Ask an Expert: Olivia Byrne on Hotel Tech Trends

Wondering what the next generation of hoteliers has in store? Olivia Byrne, the 26-year-old owner and operator of techy-luxe boutique property the Eccleston Square Hotel, is all about the futuristic touches. Here’s her take on techy travel trends. Continue reading Ask an Expert: Olivia Byrne on Hotel Tech Trends


Ask an Expert: Craig Sholley on African Wildlife Conservation

Craig Sholley, longtime gorilla conservationist and Vice President for Philanthropy and Marketing at the Africa Wildlife Foundation, was in town last week to discuss threats to African wildlife and sustainable tourism. We caught up with to hear about the challenges facing Africa’s animals and how to travel responsibly.

Which species in Africa are most endangered?
Craig Sholley: If you take a look at endangered species that are in trouble at this point, elephants are at the top of the list. We have an existing herd on the planet that is only 470,000 animals. We have lost 100,000 in the past three years to poaching. We are also quite concerned about rhinos—there are only 25,000 left on the continent—and as for lions, there are no more than 23,000. I am deeply involved with gorilla conservation: there are only 900 mountain gorillas left in the world.

 What is the AWF doing to curb the demand for items like ivory?
: We have designed an awareness campaign, with our partner WildAid, to curb interest in ivory and educate consumers about how elephants are killed. Jackie Chan and Li Bing Bing are our ambassadors, and they’re trying to help us shift cultural sentiments.

How can we travel responsibly?
Look for hotels and lodges that have set up a conservancy—often they might be aligned with elephant or rhino conservation. For example, we run the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge—it was conceived and constructed by the AWF but is now owned by the local community. The lodge is a major source of income, so the community has an incentive to take care of the wildlife and the habitat, which tourists are coming to see.

What’s a major misconception about traveling in Africa?
: When you talk about tented safaris, a lot of people picture tents and sleeping bags, but some of the most luxurious places I’ve been were tented camps: the cuisine, wine cellars and accommodations are incredible. You’ve got wildlife in your backyard and it’s magical. There are some phenomenal places in the Okavango Delta in Botswana—you’ve got tented camps run by groups like Wilderness Safaris and Great Plains Conservation that have really reputable facilities. I was at a lovely camp in Kenya recently, Satao Elerai Lodge, which has an AWF connection.

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Any advice for once-in-a-lifetime Africa experiences?
There’s nothing like going out into a field and being surrounded by a family of gorillas. It’s incredible—it’s not usually on the first-time trip itinerary but it’s a very special experience.

Want to donate to the cause, or book a room in one of the AWF’s eco lodges? for more info.

Ask an Expert: Robert Mark Safaris

Ask an Expert

Dreaming up a trip to South Africa? Specialist Africa travel operator Robert Mark Safaris launched in Hong Kong in 2014 and offers more than a decade of expertise and enthusiasm. Founder Robert Dent talks us through when to go and what to do. Continue reading Ask an Expert: Robert Mark Safaris

Ask an Expert: Why go to Hamilton Island?

With Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as his backyard, Glenn Bourke, the CEO of privately owned Hamilton Island, has explored some of the world’s most remote islands. He points to a few of his favorite hideaways for snorkeling, sailing or scuba diving. Continue reading Ask an Expert: Why go to Hamilton Island?