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2012 Award of Merit - Authentic Ecolodges
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Project Category: Communication

 Project Name:  "Authentic Ecolodges”

 Project Location:  The Planet 

Date of World Premier Book Launch: September 2010

Landscape Architect: HM Design (

 Owner: Harper Collins

Authentic Ecolodges (published by Collins Design, Harper Collins 2010) showcases some of the MOST environmentally and socially planned ecolodge and ecotourism experiences on the planet and in so doing celebrate the amazing work of landscape architects, indigenous communities, local planners, developers, craftsman, architects, interior designers, engineers, owners and operators. In early 2007, the author, decided to leave a full-time job to focus primarily on this book and begin a thirty-six month, forty-six country, six continent odyssey to research and identify some of the most authentic ecolodges in the world. 

The Author’s journey around the earth spanned from a remote village in Mongolia, to the backwaters of South India, to the deserts of Namibia and to the forest canopy of Amazonian Brazil, representing some of the most forward-thinking ecolodges. Authentic Ecolodges is THE first visual book in the 35 year history of ecotourism, which is the fastest growing segment of the largest industry in the world - tourism. 

Authentic Ecolodges includes a striking mixture of aesthetically appealing photographs fused with graphic designs and illustrations that can educate landscape architects, planners, architects, professors, teachers, and students as well as being visually appealing for the tourist or lay person. Thus, Authentic Ecolodges strikes a balance between features that interest both industry academicians, professionals and readers with a more recreational interest in this subject. 

Authentic Ecolodges communicates one-of-a-kind information in a user-friendly manner. The author personally measured on-site, over 80% of the forty ecolodges and then a professional illustrator (and Landscape Architect) scaled and rendered the site plans. This is the first book ever done in the hospitality industry where every property has a detailed, highly educational, easy to read site plan.

It is a great reference guide for not only Landscape Architects, Planning professionals, Architects and academicians who are interested in tourism facilities, sustainable architecture, planning in fragile ecosystems, and the health and well-being of our planet but also travelers who are not familiar with this field but like to travel to exotic locations and make a difference to the environments they visit. Authentic Ecolodges is also the first book of it’s kind in the hospitality industry which presents local cultures and nature with the landscape architectural design.

In Authentic Ecolodges, the author is introducing for the first time ever, an international ecolodge rating system which uses a tried and tested (over 10 years) holistic criteria system.  This is the first instance in the hospitality industry whereby one individual has personally researched AND inspected each and every property using the same criteria system. This essential information is then communicated in an accessible yet educational style which appeals to a wide cross section of industry stakeholders. Thoroughly researched case-studies highlight exemplary practice in Ecolodge planning and design, development and operations. 

Authentic Ecolodges allows our eyes to discover the soul of the world we are living today. The spiritual connection to nature and culture is showcased through photographs and sketches. Authentic Ecolodges reveals the definition of true holistic sustainable planning and design philosophy.  Organized into twelve themes, each lodge is rated in adherence to a strict set of criteria.

Authentic Ecolodges showcases many properties that are actively helping alleviate poverty, creating livelihoods, providing scholarships to local students, building schools and clinics etc. Additionally, the "On the Drawing Boards’ section highlights several ecolodges that are using participatory planning as a tool for local community empowerment. 

To make full use of the time, money and efforts on the makings of the book, and to further communicate the contents of this book across the globe, the author created a one-of-a-kind book trailer (attached herewith) and personally organized launches and integrated various multi-media - theater, dance, live ethnic music, dj, powerpoint presentations- events in all six continents (see attached photos).

To-date, the author has launched the book in over 20 International locations, a first, for an author at Harper Collins.  Except for two locations, the book was sold out (see attached support material) both at Bookstores and author organized locations. The author also designed a 100% Organic T-Shirt that best communicated the book and the various locations where the author was launching the book.

From the feedback received so far, Authentic Ecolodges is already being used around the world by professors, students, landscape architects and other professionals in the world (please see attached feedback on the website). Additionally, from book launch attendee feedback and readers from all walks of life (see attached reviews and emails), it is clear that one of the successes of this book has been to communicate and educate the ‘person on the street”, the value of conscientious landscape architecture in the protection of fragile destinations and peoples.

It should be noted that the first print of 5000 books was sold out and currently the second print of 3000 books is being purchased by people worldwide.


Author: Hitesh Mehta  FASLA - HM Design

 Illustrator: Matthew Lewis  ASLA - Raymond Jungles Inc

 Photography Touch –ups  and Formatting : Chang Du, RLA ASLA

 Editor : Signe Bergstrom - Collins Design, Harper Collins

 Video Trailer and Poster Creator: Sharon Swift  - Sharon Swift Photography 

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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.