The Latest to Join the Galápagos Islands Hotels, Hilton Focuses On Conservation

Hilton Galapagos
Hilton Galápagos | Courtesy

The Royal Palm Galápagos, Curio Collection by Hilton is bringing sustainability and conservation to Galápagos Islands hotels.

Earlier this year, Hilton announced it would be the first points hotel to open in the Galápagos Islands—the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hilton took over the Royal Palm Galápagos Hotel, which has been on the island of Santa Cruz for two decades. The newly updated destination has now opened its doors to guests.

Surrounded by Tortuga Bay and the Galápagos National Park, the destination is home to some of the most unique biodiversity on the planet.

“At Hilton, we are always looking for opportunities to expand our portfolio and meet our guests’ needs in the destinations where they want to travel—with the right hotel in the right place at the right time, and with the right partner. Royal Palm Galápagos, Curio Collection by Hilton is a great addition to the Collection,” Jenna Hackett, Global Brand Head, Curio and Tapestry Collections by Hilton told Ethos via email.

Royal Palm Galápagos, Curio Collection by Hilton

The property features newly enhanced accommodations across the estate’s 21 villas and guest rooms. Hilton brought in local textiles, earth-toned fixtures, and artistic elements including hand-crafted furniture from the islands’ local artisans.

“All of this is complemented by the villas and rooms’ awe-inspiring views overlooking the lush landscape and nature reserve,” Hackett says. Hilton made additional property refreshes to the reception area and restaurants, along with the addition of a new gym. It’s opening a spa and refreshing the pool next year.

hilton hotel galapagos
Courtesy Royal Palm Galápagos Hotel

There’s a water reduction system that reuses rain water and recycles almost 90 percent of its residues. There’s a Plant-a-Tree Program. And the Royal Palm Galápagos, Curio Collection by Hilton is the only hotel to feature a Miconia and Scalesia Reforestation Program, protecting the region’s important flora.

“As part of our growth, and as expressed by our Environmental, Sustainability and Governance strategy, Travel with Purpose, we have a critical responsibility to protect the destinations and communities where our hotels operate,” Hackett says.

Hospitality as a force for good

Hilton Hotels were founded more than a century ago driven by a belief that hospitality could and should be a force for good. In recent years, that’s come to mean leading industry in developing and scaling business solutions to societal issues that help drive sustainable travel, Hackett says. In its newest ESG goals, Hilton pledged to cut its managed hotel portfolio emissions intensity by 75 percent and franchised portfolio emissions intensity by 56 percent by 2030, helping to drive toward a net-zero future.

The Royal Palm Galápagos, Curio Collection by Hilton has a long history of celebration for its tradition, legacy, and destination stewardship in the Galápagos, Hackett says, “and is positioned to provide our guests with an opportunity to experience one of the most distinctive ecosystems in the world while continuing to build upon the hotel’s commitment to responsible travel.”

Interest in responsible travel is industry-wide, seeing an uptick since the start of the pandemic as travelers are finding themselves more invested in their trip outcomes. Destinations are working to answer the call. Palau recently gamified sustainability for tourists, allowing them to unlock secret parts of the islands for being responsible travelers. Costa Rica launched sustainable tourism bonds last year. Hotels around the world have been increasing their sustainability metrics, too.

protect the Galapagos islands
Courtesy Fabian Wiktor | Pexels

For Hilton, sustainability is at the epicenter of the hotel’s ethos “and woven into all aspects of the hotel’s operations,” says Hackett, which includes how the Galápagos team engages with the wildlife, guests and the community. “The entire hotel and estate are designed around the eco-sensitive destination while respectfully maximizing guests’ interactions.”

This includes a partnership between the Hilton Global Foundation and the Galápagos Conservancy to help feed and protect the critically endangered Floreana Giant Tortoise.  

Conservation

Guests can visit with the Galápagos Giant Tortoises just a short bike or car ride from the property. The hotel’s grounds are also teeming with local wildlife including two critically endangered birds, the Galápagos Crake and Galápagos Petrel, “which nest within the endangered Miconia forests and are the preferred nesting habitat for these birds,” Hackett says. Other birdlife in the area includes Darwin’s Finches, the Short-eared Owl, Galápagos Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Barn Owl, and White-cheeked Pintail Duck, among others.

The Hilton Global Foundation has also partnered with The Nature Conservancy on a project in Ecuador that supports Indigenous communities in producing their own food and the cultivation of two native fish species as well as the replacement of non-native species.

To help foster the immersive nature experience, Hilton recently added a 30-day sabbatical experience to the hotel’s offerings.

“The Galápagos Islands offer a dream-like, bucket-list escape like no other providing an opportunity for guests to encounter some of the world’s most important and protected wildlife. We knew this hotel and destination was truly a special place and the 30-day ‘Live Life’ sabbatical experience offers guests the opportunity to create their own life-changing adventure,” Hackett says.

Hilton Galápagos Lava Tunnel | Courtesy

According to Diego Andrade, general manager for the hotel, The Galápagos Islands offer guests “both a rewarding and enriching tranquil escape and provide a sanctuary for once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters with protected flora and fauna.” The ‘Live Life’ sabbatical experience allows guests to fully immersive themselves in the Galápagos where they can “enjoy 30 peaceful days in one of the most ethereal environments in the world to connect with nature, explore both the land and sea and create everlasting memories in a distinctive ecosystem.”

One of the hotel’s most interesting attractions is the operation of the largest and most accessible lava tunnel on Santa Cruz island. The estate is home to Galápagos’ only fine dining restaurant in a lava tunnel —located nearly 60 feet underground.

Guests are escorted through a guided tour equipped with flashlights as they descend a lighted path through the lava tunnel. Once they arrive, there’s a six-course dinner with wine pairing. Food features local ingredients and seasonal selections.

Like everything else about the destination, Hackett says it is truly a one-of-a-kind intimate experience. “Here, guests can see the magnificent forces that created this incredible archipelago nestled deep within the earth.” 

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