The ethos of sustainable travel has made leaps and strides over the last couple of years. With travellers’ becoming more interested in eco-friendly experiences, the number of innovative and luxurious sustainable experiences on offer are on the rise. From positively impacting the local community to supporting conservation projects, it’s time for travel to make a difference.
Tree dining in Sweden
Treehotel is built on a genuine experience of nature, and the hotel fully embraces sustainable and ecological values. It’s also a member of Bee + Hive, a not-for-profit association that unites hotels offering sustainable experiences, making it easier for travellers to choose activities that help protect the local environment, community or economy. The hotel is now quite literally taking their love of sustainability to new heights with their new guest experience: tree-dining. On a wooden terrace ten metres up, amidst the canopy of the forest, guests are served a three course dinner inspired by forest flavours. Poised between land and sky, with the swaying trees and magical White Nights of Swedish summer, this is a dinner in total harmony with nature.
Marine learning experience in the Maldives
Luxuriating on a Maldivian beach is a holiday fantasy for most of us. But what if you could relax in paradise, and help protect the Maldives’ marine life to boot? The Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru’s Marine Discovery Centre aims to do just that. It enriches the guest experience through once-in-a-lifetime encounters with a variety of marine creatures; all while learning about their life and habitat, and even participating in some of the Resort’s conservation projects. Think snorkelling with a marine biologist, heading out on turtle safaris, and enhancing marine life with build-a-reef sessions. Paradise just got even better.
Loris watching in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is blessed with an abundance of wildlife. From leopards and elephants to sloths and monkeys, this island is a veritable utopia for animal lovers. Guests at Jetwing Vil Uyana’s can get up close and personal with a range of creatures at the hotel’s private nature reserve. It’s the country’s best site for Loris watching, and guests may even spot the elusive Grey Slender Loris on the hotel’s dedicated night time Loris Tour conducted by the resident naturalist. The Slender Grey Loris, one of world’s smallest primates, is found only in Sri Lanka and parts of India. This tiny creature is under threat through loss of habitat, but thanks to conservation efforts at Jetwing Vil Uyana, numbers have gradually started to climb again on the reserve.
Coffee experience on organic farm in Costa Rica
Started in 1985, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort is one family’s passion project. For over 30 years their mission has been to provide the finest hospitality services to guests, whilst also offering authentic experiences with a local flavour. As well as a luxurious inn with 100% local staff, the resort is perfect for coffee lovers, as it has a 30 acre plantation of Arabica coffee plants. Guests can tour the plantation with on-site naturalist Manolo, and discover the amazing interdependence of coffee with other flora and fauna. Birdwatchers are also in for a treat, as the plantation’s neighbouring forest is home to over 130 species of birds.
Ride bamboo bicycles in London
When you think of sustainable experiences, the sprawling, vibrant city of London may not come to mind. Despite the urban environment, the Hilton London Bankside has cleverly teamed up with Bamboo Bicycle club to offer guests the use of six custom-built bamboo bikes to tour the city. More environmentally friendly than standard bicycles, these beautiful modes of getting around were constructed entirely from scratch by hotel staff themselves, under the careful eye of experts. Robust and easy to ride, this is definitely one way to see the city in sustainable style.
Jaguar spotting in Brazil
Another member of sustainable tourism association Bee + Hive, guests staying at Refúgio Ecológico Caiman can spend a full day and evening with the Jaguar Habituation Team to spot these amazing big cats in the wild wetlands of Brazil’s Pantanal. The conservation experience helps protect wild jaguars, getting them accustomed to safari vehicles so guests can respectfully witness these beautiful animals while ensuring their environment in the Pantanal is preserved. Refúgio Ecológico Caiman is a pioneer in ecotourism, with experienced local guides on hand to show guests the delights and wonders of this part of the world. The refuge is involved with a plethora of environmental research and conservation projects, whilst also priding itself on offering guests excellence in hospitality and gastronomy.
Community visits in Africa
An incredible safari trip can be truly transformational; holding your breath as you spot wild lions, laughing as a tribe of monkeys frolic in trees, or gazing in awe as a majestic giraffe crosses your path. But the wildlife is not the only fabulous thing about the continent, it’s often said its people are Africa’s greatest beauty. Singita, a renowned luxury safari lodges and reserves company, is deeply committed to conservation and sustainability, supporting both wildlife conservation projects and community development. The Singita Community Development Trust helps to initiate Early Childhood Development practices in pre-schools, and guests can meet local children and learn about this vital programme, as well as witness many other areas of interest and cultural significance on the community visit.
Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato. Black Tomato is an award-winning luxury travel agent and part of The Black Tomato Group, with partner brands including Studio Black Tomato, The Black Tomato Agency and Epic Tomato.