Born and raised in New York, Amanda Ho moved to Hong Kong in 2019 to explore new opportunities in Asia for her travel-meets-lifestyle mag. Now, she’s the face and co-founder of the newest concept in travel, Regenerative Travel. Learn more about the burgeoning travel trend and how you can incorporate it into your post-COVID bucket list as we talk travel with Amanda…
What kind of traveller are you?
It depends on the destination and what kind of mood I’m in! But generally speaking, I am low maintenance and have an affinity for remote, off-the-beaten-track destinations that are often on the road less traveled. I always seek out beautiful interior design, local cuisine, welcoming hospitality wherever I go, and of course, sustainable and regenerative travel.
How do you personally define ‘regenerative travel’?
Regenerative travel is about being a mindful and respectful traveler that purposefully seeks to be fully immersed in a destination and learning from the place you are traveling to, while also ensuring that your dollar is going back to the local community and its people through every purchase decision.
How did it come about?
Regeneration as a concept in travel is relatively new and was just put on the map this past year as, during the pandemic, the natural next step after the travel industry came to a halt was to understand how we can repair and replenish what we have created. There have been many hotel properties that have been practicing ‘regeneration’ for years without calling and referencing the terminology of regeneration. We recently explored the core principles of regenerative travel in our whitepaper on ‘Regenerative Principles for Hospitality‘ that feature hotels such as Playa Viva in Mexico and Fogo Island in Newfoundland who are pioneers in this practice.
What are some examples of regenerative travel?
The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia is nestled in the heart of a 10-million-year-old rainforest, offering the perfect escape and allows you to nurture to the full the well-being of your mind, body, and spirit. Its commitment to sustainability and regeneration is evident through its Datai Pledge program which has a partnership network with local conservation and sustainability NGOs covering various aspects of conversation such as biodiversity, ocean, wildlife, and youth.
Tiger Mountain Lodge Pokhara in Nepal also is an example of regeneration at work as it is deeply committed to supporting the local community and provides a range of support through its Community Support Partnership with a focus on education, environment, and health issues.
Nay Palad Hideaway has a connection to Siargao’s culture and ecosystem that influences everything they do including a marine conservation program, permaculture farm to source its own produce and a medical mission aims at improving the health of thousands of children on the island such as supporting local schools, like the Malinao Elementary School, just a few steps from the property.
Why is it more important than ever in 2021?
This pandemic also proves that we, as humans, can make dramatic changes to our behaviour if we need to. It requires us to ask “why do we travel” and gives us an opportunity to change “how we travel.” We have to all do better and be better in our daily choices and actions if we are going to change the trajectory of our future on this planet.
According to research, there is increasing awareness among travellers that their choices have an impact, however, still, a significant portion of travellers do not yet consider sustainability when making travel choices, and it is the responsibility of companies and destinations to raise awareness and educate travellers. We make it easier for the traveler to discover and book responsible, sustainable, and regenerative travel through the Regenerative Travel platform and curated hotel collection of Regenerative Resorts, ensuring their vacation meets their values wherever they go.
What’s the difference between sustainable and regenerative travel?
We say in the most basic terms, sustainability is about achieving net neutral impact, while regeneration is actually making a place better than you found it. Regenerative travel is about creating better conditions of life for the environment and better for the community.
What companies/countries are championing regenerative travel?
Hawaii and New Zealand are leaders in championing a regenerative recovery post-pandemic as the leadership behind the destinations are supporting a holistic roadmap that considers the effects of climate change and how tourism can mitigate its impact and better support the local communities. For example, Hawaii has implemented its Malama Hawaii Initiative (the word “Malama” means “to care for”) which encourages island visitors to give back to their destination through various volunteer initiatives that can be redeemed for special offers such as free nights or discounts.
What are some of your most memorable trips ever?
My standout trips over the past few years (pre-COVID of course) include a 21-day expedition cruise to Antarctica via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia which was a life-changing experience that set me on my course to dedicating my work to sustainable and regenerative travel, seeing the Northern Lights in Tromsø which has been on my bucket-list and venturing to Mongolia for The Mutton Cup Polo Tournament where I went completely off-grid for a week.
Where’s the place you most want to go next?
I have not left Hong Kong or been on a plane since March 2020, so I very much welcome a trip anywhere, but I do hope to return home to visit my family in New York. After that, first on my list is to visit our Regenerative Resorts such as The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia and Nay Palad Hideaway in the Philippines.
Why do you believe in/love to travel?
Travel has the capacity to open our hearts and minds to new cultures and ways of living. I travel to reconnect with myself and to understand our role on this Earth, it always serves as a reminder to be present, what to be grateful for and how little we need in the material world to be happy.
Where are three of your fave spots in Hong Kong that you’d recommend to visitors?
My favourite beach in Hong Kong is Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung, it’s close to paradise! With crystal clear waters and soft white sand, you could imagine that you are on an island beach in Thailand. Catching the boat ride back at sunset is one of the most beautiful journeys.
I’d definitely recommend Sunset Peak on Lantau as one of the best hikes to do as a visitor. As the third-highest mountain in Hong Kong, it has gorgeous views where you can appreciate the beauty of the island while giving you just enough of a challenge on the way up.
Lastly, I would recommend a walk up the morning trail to go to Victoria Peak in the morning or evening for sunset, it’s a great way to start the day or end it with the most scenic views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Hero image: Amanda Ho, Lamma