UNESCO names the Maldives’ Baa Atoll, West Lake at Hangzhou and Wadi Rum near Amman smong World’s Most Important Natural and Cultural Sites
Friday 22, July 2011
The Baa Atoll, home to Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, has just been named a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
It’s the first site in the Maldives, joining more than 560 other reserves around the world, each dedicated to promoting sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
“Our team of biologists and staff have been working closely with the Maldivian government to preserve the delicate environment of the Baa Atoll through programs such as coral propagation, the Manta Ray Project, sea turtle protection and our Marine Discovery Centre,” says Regional Vice President and General Manager Armando Kraenzlin of the Resort. “Now the world will know what our guests already appreciate - that this area is environmentally unique and fascinating.”
The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, home to the new Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake, has just been named to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The area, which includes the lake’s surrounding hills, has inspired poets, scholars, artists and even Marco Polo since the 9th century with its beautiful landscape, historic temples and pagodas, extensive gardens and its centuries-old man-made causeways and islands.
“From the first glimpse of West Lake, it’s clear that this is a very special place. Our Hotel is tucked away in one of the West Lake’s prettiest lagoons, set among acres of landscaped gardens inspired by the local aesthetic,” says General Manager Rudolf van Dijk of the hotel. “The opportunity to help people from across China and around the world discover this astounding area is a matter of pride and joy for our staff.”
Also new to the World Heritage List is the Wadi Rum Protected Area in Jordan. The 74,000 hectare (268 square mile) area is a popular destination for guests of Four Seasons Hotel Amman, who are enchanted by its desert landscape, narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs and hidden caverns that reveal petroglyphs, thousands of inscriptions and archaeological remains of cultures going back 12,000 years.
More Natural Wonders
Many other sites of immense beauty, ancient geologic history and biologic significance are also recognized and supported by UNESCO.
Malaysia’s only Geopark, part of a global network supported by UNESCO is on the island of Langkawi, home to Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. Here, explorers can see some of the world’s oldest and most intriguing geological gems etched into sea cliffs and caves.
The Area de Conservación Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica is a World Heritage Site and home to many endangered or rare plant and animal species. At Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, guests participate in volunteer programs that help preserve protected areas, as well as assist local communities.
From Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, it’s a short flight to the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve on the nearby island of Praslin, also a World Heritage Site. The virgin palm forest is 650 million years old, and offers travellers the opportunity to see the legendary coco de mar fruits.
UNESCO also recognises place of cultural significance around the world.
With the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Baku this winter, the doors are open to Azerbaijan’s Walled City of Baku, another World Heritage Site. Inhabited for millennia, the area shows evidence of cultures as diverse as Arabic, Ottoman, Persian, Russian and Zoroastrian. Highlights include the 12th century Maiden Tower and 15th century Shirvanshah’s Palace, as well as structures dating back as far as the 7th and 6th centuries BC.
Portugal’s history of maritime dominance can be experienced by Four Seasons guests at World Heritage Sites that are oceans apart. Near Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay is the charming town of Colonia del Sacramento, founded by Portuguese settlers in 1680, and on the other side of the world, near Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip, the legacy of centuries of colonial trade are seen amid the cobblestone streets of Macau. Back home in Portugal, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers a home base from which to explore the Belém Tower and the Hieronymite Monastery.
Also in Europe, cities on the World Heritage List include the hometowns of Four Seasons Hotel Prague, Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris and the new Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. With the guidance of each hotel’s expert concierge team, guests can experience the historic city of old Prague with the iconic Charles Bridge crossing the Vltava River right across from the Hotel, stroll the romantic banks of the Seine just minutes from Four Seasons, and explore the majestic Westminster Abbey, a short walk across the park from the new Hotel.
Other destinations recognised by UNESCO include the former Siamese capital of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, a couple hours’ drive from Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, the distinctive Sydney Opera House, near Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, and the historic centre of Mexico City, home to Four Seasons Hotel M éxico, DF.
For more inspiring itineraries, concierge recommendations and destination news, visit Four Seasons magazine online.
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