grootbos private nature reserve south africa national geographic lodges
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, one of National Geographic's featured lodges, is located near the milkwood forests of South Africa's Western Cape. (Photo: Courtesy Grootbos Private Nature)

National Geographic Launches Line of Branded Hotels

Lodging is a new direction for the company

grootbos private nature reserve south africa national geographic lodges
Matt Bell

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The National Geographic Society announced today its foray into the hotel business. The 126-year-old nonprofit launched Unique Lodges of the World—a hotel collection that emphasizes sustainability, improving local communities, and promoting experiential travel.

“The idea has been over a year in the making,” Lynn Cutter, National Geographic Society’s executive vice president of travel and licensing, told Outside. “It was a natural extension of the travel portfolio we already have in place, like National Geographic Traveler magazine and National Geographic Expeditions, a travel program through which you can book tours.” Unique Lodges of the World launches with 24 properties spread across six continents; more lodges are in the pipeline.

The lodges that made the initial list evolved from suggestions by National Geographic Traveler editor-at-large Costas Christ and the portfolio used by National Geographic Expeditions. A few lodge operators that applied to be included in the collection were new to Nat Geo. “We spent between one and three months vetting each of properties individually to ensure they met our criteria,” Cutter said. “One lodge we liked didn’t make the list because we discovered they weren’t as involved with the local community as we would have liked. We advised them on how to improve their standing so that they could join Unique Lodges of the World in the future.”

Each lodge in the collection remains independently owned and operated but must adhere to Nat Geo’s standards to keep the Unique Lodges of the World branding. The lodges will be reevaluated every three years. Guests who book through the Unique Lodges of the World website will have access to exclusive experiences such as behind the scenes tours and dinners. 

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Lead Photo: Courtesy Grootbos Private Nature