By Lisa Wogan
One way to check-in and give back: Purchasing these gorgeous, sustainable hotel souvenirs made by skilled local artisans.
Rocking Woodworks at Canada’s Fogo Island Inn
Housed in narrow rectangular structures and resting on off-kilter stilts atop rocks pummeled by the North Atlantic, Fogo Island Inn, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, puts striking design to good use. In each of its 29 rooms, handmade rockers (pictured above), benches, nightstands, quilts, and rugs manage to be both sleek and charming – a result of their cooperative conjuring by international designers working alongside Fogo Island craftspeople. The furniture is for sale, and travelers can feel good about bringing it home because, as at the inn itself, a percentage of the profits is reinvested in the community by Shorefast, a foundation charged with creating economic and cultural sustainability in a region hard-hit by the collapse of the cod-fishing industry in the 1990s. Virtuoso travelers receive all meals and a $100 hotel credit.
Wrapped in Tradition at Hotel Emma
Surrounded by singular shops and restaurants that operate as incubators for young chefs, Hotel Emma is the jewel in the crown of San Antonio’s riverside Pearl District. The formerly lost-cause neighborhood has been completely reimagined, thanks to the 15-year renovation of an abandoned nineteenth-century brewery complex. Every detail in the hotel is just right, from its pressed-tin ceilings and cast-iron spiral staircase to the signature Guayarobes hanging in each of its 146 guest rooms. An homage to the city, the blue-and-white seersucker robes, classic sustainable hotel souvenirs, features the distinct pleat of traditional Mexican guayaberas and was designed and created by celebrated local guayabera maker Dos Carolinas. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and one lunch or dinner for two.
Noble Art from China’s Amanfayun
Buddhist philosophy infuses the calligraphy, landscape paintings, and photography on the walls of the 46-room Amanfayun resort in Hangzhou, China – just as it permeates the village next door and the UNESCO World Heritage site down the road. The art is available for purchase, so guests can bring home touchstones by artists who include a former monk from inner Mongolia; a near-hermit who paints the mountains, tea fields, and bamboo forests around the resort; and even talented local children. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.
Dream Catchers at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico
A porcupine with striped quills, a floral anteater, a polka-dotted monkey: These are the stuff of dreams at the 539-suite Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Carved from copal wood and painted by Oaxacan artisans in what is often a family enterprise, one of these small folk-art sculptures, known as alebrijes, is delivered at turndown on guests’ final night in Grand Class suites. Virtuoso travelers receive all meals and beverages, a bottle of mezcal, a $50 spa credit, and a one-way airport transfer.
Slow Salt from Portugal’s Vila Monte Farm House
Tap into the ebb and flow of traditional rural life in Portugal’s eastern Algarve during a visit to the 55-room Vila Monte Farm House, and take a taste of the region home. Vila Monte’s small grocery is thoughtfully stocked with small-batch staples produced just minutes away, including olive oil, honey, and Salmarim flor de sal. Hand-gathered from ponds in the marshes of a bird sanctuary, the flor de sal is created when time, air, sunshine, and human patience meet the Atlantic Ocean – and it’s considered by many chefs to be the best salt in the world. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and one 50-minute massage for two people.