The Thinking Traveller and ecotourism


Exceptional villas in the heart of the Mediterranean

The fundamental principles of ecotourism revolve around two basic concepts: benefit and respect. True ecotourism provides tangible economic and ecological benefits to the host community while at the same time respecting its traditions, its culture and its socio-political climate. As a travel company operating within the ethos of ecotourism, The Thinking Traveller invests in local economies, participates in conservation projects, and sponsors cultural events. We raise awareness amongst our clientele, provide meaningful insights into our destinations, and promote a sustainable, long-term approach to tourism. Ecotourism is close to our heart, not only because it’s something we passionately believe in, but also because we genuinely love our destinations.

"Respectful and mutually beneficial tourism has been on my mind a lot lately. This trip really cemented for us how important it is to be aware of your travel choices and what kind of direct effect that might have on the environment and the local economy. To partner with the The Thinking Traveller was a solid decision for us based on so many things, but one was their commitment to ecotourism. We love that their villas are located in small villages or close by, usually somewhere a little remote and surrounded by nature. We also loved that by staying in these places we got to spend time with locals, usually families who are passionate about sharing all that they love about their home. The Thinking Traveller are heavily invested both personally and financially in their host communities to provide economic and ecological benefits while respecting the local culture and tradition of its people. This approach to tourism really made our stay meaningful and connected us in ways we hadn’t expected." Sheree Commerford of Captain and the Gypsy Kid.

Economic benefits to host communities

Clients of The Thinking Traveller stay in privately owned villas, most of which are located near or in small towns and villages. Those who build, restore and maintain our villas are members of the local community.  The restoration of older properties for rental, as well as the construction of new ones, is carried out by local, usually family-run contractors and artisans. They use locally sourced materials and employ traditional techniques that have been passed down over generations. The staff of our villas (maids, cooks, caretakers, gardeners and pool cleaners), and those providing external services on our behalf (drivers, boat suppliers, wineries, masseuses, yoga instructors, etc.) are also locals. 

Most of our villas have solar panels for hot water and electricity, and LED lighting (for an 80% reduction is power usage) is very common. A significant number boast organic kitchen gardens, orchards, and olive groves (some are even set in organic farms).  

The ingredients used by our in-villa cooks are overwhelmingly seasonal and locally produced, as befits the culinary traditions of our destinations. Shops, restaurants, bars, gelaterie and other local businesses also benefit economically from the presence of Thinking Travellers, who shop and eat out in the villages and towns closest to their villa. All of this benefits local economies, creating employment and supporting businesses.

Ecological benefits and sustainability

As a small-scale specialist operator, we have minimal impact on the environmental equilibrium of our destinations. We make a positive contribution to raising awareness and promoting local initiatives, actively supporting and partnering a variety of local conservation organisations, such as the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund and the Ionian Environment Foundation

We also encourage the owners of our villas to make their properties as eco-friendly as possible: solar panels for hot water and electricity, and LED lighting (for an 80% reduction is power usage) are very common, while a significant number boast organic kitchen gardens, orchards, and olive groves (some are even set in organic farms). This allows guests to cook with and enjoy healthy, truly 0km ingredients, eliminates packaging and reduces the number of food shopping trips. Similarly, the ingredients used by our in-villa cooks are overwhelmingly seasonal and locally produced or sourced, as befits the culinary traditions of our destinations.

In our destinations we build relationships with like-minded people who place ecology at the forefront of what they do. Planeta, our in-villa wine delivery partner in Sicily, for example, was one of the two first wine producers in Italy to be awarded SOStain certification. This initiative regards not only the adoption of sustainable, ecological farming practices, but also the well-being of those working in agriculture, the health of consumers, the involvement of local communities, and the promotion and development of surrounding areas.

Raising cultural awareness

One of The Thinking Traveller’s founding principles is to provide its clientele with in-depth local knowledge. We publish our own destination guides (on paper from renewable resources and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council), a copy of which each client receives before their departure. Our on-the-ground concierge teams are all locals (or have lived in their area for many years) and they know our destinations intimately. Our team in London also possesses great local knowledge. Some are originally from our destinations, all travel to them regularly throughout the year, not only visiting and staying at our villas, but also travelling around, visiting towns and beaches, meeting food and wine producers, and participating in local cultural events.

All this innate and accumulated knowledge is at our clients’ complete disposal. We offer insights into our destinations that non-specialist travel companies simply can’t. We know the hidden wonders, the little jewels, and the secret treasures of our destinations and encourage our clients to experience them.  We arrange real, authentic experiences with people from local communities, whether it be cookery lessons with someone from the village, vineyard tours and wine-tastings, or PhD-qualified guides to reveal the secrets of an archaeological site or a historic town. 

We also sponsor and promote cultural events in our destinations. For example, in 2018 we partnered with the organisers of the Paxos Contemporary Art Project. We have full, continually updated listings on our website of “what’s on” in our destinations and in our newsletters we provide information about local events, festivals and celebrations.

Book one of our exceptional eco-friendly villas for greener holiday experience.

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