Travel consciously, making yourself and Mother Earth happy, by lodging in eco-friendly hotels. Constructed with sustainable materials, serving regional produce, and reducing their environmental impact are only some of the ways these hotels participate in sustainable tourism. With this list of our favourite eco-friendly hotels, you might be surprised by how luxurious taking care of the environment on holiday can be!
Marataba Trails Lodge – Marakele National Park, South Africa
Remote, off-the-grid, wild – Marataba Trails Lodge has digital detox written all over it. In your canvas-roofed rooms you’ll be fully disconnected from Wifi and other distractions, and focused wholly on the views of Waterfall Valley, a couple hours’ drive from Pretoria. With only eight guests inhabiting the grounds at a time, tranquillity for the visitors and for the environment are a priority. The fully solar-powered lodge sits amid Marakele National Park, offering numerous trail options to explore the Kransberg mountain range, and surrounding Iron Age settlements and the gorges. Accompanied by experienced guides, you can explore the Marakele Reserve and perhaps witness the largest colony of endangered Cape vultures in the world. The lodge has demonstrated historical efforts in expansion and preservation of this Big 5 (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino) territory, aware that the luxury isn’t what’s happening inside the lodge but the nature that his happening outside it.
Hoshinoya Karuizawa – Nagano Prefecture, Japan
The continuous lines, ceiling-high windows, and neutral colours of the Hoshinoya Karuizawa resort blend so effortlessly with the surrounding landscape, the resort gives the impression of having always been there. Only a short drive from Tokyo, the century-old trees here flourish in the presence of rivers trickling down from Mount Asama – it was essential both elements be respected and inspirational in creating this resort. The river plays a key role in powering Hoshinoya Karuizawa in hydroelectricity through a system simply called Energy In My Yard (EIMY), providing 70% of the resorts energies, including the ever comfortable floor heating. The energies of the resort were famed since the first hot spring bath dug here in 1914. Writers such as Hakushu Kitahara would soak in the baths to get their creative juices flowing. Nowadays, the Tombo-no-yu (communal bathhouse) has been built providing access to beneficial naturally sourced low-alkaline waters in the indoor stone bath, sauna, and open-air bath. Bathing in the soundscape of Hoshinoya Karuizawa, you will understand why the local trees have chosen to flourish in this natural luxury.
Hix Island House – Puerto Rico
Have you ever dreamed of living on a Caribbean island, benefiting of the wonders of nature? That’s Hix Island House, isolated from busy capital city San Juan yet only a 22-minute flight away. Designed by architect John Hix, the various casas (houses) are strategically built to capture the cooling trade winds, with the wabi-sabi philosophy in mind: use natural materials, adapt to nature, and invite the earthy and imperfect into everyday life. Lodge in the Casa Solaris, an all-solar powered guesthouse on the property. If you’re not catching some rays on Sun Bay, Vieques’ largest beach, you might be taking yoga classes in the shade of the outdoor yoga pavilion amidst the trees and the birds.
Whitepod – Le Valais, Switzerland
Dotting the Valais hillside, the minimalist Whitepod is a unique luxury camping experience only an hour-and-a-half drive from Geneva. In winter, the crackling wood burning stove will make you forget all about the snow outside the transparent PVC walls of your personal dome. In the summer, the Whitepod sheds its white coat for green camouflage to reduce its visual impact on the green hills of the Swiss countryside. To reach your sheepskin and wood clad pod, a 20-minute hike from the reception is imposed – the effort to pay for a priceless view of the Alps. Take advantage of the daily teatime and homemade pastries, outdoor seasonal (and free!) activities like tennis, badminton, giant chess and sauna at the community Pod-house, and hikes up the Dents du Midi mountain range.
Jetwing Vil Uyana – Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Jetwing Vil Uyana is a family endeavour dating back to the 1970s. The legacy continues with brother and sister, Hiran and Shiromal Cooray, applying a sustainable strategy that respects the environment without sacrificing comfort. The property lies within a man-made wetland and nature reserve for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, butterflies, and amphibians to call home. This paradise is situated a few hours by car from the lively capital city of Colombo and will have you feeling far, far away from the rest of the world.
The vastness of Sri Lanka’s nature is best observed atop Sigiriya rock, a World Heritage Site that holds 5th century palace ruins. In dwellings made of recycled materials, woven reed walls, and cogon grass roof, wake up to the sun glistening over the paddy field to understand the rich simplicity of eco-living.
Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Who said luxury can’t be eco-friendly? With its energy saving lights, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and organic cuisine, the ultra-chic Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas makes ecotourism posh. Its LEED® Gold certification shakes any doubt that this temple of sleek pools and suites is environmentally conscious.
The luxury hotel is decorated in a refined, Asian-inspired style, from the foyer to the 392 rooms. The Las Vegas Strip can be admired from the 23rd floor while you sip one of the fine cocktails at the Mandarin Bar.
Lefay Resort and Spa Lago di Garda – Gargnano, Italy
The 5-star Lefay Resort and Spa on the Lago di Garda (Garda Lake), only 96 kilometres from Verona, is the epitome of Mediterranean refinement amid a rich landscape of hills and natural terraces studded with olive trees. Lefay Resort’s facade of wood and stone respects architectural integration, blending aesthetically with the surrounding Riviera dei Limoni. Dive into the gorgeous pool overlooking the lake – don’t worry, the overflow of water will be used for irrigation! Pleasant for the taste buds and the environment, Lefay’s culinary concept, Vital Gourmet, applies strict ethics of using seasonal ingredients, local suppliers of organic farming, and only traditional Mediterranean produce.
Lisu Lodge – Chiang Mai, Thailand
In the lush valley of Chiang Mai, the Lisu Lodge gets its name from the nearby Lisu tribe village. As part of a community-based project aimed at conserving Thailand’s heritage, guests can experience Lisu customs with local families. From your guest cottage overlooking the rice paddies, embark on a cycle tour and stop at a tea plantation for a cup of fresh-roasted tea. Or, get your hands dirty restoring the forest ecosystem at the Himmapaan plant nursery working with the local community. After a traditional Thai dinner in the woven bamboo walled lodge, warm up by the outdoor campfire under the star-filled sky.
h2hotel – Healdsburg, California, USA
Discreet and refined, nearby to San Francisco, h2hotel greets you under the shade of its “green roof”. The grass roof manages rainwater flow to reduce the impact on nearby Foss Creek, while also reducing the heat given off by the building to preserve Healdsburg’s microclimate.
You may go to Sonoma County for hiking and wine tasting, but you won’t want to check-out before trying h2hotel’s duck fat popcorn. Munch on these while getting ready for the sours mixing class or your Vinyasa flow yoga class. Give in to a sweet treat with the farm-to-massage spa offering delicious treatments of wine, honey, lavender, or lemon from the Sonoma backyard.
Park Hyatt Hyderabad – Hyderabad, India
From its imposing facade, to its colossal columns in the foyer, up to the pristine suites, the Park Hyatt Hyderabad proves that extravagance and ecology are natural allies. Pamper yourself without guilt in this palace clad of energy saving, water efficient, and carbon reducing technology. Such details have led to the hotel’s well-earned recognition of the LEED® Gold status in 2011.
The hotel’s geographic situation offers you the possibility to easily visit Hyderabad’s landmarks like the Charminar mosque and the Golconda citadel and fort. For even more discoveries, explore these 14 unmissable places in India.
Finca Rosa Blanca Inn – Costa Rica
A short drive from San José, within miles of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes, nestled in an organic coffee plantation is the Finca Rosa Blanca Inn. Since 1985, Teri, a Taoist Tai-Chi instructor, and Glenn, an artist, started with one wish: to be an eco-friendly hotel that leaves the minimum possible trace. Examples of efforts include hiding their electrical system underground to avoid harming wildlife and reusing the coffee pulp as fertilizer. Follow an experienced guide through the coffee plantation to learn about the high-quality organic coffee produced here, taste ripe coffee berries (if the season coincides), and participate in a catación (coffee-cupping) to compare the aromas of the Costa Rican sacred bean.
VIVOOD – Benimantell, Alicante, Spain
From your private jacuzzi, admire the immensity of the Guadalest Valley and forget the entire world – you are at VIVOOD. An hour drive from Alicante, VIVOOD aims to open your senses to nature and local products all while making eco-responsibility feel luxurious. The prefabricated units designed by architect Daniel Mayo sit naturally within the leafy décor. Highly minimalist, the straight lines of the earthy-toned VIVOOD suites seem to extend towards the horizon. Enjoy the silence of the valley by hiking the Aitana, the tallest mountain of the Costa Blanca. VIVOOD will be waiting for you with a spectacle of orange lights as the sun sets across the valleys reliefs.