This article was originally published on Christies International Real Estates blog Luxury Defined.

 

Once upon a time, luxury hotels might have flaunted their extravagance with cost-the-earth architecture and interiors, staff with zero regional roots, activities programs that valued lures above positive local interactions, and restaurants serving lobster that had clocked up more air miles than the guests consuming it. Thankfully, times have changed and sustainable travel is in the ascendant. In honour of Earth Day on April 22, 2019, take note of six hotels that set shining examples and prove that green really is the new black.

 

 

1. Soneva Jani, Maldives
Soneva Jani has pedigree—its sister Soneva Fushi set the benchmark sky-high for Maldivian luxury travel when it opened back in 1995. Both hotels are eco-conscious to the core, without stinting on unabashed delight. Aside from the sparkling Indian Ocean (and the fun slides leading into it), distractions at Soneva Jani include a silent cinema, a labyrinth, an observatory, VIP villas, and rooms dedicated to chocolate and ice-cream. Acknowledging the island’s extraordinary natural beauty, the hotel cherishes its setting. Construction carefully minimized environmental damage; all water is produced on-site; solar power is used; the hotel’s glass factory produces recycled glassware; and carbon emissions are being reduced. Even the surf equipment is made from recycled materials. As if that wasn’t virtuous enough, the Soneva Foundation plants trees and supports local communities by providing safe drinking water, fuel-efficient stoves, and educational opportunities.

 

 

2. Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
Futuristic Fogo Island Inn not only looks eye-catching, but has eco-credentials aplenty. Locally sourced building materials do the bulk of the heavy lifting (and double up in the furniture). Recycling, composting, and rainwater-catchment systems are in place, while wood-fired boilers and solar panels provide hot water and underfloor heating. Perched on the rocks overlooking Newfoundland’s Labrador Sea, Fogo’s philosophy is as progressive as its aesthetics—rooted in the community, it returns profits to the locals. The restaurant takes its commitment to organic, seasonal produce seriously and locality extends to the experiences and interiors. Community Hosts guide guests around the island and share skills with them, and local artists provide furnishings and lead art classes for guests. The hotel’s not-for-profit Shorefast Foundation champions local traditions such as boat building. With help from island builders, a heritage collection of boats is underway and the local school has a boat-building program in place.

 

 

3. Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Australia
As backyards go, the world’s largest fringing reef takes some beating, so it comes as no surprise that Sal Salis on Ningaloo Reef in Australia is on a mission to protect its UNESCO-listed setting. This boutique beachside bush camp occupies pole position in the grass-fringed, brown-sugar dunes of the Cape Range National Park—in a spot you’ll share with shy, visiting kangaroos. The hotel relies exclusively on solar power, uses composting toilets, and manages its water-use tightly, ensuring that zero waste enters into the neighbouring park’s fragile ecosystem. Pleasing eco-extras include organic cotton bedlinen and earth-kind toiletries, including herby handmade soaps. Stays here are your cue to reconnect with nature, whether that’s meeting manta rays while diving, exploring Mandu Mandu Gorge, or embarking on bonefishing expeditions and boat trips.

 

 

4. Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa, Chile
Alto Atacama cares so deeply for its surrounding landscape that it has developed its own “Andescape” philosophy, masterminded by Veronica Poblete, a Paris-trained landscape designer and botanist, and ex-Harvard University lecturer. Poblete’s concept prioritizes preserving local flora and ancient agricultural techniques; it also extends to the hotel’s resident llamas, the restaurant’s regional cuisine, and the Leave No Trace-schooled guides. Most of the staff are indigenous—and they’re keen to share their local knowledge with guests. Explore geysers, hot springs, volcanos, desert canyons, and Incan ruins—leaving sufficient time to relax back at boutique basecamp. Alto Atacama has six pools, plus a Jacuzzi, a pool bar, the peaceful Puri Spa, and a bonfire pit for sociable barbecues. The restaurant works with local producers and as much as possible comes from Alto Atacama’s own gardens.

 

 

5. Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal
If you like your grape escapes on the green-and-gorgeous side, head to bucolic Six Senses Douro Valley, whose wine credentials would woo Dionysus. Bedrooms survey the shimmering Douro River, the winsome woodlands, or the vine-clad hills, and the restaurant champions seasonal, organic produce—mainly grown on-site. As custodians of UNESCO-listed land, the hotel takes its responsibilities seriously, protecting a four-hectare woodland on the property with old-growth trees. Natural materials star throughout, and even bath products come in recycled packaging. The hotel is rooted in its community, donating half of its water-bottle sales to local charities. All Six Senses properties boast the sought-after Butterfly Mark from Positive Luxury, which hails global eco-heroes across categories such as fashion, beauty, and travel.

 

 

6. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Some hotels have a garden. Grootbos has 2,500 hectares where more than 800 plant species grow and bloom in wild abundance, including 100 rare species and six species originally discovered here. This natural treasure trove isn’t taken for granted by the hotel, whose dual passions are to protect Cape Floral Kingdom and provide nature-based livelihoods for local communities. This commitment has borne fruit as the non-profit Grootbos Foundation seeks to develop leading conservation practices. Guests are invited to celebrate the great outdoors—recommended activities include Klipgat Caves visits, sunsets at De Kelders, flower safaris, and horseback rides. Grootbos also operates a multitude of sustainable daily practices, from bottling drinking water on-site to recycling candles. It promises to be single-use and plastic-free by 2020.

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