Travel sees a plethora of trends which come and go, but one that’s firmly here to stay is sustainable tourism. More than ever before, travellers are seeking hotels that are fully conscious of their impact on their surroundings. From guest experiences that protect local wildlife and celebrate indigenous culture, to ‘green’ operations or fostering ties with the local community, this is feel-good travel beyond that blissful bed, majestic infinity pool and Instagrammable breakfast.
Sal Salis, Australia
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is glamping like you’ve never experienced before. The sixteen tents are dotted along Western Australia’s Coral Coast, where welcome cooling breezes and mesmeric sea views are sure to entrance. Electricity is generated by solar power, walkways protect the indigenous fauna and flora, food is locally sourced and water is treated as a precious commodity. Guests can explore the reef with guided snorkelling and kayak trips, or even organise bespoke private swimming excursions with migrating whale sharks or humpback whales. Sal Salis is also a member of Bee + Hive, a not-for-profit association that champions sustainable experiences around the globe, helping hotels and travellers alike to make the world a better place through tourism.
Song Saa, Cambodia
Off the coast of Cambodia lies a beautiful surprise. Song Saa private island resort couples barefoot luxury with a deep commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. On a protected marine reserve, resort guests can explore the colourful depths of the aquamarine waters that surround this tropical paradise, or take a tour with the Conservation Team and see native rainforest flora and fauna. Get involved in the community activities for a truly fulfilling experience, as the Song Saa Foundation runs medical and educational missions in the nearby local village.
Chaa Creek, Belize
“Founded by a love of nature and guided by the principles of responsible travel”, so begins Cha Creek’s mission statement. In the lush Belizean jungle, this luxury hotel has led the way for sustainable tourism in the region. Sensitive construction, sustainable operations and initiatives allows nature to flourish and welcomes the local wildlife. With a range of accommodation available – from sleek villas boasting outdoor hot tubs, plunge pools and private butlers, to budget-friendly camping – Cha Creek is triumphantly blurring the line between the worlds of high-end and budget eco-tourism.
Lauded as one of only three LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the U.S., Bardessono’s charm goes beyond its luxurious offerings interiors and chic design. The hotel victoriously illustrates that environmental initiatives can be deployed in a way that is practical, economic, and aesthetically pleasing. Much of the hotel’s green credentials are easily overlooked by guests – clever heating and cooling systems, rooftop solar panels, linens made of organic fibres – meaning attention can be fully turned to enjoying a peaceful retreat. As befits a high-end hotel, guests can avail of in-room spa services, rooftop pool and an on-site restaurant which truly embraces the field-to-fork dining ethos.
Ion Adventure Hotel, Iceland
Jutting out of the dramatic Icelandic landscape, Ion Adventure Hotel utilizes its enviable position as the basis of its sustainability advocacy. The region’s geothermal parkland is harnessed in an ambitious green energy project, and local materials such as lava, reused wood and wool dot the interiors, tying the building to the local environment and Iceland’s cultural heritage. Guests can sink into the mineral-rich waters of natural hot springs, sample fresh, local cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant or simply sit back with a drink and marvel at nature’s best light – the hotel’s aptly named Northern Lights Bar has double-height floor-to-ceiling windows for prime viewing.
Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato.