Without thinking too much about it, answer this question: “What do I expect from a luxury trip?” Your answer probably involves wanting the best possible time. You are probably imagining the indulgence and excess. Relax and let go of all worries, with fine wines at your fingertips. Extravagant spa treatments to take away all cares and concerns. That doesn’t fit so well with the sustainability mission.
The good news from an ecological perspective is that there are vacations that are not part of the problem of resource consumption, carbon release and waste generation that disrupts our weather systems. In fact, some extremely luxurious places to stay are also actively presenting solutions to significant environmental and social challenges, while treating guests like royalty. They are the best.
Main image: Soneva Fushi, Maldives
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1. Soneva Fushi, the Maldives
Why? To model zero waste in the Maldives
Soneva, which has two hotels in the Maldives (plus one in Thailand), is a model for better waste treatment. Its “waste to wealth” approach recycles 90% of its waste, for example by converting coconut shells into enriching peat and using polystyrene packaging as a building material. Discarded glass bottles are mouth blown into exquisite works of art.
This has evolved into a broader strategy, with the hotel working with neighboring islands and Common Seas, a clean ocean non-governmental organization (NGO), to change the way waste is handled in the Maldives, an archipelago of a just under 2,000 islands with a limited number of islands. garbage facilities.
2. Pousada Trijuncao, Brazil
Why? To develop low-carbon cattle breeding techniques in Brazil
The Cerrado, the largest savannah in South America, covers almost a quarter of Brazil. This means there is a breathtaking proliferation of biodiversity, which Pousada Trijuncao in the southwest corner of Bahia is helping to stimulate, while cultivating low-carbon cattle pastures.
Consisting of just seven suites, this elegant stay on Fazenda Trijuncao invites discerning adventurers to stay within the 81,544-acre eco-farm.
By leaving much of their land wild, Trijuncao provides a key ecological corridor leading to nearby Grande Sertao Veredas National Park. It also works in partnership with the NGO Oncafari to protect endangered animals like the maned wolf.
In 2021, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest hit a 15-year high, and a study suggests the forest is now emitting more carbon than it absorbs. According to Greenpeace, a third of this loss was due to the sale of public land for commercial purposes, mainly to meat producers who were clearing space for cattle ranches.
Trijuncao is working with the government agency, Embrapa, on better cattle breeding practices. The initiative’s research and development is believed to have created pastures that can feed more animals per square foot of pasture, effectively raising low-carbon beef. It’s not a magic bullet when it comes to the bigger picture, but it does show a valuable agricultural innovation funded directly by a hospitality company.
3. Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Why? For the maintenance of mangroves
Hotels that defend the mangroves deserve recognition, as caring for these groups of seawater trees is essential as they store carbon, protect coastlines from erosion and provide habitat for sea life.
Their ability to act as a carbon sink means that mangroves are considered one of the most important habitats when it comes to recalibrating our natural systems. But NASA satellite data suggests that more than a quarter of the world’s mangroves have been wiped out, mostly due to real estate development and shrimp farming. In the British Virgin Islands, 90% of red mangroves were wiped out by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
As part of an extensive restoration process, Necker Island has worked hard to bring the mangroves back into cultivation. Yes, Richard Branson’s private island most likely attracted Kate Moss, Princess Diana, and President Obama for other reasons, but tourism there helps the environment. Necker’s NGO, Unite BVI (part of Branson’s Virgin Unite Foundation), has established a mangrove nursery, growing more than 2,000 seedlings that are used in community replanting efforts.
4. The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland
Why? For arts and innovation to benefit African refugees
This glamorous 56-room retreat arrived in Switzerland with great fanfare in 2012. An impressive level of investment totaling hundreds of millions of Swiss francs has set new benchmarks, even for this ski resort, and has earned many columns attesting that this is a hotel ready to serve luxury in every way imaginable.
But it wasn’t just about flaunting cash on its facilities and frills at this billionaire hotspot – this hero hotel is a pioneer of the concept of ‘social compensation’.
The Alpina Gstaad strives to involve its affluent guests in initiatives aimed at improving life in developing countries. What is particularly compelling is the link between its arts program and the creation of an arts and culture center in the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda.
The connection goes through Nachson Mimran, who is the creative director of Alpina Gstaad and also the managing director of To.org, an organization that tackles social and environmental challenges. The hotel exhibited To.org’s work, such as a portable toilet called The Throne, which was 3D printed using recycled plastic and designed to improve sanitation in refugee camps such as Bidi Bidi.
“Empowering displaced people and equalizing opportunity is at the heart of To.org’s mission,” says Mimran. “Our goal is to level the playing field, creating spaces and networks where creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators can flourish, regardless of where they are born or what they know.” How many alpine getaways can say that their hospitality also improves the lives of refugees?
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5. Le Brando, French Polynesia
Why? To orchestrate ocean-powered air conditioning
A favorite of Oprah Winfrey and Leonardo DiCaprio in French Polynesia, just northeast of Tahiti, The Brando is where Kim Kardashian went to celebrate her 40th birthday. But it’s not dropping the name that will earn this paradise resort on a private island a milestone in the history of sustainability, it’s the invention of a smart climate control system.
Guests who stay in one of these 35 “carbon neutral” beachfront villas have helped fund a seawater-cooled invention that reduces energy demand by nearly 70%. SWAC – seawater air conditioning – is a welcome alternative to what is usually the greatest demand for electricity in five-star tropical retreats. Solar energy provides more than half of the station’s remaining energy needs.
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa has also adopted this avant-garde methodology.
Inspired to stay at an Eco-resort but not yet booked your trip? Here are the best places to stay from Mr & Mrs Smith and Forest Holidays. And if you still don’t know where you want to go or what type of holiday to book, contact us here and one of the Designer Travel experts will be in contact with you to help organize your perfect bespoke stay.