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Making a Difference: Four Tourism Projects Win SATW Phoenix Awards

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Four tourism projects recently won Phoenix Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers.

 Winners of the 2014 Phoenix Awards include a non-profit organization aimed at restoring and sustaining the beauty of Hawaii, a foundation with the goal of preserving the renowned art deco-style of architecture in America’s heartland, a Chinese cultural retreat that provides an example of a respected model for sustainable cultural tourism and America’s largest family estate which has been preserved and maintained as a National Historic Landmark.

The Phoenix Awards were created by SATW in 1969 to recognize conservation and preservation efforts of individuals and organizations as they relate to travel. The four winning tourism projects are:

The Linden Centre

The Linden Centre is a nationally protected building – the Yang Family Courtyard in the Himalayan foothills of Southwest China – that has been restored into a cultural retreat for guests interested in learning more about local customs such as culinary, painting, writing, photography, holistic health and antique appreciation.

Established in 2008 by American-born, yet long-time Chinese residents, Brian and Jeanee Linden, the historic hotel has been authentically preserved and facilitates cross-cultural understanding by engaging local residents in guest programming.

 The Linden Centre is a respected model for sustainable cultural tourism in China, and the owners often confer with provincial and national government officials on prudent and appropriate tourism development alternatives to current mass-tourism models.

 In addition to The Linden Centre, the Lindens have opened two other sites: The Education Annex, home to a series of innovative learning programs, including the Sidwell Friends' semester program and Shanghai American School's Micro Campus; and The Linden Commons, which houses ceramics and painting studios, a cooking school, restaurants, spa and 14 suites. The latter, also a national relic, is one of the most pristine examples of pre-Revolutionary architecture in Southwest China.

 Of the four awards granted this year, The Linden Centre was only non US-based recipient.

Hawaiian Legacy Restoration Initiative (HLRI)

Since its inception four years ago, HLRI – the non-profit arm of Hawaii Island-based sustainable forestry company, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods – has planted more than 250,000 endemic koa, sandalwood and other endangered Hawaiian species across more than 650 acres on the upper slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano on the Island of Hawaii. Guests of the newly launched Legacy Tours can now plant their own koa Legacy Tree and visit the Legacy Forest.

Through a combination of revenue streams – including tree sponsorship, tree planning eco-tours and certified carbon credits – HLRI has provided debt-free reforestation, environmental and cultural education to the public.

Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (TFA)

Early 20th century oil barons – including Skelly, Getty and Phillips – committed to making Tulsa a cosmopolitan capital by commissioning great urban architecture of the era. Tulsa’s collection of art deco buildings rivals New York City and Miami in importance, but by the late 1990s these buildings were in disrepair and often at risk of demolition. Recognizing the importance of preserving these historic structures, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture was established in 1995 to lead the renovation efforts and maintain an archive of historic building plans and drawings.

This all-volunteer organization has repeatedly demonstrated a dedication to help raise awareness, identify funds, obtain tax credits, save threatened structures and guide restoration of significant art deco structures including the Philtower Building, Mayo Hotel, Mayo Building, Atlas Life Building (now a Courtyard by Marriott), among others.

The TFA has been the spark for revitalization efforts downtown and helped preserve the distinctive architectural heritage for the city, its visitors and residents. TFA hosts guided tours of downtown art deco buildings, averaging 40 guests per tour.

Biltmore Estate

This 250-room family estate, the largest in the U.S., was designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt and took 1,000 laborers five years to build. The original 125,000 acre-grounds were planned and created by Frederick Law Olmstead (designer of New York’s Central Park.) First occupied by George Washington Vanderbilt in 1895, today the Biltmore Estate is North Carolina’s most-visited attraction. Since William A.V. Cecil, a grandson of the founder, took over the tourism side of the estate, the property has added to its complex a respected award-winning winery, inn, special events, gardens, restaurants and shops.

While many great private homes have fallen into disrepair, the Cecil family uses tourism receipts to preserve and maintain this National Historic Landmark. William Cecil said he “didn’t preserve Biltmore to make money; he made money to preserve Biltmore”.

Biltmore continues to honor the 125-year Vanderbilt legacy by preserving the 8,000-acre grounds and 75 acres of formal gardens through several sustainability initiatives: solar panel installation offsetting 20% of the estate’s energy needs; a fruit/vegetable garden; 500 head Angus cattle and 500 sheep; and winery to supply over a dozen restaurants and hotels.

SATW Phoenix Awards

SATW members were invited to nominate individuals, communities, businesses or organizations that have contributed to a quality travel experience through conservation, preservation, beautification or environmental efforts.

Nominations describing the evolution and positive impacts of worthy projects were considered by the SATW Phoenix Awards Committee, led by co-chairs Bea Broda and Cheryl Hargrove, and were submitted with recommendations to the SATW Board of Directors for approval.

Brian T. Mullis, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Travel International, joined other Phoenix committee members – Diane Daniel, Marilyn Marx, Cathy Senecal, and Kathy Straach – as an expert advisor for the evaluation process.

See other recent news regarding: Interviews, Pictures, Videos, Linden Centre, Awards, Making a Difference, CSR

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