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HotelsCombined / Blog / Getting Cultured: We Talk with The Culture-ist Co-Founder Maria Russo

Maria Russo, co-founder of The Culture-ist, in Bali.

The Culture-ist is a smart, diverse and unique new online magazine that focuses on all the most intriguing parts of culture; covering food, people, travel, art and the environment, it’s a great resource for keeping track of all the extraordinary movements taking place across the globe.

In fact, we loved the magazine so much that we decided to contribute to it – our articles for the website have touched upon everything from Australia’s best vineyard stays to an exploration of Amsterdam’s quirky art hotels.

We recently had the chance to talk to The Culture-ist’s co-founder, Maria Russo, about her inspiration for the site, her thoughts on eco travel and her picks for the best hotel chains on the planet:

How did the idea for The Culture-ist first come about?

For many years, I wanted to develop a platform that would inspire and educate others about interesting and important aspects of culture. I felt this was a fascinating niche that was missing in online media. Since launching in 2011, our stories have affected hundreds of thousands of people, many of who are passionate about being “changemakers” for our global society.

The Culture-ist has a strong focus on eco-friendly and responsible travel. How do you think these concepts have evolved over the years?

I think companies are beginning to see the value in creating socially responsible business practices. Not only for the consumers that are interested in giving their money to companies that have embraced these practices, but also for the practicality of keeping up with a world that is evolving to support a growing global population and a critically endangered environment.

Is there a Culture-ist story that you’re especially proud of?

In “A Rare Journey Along the Amazon River,” Maria shares her South American experience on the Queen Violeta riverboat.

It’s difficult to choose one, but there are a few that required exceptional reporting and an evocative voice to convey the message of the story (there’s also one by me 🙂 : Mallorca’s Accidental Gems, Under the Shadow of Cape Town Lies Langa…, A Rare Journey Along the Amazon River, Living Behind the Walls of a Saudi Arabian Compound, Fair Trade from the Four Corners of the World, The Cinnamon Peeler’s Life – An Ambrosial Story From Sri Lanka’s Madu Ganga.

What advice would you give to someone looking to embark upon a travel writing career?

Be creative. Travel writing is a flooded industry and it’s very difficult to get consistent work. The good news is that there are many avenues to take your talent that may not involve relying on different publications to assign you enough stories to support your income. Start with a business plan that encompasses all of your passions and see if you can come up with an innovative way to sell this idea.

When did you first realize that you had a passion for travel?

The first time I watched the sun simmer away on the golden savanna while on safari in South Africa.

The stunning Alila Ubud, one of the many gorgeous properties on offer from the Alila Hotels group.

As a travel writer and editor, you’ve likely explored tons of amazing properties around the globe. What hotel experiences have been the most memorable for you?

I particularly love the Alila and Malabar properties. Both companies have stunning villas, boutique hotels and resorts in some of the most exquisite regions the world over. Each has adopted excellent social responsibility initiatives and offer incredible cultural experiences for their guests.

Is there anywhere in the world you still haven’t been to yet that’s on your bucket list?

Plenty of places; particularly much of Africa and the Middle East. I’m also interested in visiting Iceland in the near future.

To keep up to date with The Culture-ist, you can follow them on Twitter @TheCultureist, on Facebook and on Pinterest.