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AMAALA: Redefining luxury travel In the ethical era

Saudi gigaproject offers hope for the sustainable tourism sector

A unique destination on Saudi Arabia’s northwestern coastline, AMAALA is set to raise the bar for individuals seeking transformative travel experiences underpinned by ethical principles.

As the world wakes up to climate change, a new breed of conscious consumer is driving the emergence of brands that behave with integrity and deliver on their promises of social and environmental responsibility.

For consumers, the once prevalent ‘more is more’ mindset is giving way to considered consumption, with ethical considerations becoming integral to purchasing decisions.

The travel sector is no exception. As ‘luxury’ travel becomes increasingly ubiquitous and awareness grows of the social and ecological damage caused by over-tourism, discerning consumers are seeking authentic experiences that leave a positive footprint on local ecosystems.

A unique destination on Saudi Arabia’s northwestern coastline is set to raise the bar for individuals seeking transformative travel experiences underpinned by ethical principles.

Targeting the world’s top 2.5 million ultra-high net worth travellers, AMAALA is poised to act as a catalyst in the evolution of tourism, shifting its trajectory from the now-hackneyed concept of luxury travel to meaningful, purpose-driven and immersive experiences that aims to safeguard the planet’s natural resources.

Named after the Arabic word for ‘hope’ and the ancient Sanskrit word for ‘purity’, the AMAALA resort delivers upon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 pillars of the cultivation of a vibrant society, a sustainable economy and a protected natural environment.

AMAALA will not only respect and safeguard local cultures and ecosystems, it aims to transform lives and livelihoods with the creation of an estimated 20,000 new jobs, rising to 50,000 once fully established.

While the AMAALA resort destination spans over 4,155 square kilometres of unspoilt terrain within the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve, approximately five percent of the greenfield site will be developed with the remainder managed for conservation value.

Taking inspiration from the Bedouin tribes who traditionally hold a deep respect for and connection to the ancestral lands and seas that sustain them, a commitment to world-class sustainability is an integral part of AMAALA’s brand promise.

Sustainable principles and practices permeate all aspects of AMAALA. With an operational zero-carbon footprint as its goal, the destination has multiple sustainability criteria, not least being the requirement for developers to adhere to bespoke regulations based on world-class sustainability standards and best practices.

Once completed, a full solar energy farm – one of the largest in the GCC – will supply the entire development.  The feasibility of redirecting excess energy to the local grid is also being examined.

Robust waste management and recycling processes, most of AMAALA’s transport being powered by renewable energy, and landscaping featuring species indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula are key factors in minimising life cycle environmental impact.

An organic farm, harnessing sustainable farming techniques, will supply ample local produce for guests and employees, with the longer-term goal of developing a secondary sustainable farming industry to promote self-sufficiency for local communities.

AMAALA’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicholas Naples, states: “A core objective for AMAALA is the preservation, conservation and where possible, the enhancement of its marine and coastal ecosystem. While the area features high levels of marine biodiversity, abundant marine life and a coral reef that is amongst the last major healthy reefs in the world, the environment is significantly understudied.

“This is set to change with the introduction of the Marine Life Institute, a signature project at AMAALA. Collaboration with leading global universities, ecologists and marine experts is underway to map the environment with future research projects planned to find solutions for the re-establishment of other global reef systems, based upon understanding the natural resilience of northern Red Sea corals.

“The Institute, working in partnership with organisations including the renowned Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Centre Scientifique De Monaco and the Oceanographic Institute, will also contribute to the World Coral Conservatoire project to build a world reference centre of living coral colonies,” Naples added.


AMAALA will not only respect and safeguard local cultures and ecosystems, it aims to transform lives and livelihoods with the creation of an estimated 20,000 new jobs, rising to 50,000 once fully established.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly attractive to foreign investors, corporations and entrepreneurs due to the widespread reforms implemented as part of the Vision 2030 agenda.

Recognised in the recent World Bank Doing Business 2020 report as amongst the ten world economies showing the most improvement on ease of doing business, the Kingdom aims to increase foreign direct investment from 3.8 per cent to reach international levels of 5.7 per cent of GDP.  This, combined with the move towards global commercial rules and standards and the introduction of a swathe of FDI-friendly reforms, such as a relaxation of the 49 per cent limit for foreign investors in shares of listed companies, indicates that the opportunity to capitalize on the opening up of the Saudi market has never been stronger.

In particular, the Kingdom’s goal to attract 22.1 million international visitors by 2051 makes its burgeoning tourism sector a compelling investment proposition. As the global travel market teeters on the edge of a consumer-driven seismic shift and developed nations become increasingly mired in the economic downturn, AMAALA’s investment packages– which span financial investments and partnerships through to numerous development opportunities for hospitality, retail, residential, leisure, art and culture and education facilities – are attracting attention. With AMAALA anticipated to deliver several longstanding economic benefits to the Kingdom, including a contribution of 0.64% to GDP by 2030, the development offers hope for a new era of ethically-grounded strategic investments with the potential for robust returns.

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Holiday

Luxury travel news this week: Coronavirus update – A Luxury Travel Blog

Here’s a round-up of luxury travel stories that have caught the eye this week. To make sure you receive these new weekly alerts in your web browser, please click on the red bell icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page and click ‘subscribe’ (works on desktop only – for other ways to subscribe, please click here). This will also alert you to any other posts on the blog. Should you wish, you can unsubscribe at any time, by clicking on the icon again and selecting ‘unsubscribe’.

Why the travel industry will be stronger and better after coronavirus

The travel industry has been decimated by the coronavirus — with estimates of over $24 billion lost as 825,000 jobs have been wiped out and more than 8.2 million visitors stay away from the United States alone. But with the storm clouds come a silver lining. Without the steady stream of cruise ships (some of the worst polluters in the world), the canals of Venice have become clear for the first time in centuries; pollution around the world has dropped dramatically and cities that had been trampled by overtourism are recovering… [read more]

Yes, we will travel again — here’s how and when to plan your next trip

These are not normal times. These are not normal times for the people of Wuhan, Milan, Seoul, New York, or any other region hit hard by COVID-19. And these times are not normal for those seeing the pandemic on the horizon, feeling the anxiety of battling the invisible enemy that’s rattling our world physically, emotionally, economically, and culturally. With the world under lockdown, and with increasingly stringent restrictions coming into place across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, and beyond, many are asking how they can still plan travel — and have something hopeful to look forward to — in a time of ongoing and ever-accelerating shutdown… [read more]

Billionaires are chartering superyachts for months at a time to ride out the coronavirus pandemic

Billionaires are hoping to avoid the coronavirus pandemic by self-isolating on superyachts, The Telegraph’s Alan Tovey reports. Tovey spoke with Jonathan Beckett, the CEO of yacht broker Burgess. Beckett told The Telegraph that wealthy people are looking for ways to “weather the storm” and that a yacht “in a nice climate isn’t a bad place to self-isolate.” Large yachts have enough storage room to hold supplies that can last for months, Tovey notes, meaning the vessel can spend a longer amount of time at sea without docking. Of course, renting superyachts for months at a time is pricey, with some charging £100,000 ($118,944) a week plus crew costs and the largest of yachts costing over £500,000 (almost $600,000) a week… [read more]

Private-jet operators fly high, before requesting bailout

First, private-jet operators touted a surge in demand, sending them scrambling to keep up with the “biggest month” in their corporate histories. Then, within the same month, they were forced to turn customers away as governments around the world closed their borders, hotels shuttered, and citizens entered a surreal new reality: quarantine by mandate. Now, these symbols of high-flying wealth are joining America’s commercial airlines in asking for a $54 billion U.S. government bailout. Without hotel partnerships and open airstrips, they too are facing bankruptcy… [read more]

Coronavirus rocks the luxury hotel industry

The ever-expanding fallout surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has shocked the hotel industry, forcing dozens of the world’s most famous hotels to cease operations. While some closures are open-ended, others have been accompanied by a fixed reopening date, though uncertainty grows with each day as the outbreak spreads across the globe… [read more]

We really enjoy hearing from our readers and would love to hear your views on any of these stories! Please click on the comments below and share your thoughts. Thank you.

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Holiday

Epic luxury holidays near and far in 2020 – A Luxury Travel Blog

There’s no need to avoid making holiday plans in 2020 – and with a slight shift in focus, it might even become one of your best holidays yet. On a luxury yacht charter you are in control of your destinations – where you visit, how much time you spend there and whether you even set foot on land at all. You could spend a week or longer in the romantic Maldives and Seychelles, where it’s only your footprints that are pressed into the golden sands, and there’s no other signs of civilisation for miles.

Instead of trying to fill your short stay with all of the top-recommended attractions, spend quality time reconnecting with family and friends and get to know the environment for its own beauty. There are tons of activities, from water sports and sunbathing to hiking and biking along trails, rock climbing and even paragliding.

Private transportation

From the moment you leave your front door to the moment you return, you can choose to take private transport all the way: A limousine can ferry your group and your baggage to a private jet, and from the airport, it’s even possible to take a helicopter to your yacht. Your personalised itinerary can also have transport arranged for the places you visit during your holiday so that you’re never waiting anywhere for long and have as much time as possible at your destination.

Everything with you everywhere you go

Being away from civilisation doesn’t mean that you are deprived from modern entertainment, and depending on what vessel you choose, you could have much more than just a TV in the cabins: a dedicated indoor or outdoor cinema, a spa massage room complete with sauna and steam room, or even a golf tee with biodegradable balls are all possibilities above and beyond the typical sunbeds and Jacuzzi.

Your yacht is your transport, entertainment centre and accommodation all rolled into one. And with a professional chef preparing every one of your meals while you savour the sunshine or play games together, the only time you might want to leave is to have a private beach party or to explore along the coast with the water toys.

Distant shores

The world of luxury yachting has opened up significantly over the past decade, and there are expedition yachts travelling as far south as Antarctica and up to the beautiful wildernesses of Greenland & Svalbard. When you want to leave all your cares far, far behind, then these destinations are a great way to see rare sights and spend quality time with family and friends.

Alaska is an awe-inspiring landscape home to the stunning blue-white Hubbard Glacier and the incredible Misty Fjords in the Tongass National Forest. Brown bears, otters and eagles call this land home and you can kayak and hike along the coast to connect with this powerful place in-person. Once you’re back on board, warm up with facilities such as a hammam or sauna, or dip into the Jacuzzi on deck to continue gazing at this chilly wonderland in perfect warmth and serenity.

Greenland & Svalbard has its own marvels, including natural hot springs, fresh-fallen powdery snow for dog-sledding and other winter sports, kayaking amongst glaciers and the mesmeric Northern Lights that are best experienced at the end of summer into the early autumn.

Indonesia is arguably the world’s best Scuba diving destination with various sites for all ability levels and richly rewarding encounters with brightly coloured species. The innumerable islands also make it possible to spend time on the beach without ever encountering another group of people, and the same can be said for the archipelagos in French Polynesia.

The Galapagos Islands are perhaps the most alluring: Home to exotic creatures such as the Galapagos Turtle, marine iguana and the unusual blue footed booby. The Galapagos is a treat for photographers and painters as well as water sports lovers who will want to swim with golden cownose rays, king angelfish and possibly even the Galapagos penguins as they explore thriving coral reefs that have been untouched by human habitation.

Doorstep delights

It might be time to dispel the notion that you have to cross the world for a sensational and satisfying holiday, and instead discover why visitors the world over come to your own shores.

The Mediterranean is certainly the world’s favourite yacht charter grounds come summer, but Northern Europe has its own treasures that entice a steady stream of visitors into the Baltic Sea: The Norwegian Fjords have spectacular waterfalls made from melting winter ice, and there are isle and islets where you will be able to rest upon the beach and enjoy snorkelling and other water sports in complete privacy.

History lovers and children with active imaginations will be enthralled by the imposing ruins of castles and watchtowers along the shores, and when you want to step ashore and see more of the towns and cities, there are local beer festivals, markets, and boutique shops to be done. Antwerp is famous for its diamond district – and the delectable Belgian chocolates are enough to tempt you to spend a day in port. Across the English Channel, the Cornish coast is well known to the nation for its picturesque scenery, warm summer weather and golden sand beaches that can compete with any in France. Snorkel and Scuba dive in clean clear seas, and for a treat, have Devonshire scones in one of the quaint Cornish villages.

 

New England is gorgeous at any time of the year, but a visit between summer and autumn will capture the fine weather for time at the beach, and for exploring the Acadia National Park and the art and brewery trails by bike. Fishing enthusiasts and Scuba divers also have much to keep them occupied, while kayakers can use the towering lighthouses as landmarks as they paddle along the coast.

The Caribbean & Bahamas have a plethora of islands to make your own over the summer, however Bermuda is gorgeous alternative laced with pink sand beaches, turquoise waters and fantastic spots for water sports away from the rest of the world.

Don’t miss out on the sunniest days of the year and make 2020 your best holiday with loved ones yet.

Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.

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