Santiago Dunn was a green traveler before the world even discovered green travel. As the owner of a successful luxury yacht company in the Galápagos Islands, he grew up in Ecuador’s biggest city – Santiago de Guayaquil. His entrepreneurial family invested in hotels and cruise ships when he was a child. But it was Dunn who introduced his family business to ecological travel. “Ecoventura started in 1991,’’ said Dunn. “The idea was to do eco trips. Eco was not popular back then.’’
Not satisfied with just providing his guests with an ecological sailing experience surrounded by natural beauty on the Galápagos Islands, Dunn decided to infuse his cruises with the one thing many travelers love – luxury! “Why would you have to sacrifice luxury of your guests?’’ asked Dunn. “One should integrate the eco part with the luxury part.’’
The Galápagos Islands
Dunn has managed to accomplish with Ecoventura what few companies have – the most luxurious, environmentally friendly travel experience in a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site. The Galápagos Islands consist of a number of volcanic islands that feature some of the most interesting indigenous animals on the planet. It also boasts some of the most visually stunning fauna and flora in all of South America.
Besides the natural beauty tourists experience on their visits to the Galápagos Islands, it’s what Dunn’s eco-cruise company is doing to keep the Galápagos Islands unsoiled and pollution free that is winning people over. The travel company is part of a number of sustainable and ecological initiatives that proves they aren’t just green by name, but by deeds. Its affiliates read like a Who’s Who. From its membership in the Rainforest Alliance, which lets consumers know if they are buying a service from a company that cares about the environment, to being a part of the Galápagos Traveler Conservation Fund, which consists of companies actually practicing sustainable tourism, to being the first company on the island to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent from 2006 to 2011. Ecoventura found the perfect setting for a company looking to “do no harm’’ to its surrounding.
Yacht MV Origin
Ecoventura operates four yachts in the Galápagos Islands. “We’ve designed these new yachts on the luxury side, and they’re totally eco-friendly,’’ said Dunn. And one of the best yachts is its MV Origin. “The Origin is for 20 passengers. We’ve got 10 outside-facing cabins all on one deck, roughly 140 square feet,’’ said Dunn. “They could have king size or twin beds, so it’s a very versatile ship.’’
And Ecoventura wants you to see and do a lot while visiting Ecuador’s pristine destination. From visiting the Galápagos National Park to getting up close with rare wildlife, and hopping around from island to island to sightsee, they make sure visitors experience what it’s like to live in an untouched habitat.
The cost of the trip represents that. The prices of Ecoventura’s cruises run in the high thousands. “We do seven-night trips, Sunday to Sunday, year round. Double occupancy is $7,850 per person. So a cabin is roughly $15,700,’’ said Dunn. That includes all meals, alcoholic beverages, WiFi and access to 14 experienced Ecuadorian crew members, including two naturalist guides. And while sailing if you are so inclined to go kayaking, snorkeling or paddle-boarding, you’ll find all the amenities you need for those activities. But there is one thing the MV Origin price tag doesn’t include – tips. “Let me tell you what we don’t include. Purchases in the boutique, of course, and gratuities,’’ said Dunn.
A Marriage on the High Seas
Ecoventura’s ability to seamlessly weave luxury and splendor with sustainability has also garnered the attention of the world’s leading luxury hotel and restaurant association, Relais & Châteaux. The association consists of more than 500 distinguished hotels and restaurants. And recently, Ecoventura’s MV Origin Yacht became the first luxury expedition yacht in the Galápagos Islands to become an official member of the Relais & Châteaux Collection. “We’re the first company in Ecuador to become a Relais Châteaux property,’’ Dunn exclaimed. “We’re really proud of that.’’
Yacht MV Theory
The Relais & Châteaux seal of approval came just in time for the launch of the company’s next big thing – the maiden voyage of the MV Theory. Like the MV Origin, the MV Theory is also an eco-luxury and sustainable yacht that will set sail in March 2019. From spacious sundecks to a hot tub to a fitness center, the MV Theory has everything tourists loved about the MV Origin and a little more.
All 10 deluxe staterooms on deck have exactly what most travelers crave – wide ocean views! And in addition to the WiFi, each stateroom is fitted with Apple TV which is pre loaded with movies and a docking station. All creature comforts that you might not necessarily get on larger cruise ships with thousands of people.
What you eat is just as important as what you do and see. So most of the meals are prepared by culinary school-trained chefs who use some locally sourced Ecuadorian specialties. “Today 25 percent of the food is produced in Galápagos and out of the complete menu, 51 percent is organic. So that’s a good number,’’ said Dunn. And if the healthy dishes aren’t enough, there’s always the bar. Guests are treated to an open bar on both yachts. ”
For more information on the cruises offered by Ecoventura, visit www.ecoventura.com