The Experientialist® Awards are back

The idea behind the Experientialist® Awards is a simple one: a not-for-profit, philanthropy-driven awards programme to recognise and applaud the luxury brands and people from across our big and beautiful world of travel that have delivered truly OutThere initiatives, ingenious and innovative ideas, original and dynamic campaigns, unparalleled leadership and community-first approaches in luxury and experiential travel. For an added feel-good factor, we also recognise the very best in OutThere experiences, particularly those rooted in our core values of diversity, discovery and discernment.

The response to last year’s awards was overwhelming: hundreds of feel-good and worthy entries and nominees from all corners of the world took part. We brought together a diverse and inclusive panel of Experientialist® judges – travel editors, journalists and content creators – experts in luxury and experiential travel, who helped us discern the shortlists. Then, of course, we put it out to OutThere travellers to make the final decision.

We showcased all the winners editorially, telling their extraordinary stories through the voices of our Experientialist®s in our annual Experientialist Awards Issue. Our hearts were warmed by the tales of deep dedication to 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 celebrated all the finalists and winners at our unique afternoon tea party.

We were thrilled to be able to give back, awarding each category winner(s) an advertising package prize worth GBP£15,000 / USD$20,000 each. All the initiatives that were shortlisted were extremely worthy and we know that even for those who didn’t take away the top prize, the exposure alone helped them raise much-needed awareness for their projects.

We were also thrilled to have raised GBP£10,000 / USD$13,000 in cash from generous entry donations, that went to the winners of the Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability. The prize fund was shared 75/25 between two amazing initiatives: Borana Lodge – All for Conservation / Borana Conservancy and True Travel – True Travel Foundation.

And we’re thrilled to say that the next edition of the awards is open for submissions This edition of The Experientialist® Awards will build on the success of the last and recognise all that is amazing about luxury and experiential travel today… its innovation, inclusivity, creativity, stewardship and resilience. We can’t wait to receive your entries!


Uwern Jong & Martin Perry
Founding Experientialist®s, OutThere

ENTRY DEADLINE: Friday 27th September 2024

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The Experientialist® Awards categories

Most OutThere travel brand

This category recognises revolutionary, mindful and forward-looking travel brands of all sizes and geographies – from hotels and resorts; to travel designers and tour operators; to cruises and experiences; to destination brands – that demonstrate unrivalled and holistic innovation, inclusivity, creativity and excellence across all aspects of their operations, linked specifically to OutThere’s core values of diversity, discovery and discernment.

Most OutThere champion

People make travel. We have always held in great esteem the leaders in luxury and experiential travel – both individuals and collectives – who through stewardship, creativity, innovation and tenacity have driven market-defining experiences and initiatives. They are role models and inspirations for their team members, defy the odds and deliver excellence in personalisation, diversity and inclusion, and guest experience. They can be hoteliers, tourism business owners, guides, rangers, ship captains, tourism ministers, heads of destination marketing organisations, or leaders and rising stars in travel operations, sales, communications and PR. Whoever they are, they should be pushing the boundaries and redefining the status quo of luxury travel.

Most OutThere initiative in inclusive travel

OutThere has always been the leading voice of inclusivity and intersectionality in luxury and experiential travel, representing travellers who seek a heightened level of personalisation and belonging when they head out into the world: simply because of who they are, how they identify, who they’re travelling with and who they love. We’re also all about amplifying the stories of minorities in the travel space, who are creating or are part of unique and visionary adventures that celebrate and bring to life the history and richness of their communities. This category honours the travel brands, destinations and experiences that are making a difference in this regard and are truly dedicated to personalisation, inclusivity and diversity in their work.

Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability

Social responsibility continues to be a core pillar for many of today’s luxury travel brands, encouraging travellers to journey with purpose and not just be conscious about where they travel, but also how they travel, why and who with. We have always believed that travel should – as much as possible – be regenerative, ‘give back’ or have a sense of ‘greater good’. It is heartwarming to see so many brands create initiatives that foster a deep and empathetic understanding of humanity, nature and sustainable custodianship, and garner support for them from their guests, travellers and the public at large. This category commends and rewards the very best social responsibility projects in community, conservation and sustainability, related to mindblowing travel experiences and true to OutThere’s core values.

*The winning project for the Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability will be the recipient of proceeds collected from entry donations.

The OutThere awards

In addition, we are thrilled to showcase six additional Experientialist Awards categories that celebrate the luxury travel brands, that like us, are rooted in diversity, discovery and discernment. Linked to the six OutThere’s traveller profiles, we are looking for hotels, resorts, cruises, experiences, journeys and itineraries that are not just stellar, but also transformative.

*These categories will be shortlisted by a panel of judges and then voted on by OutThere subscribers.

The Sophisticate award
Luxurious, taste-making, out-of-this-world properties, journeys and experiences.

The Escapist award
Brands and journeys that celebrate ‘getting away from it all’, wellbeing and peace of mind.

The Culturalist award
Brands with culture at their heart, not just limited to the Arts, but also the local community and destination that they’re in.

The Adventurer award
Brands with a sense of adventure and discovery, that gets travellers into the great outdoors and pushes their boundaries.

The Hedonist award
Simply indulgent, mindblowing properties and experiences rooted in fun and celebration.

The Insider award
Brands centred all around ‘being in the know’ – otherwise hard to access, but made available because of the brand’s innovation, creativity and connections.

Featured image: photography by Martin Perry, shot on location at Glen Artney, Scotland, special thanks to Gleneagles.

To enter

We welcome any luxury travel brand (and the people behind them) to enter the awards: from hotels, resorts and spas, private air tours, cruises, trains and other transport buinesses; to travel designers and companies, tour operators and DMCs; to tourist boards and destination marketing organisations; to travel tech, community interest companies and charities. Basically, if you are an organisation that is related to luxury and experiential travel, you qualify to apply. We’d also welcome collaborative entries (for example, a travel company + property, cruise line + individual), so please consider how partnering up could enhance your entry. Brands are also more than welcome to enter more than one category.

We ask that you consider the OutThere traveller and their needs and wants when making your entry – diversity and inclusion being something that greatly underpins their decision – alongside a boundless sense of discovery and a high level of discernment.

Each individual entry will require a donation of GBP£125 / USD$160. If you are entering from the UK, this fee does not include VAT, which will be added on at an additional 20%. An invoice for your donation will be automatically generated and emailed to you.

This is a not-for-profit awards and proceeds from donations will go to the winner of the ‘Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability’ category.

The entry procedure is simple. Click below to download the entry pack.

In this pack, you will see self-explanatory, standardised, individual entry forms, with strict word limits and specific entry requirements per category. Please only use the Word .doc forms provided, do not copy and replicate the form into a different format for submission.

Do not include any logos, images or try to get creative with copy point sizes (as we said, strict word limits!) on the form. The judges will make their decisions based on the strength of your written submission, not what it looks like. There will be an opportunity on the form to attach a link to further, supporting documents.

A hot tip. This edition’s judging panel (find out who judged the last edition) will be made up of a group of expert storytellers: editors, journalists and content creators. Tell a story and write your best, inspirational pitch! Get to your point quickly, tell us why you think your entry stands out above the rest and why it deserves to win. Focus on the why, rather than the what. Be imaginative and distinctive to ensure you catch our attention. Inspire us to learn more about your entry. Remember OutThere is all about ‘diversity, discovery and discernment’ and it is important that we hear how you’re leading the way in your part of the world/industry, especially concerning diversity.

Once you have completed your entry(ies), save it(them) in the file name (.doc, .docx and pdf only) and format it(them) as detailed on the form to your computer, mobile device or server. Then return to the website and load the “Submit Your Entry page“.

Then select how many entries you are submitting (how many documents you are uploading) and click ADD TO ORDER.

Complete your billing details in full (these details generate the automated invoice, so please fill them in carefully). Then, upload your entries (no more than 10Mb in total, please!).

Make your payment by credit card and PLACE ORDER.

That’s it! You will receive a confirmation of your order and an automated invoice will be attached.

Find out who won and was nominated in the last edition of the Experientialist® Awards >

Order a copy of the last Experientialist® Issue to see the editorialised winners and nominations in full >

The closing date for submissions is strictly FRIDAY 27th SEPTEMBER 2024.

The shortlist will be announced in November and the winners featured in our Experientialist Awards Issue (January/Feb 2025).

Good luck! Any questions please contact:

Featured image: photography by Charl Marais, on location in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Experientialist® Awards winners

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 is a GBP£15,000 / USD$20,000 display advertising package, in addition to fully editorialised inclusion in our awards edition of OutThere, with its front half dedicated to the Experientialist® Awards. The winners and highly commended of the ‘most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability’ share the GBP£10,000 / USD$6,500 proceeds.

Most OutThere travel brand

Winner: South Australia

South Australia has always placed their tourism emphasis on its fascinating people and spellbinding nature, celebrating an unwavering multicultural spirit (and respect for their Indigenous Peoples) that pushes the frontiers of experiential travel. They are truly grounded in an essence of diversity, discovery and discernment, not to mention responsible and sustainable travel.


Highly commended:
Scott Dunn


Journeys With Purpose

San Francisco

White Desert

Most OutThere initiative in inclusive travel

Winner: Belmond

When it comes to diversity, Belmond goes the extra mile… often literally, on their Travel with Pride train journeys on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train and British Pullman, A Belmond Train. They have spearheaded initiatives that showcase a true culture of inclusion in all that they do, particularly in delivering products and ideas aimed at diverse communities, while simultaneously raising money for marginalised people.


Highly commended:
Visit California

Discover Puerto Rico

Explora Journeys

Visit Malta

Visit Stockholm

Most OutThere champion

Joint-winner: Fred Dixon, New York City Tourism & Conventions

Fred is at the helm of one of our favourite OutThere destinations, New York City. As the CEO of the world’s biggest city destination marketing organisation, he has driven creativity and inclusivity by leading from the front. He is a dynamic and innovative tourism professional and exemplifies the NYC trope of “if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.”

Joint-winner: Kurt Macher, Shangri-la

Kurt is a firm believer in heartfelt, genuine hospitality for all. He is creative, (sometimes eccentric) and is someone who has thrown out the rule book on how Shangri-la should go about doing things. Moreover, he is a real champion for inclusivity, ensuring that his team and guests always feel welcome, respected and valued.


Anjali & Jaisal Singh, SUJAN

Christina Guggenberger, Stockholm LGBT

Karolin and Nick Troubetzkoy – Jade Mountain

Patrick Woodhead, White Desert

Most OutThere initiative in community, conservation and sustainability

Winner: Borana Lodge – All for Conservation / Borana Conservancy

Borana Lodge has pioneered a new, integrated model of responsible tourism that mitigates impact and powers uplifting local social programmes, which in turn feeds into its surrounding environment. It addresses giving back with rigorous ambition, channelling nearly a quarter of what it generates from tourism into community and conservation efforts.

Borana Lodge has been awarded £7,500 collected from entry donations; and True Travel £2,500… to further fund their projects.


Highly commended: True Travel – True Travel Foundation

Abercrombie & Kent – A&K Philanthropy

The Datai Langkawi – The Datai Pledge

Red Carnation Hotels – TreadRight Foundation / Make Travel Matter

Virgin Limited Edition, Mahali Mzuri – Inua Jamli

The following six categories for the Experientialist Awards celebrate the luxury travel brands, that like us, are rooted in diversity, discovery and discernment, linked to the six OutThere traveller profiles.

The Adventurer award

Winner: Miavana by Time + Tide

Miavana by Time + Tide is the way to escape the ordinary. A journey there to its castaway island just off the coast of Madagascar takes OutThere travellers to a part of the world that is lesser visited… and thrills them with adventure, culture, exploration, nature and unadulterated luxury.


Cookson Adventures



The Pavilions Mongolia and Himalayas

Uncruise Adventures

The Culturalist award

Winner: Villa Ardore

Villa Ardore‘s owners only began to explore Tuscany a decade ago, but in this time, they have become a really important part of the community; creating a personalised, luxurious and cultural experience, ensuring that their guests will feel just as bewitched as the owners did when they first invested in this stunning property.


Almae Collection

Ashford Castle

Hotel De L’Europe Amsterdam

The Rebello

The Siam

The Escapist award


There is so much we can say about FORESTIS but nothing can ever come close to experiencing this place for yourself. It transcends all our basic notions of escapism, extending into unique human narratives, rituals and deeply immersive experiences rooted in nature.


Casa Chablé

Elegant Resorts

Il San Corrado di Noto

IZZA Marrakech

NIHI Sumba

The Hedonist award

Winner: West Hollywood

The city of West Hollywood in Los Angeles has long been a beacon for hedonism and eclectic lifestyles. It is one of the Most OutThere places in the world to stay, slay, play and party.


Copacabana Palace, A Belmond hotel


The Slate, Phuket

Windjammer Landing


The Insider award

Winner: cazenove + loyd

cazenove + loyd is a responsible tour operator that is all about insider access and opening the wonders of the world up to travellers, alongside pioneering travel with impact. They’ve done so for decades. With cazenove + loyd, the world seems truly unlocked.


Abercrombie & Kent

Black Tomato

Maisons Pariente

Scott Dunn

True Travel

The Sophisticate award

Winner: One&Only Reethi Rah

One&Only Reethi Rah is considered to be one of the very best resorts in its class, if not the best. Besides being impeccably swanky, there’s a real spirit of generosity about our winner, along with a zeal to truly understand and personalise the stay for each guest, not to mention delivering pure, unadulterated luxury.


Crystal Cruises

Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River

J.K. Place Capri

Raffles Singapore

Six Senses

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‘Spilling the Tea’ at Home House
6th Feb 2024

Our unique afternoon-tea awards ceremony celebrates our finalists and announces the winners of the awards. A very special thank you to Home House, Soneva, Meet Boston, Gusbourne, Wild Idol and Newby Teas, for their support.

Photography by Courteney Frisby / OutThere magazine

Meet last edition’s Experientialist® judges

Our judging panel is made up of a diverse cross-section of some of the best editors, travel writers and content creators in experiential travel. A special thank you to all our Experientialist® judges for taking the time to deliberate over the entries.

Aisha and Lexie Shaibu-Lenoir
Aisha & Lexie are a married queer content-creator couple otherwise known as @thequeernomads. They are brand ambassadors for several travel brands including Belmond, Celebrity Cruises and Contiki. Their mission is to increase the visibility of queer women of colour in the travel industry and media, through their lived experiences, travelling across the world to showcase, feature and uplift marginalised voices through brands and companies that align with our values. As prominent queer members in the LGBTQ+ community, they make impact through the work we do with UK Black Pride and other community projects.

Caoilfhionn Macguire
Caoilfhionn is a travel writer, photographer and filmmaker contributing to Condé Nast Traveller, OutThere, Arcadia, Elle, & Suitcase among others. She travels the world with Crusoe Collective, her content production agency for sustainable travel & lifestyle brands. From hotels and fashion houses to tourist boards and global beer brands, Caoilfhionn uses the power of photography & filmmaking to create emotive consumer-led stories for clients.

Francisca Kellett
Francisca is the Travel editor-at-large for Country & Town House magazine, and was previously the Travel editor at Tatler magazine, and Digital travel editor at The Telegraph Media Group. She continues to write for a number of the world’s leading publications, including The Times, The Sunday Times, LUXX, National Geographic Traveller and The FT, 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 significantly 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.

Jeninne Lee-St. John
Jeninne is Travel+Leisure South East Asia’s editor-in-chief, loves living in Bangkok, though she wishes it were also on a beach. She’s especially interested in food with a good backstory, new ways to define luxury, regenerative travel, wellness from ancient to cutting-edge, and weird wine. Jeninne worked at Time in New York and London, has a masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and a bachelors from Williams College. Born in Washington, D.C., she’s lived in Southeast Asia since 2009, and is known among friends as the queen of bubbles.

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.

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.

Patrick Hamilton Courtney
Patrick is a travel and arts writer who was previously travel editor at Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. His background as a writer of Thai heritage informs his editorial voice, and he specialises in stories about cultural and design-led experiences. He has recently contributed to titles including World of Interiors and Service95, amongst others.

Steffen Michels
Steffen is OutThere’s Digital Experientialist (Editor) and heads up all things online and social at the magazine.. He is passionate about authentic travel experiences, arts and culture, animal rights advocacy and environmentalism.

Ute Junker
Ute is an award-winning travel writer, editor and podcaster. She has spent 20 years charting the evolution of luxury travel for a range of leading publications including the Centurion and Departures magazines, The Australian Financial Review, The South China Morning Post, T Australia: the New York Times Style Magazine and Delicious.

Uwern Jong
Uwern is co-Founder and Experientialist-in-Chief at OutThere, celebrating over a decade of publishing as an award-winning luxury and experiential travel journal rooted in diversity, discovery and discernment.

Featured image: photography by Martin Perry, shot on location at Maslin Beach, South Australia

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