MONTREAL — Launched in January 2017, Bee + Hive is a not-for-profit association based in Montreal committed to creating a better world through sustainable tourism. The association works with and promotes luxury hotels, restaurants and parks that offer activities and experiences that benefit a destination’s local community, environment or economy.
Their premise is that more and more people are seeking experiences instead of accumulating more things — travel experiences that provide memories to last a lifetime, as opposed to items that get tossed aside by the next season. Bee + Hive offers unique experiences for guests to give as gifts this year, as part of its hospitality marketing.
These experiences include moose calling in bear country at the Treehotel in Sweden, a visit to a Pataxo Village at the Posada Totable in Brazil, swimming with shark whales at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef in Australia, a dinner cruise on the Zambezi River at the Masuwe Lodge in Zimbabwe and noctournal spotlighting in the Pantanal at the Refugio Ecologic Caiman in Brazil.
Bee + Hive’s origins lie in founder Bruno Correa’s first-hand knowledge developing sustainable experiences. Belonging to a successful hotelier family, for over a decade Correa has helped launch and run boutique hotels which have positively impacted their local areas.
In one case, boutique hotel Pousada Literaria de Paraty in Brazil replanted 21,000 trees to regenerate a neglected environment, which in turn attracted a plethora of birdlife. This transformed the site into the country’s first private bird reserve, enhancing the local wildlife and the community. Such inspiring action, coupled with Correa’s experience witnessing other sustainable initiatives led by luxury boutique properties, has resulted in the launch of Bee + Hive.
Three years ago, Correa chose Canada as the best place to start his new business, taking an entrepreneurship course at the University of Toronto and developing the idea for Bee + Hive idea in a term paper.
He identified a consistent operational issue among small, independent, unique hotels that needed to reach a broad audience. “It takes a lot of money to build a global reputation,” he told CLN.
Sustainability is at the core of Bee + Hive's philosophy. “It's not about the thread count of the linen or the size of the room. [But] you can have a really unique eye-opening, jaw-dropping experience and still be comfortable. Traditionally, if you were immersed in the jungle, you were not comfortable!
“We allow the local culture to be fostered and protected and for local residents to share the benefits. As a third party, we're still part of the local population.”
While Canada is the organization's headquarters, its eight members come from South America, Africa, Europe, Australia and the U.S.; there are no Canadian members so far.
“We receive recommendations from travellers and agencies regarding something unique. If hotels get in touch, we give them a set of indicators that include Global Sustainable Tourism Council [criteria]. It's not an audit or a certification, just a tool hotels can use to evaluate themselves to see how well they fit with [our philosophy],” Correa said.