Luxury and saving the planet seldom go hand-in-hand, the accepted wisdom is that you can either stay in a glamorous five star resort or you can join Extinction Rebellion and glue yourself to the DLR. But there’s another way.
Travelling responsibility can be also mean treating yourself, with an increasing number of hotels not only catering for the lapsed Greenpeace member, but created by and for eco warriors. So what if the restaurant is Michelin standard or the bedding has an even higher thread count than its occupant’s bank balance?
Looking for eco friendly luxury hotels? Get ready to go green (with envy)…
Peeking through the perma-mist that hovers over the rainforest, Mashpi Lodge in Equador is an eco haven in the midst of one of the most perfect settings on earth. Surrounded by over 500 species of birds, trees and frogs which can be found nowhere else on the planet, the hotel is a haven within an unspoilt eco-system. 3,000 feet above sea level, and 3,000 acres in scale, the reserve is founded on principles of ecology, supporting the local community as well as promoting biodiversity through its team of expert naturalists.
It’s also extremely comfortable, forgoing no luxury in its pursuit of environmental causes. The result is beautiful rooms, fantastic and authentic Ecuadorian fine dining and a view out of the window that simply doesn’t compare.
Where does Barack Obama go to chill? Because sign me up. Especially given it’s The Brando. The French Polynesian island is where the former US President went to begin his memoir, having heard about it from Leonardo di Caprio. Praise indeed, but it’s also got serious eco-cred. As well as its greater mission of protecting the precious aquatic ecology surrounding the beautiful atol, the resort includes an ultra-low-impact air conditioning system using icy seawater sourced from 3,000 feet beneath the surface to reduce energy consumption by over 80%.
And as befits a president and star of Titanic (er, separate people – see above) the standard is incredibly high, with each villa coming with its own al fresco bathtub or pool, and restaurants including Les Mutinés by Guy Martin, with a menu from the eponymous Michelin starred chef.
If you’re thinking ‘what the Heckfield is an English Georgian mansion doing on this list?’ then think again. The much celebrated celebrity hotel in Hampshire is a favourite with the likes of Cara Delevingne and Liv Tyler but they may or may not know that it’s also a strong advocate of sustainability. The food for Skye Gyngell’s restaurant comes straight from the traditional walled garden and the 400 acre farm and bio-dynamic market garden, which all supply the kitchens with almost all Gyngell’s needs.
As befits a hotel that’s hosted Beckhams and Megan and Harry the interiors are utterly divine, with a simple aesthetic that comes from great design, with Heckfield succeeding in being both grand and intimate simultaneously.
Oman is one of the Middle East’s lesser-explored corners, but low-key can be an advantage and, when you’re 6,000 feet above sea level in the Al Hajar Mountains it’s a given. Remote Alila Jabal Akhdar is no less luxurious or, indeed, eco friendly. Built from local stone in keeping with LEED environmental advice, with the design inspired by ancient forts and built using traditional Omani techniques. The hotel is solar powered harnessing the sun’s energy to heat water which is then recycled to irrigate the gardens.
With majestic views and rugged surroundings, the hotel is a retreat from the desert heat and while the building may be built to centuries-old techniques the interiors are twenty first century luxe, combining east and west, Arabic and European.
Is your sixth sense telling you something? Probably that you need to get to Fiji and the Six Senses resort. The stunning scenery of tropical Malolo Island is only part of it, the new resort’s eco credentials speak for themselves. As well as working to maintain the critically endangered Fijian crested iguanas, the resort runs various sustainability programmes to conserve energy and rainwater, making their own high-quality drinking water in a reverse osmosis plant and refinery, as well as growing organic produce and making use of worm-based septic tanks (m-mmm). One of the largest installation of Tesla battery packs in the Southern Hemisphere ensures the resort can remain off-grid via solar.
Of course it goes without saying that away from the worm-based septic tanks the luxury standard is impeccable. The 24 villas and suites are entirely solar powered and the restaurants and communal spaces maintain the highest standards while ensuring that South Pacific flair.
Vegas isn’t a place you associate with eco anything. But the beating heart of Trumpian climate denial is also home to an unlikely eco hotel in the form of The Palazzo. Designed to LEED Silver standards, using recycled building materials and with solar heated pools, the hotel conserves enough water to provide each Nevada inhabitant with 266 glasses of water a year (no mean feat in the middle of the desert) and reportedly saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for over 12,000 years.
Sister to The Venetian, the hotel is no less refined. The suites and rooms are typically beautiful, ideal to slump into after a night gambling or, better, sampling the surprising array of cultural activities the desert-bound city has to offer.
Wilderness Safaris Serra Cafema could hardly be more remote. Deep within the Namibian wilderness, the camp goes to extraordinary lengths to be eco conscious and working closely with the semi-nomadic Himba community. The fully moveable hotel of eight chalets, set on elevated decks and crafted in wood, canvas and thatch are built to ensure the ongoing biodiversity protection of this unique place.
Not that there’s anything boy scout about the accommodation, which is beautiful and each unique chalet complete with bespoke furnishings and incredible views. Spend the days exploring the local habitat in the 300,000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy, owned primarily by the Himba people, one of the last semi-nomadic peoples on the planet.
Of course, all these resorts are well and good, but if you arrive in a fleet of 4x4s or via private jet then much of the battle is lost! Sustainability can’t simply be a holiday fling but a way of life which, only naturally, you’ll want to continue when you’re on vacation.