Earth Day Friendly Hotels
Being truly eco-friendly means more than cheery placards politely reminding you to reuse your towels, as these environmentally conscious hotels will tell you. In honour of Earth Day today (22 April), we bring you the hotels and resorts around the world that live and breathe responsible luxury.
Song Saa, Cambodia
Song Saa is Khmer for ‘sweethearts’, referring to the resort’s two tiny, pristine islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong that are connected by a narrow footbridge. Harmony between the elements is the philosophy at Song Saa: its owners set up a marine reserve around the islands – Cambodia’s first marine protected area. It’s not all simply cocktails and sunken stone bathtubs (although they are divine); the resort employs six full-time conservation staff and works with local communities to teach sustainable fishing methods.
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
Looking out across the endless desert dunes from your Bedouin encampment-styled suite, you’re likely to be treated to a rare sight: the Arabian oryx is the star of this sprawling conservation land (it even gives ‘Al Maha’ its name). The endangered oryx were reintroduced when the hotel was built in 1999 and have since bred to over 400. Al Maha is sculpted into the lines of the horizon to not to interrupt the natural landscape – an example of how meticulously Al Maha as been designed to complement, rather than interfere with, the environment.
Adrere Amellal, Siwa, Egypt
Blending imperceptibly into the mountains of the Siwa Desert, Adrere Amellal could at first be mistaken for a mirage. Its carbon footprint is almost as faint: with no electricity (read: nowhere to charge your phone), its traditional mud buildings are naturally ventilated and at night the resort is lit with oil lamps and hundreds of beeswax candles. The food is locally sourced or grown organically, and you can lunch in the shade of palms beside the natural spring-fed pool.
Hotel Rangá, Iceland
Hotel Rangá’s philosophy is as green as the aurora borealis that light up the sky above this part of South Iceland. This 4* resort operates purely with green and renewable energy – electricity is produced from hydroelectric or geothermal power sources, and the hotel is heated from natural spring water. And when tucking in to your wild salmon with sweet potato and white chocolate purée, you can know that you’re eating predominantly local ingredients from nearby farms.
Lime Wood, Lyndhurst, UK
Originally a hunting lodge, Lime Wood has held on to its old English charm. Guests are invited to join the hotel’s ‘dedicated forager’ for a wellied-up walk through the New Forest to rustle up some ingredients for dinner, before helping head chef Luke Holder prepare meals. Those who prefer someone else to do the handiwork can choose from a daily changing menu comprised of locally sourced ingredients. Lime Wood has its very own smoke house, allowing the hotel to produce its own smoked meats and fish, minimising waste.
Lefay Resort & Spa, Lake Garda, Italy
The ultimate in eco-luxe, this 5* family-run resort is set amidst the olive woods and lemon gardens on the hillside above shimmering Lake Garda. Its designers saw the local lemon houses and took note – only the best natural materials would do. Vegetation covers the roofs and it is often hard to tell where the roofs end and the landscape begins. The resort has its own wood chip-fuelled biomass plant and micro-turbine cogeneration plant, and rainwater is stored for irrigation in the hot summer months (which are best spent in the infinity pool, we think).
Hoshinoya Karuizawa, Japan
Beside the Tombo-no-yu hot springs at the foot of a volcano and surrounded by lush maple forests, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re just an hour from Tokyo’s chaos. The peaceful Hoshinoya Karuizawa is a traditional ryokan with a minimalist, contemporary twist. The secluded resort harnesses geothermal heat from the spring and hydroelectricity from the mountain streams, making it almost energy independent. Its conservation programme works to protect bears in the region, and runs twilight nature tours among thousands of fireflies.
Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
The plentiful peacocks and monkeys that roam Vil Uyana’s 24-acre wetland will remind you that you’re the guest in these parts. Thatched roof ‘dwellings’ with private plunge pools are smattered across lush green paddies, part of a wetland ecosystem that is home to large numbers of bird, mammal, butterfly and amphibian species – and at least one curious crocodile. As part of the Jetwing Eternal Earth Programme, guests are invited to plant a tree at the end of their stay to offset carbon emissions.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Southern Ocean Lodge treads lightly on this small island off South Australia, Australia’s answer to the Galapagos. When building the lodge its owners developed only one per cent of the land they owned, preserving the other 99 per cent for future generations. Walking tracks and boardwalks along the coastline aim to minimise guests’ impact on the island. At first glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking the lodge as a space age centre – that would be the 225 solar panels that line its roof.
Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
In a country teeming with eco-resorts, Lapa Rios stands above. Designed in harmony with the Costa Rican forest and beach, this 1,000-acre nature reserve serves as a wildlife corridor. Its 16 thatched-roof private bungalows are made of locally harvested materials and stand high above the sea to catch cooling coastal breezes. Lapa Rios employs local community members and invites guests to get involved in the community – even helping to fund and build a school. Its Wild Cats Conservation project monitors the behaviour of the cats of the Osa Peninsula and their prey.
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