KINABATANGAN: The Sukau Rainforest Lodge has become the first in South East Asia to be selected as a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World – National Geographic Society’s newest foray in world-class travel experiences.
National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.
Selected through a rigorous evaluation process, each lodge offers an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices.
National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinize the lodge’s impact on the local environment and community and ensure that these criteria were met.
Costas Christ, a world-renowned sustainable tourism expert cum editor for National Geographic Traveller magazine, said that the newest addition of Sukau Rainforest Lodge further builds National Geographic’s travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveller magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community.
“By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognized sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet.
“Travellers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places” Christ explained.
Christ, who is also responsible to coordinate an international team to inspect each of the lodges, said the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World has an initial collection of 24 properties on six continents.
Other members of the collection include Fogo Island Inn, Canada; Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa; Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru; Kapari Natural Resort, Greece; Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco; Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica and Lizard Island, Australia.
According to the managing director of Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Albert Teo, the branding (National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World) presents a unique opportunity not just for the lodge but the whole state and country.
“It is both an opportunity for good publicity and a potential for negative publicity. My dream is to help make Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary into not just a world class ecotourism destination but also a sustainable tourism destination working together with the other stakeholders.
“Without that cooperation, our brand will just suffer, leading to negative impact on the wildlife, the biodiversity and guest experience,” Teo said, adding that the Sukau Rainforest Lodge was from his vision of creating a complete ecotourism experience.
Teo further told that the Sukau Rainforest Lodge was built in 1995, with the mission to excel as an Eco-lodge by providing a unique and authentic experience in hospitality, interpretation, conservation with local community participation and leadership development.
The launching of Sukau Rainforest Lodge as a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World was held in conjunction with the lodge’s 20th Anniversary celebration.
The ceremony were attended by guest of honour, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment; general manager of Sabah Tourism Board, Datuk Irene Benggon and Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood.