Elizabeth Becker is the author of Overbooked: the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, which travel writer Arthur Frommer called "required reading for anyone interested in the future of travel." She reported on international and national affairs as a correspondent at the New York Times, winning multiple awards, was the senior foreign editor of National Public Radio, and began her career as a war correspondent in Cambodia for the Washington Post. She is the author of When the War was Over, Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. In 2019, she was named one of Condé Nast Traveler's "people changing the way we travel."
Ewald Biemans opened Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts in 1987; since then, the resort has enjoyed average yearly occupancies of +90%. The environmental honors Mr. Ewald has received include CHA's award for Environmental Stewardship and the International Hotel & Restaurant Association Award for Innovation in Environmental Best Practice. As a pioneer in eco-friendly practices, he has led Bucuti & Tara to achieve the ISO 14001 environmental certification every year since 2003. Most recently, Bucuti & Tara has been named one of the Top 25 Hotels for Romance in the World and the # 1 Hotel in the Caribbean in the 2015 TripAdivsor Traveler's Choice Awards.
Chris Blackwell, the acclaimed hotelier and media entrepreneur who founded Island Records and introduced the world to Bob Marley and U2, recently reopened GoldenEye Hotel. Originally built for novelist Ian Fleming's Jamaican retreat, it is now an award-winning destination.
Long before sustainability and stewardship became the bywords for responsible tourism, Mr. Blackwell's Jamaica-based hotel portfolio, Island Outpost resorts, began setting the standard for socially and environmentally conscious travel. Composed of a portfolio of three award-winning boutique hotels and a 2,500-acre working organic farm, the Island Outpost collection has been described by Condé Nast Traveler as "a close-knit family of wildly attractive, intelligent and anarchic kids, they are utterly independent and quite impossible to separate from one another. But something they have all inherited is Blackwell's easy charm, his amused and iconoclastic view of the world, his sense of fun and style, his instinct for beauty."
Although Island Outpost resorts have hosted Heads of State and Grammy winners alike, Mr. Blackwell himself often shuns the limelight, preferring to work behind the scene to create lasting cultural change. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and lives with his family on a 2,500-acre organic farm called Pantrepant.
Dorinda (Dinda) Elliott is the Editorial and Communications Director of the Paulson Institute and the former Global Affairs Editor for Condé Nast Traveler. While at Traveler, Mrs. Elliott led coverage of global issues and corporate social responsibility in the travel industry. She covered a diverse array of issues regarding social responsibility in tourism, all culminating in the annual Condé Nast World Savers Awards.
Prior to joining Traveler, Mrs. Elliott covered the beginnings of China's economic reforms in 1984 for BusinessWeek and served as Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek from 1987 to 1990. She also covered Boris Yeltsin's presidency for three years as Moscow bureau chief before returning to Hong Kong for a decade, traveling and reporting across China. During this time, her team at Newsweek won an Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Mrs. Elliott graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She was also a Gannett Fellow at the Gannet Center of Journalism at Columbia University.
Susie Ellis is chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, a leading non-profit research and educational resource for the global wellness industry. She also guides the Global Wellness Summit, an international organization representing senior executives and leaders, and is president of Spafinder Wellness, Inc. Recognized as a top authority on the worldwide wellness industry, she is a prominent writer and speaker that is frequently quoted in news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. She holds an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is the recipient of the International Spa Association's Visionary Award.
Jake Kheel is the Environmental Director for Puntacana Resort & Club, one of the most successful companies in the Dominican Republic, with a distinguished history in sustainable coastal tourism development. For the past eight years, Kheel has overseen the Corporate Environmental Affairs for the resort, including solid waste management, environmental quality control, environmental permitting, and energy and water conservation.
Kheel is also Executive Director of the not-for-profit Puntacana Ecological Foundation. For the past 15 years, the foundation has successfully implemented innovative solutions to numerous social and environmental issues, ranging from implementation of the largest recycling operation in the country, conservation of endangered species, and coral reef restoration and marine management. Kheel has a master's degree in Environmental Management from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree in Spanish literature from Wesleyan University.
Dennis Pinto graduated from Stanford University and travelled the world as a vice president for American Express International Banking. He took a six-month sabbatical to set up a Micato New York office for the family, and some twenty-five years later, he's never looked back. Skillfully honing the Micato safari philosophy of luxury, exploration, culture and responsibility, he also co-founded the company nonprofit arm, AmericaShare.
Sonu Shivdasani and his wife, Eva, have created a pioneering vision for sustainable tourism, coining a concept of barefoot luxury that effortlessly pairs luxury holidays with care for the environment. Captivated by the beauty of the Maldives two decades ago, Sonu and Eva purchased an island and, at the behest of the Maldivian government, started a management company to run a resort on the island.
Six Senses Resorts & Spas, founded in 1995, quickly became an icon among the discerning travel community, winning several awards, including the 2000 and 2008 Best of the Best by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and the 2008 World Travel & Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Award. Currently, however, Sonu and Eva focus their attention on Soneva.
Each Soneva resort combines 5-star luxury accommodations with a commitment to respecting the local culture and the fragile host ecosystem. Further, each resort uses only natural and sustainable building materials, plastic is banned, and food is locally sourced in an effort to realize Sonu's vision for a completely "decarbonized" group by 2015.
A descendent of Indian parents, Sonu was born and educated in England, with some periods of his studies spent in Nigeria and Switzerland. He is an alumnus of Eton College and Oxford University, where he received an MA in English Literature.
View this May 2, 2018 Fast Company article discussing Sonu & Eva Shivdasani's "mission to save not only their beloved adopted home of Kunfunadhoo Island, but maybe the whole planet, too" though sustainable tourism.
Consultant, journalist, and editor, Jonathan specializes in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship. He originated the concept of geotourism, defined via National Geographic as "tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." He founded and for nine years ran National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations, which continues today as the independent Destination Stewardship Center, www.DestinationCenter.org. He instituted and ran the landmark Destination Stewardship surveys published in National Geographic Traveler, 2004-2010. He speaks frequently at international conferences and is a designated National Geographic Explorer. His consulting firm is Focus on Places LLC.
K. Denaye Hinds, a native Bermudian, is an engineer and project manager. She has experience in sustainability planning at the tourism-destination and operations levels, working with governments to produce sustainability plans and guide sustainable development in various island-nations. Hinds’ role in the tourism industry involves sustainability infrastructure, planning, and resource forecasting of islands as means to preparing for the future. With resilience and sustainable investment as a focus, she has provided guidance and developed tourism plans to ensure longevity of industries with the goal of improving and implementing sustainable development and policy.
Hinds is also director of corporate development for OBM International, a leading global architecture and master planning design firm specializing in hospitality and high-end residential design. She is responsible for leading the company’s development goals for corporate structure, business development, and culture. Hinds also serves as chairwoman for the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism and sits on the executive committee for the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association. She is active in the US Green Building Council for South Florida and the Caribbean.
Kathy Van Ness is the General Manager/COO of the legendary and luxurious Golden Door Resort in Southern California. She brings with her three decades of experience in brand development and management in luxury and fashion to her role.
Kathy began her career at Federated Department Stores rising from buying to merchandising in Miami, Florida. She moved to New York City becoming President of Diane Von Furstenberg, a luxury designer brand for 3 years and was then recruited to join VF Corporation, a Fortune 500 public company, as President of the Jantzen Division and the Mexico Joint Venture. After returning the division to profit, she was recruited to Warnaco, a public company were she held several posts starting with President of Authentic Fitness managing the Speedo business in North America and several designer swim brands such as Ralph Lauren. Kathy went on to become the President/EVP of the WSG Group with revenues over $400.0M, adding brands such as Michael Kors, Nautica, and more. Kathy worked at Warnaco for over 15 years.
Kathy focused her energies on turnarounds and startups by taking roles in underperforming environments. She moved to Montreal, Canada and joined Trimera, where she launched a retail exclusive active wear store adding $50.0M in top line revenues in over 3 years.
Kathy is committed to women's issues and mentoring. She is a member of the World Affairs Council, the Sustainable Business Council and a member of the Advisory Board for 5Gyres, which dedicates itself to the elimination of plastic pollution in the seas. She is an advocate for women in her role as a "Lean In" Champion Circle Mentor with WIN/WPO and a member of the Women International Network. Kathy joined the Young Presidents Organization in her 20's and continues today as a World President's Organization member.
Kathy lives in Manhattan Beach, California and has two daughters. She's loves to travel and has traveled extensively to Antarctica, Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe.
The CREST Honorary Advisory Board is comprised of distinguished leaders and influencers in the field of responsible tourism. The knowledge, insights, and opinions of these individuals provide valuable aid in advancing CREST's mission and activities. The Honorary Advisory Board complements CREST's Board of Directors.