. Londolozi is a homegrown Varty family run community with conservation roots and a bit of bohemian culture.The camp was founded more than eighty years ago as a hunting ground and was transformed into a nature reserve in 1973 by Dave and John Varty, visionaries of the restoration movement. Bronwyn and Boyd Varty are now the legacy visionaries and environmentalists, the next generation. They were raised in the bush and created an incubator of classic safari meets “intentional community,” a chain of lodges that speak to the safari through different themes: tree, leopard, founders, pioneer. Each is interconnected and inspires guests and staff to live tribally and people can come to the bush and take field trips like tracking , etc., to figure out their own nature and life's purpose. My aunt and I wanted game drives and sundowners and the experience of seeing the animals. It was our very first time so the only thing I did similar to what I do at home was take a yoga class in the canopy @ Varty Camp. I was immediately seduced by the container of Londolozi where my aunt and I dropped into the bush and found a magical connection of nature, ageless wisdom and a surprisingly compatible rhythm held up by the Londolozi ethos which I describe as The New Africa.
Their Story In their words
It’s a rare place in the world where naturalists, musicians, artists and rogues find a place and a space where their eclectic skills become a symphony of style and experience. It’s a rare place where guides and trackers are storytellers for the land. At Londolozi we have learnt over four generations that luxury means nothing without feeling, soul and those faint emotions that can’t be conveyed through fancy décor.
The Londolozi family is a collection of people who are passionate about the safari experience. We have families within our family. We have an accountant who also plays guitar and an artist in residence capturing nature’s divine harmony in paint-frozen moments. We have a filmmaker, a sculptor, sommeliers and a girl from Chicago who just never left.
Our rangers have slept on the ground miles out in the bush and kept midnight watch around a tiny fire as smoke danced across the night sky. We have elders and ancient Shangaan wisdom. We have educators and philanthropists, who share a passion for red wine, African skies and the odd cheroot. We believe in a great safari hat.
Perhaps the greatest intangible in our village is the awareness that life’s joys come from relationships and friendships, not from material objects. The kitchens and courtyards of Londolozi resound with laughter; it is the spontaneous joy of those who are in the company of kindred spirits, sharing endeavour and a common vision.
Drawn from a diverse ancestral tapestry, these different family groups are united by their commitment to Londolozi, protector of all living things. These family members, some of whom are third generation Londolozi family, work in close proximity with one another, building a lifelong bond with colleagues and guests alike.
Nature workshops just happen when you choose to stay in a delicate and courageous spot surrounded by uncontrollable creatures and landscapes. Just being somewhere that makes you think more than twice about where you step, how loud you talk, how fast you breathe, has a ripple effect. The animals feel it, the land gives way, and if you are lucky enough to travel into the belly of nature, lodges allow us to surrender to the ways of a place. Game drives, forest foraging, rock climbing, scuba diving, hiking or wandering in certain places require trust. As much as uncertainty is part of the fun, a lodge can act as learning center, home, design inspiration, refuge, family. It is the shelter that lures us out off the path and the guides, hosts, chefs, rangers, teachers make the experience.
Care of the Land, Wildlife and People
Their mission in short:
At &Beyond we believe in taking a shared responsibility for our future, as well as the futures of our children and our planet.
From our greater conservation model down to the tiniest details of the activities that take place in our lodges every day, every decision that we make revolves around our core ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People. These values have become an intuitive part of the way that we operate and, increasingly, are part of the reason why our guests find their experience with us so rewarding.
While the main guest areas hug the shelter of the Delta forest, the twelve guest nests peep out from beneath its canopy above the fringes of papyrus that line the Delta channels.
Pop up luxury lodge tree ( the lodge can be dismantled is not permanently affixed) house bee's nest Botswana delicacy walking and talking quietly at night with bush porters, hippos snorting in the night, wild elephants, hovering around the steps and the occasional leopard dancing on the roof, this is tender footed swampy, luxury that can be dismantled as needed. It is modern and traditional where feasting, and bumping around in the bush and sand, the moon and stark outback of anywhere is tucked in the heartbeat of a waterway and the bush. Botswana, a refuge in Africa where rhinos and elephants are being ushered by surrounding countries for protection.
On the other side of the world, Alpine old school heritage in Vermont the Von Trapp Family legacy a lodge for the ages and a little editorial visit from Richard Bangs:
Trapp Family Lodge
A Richard Bangs Favorite (here is a word or several from Richard)
Vermont in winter is a salve to the soul, and there are so many retreats that are transcendent for the urban escapee. A must-experience, though, is the Trapp Family Lodge, as much for its legacy as its comfort and singular access to the best cross-country skiing in the Northeast.
One of the most successful movie musicals of all time was “The Sound of Music,” and like millions I rubbed tears away as the von Trapps, in the final scene, escaped the Nazis by crossing the Alps out of Austria in 1938. But what happened next?
Well, who wouldn’t be stressed after leaving a beloved homeland as fugitives on the run? But the sequel has a happy ending. The family landed in Vermont, and started the 96-room Austrian-style Trapp Family Lodge on a 2500-acre wooded spread. Today Sam von Trapp runs the lodge with his father Johannas, youngest child born to Maria and Captain Gehrig von Trapp. I catch up with Sam, who suggests we go out for a cross country ski run just outside the lodge. “My father started the first commercial cross-country ski resort in the United States back in 1968. Now we have some 100 miles of Nordic trails, and snow making for longer seasons.”
Explora - Patagonia Chile
More on Explora to come stay tuned