8 Stunning Eco-friendly Travel Destinations
Grab your passport and explore these beautiful (and eco-conscious) properties.
“Sustainability is the new luxury,” asserts an unwavering Sasha Semeniouga. The founder of Room + Wild, a boutique Canadian trip-planning and booking agency that concentrates on the fast-growing ecotourism category, Semeniouga cites the blurring lines between eco and luxury, which traditionally belonged at opposite ends of the tourism industry. Although she also means it more literally. “We don’t want to talk about our possessions anymore, but our experiences.”
We want accountable interactions with the exotic, sometimes threatened natural locales we descend upon. We want to leave these destinations better off than we found them and globetrot with a purpose. We want to stay at green hotels that nourish their surroundings and completely align with their culture, people and environment. We just don’t always want it to come at the expense of well-appointed living.
Thankfully, as Semeniouga reminds us, sustainability and luxury are no longer mutually exclusive. You can have both. “The accommodations that understand this concept are what the segment is now defined by,” she adds. “Become one with the elements in a space that truly allows it.”
Support the return of native fauna to their natural territory at this bucolic luxury lodge, part of the Awasi hotel portfolio. It offers front row views of remote Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine. Explore wildlife at your own pace in their biological corridor. Get to know the resident pumas and learn why protecting these endangered predators is such a critical mandate of the property. Then, return to home base for a gourmet meal at a Relais & Chateaux restaurant before retiring to your designer cottage for a soak under the evening stars in your outdoor wood-fired hot tub.
Song Saa Private Island
Help this haven of sustainable luxury in the Koh Rong archipelago continue conserving its marine life and ocean habitats. It’s already the creator of Cambodia’s first marine reserve to safeguard underwater populations. Snorkel in or sail the very crystalline seas your business enables the resort to save. Embrace its evolved spa concept coupling the wellness journey with the natural environment of the Song Saa islands. Then, after a monk-administered Buddhist blessing ceremony, let it register you’re somewhere that’s as much an ethically-led integrated escape as carefree paradise.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Marvel at the ways this ultra-luxury leader approaches water conservation. It’s the debut One&Only Nature Resort, occupying one percent of its own 7,000-acre nature reserve in Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains Area. Observe how it’s been constructed using superior engineering practices to minimize water consumption. Or, how water is sourced from the pristine Carne Creek, extracted and carbon and UV filtered, then utilized on the premises in reusable, glass-branded bottles. Guests will appreciate how all water is recycled and employed to irrigate gardens and horse paddocks.
Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain
Immerse yourself in a gateway to the majestic Qing Cheng Mountains in southwest China at this eponymous Six Senses outpost. It was conceived to complement the UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site at nearby Dujiangyan. Plan on the place extending one of their Tesla electric cars for your airport transfer and absorb how it draws upon a perspective of responsible luxury, designed to incorporate regional architecture and landscaping. Their efforts to spearhead sustainable education within local schools, working with sustainable pioneers through social media to build up awareness, is nothing short of impressive.
Itz’ana Resorts & Residences
Recognize what makes this breezy-chic beachfront kingdom on the Belize coastline more than just a palatial property where reef meets rainforest and life meets luxury. It achieves a carbon neutral footprint — a first in the Caribbean — by offsetting emissions through the planting of trees. Book a lagoon villa fully outfitted with rooftop solar panels to reduce energy consumption and then relax on furniture handcrafted by local artisans with legally sourced wood from neighbouring forests while gazing at the magnificent Maya Mountains.
Discover why this rustic-luxe hideaway on a tranquil Indonesian island is reminiscent of Bali prior to the tourist boom. It’s owned by fashion mogul Chris Burch and has even been dubbed the world’s best hotel. See surf culture and barefoot luxury collide. Then, realize your being there contributes directly to the Sumbanese community’s welfare. Be proud that a portion of profits are repatriated into fostering local projects. Appreciate how many primary schools, water wells and water stations they’ve built, and medical clinics that furnish thousands of indigenous locals with healthcare.
Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel
Prepare for this architectural game-changer in the heart of the Swiss Alps to host you in a geodesic, igloo-like dome. Select a pod boasting futuristic or forest-like ambience, or combining design and authenticity. Expect avant-garde furniture, a Japanese-style Furo bath, private sauna and stocked premium bar awaiting you inside. Then, find out how ecologically exceptional these spheres really are, from favouring closed fireplaces that limit wood consumption, to the promoting the use of Class A electrical devices, to practicing strict sorting of waste, to carrying 100 percent biodegradable cleaning products.
Casa de Uco Vineyard & Wine Resort
Check into this modernist oasis by the foothills of the Andes. Your sustainable, turnkey villa will be ready. It’s self-sufficient, designed by renowned Alberto Tonconogy & Associates. Inquire about the green roof, photovoltaic panels and geothermal energy. Then, since you’re in Argentina’s resplendent wine region, start living and breathing organic wine culture. Enroll in interactive vineyard programs. Comprehend all it takes to maintain the authenticity of the planet’s most prosperous terroir for cultivating Malbec grapes. Or, have residue pips and pulp from on-site winemaking rubbed into your skin via a nourishing vinotherapy treatment.