Guests at three Belmond properties are being invited to “celebrate the morning”, through a new partnership with iconic optic and camera-brand, Leica.
The new series of ‘First Light’ experiences launches at Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas at Iguassu Falls and Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town this week, and at Belmond La Residencia in Majorca when the hotel opens for the season on March 22.
Guests are invited to borrow Leica Trinovid 8x42HD binoculars and a printed guide from the concierge desk to take a self-guided walk, to experience the nature and landscape of the local area before sunrise. Alternatively they can book a guided walk with a local nature expert, or even arrange for one of Leica’s network of world-class wildlife experts – who designed the walks - to guide them.
In Brazil, Belmond worked with London-based wildlife photographer Luke Massey, who was named Young Environmental Photographer of the Year in 2016 and was also a winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards last year, to create the walk.
In Majorca, the walk has been designed by Sebastia Torrens, whose photographs have been featured in National Geographic and BBC documentaries. And in South Africa, the walk is designed by Michael Edwards, a lecturer at the Cape Town School of Photography.
Arnaud Champenois, senior vice president of brand and marketing at Belmond, said it had been "fantastic" working with Leica Sport Optics on the partnership.
"We want to partner with brands that can bring expertise, where we can learn from them and they can learn for us," he said. "We always want to bring new things to our guests and bring them closer to nature and culture; it’s what drives our business every day in what we are doing as a hospitality group."
Last year Belmond announced another partnership with London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Champenois said a third is coming soon.
"Culture, nature and wellness underline our whole philosophy, and we have a third partnership to come," he hinted.
Andreas Dippel, from Leica Sport Optics’ global communication and partnership director, said that to travel without binoculars "doesn’t make any sense."
"Binoculars give you a glimpse of a world that is never seen. It would be easy to say, here’s a camera, go and take great photos; most people are doing that anyway. But only a few people are exploring with binoculars," he said.
Dippel said that brand partners are chosen equally carefully at Leica. Currently the brand partners only with Italian luxury car designer Zagato, with which it created a limited edition aluminium binocular. It also supports the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s spoonbilled-sandpiper project and the Champions of the Highway birdwatching “race” in Eilat, Israel.
Belmond’s properties in Botswana, the Amalfi coast and Lake Titicaca are to launch First Light walks next. Initially there will be two pairs of binoculars at each property, to be increased depending on demand.