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@nataliaswarz for @hotelweekend

@nataliaswarz for @hotelweekend

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hotel-weekend-travel-club-editorial-scroll

@nataliaswarz for @hotelweekend

“I launched Hôtel Weekend back in 2015 with the idea of sharing the hidden gems I found along my travels with people who had a similar mindset around traveling. At the moment there were not many places to look for small, beautiful hotels that shared a philosophy of slow living. I wanted to create a portal for those who enjoyed design-oriented, meaningful experiences. Little by little, a community of likeminded explorers.”

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First of all, can you introduce Hôtel Weekend and your mission with it? 

I launched Hôtel Weekend back in 2015 with the idea of sharing the hidden gems I found along my travels with people who had a similar mindset around traveling. At the moment there were not many places to look for small, beautiful hotels that shared a philosophy of slow living. I wanted to create a portal for those who enjoyed design-oriented, meaningful experiences. Little by little, a community of likeminded explorers.

 

Where did your love for travel come from and when did you realize that it was an industry that needed to be done more thoughtfully?

My mother was a traveler. She dreamt of exploring the world. She was such a free spirit and I loved that about her, hoping one day I would be like her. My mom passed away when I was 17, I believe every time I travel she’s right there by my side. 

I moved to Europe from Colombia when I was 20. Here, I discovered how everyone was so into fast travel, it was so easy. . We didn’t have that in Colombia as it’s more expensive to travel both inland and to other countries, so people usually plan their vacations more thoughtfully. But in Spain, you could easily go to Italy, Greece, France, and basically anywhere for a weekend for less than 100€ (the airfare). I did this a couple of times with friends before realizing I wasn’t really enjoying each destination. Everything felt rushed, impersonal, and not fulfilling – let alone not sustainable. I started traveling more consciously, taking more time to really discover the heart of the destination. Quality over quantity. Less places but more in dept.

 

 

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What does the idea of exploring the world at a slower pace mean to you? 

It’s about going to a place with an open mind and heart. Slow travel is about taking the time to really experience a destination by immersing yourself in the local culture and environment. It is about exploring and discovering each place in its own unique way, without being rushed. It encourages travelers to slow down and appreciate the beauty of their surroundings, instead of just seeing the main sights in a hurry. It also encourages a conscious approach to travel, with respect for the natural environment, local customs and cultures. while also opening up the possibility of new cultural exchanges, personal experiences and memories.

 

And what about the idea of “barefoot living” that you embrace? 

It’s a gentle way of living and exploring the world. Of enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Finding beauty in the ordinary, and in imperfection. 

 

You talk about supporting local and artisanal projects within the Hotel Weekend community – what does that look like for you? 

At the Souvenir Shop, we partner with local, independent and mostly women designers that create beautiful products. We promote “made to order” products and educate our customer that’s its worth the wait as this system makes each product more special and sustainable. 

 

 

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“Slow travel is about taking the time to really experience a destination by immersing yourself in the local culture and environment. It is about exploring and discovering each place in its own unique way, without being rushed. It encourages travellers to slow down and appreciate the beauty of their surroundings, instead of just seeing the main sights in a hurry. It also encourages a conscious approach to travel, with respect for the natural environment, local customs and cultures. while also opening up the possibility of new cultural exchanges, personal experiences and memories.”

Can you give us an example of a project that you feel truly embraces consciousness when it comes to a destination you are promoting? 

On each of our city guides, we promote small local businesses and independent stays. Supporting small businesses when we travel is an important way to help ensure the local economy thrives. This benefits both the destination and the local community in a number of ways. Slow traveling, allows us to more deeply appreciate our destination and immerse ourselves in the culture. This kind of intentional, conscious travel also ensures we are knowledgeable about the culture and customs so that we can be respectful guests. 

Additionally, we encourage our travelers to stay longer on each destination, as a way to really immerse ourselves on each place. 

 

Are there any other ways you have looked at sustainability for the hotels that you feature that you feel is unique? 

We mostly work with small, family owned hotels. Sustainability is a long path and each of the hotels we feature are on it, on different stages and processes but they are very conscious about their efforts. I love staying at small hotels where you can sit down to have breakfast with the owner, for them to tell you all about their space, and what they’re doing to give back to the planet and the community. 

 

What do you personally look for when you travel? 

To meet new people, try new foods and get inspired by each destination. Traveling always opens our minds and hearts. Since my daughter was born, we’ve been traveling so much. I want travel to be part of her, she really enjoys it and for me, it’s been like rediscovering the world.

 

 

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Do you have a trip coming up this year that you are most excited about and if so, can you tell us a bit about why this one will be meaningful to you and your ethos?   

We want to spend this summer somewhere in Denmark, Sweden or Norway. We usually spend our summers in the Mediterranean but this time we are really looking forward to something different. Maybe rent a little house and enjoy the long summer days, pure “hygge”. 

Finally, we are going to Japan as my husband has an art residence there that was meant to happen in 2020, and we were just able to reschedule until now. I’m really curious and know we will absolutely love it, can’t wait to discover. Art residences are a great way to travel as it’s an opportunity to feel more like a local. 

 

Finally, can you give us your top three tips for sustainable, and even better regenerative, travel? 

1. Slow down your pace of travel and make use of more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation options, like taking a train instead of flying. Choose a destination that doesn’t get so many tourists, and travel during low season if possible.

2. Choose locally sourced goods and services. Supporting local businesses will have a positive economic impact on the community you’re visiting. It truly makes a difference to small businesses.

3. Be conscious about your impact, and always respect your surroundings. There is no better way to discover a city than getting lost walking around town.

 

Follow Hôtel Weekend @hotelweekend

Follow Natalia @nataliaswarz

 

 

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