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Celebrating International Women’S Day With Hospitality Innovators

This year’s International Women’s Day on March 1st kicks-off Women’s History Month celebrating women’s achievements. To that end, we have decided to shine a spotlight on some of the most inspiring and talented women in the travel and hospitality industry from The Big Apple to a remote Asian island, who have made difference in daily life on the planet as we know it. We also wanted to find out who inspired them along the way and what destinations they can’t wait to visit when travel restrictions are lifted.

Eva Giraldo Maria: Sustainability Manager at Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

Located on a six-island archipelago in the remote Anambas Islands of Indonesia, Sustainability Manager Eva Giraldo Maria has taken on the role of protector of the Bawah Reserve. Many guests travel to the region to reconnect with nature and Maria believes the best way is for guests to participate through emersion in Bawah’s sustainability and conservation efforts that include protecting its land and lagoons. Maria is in charge of the permaculture gardens on-site that are responsible for producing 40% of the fruits and vegetables used at the resort by growing its own seeds, compost and fertilizers. She also coordinates with the Anambas Foundation on the organic farms created on outlying islands and the reserve’s commitment to becoming 100% solar-powered, zero-waste resort with extensive recycling, marine and forest conservation practices.

Eva Giraldo Maria on the beach in Indonesia

What is your dream destination?

I will never forget the first day I stepped foot on Bawah. After a short flight via seaplane, I was invited to explore and discover the island as my own. I put on my shoes, and without any hesitation, I went into the forest and found myself on Coconut Beach. It is one of the most impressive beaches here and I couldn’t resist immediately jumping into the gorgeous waters. What I discovered next almost moved me to tears, as I found myself next to a small family of baby blacktip reef sharks, turtles, and different colorful schools of fish all around. I found myself in the middle of one of my favorite National Geographic books – an actual dream come true. Ever since I was a child, I was always daydreaming of being completely surrounded by nature, from beaches and mountains to forests and jungles. As a sustainability manager at Bawah with a passion for environmental science, I am currently living my dream in one of the most remote paradises found in middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Who has inspired you in your hospitality career?

I had never quite looked at the hospitality industry as a career to turn to, however, it just came to in the most unexpected way and at the most unexpected moment! Working at Bawah Reserve has given me the opportunity to meet so many lovely people – each person brings a different story, experience, and memory which makes for great conversations and even friendship in such a unique way. I am inspired by each person who lands here and is part of our small island community, as they bring a little piece of their culture, tradition, customs, and languages with them. On Bawah, we are lucky to have guests from all over the world, so we are never bored. My job here on island has become more of a lifestyle than a job itself, which I’m so grateful for.

Cobblers Cove Shoreline, Barbados

Sam Godsal: Interior and Fashion Designer, Author and Co-Owner of Cobblers Cove, Barbados

As co-owner of Cobblers Cove, Sam Godsal is responsible for overseeing the future direction of this retreat on the west coast of Barbados. Godsal has been instrumental in the refurbishment of the property over the last five years, which included designing the stunning chinaware. Prior to this, she spent a decade in the fashion industry where she designed ski wear clothing and she is the author of the bestselling book, “Soldier Dog,” which is slated to be turned into a film.

What is your dream destination?

A small groovy boutique hotel in downtown Havana or maybe a B&B in an old house. I want to drift about the old town and hear great music, dance the salsa and drink Papa Doble Daiquiris at El Floridita [like Hemingway] and eat in crowded restaurants. I want to see the art scene, museums, art school and also the hospitals which sent so many medics abroad during the pandemic. I want to dress all the men in my family in guayaberas Cubanas which are THE answer to tropical chic for men. It was my mother’s birthplace as my grandmother lived there for many years and I’ve never been but always wanted to. So, the minute things open up, that’s where I’m going.

Who has inspired you in your hospitality career?

My being a hotelier is absolutely one of chance so nothing really led me to where I am now. If I had to name someone I find inspiring it would be Olga Polizzi, {Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels and Deputy Chairman of the company.] for so many reasons. She’s gracious and elegant, both in her presentation and in her manner. And she’s busy, with many hotels and a large and happy family. Her style is thoughtful and sensitive to the environment and each is individual, nothing is repeated or hammered out, everything is comfortable and nothing appears to be done for effect or drama. My guests also inspire me and my ideal guest is always my motivation. We’re lucky at Cobblers and have plenty of ideal guests.

Areal view of The Newt in Somerset, England

Paula Carnell: Resident Beekeeper at The Newt in Somerset

How about a bee-safari? If you follow resident beekeeper, Paula Carnell, at The Newt in Somerset, England you can do just that and maybe help to spread the medicinal word, once sting at a time. Carnell is a global bee consultant and honey sommelier who raises chemical-free, native bees and practices the healing powers of honey.

Honey can help us stay healthy year-round – from boosting immunity, relieving inflammation and soothing sore throats, to treating dry skin and chapped lips due to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, along with moisturizing and hydrating qualities, which Carnell discovered through an illness.

Carnell encourages a pioneering gentle honey harvesting from the hard-working pollinators whose golden nectar cures humans. The Newt’s bees feed on honey (not sugar) and today there are 16 healthy, chemical-free colonies set across seven tree hives on the property. During the U.K. lockdown, Paula has been conducting a series of virtual tours on The Newt’s social channels, and once the hotel reopens, she will commence her Bee Safaris.

Somerset Beekeeper Paula Carnell

What is your dream destination?

This is a difficult one to answer as I love travel and have been very lucky to visit some incredible places. On my list of places that I’ve not yet been to, is to visit the beekeepers in Madagascar (I’ve always wanted to hug a Baobab tree), and the Mayan beekeepers in the Yucatan, Mexico. Although I’ve visited Oman a number of times, I’ve yet to visit the Frankincense trees in the south near Salalah on the Yemeni border. My real paradise is where my husband and I were in January 2020 – Cocos Keeling Islands and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, where the bees are incredible and different on each island. My dream is to be able to spend part of each year there in the future. A life-changing destination for me was Bhutan. I’d love to return with my husband, who is Cyder Cellar Master at The Newt, and show him the apple-growing region around Thimphu, as well as take him to the South where I saw the Honey Houses.

Who has inspired you in your beekeeping career?

Having first discovered the joys of beekeeping and honey’s natural healing benefits through personal illness, I have since gone on to meet a fantastic and supportive community of bee lovers. Professor Tom Seeley and Jacqueline Freeman are my two biggest inspirations in the beekeeping world, but I learn most from the bees themselves – with each colony taking me on a journey of self, and bee discovery! The Honey Houses in Bhutan are what inspired me to install the observation hives at The Beezantium at The Newt in Somerset, opening later in 2021.

Garden Suite Terrace at The Lowell, New York City

Dina De Luca Chartouni: Co-Owner & Creative Director of The Lowell Hotel

Known for her impeccable style and entrepreneurial spirit within the hospitality industry of New York City, Dina De Luca Chartouni is a stylish, tour de force. As an owner of the Upper East Side’s home-away-from-home The Lowell Hotel she incorporates her artistic vision throughout all aspects from redesigning guest rooms to the renovation of the restaurants and public spaces. Chartouni also created the DDC28 brand of bath and beauty products made exclusively for guests of the hotel and inspired by busy world-travelers.

What is your dream destination?

My dream destination is the Amalfi Coast in Italy, specifically the island of Capri. I am of Italian extraction on both sides of my family and there is something very special about the region of Catania, that makes me come alive. I feel at home. I recognize the features on the faces of the people. I identify with their sunburned olive skin. I know their Sunday ritual of coming together for a family meal. Add to these the comforts of the immersive natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, the sunlight bouncing off of the Mediterranean Sea, the delicious aroma of lemon trees and I find myself, each and every time, in a state of pure ecstasy.

Who has inspired you in your hospitality career?

The answer to the question who inspired me in my hospitality career is not a typical one. I had been producing and directing film and TV for a few years when I entered, via marriage, the luxury travel industry and started to partake as a design director at The Lowell. I never really thought of the work at the hotel as a career in hospitality. It was rather an extension of my film world and I saw my work with renovations and design as if they were all elements of a movie. Making films requires a strong point of view and I believe that it translates well into the world of hospitality. Through my creative work at the hotel, I was able to help identify our brand and establish the world of The Lowell.

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