Travel Inspiration

Meet Our Travel Heroes

Meet Our Travel Heroes

Introducing travel heroes: individuals who inspire us with their innovation, dedication and creativity within the travel industry. These are people who embody the Original Travel mission and values in their work and who deserve a moment in the spotlight. Developed from our Original Traveller feature, read on as we celebrate our favourite global champions of sustainability, cultural heritage and conservation.


Sonu and Eva Shivdasani

To be responsible for one game-changing travel concept is impressive; to be the creative force behind two is downright remarkable, and yet that’s what the husband-and-wife team of Sonu and Eva Shivdasani can rightly lay claim to. The visionaries behind the Soneva (Sonu and Eva, get it?) brand, with its extraordinary properties in the Maldives and Thailand, kickstarted the concept of barefoot luxury with their ‘No News, No Shoes’ policy. The other innovation feather Sonu and Eva sport in their caps is a genuine commitment to sustainability. Where other hotels can occasionally be guilty of ‘greenwashing’, from the very beginning the Soneva properties walked the eco-walk better than anyone. No plastic water bottles, a large percentage of restaurant produce from their own gardens, a foundation supporting local communities, coral reef protection programmes - all things that Soneva committed to way before it became fashionable. We say hats (and shoes) off to Sonu and Eva.


Patti Seery

American-born Patti Seery moved to Indonesia in the 80s and fell hard for the country. Over the next 30 years she became a global champion for preserving the culture and crafts of Indonesia’s indigenous tribes, often travelling between the archipelago nation’s remoter islands by traditional phinisi cargo boats. Seery reserved a special passion for these phinisis, that had for centuries plied the waters of the Spice Island trade routes, and eventually she decided that – despite having never even owned a boat before – she would build her own. She embarked on this labour of love with a team of traditional Konjo boat-builders from a tiny community on Sulawesi Island. The end result, Silolona, was the luxury liveaboard phinisi that launched a thousand island-hopping dive boats (including her sister boat Si Datu Bua) in Raja Ampat, Komodo and other beautiful parts of Indonesia. Seery sadly died in 2020, but lived long enough to see a fitting tribute to her passion when UNESCO recognised the unique cultural heritage of Sulawesi boat-building and seafaring tradition. Patti, you were a true inspiration. RIP.


Doug & Kristine Tompkins

Before their paths even crossed, Douglas and Kristine Tompkins were already making waves, Doug as a wilderness advocate and co-founder of The North Face and Esprit; Kristine (then McDivitt) as a conservationist and CEO of Patagonia. Then, in 1990, while working to protect a remote rainforest in Chilean Patagonia, they met and later married. From this point on, they devised a joint mission: to protect and restore wild beauty and biodiversity. Through their Tompkins Conservation, they’ve helped to protect over 14 million acres of land by creating an extraordinary 15 national parks in Argentina and Chile and worked to reestablish more than two dozen endangered species. Over three decades of philanthropic work, they’ve spearheaded environmental campaigns, supported activism, engaged in regenerative agriculture and published books on environmental topics. Then, in 2015, tragedy struck. Doug died in a kayaking accident, and the world lost a true visionary and conservation champion. His legacy is to be considered one of the most successful conservation philanthropists in history and Kristine, now president of the Tompkins Conservation, continues to expand their initiatives to this day.

Header image by Anna Salvador