Go green: 12 sustainable hotels and resorts around the world
Keen to leave a lighter footprint when you travel? These eco-minded accommodation options are a good first step.
Call it a pleasant pandemic side-effect, but sustainability is enjoying its deserved time in the sun as we seek to put our best travel foot forward. Our intentions are good – Expedia Group, in its recent Sustainability Study, found 90 per cent of consumers look for sustainable options when travelling – but it can be overwhelming trying to sort the authentic wheat from the greenwashing chaff.
With sustainable stays that range from carbon-balancing urban skyscrapers to luxurious adults-only lodges and island resorts, there’s plenty of cred behind this green list.
1/12 Motu Nao Nao, Islands of Tahiti
With a small footprint on a private island, Motu Nao Nao is a luxurious, exclusive-use resort with a responsible ethos. Its three handcrafted bungalows run almost entirely on solar power (83-100 per cent) while most of its dining menu is crafted from the island farm, with fish caught steps from your table. Of course you need to get there first, via two flights – domestic airline Air Tahiti offers daily flights to Raiatea from the capital, Papeete – but non-motorised activities like paddleboarding, sailing and cycling will help you to balance your carbon emissions while there.
2/12 Crystalbrook Vincent, Qld
Set beneath Brisbane’s Story Bridge, Crystalbrook Vincent has always prided itself on sourcing at least 80 per cent of produce from within a three-hour drive but now menus are also labelled with Climate Calories. You can quickly identify whether the ingredients are locally sourced, sustainably grown or caught, have an Indigenous connection, and were delivered in eco-friendly packaging. It’s a welcome addition to the hotel’s paperless and plastic-free operations.
3/12 Parkroyal Collection Pickering, Singapore
A harmonious mash-up of concrete and jungle – like the city itself – Parkroyal Collection Pickering, with 15,000sq m of striking foliage and mini waterfalls, has claimed Asia’s Leading Green Hotel title for the past seven years. The hotel-in-a-garden concept brings a fresh breath of air to city hotels by harnessing natural light and photo sensors to cut energy consumption, and offering a plant-based menu in Lime Restaurant.
4/12 Chalets at Blackheath, NSW
Rising from the ashes of what was Jemby Rinjah Eco Lodge after the 2019 bushfires, Chalets at Blackheath are a luxurious reimagination offering a sustainable Blue Mountains escape. Four studio chalets made of materials like clay, rammed earth, hemp and stone come with wood-fireplaces and deep bathtubs but no disposable amenities. A Tesla charging station has been installed. Six more chalets, a spa and magnesium pool are to come.
5/12 ESCA, SA
Sustainability can’t just be about ticking the minimum boxes, which is something the team behind ESCA feels passionately about. Local, modular, off-site construction, using high-quality materials and design that creates natural thermal benefits, ensures “rooms” will not only last the distance, but can be picked up and transported to another site in the future. The first ESCA property, Nest & Nature in Inman Valley, adjoins Spring Mount Conservation Park with in-room goodies and decor sourced from the region’s best producers and makers – like the glass-blown lights from JamFactory.
6/12 Voco Melbourne Central, Vic
Windows that actually open, vertical gardens, and bedding made from recycled plastic bottles – is this the (sustainable) future of the urban hotel? voco Melbourne Central opened in April as the flagship property for the brand, with efforts to reduce its environmental impact ranging from a lighting system that responds to the natural cycle of light to porcelain light shades made by local artisans.
7/12 Wooleen Station, WA
How do you tackle climate change on a 135,000ha cattle property? At Wooleen Station in the Gascoyne Murchison region of WA, it’s a question David and Frances Pollock have been navigating while simultaneously educating their guests about land management and food production. Through innovative practices like encouraging dingoes to re-establish territories to help eliminate feral goats, and de-stocking cattle when their accommodation is busy to allow the land to recover – they’ve witnessed first-hand the healing powers of nature.
8/12 Two Bunch Palms, Greater Palm Springs, USA
Surrounded by palms and powered by the sun, this recently refurbished hot spring resort is the first carbon-neutral resort in the United States. Two ancient aquifers – one hot, one cold – feed the spa pools and custom teak soaking tubs, which operate via a sustainable closed water circuit. After you’ve soaked in the mineral-rich pools, and perhaps had a CBD-infused massage, tuck into locally sourced fare and join one of the wellness courses. Perhaps how to live a zero-waste life?
9/12 Room2 Chiswick, London, UK
It’s a big claim, but this new hotel in a genteel West London suburb doesn’t just have net-zero ambitions, its owners say it is 89 per cent more efficient than your average hotel. This is achieved by reducing and rebalancing carbon emissions through all stages of the hotel lifespan. Furniture, wallpaper and tiles were built locally and offset by planting trees, rooms have compost bins, and the roof holds 50,000 litres of rainwater, along with beehives and a kitchen garden. There are reclaimed terracotta floors and hallway carpet is made from old fishing nets.
10/12 Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania
Low-impact accommodation is one part of the sustainable travel pie but staying somewhere like the extensively redesigned Singita Sabora Tented Camp, in the Serengeti, Tanzania, can aid even loftier goals. At the heart of Singita operations is a commitment to protect and preserve large areas of African wilderness. As well as being solar powered – and with each stay made carbon-neutral through carbon offsetting programs – the 141,000ha that this 1920s-style luxury safari camp is set upon has been saved from the ravages of illegal hunting, wildfires and invasive alien vegetation.
11/12 Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Soneva Fushi is all about being self-sustaining while offering guests every comfort and luxury you would expect in the Maldives. Waste is recycled on site or composted into the resort’s vegie gardens, while styrofoam from imported foods is used in construction and wine bottles are upcycled into glassware and art. The model has led to another Soneva-funded recycling complex on the island of Maalhos, enabling it to become the first island in the Maldives to end the toxic open burning of waste.
12/12 The Hotel Britomart, Auckland, NZ
It’s lauded for being New Zealand’s first and only 5 Green Star hotel, but The Hotel Britomart has arguably set the benchmark for how sustainability and lifestyle design can coexist, and indeed, excel. This is a hotel you dream about staying in. Every stage of construction and every touchpoint is a celebration of eco efficiency – from almost 80 per cent of construction waste being reused or recycled, to the pillows and duvets made from plastic bottles, and the focus on sustainable fisheries at in-house eatery, kingi.
Words: Celeste MitchellView Article
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