A lot has happened for OutThere and luxury travel in the year the Earth stood still. We inch slowly towards holidaying again, but while our progress may be slower than we had hoped, we’re full of optimism for what’s to come and confident that as an industry we are moving forward positively in so many ways, and soon, skyward.
In 2020, we launched a new online platform – The #Experientialist – urging OutThere travellers who felt grounded by the pandemic to #KeepYourMindTravelling. As part of that, we launched our inaugural Experientialist Awards, to recognise and applaud the luxury brands and people from across our big and beautiful world that have delivered truly OutThere initiatives, ingenious activities and community-first approaches. Then, for the added feel-good factor, we also wanted to recognise the very best in OutThere experiences.
The response was overwhelming: hundreds of worthy nominees from all corners of the world took part. We brought together a diverse and inclusive panel of Experientialist judges to help us discern the shortlists and then of course, we put it out to OutThere travellers to make the final decision.
We are extremely proud to showcase this year’s winners and tell their extraordinary stories through OutThere voices in our Experientialist Issue, on sale now (order your copy!). Our hearts are warmed by the tales of deep dedication for putting people firmly ahead of profits; of boundary-pushing pioneers who are redefining what it means to be global citizens; of celebrated living and the very best in culture, sophistication and hedonism. We’re thrilled to be able to give back, awarding each category winner(s) an advertising package prize, to help them build back.
“Despite the challenging year for travel, we’re also thrilled to have raised £5,000 in cash from the entry donations, to go to the winner of the Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability.”
All the initiatives shortlisted were so worthy, and it was a very close call. We hope that even for those who didn’t win this time, the exposure we’re able to offer will raise much-needed awareness for their projects. And as with all our winners and finalists this year, we know that you’ll see from their stories, just how far we have all come in a year, although most of us didn’t physically go anywhere at all.
Congratulations again, you’re all winners in our eyes. And thank you for your support. We hope that you’ll enter again the next edition, soon to be announced!
Uwern Jong & Martin Perry Founding Experientialists, OutThere
Email us to enquire about, or sponsor our 2021/22 awards
A huge congratulations to all our winners and finalists. There were hundreds of fabulous and worthy entries this year and the quality of entries was extremely high. Our panel of esteemed judges worked extremely hard to take six OutThere brands through in each category. The four “Most OutThere” award winners were selected by a panel of handpicked judges. The winners of the six OutThere awards categories were voted by OutThere readers.
The prize for each category winner will be a £15,000 / US20,000 print/online display advertising package. Where there are joint winners, the prize will be shared. The winners of the ‘most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability’ will share the £5,000 proceeds of the donations made by entrants.
The following four categories award the luxury and experiential travel brands that have demonstrated unparalleled excellence during the COVID pandemic.
Most OutThere travel brand
Belmond has always been a good-time brand that exists to connect its guests to taste-leading experience makers. But this past year it was heartwarming to see the brand up its high-brow entertainment to nourish our wanderlust and keep the dream of travel alive.
Quinta do Lago
Most OutThere campaign
Winner: Six Senses – At home with Six Senses
From meditation experts in beatific Bhutan to gut-health nutritionists in fairytale Fiji, wellbeing leaders Six Senses remained dedicated to feeding their loyal fans with inspiring ways to live life to the fullest from home and to approach the lockdown mindfully.
Reignite your love for travel – ACCOR
Beyond the clouds, there is always light – JNTO
#InThePink – The Langham Hotels & Resorts
NIZUC at home – NIZUC Resort & Spa
Reconnect with the world – Tahiti Tourisme
Most OutThere champion
Winner: Robert Sharp, Out Adventures
Putting the needs and concerns of travellers and the LGBTQ+ community first – particularly during the pandemic – has always been at the forefront of what Canadian group tour leaders Out Adventures – owned by Robert Sharp – is all about.
Calum Franklin & Nokx Majozi – Rosewood London
Georgie Davidson – Boschendal
John Roberts – Anantara
Malik Fernando – Resplendent Ceylon
Roque Sevilla – Metropolitan Touring
Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability
Joint winners: Bill Bensley & The Shinta Mani Foundation and Ride4Rangers
When it comes to protecting wildlife and the communities around it, Bill Bensley’s Shinta Mani Foundation and Ben Morison’s Ride4Rangers have both gone the extra mile, by increasing the intensity of their work, or finding new ways to fund their projects.
The Shinta Mani Foundation and Ride4Rangers will share the £5,000 collected from entry donations to further fund their projects.
Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy
ACCOR – All Heartist Fund
Six Senses – Give Rice
Sol y Luna Foundation
The following six categories for the Experientialist Awards are unrelated to COVID, but celebrate the luxury travel brands, that like us, are rooted in diversity, discovery and discernment at any time and linked to the six OutThere traveller profiles.
The Adventurer award
Winner: Cookson Adventures
Setting a new bar in hyper-personalised, super-luxury adventure travel, Cookson Adventures are enticing curious and worldly travellers to head out and explore the planet once again in a distinctive, fine-tuned and moreover, safe way.
Another World Adventures
Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild
The Culturalist award
Winner: The Siam x Smiling Albino
We got quite literally under the skin of Thai culture in Bangkok, Thailand’s ‘City of Angels’ with The Siam. The sophisticated luxury hotel that has developed a true sense of place has caught the eye of OutThere travellers, especially when paired with out-of-the-box cultural immersion courtesy of Smiling Albino.
After the year that was, it seems that escapism and wellness have firmly cemented their intrinsic bond and are high on the list of priorities for OutThere travellers. Chablé Hotels on Mexico’s East Coast and SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain take this hotly contested category.
Highly commended: COMO Hotels
COMO Hotels’ proactive approach to wellness and holistic wellbeing didn’t go unnoticed by OutThere travellers and it came so close to topping the list, that we had just recognise it with a commendation.
São Lourenço do Barrocal
The Hedonist award
Winner: Tel Aviv
The beachside city of Tel Aviv has a long-held reputation for hedonism, a favourite of OutThere travellers who adore its full-of-life residents. We can’t wait for the time to come when we will be able to celebrate the city’s forward-looking exuberance once again.
Eden Rock St Barths
Iconic Luxury Hotels
The Nautilus Maldives
SO/ Hua Hin
The Insider award
Joint winners: Ayu in the Wild and Carrier
With the OutThere traveller always looking to adventure just that little bit slower, more intelligently and better, to discover the inside track on what’s happening in a destination, who better than to turn to than this category’s joint winners, Sri Lankan slow-travel experts Ayu in the Wild and luxury tour operator, Carrier.
These six brands are all centred around ‘being in the know’ – they’re otherwise hard to access journeys, but made available because of the brand’s innovation, creativity and connections.
Abercrombie & Kent
Another World Adventures
Tuscany Now & More
The Sophisticate award
Winner: Abercrombie & Kent Ultra-Lux Collection
Abercrombie & Kent’s highly sophisticated ultra-luxury trips and top-notch itineraries – the “money can’t buy” experiences – are all about reconnection, with people and nature, linked to giving back to communities. They’re centred around elite experiences that challenge the norm, broaden horizons and offer ultimate levels of luxury.
Our judging panel is made up of a diverse cross-section of some of the best editors and travel writers in experiential travel. A special thank you to all our Experientialist judges for taking the time to deliberate over what has been a hundred and fifty plus entries.
Alex Temblador Alex is an award-winning author and a freelance travel writer best known for her coverage of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her work has appeared in outlets like Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, TravelPulse, Outside, Vice, Architectural Digest, Culture Trip, TimeOut, The Daily Beast, Lonely Planet, among many others.
Andrew Headspeath Andrew is the former APAC Editor at Culture Trip, working with local writers and renowned hospitality brands to boost tourism in Southeast Asia. With proud Filipino heritage, he is passionate about elevating queer and BIPOC voices in travel. Andrew has written for publications including CNN and Attitude, and was shortlisted for Young Travel Writer of the Year 2019 at the AITO Awards.
Caoilfhionn Macguire Caoilfhionn is a travel writer and photographer contributing to Arcadia, Elle, Gay Times & The Culture Trip, among others. Caoilfhionn owns Crusoe Collective, a content creation agency for sustainable travel & lifestyle brands. From hotels and fashion houses, to tourist boards and global beer brands, Caoilfhionn uses the power of photography & video to create emotive, consumer-led stories.
Francisca Kellett Francisca has 20 years’ experience as a travel editor, writer and columnist for some of the world’s leading publications, including Tatler, The Daily Telegraph, House & Garden, National Geographic, The Times and The FT. She co-founded Mundi & Co in 2018, a creative agency that provides exceptional content for exceptional brands, and is regarded as an industry expert on luxury and sustainable travel.
Hollie-Rae Brader Hollie-Rae is editor of luxury travel trade magazine Aspire. Since taking the helm at Aspire in 2016 she has increased the magazine’s frequency and grown its distribution. To ensure the magazine is the leading title for luxury travel sellers she also introduced a string of networking and thought-leadership events and offers consumer marketing tools for her readers. Prior to joining Aspire, Hollie was deputy news editor and cruise reporter at sister title Travel Weekly.
Jenny Southan Jenny is Editor and Founder of Globetrender, an online magazine and trend forecasting agency dedicated to the future of travel. She specialises in forward-looking, consumer-facing editorial as well as trend reports, research and consulting services for the travel industry. She is also a freelance travel writer and contributor on titles like Mr Porter, Conde Nast Traveller and City AM.
Jonathan Thompson JT is a multi award-winning travel writer and the US travel correspondent for The Sunday Times. As a freelancer, he contributes to a wide range of publications on both sides of the Atlantic, from Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler to Tatler, National Geographic Traveller, Mr. Porter, GQ and Esquire.
LoAnn Halden LoAnn Halden has spent the past 20 years exploring the world and supporting LGBTQ+ travel as a writer, editor and currently as VP-Communications for the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA).
Lottie Gross Lottie is a freelance travel writer and editor. She has reported for the UK’s Daily Telegraph, BBC Radio 4 and World Service and has acted as a digital editor for multiple high-profile publishers and magazines.
Martin Perry Martin is co-Founder and Creative Director of OutThere and heads up OutThere/Studio, the first-of-its-kind brand engagement agency that specialises in diverse and inclusive content for destinations and travel brands.
Uwern Jong Uwern is co-Founder and Experientialist-in-Chief at OutThere, celebrating a decade of publishing as an award-winning luxury and experiential travel journal rooted in diversity, discovery and discernment.