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Extraordinary natural attractions serve as top draw for luxury travelers

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More than 15 awards and citations were conferred in 2016 by prestigious international and local organizations led by Conde Nast Traveler and the World Travel Awards to El Nido Resorts, a group of island resorts in Palawan.

According to El Nido Resorts marketing director Joey Bernardino, the awards mostly focus on the pristine surroundings of the four island resorts and collective business and social practices that have been adopted to sustain them. These come at the heels of other similar awards won since the start of the previous decade. “Such awards emphasize a strong global trend towards destinations with extraordinary natural attractions and the preference of travelers to see these attractions and the communities around them cared for responsibly,” he says.

Pangulasian Resort, El Nido Palawan / CREDIT: maxwilderness.com / Manila Bulletin

Pangulasian Resort, El Nido Palawan / CREDIT: maxwilderness.com / Manila Bulletin

The recognitions reaped by El Nido Resorts include winning Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award by the World Travel Awards; Southeast Asia’s and World’s Best Beach or Coastal Boutique Hotel by Boutique Hotel Awards; Best in the Philippine, Best Hidden Gem and Best for Outdoor adventure and Activities by Spafinder Wellness 365, among others. El Nido Resorts was also given special citations in 2016 by the Asean Corporate Sustainability Summit, CEO Asia, the Philippine Department of Tourism and TripAdvisor.

“The achievements won collectively and individually by Apulit, Lagen, Miniloc and Pangulasian (the four El Nido Resorts named after the islands that host them) appear to also be encouraging other Philippine resorts to work on protecting the nature-based attractions that bring them business,” according to Bernardino who has seen a marked increase over the past five years in the number of Philippine entries seeking travel, environmental and sustainability awards.

El Nido Resorts’ global awards dovetail with the marked preference of high-end travelers today for natural attractions and wide open spaces “served up as unique and smoothly executed experiences,” observes Javi Hernandez, chief operating officer of El Nido Resorts. According to studies cited by MyTravelResearch.com, nature helps replenish the energy levels of these travelers who are also heavy users of technology and seek to escape the “hustle and bustle” of their pressure-laden environments. The beeline for such attractions is one of a number of key trends driving luxury travel up to 2020 and beyond.

Another trend revolves around travelers realizing that “destinations that have a lighter impact on the earth and a greater one on wider wealth creation” are more desirable, reports the same study. In fact, El Nido Resorts is singled out by the study as leading Asia Pacific resort destinations in its socio-economic impact to the local community. More than 95 per cent of all employees in Apulit, Lagen, Miniloc and Pangulasian are from Palawan and include many families with second-generation El Nido Resorts employees.

“But we shouldn’t forget some of the constants” that drive the luxury market, says the study. Experiences need to be “best in class and ideally unique.” Moreover, “seamless service should characterize every part of the experience… The service should be caring, but seem effortless, smooth and natural.” Consequently, El Nido Resorts annually reviews programs to maintain its guest satisfaction rate, Bernardino said.

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