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Top 10: world’s best eco-friendly luxury hotels

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (September 4, 2017): Top 10 most luxurious eco-friendly hotels & resorts in the world.

In recent years, environmentally friendly hotels have sprung up across the planet, catering to increasingly sophisticated consumers that demand only the most exclusive and authentic experiences. Nowadays, the seasoned traveler expects a resort to be green and eco-friendly in all aspects, to reduce its carbon footprint and, ultimately, to help the environment. Many 5-star hotels have implemented a green policy, by using sustainable construction materials, recycling waste materials, conserving water, or preserving fragile ecosystems. The following 10 uber-exclusive resorts demonstrate that sustainability doesn’t mean compromising on the luxury which you’ve come to expect on a holiday of a lifetime.

There is more information (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite green hotel or resort in the comments section or take my poll below!

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10. ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA RESORT, HAWAII, USA

Perched along crescent-shaped shores, the beach-front Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort radiates luxury. Each one of hotel’s 290 guest rooms and suites, and seven residential villas, blends the hip, contemporary Andaz style with the feel of a luxury resort community. It is also Hawaii’s first LEED-certified hotel. The resort has a design approach that minimizes waste and harmful emissions, reduces energy and water consumption, and stresses sustainable design as an integral component of its overall strategy. Sustainable elements throughout the resort include a solar hot water system, variable speed chillers, motion sensor lighting controls and low flow plumbing fixtures. Environmental practices continue in-room, with automized temperature control and guestroom glassware made from recycled wine bottles.

  • Hotel website: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
  • Other accolades: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Hawaii.
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA RESORT, HAWAII, USA


9. SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIA

With 9 overwater villas in addition to 18 garden and beach villas, this remote private island resort is pure 5-star-plus luxury that you might not expect in Cambodia. Certainly not cheap, Song Saa – which translates to ‘the sweethearts’ in Khmer – operates on an all-inclusive basis for all guests and has earned a reputation for impeccable service and excellent cuisine since its opening in 2011. Inspired by a passion for Cambodia and a commitment to sustainable development, the resort’s visionary owners Rory and Melita Hunter established the country’s first government recognised marine reserve, built a community-sustained solid waste management center, and launched the Song Saa Foundation which initiates and promotes projects that improve the wellbeing of the communities and natural environments of the Koh Rong Archipelago and beyond.

SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIA


 8. SAFFIRE FREYCINET, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

Tasmania is a wild and diverse frontier on land and in its coastal waters, and Saffire Freycinet complements its grandiose surroundings instead of competing with them. Overlooking just 20 intimate suites is the main building: reminiscent of a bird in flight or stingray gliding across the seabed, the organic roof is constructed of curved Tasmanian wood, and sits atop huge windows looking out to the low-lying brush and coast. Saffire has been built using a framework of environmental sustainability, with the purpose of rejuvenating the area which had been previously damaged as a caravan park and backpackers’ accommodation. Ongoing environmentally sustainable practices include insulation, double glazing, highly energy-efficient hot water usage and lighting , natural cycle air flow systems, wide application of LED technology, use of Modwood as a wood alternative where appropriate, and limiting further impacts on the landscape through activity.

SAFFIRE FREYCINET, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA


7. NIHI SUMBA ISLAND, INDONESIA

Located on the island of Sumba near Indonesia’s best surf spot and named best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure for the second time in a row, Nihi Sumba is a place where rugged luxury meets breathtaking natural beauty, allowing guests to reconnect with a life lived simply, healthfully and mindfully. With their thatched roofs, all 33 suites and villas are hand-built by Indonesian craftsmen using sustainable materials. Staying true to its eco-friendly stance, Nihi Sumba is committed to being a carbon-neutral resort and is one of the only hotels in the world powered by bio-fuel produced from coconuts at its own bio-diesel factory. Moreover, the resort is dedicated to fostering community-based projects through its Sumba Foundation, by establishing access to clean water, creating educational programs and lessening the effects of Malaria.

  • Hotel websiteNihi Sumba Island
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a complimentary 50-minute massage for up to two people).

NIHI SUMBA ISLAND, INDONESIA


6. THE BRANDO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

The Brando offers 35 ultraluxe, beachfront villas on the private island of Tetiaroa, located in a sparkling lagoon northeast of Tahiti. It was in this natural wonderland that the legendary actor Marlon Brando settled down and found his home. Setting a new world standard, the resort is carbon neutral and close to self-sustainable. All building materials used are of local or certified origin, renewable, or incorporate recycled components. The Brando also uses a pioneering deep seawater air-conditioning system to reduce energy demands and rely entirely on renewable energy sources including solar power and coconut oil. The hotel also built and gifted an Ecostation to Tetiaroa Society, the nonprofit organization established to lead the scientific and cultural mission to protect the atoll and to inspire sustainable interdependence on Tetiaroa and around the world. The resort was recently put on the map because of the high-profile visit of President Barack Obama and the honeymoon of Pippa Middleton.

THE BRANDO, FRENCH POLYNESIA


5. AMAN BALI RESORTS, INDONESIA

When it comes to luxury resorts, the world’s most discerning travelers and die-hard amanjunkies will agree that Aman properties lead the way. Sustainability is the key for Aman, with its resorts blending and enhancing their local environments, and that is particularly true for Aman’s three properties on Bali, often dubbed the Island of Gods: Amandari, just outside Bali’s cultural center Ubud; Amankila, on the east coast with the dramatic Mount Agung as the backdrop; and Amanusa on the south peninsula. In an effort to minimize their environmental impact, all three resorts have implemented energy-saving and recycling programs. The Aman Bali resorts have also joined the Begawan foundation to actively participate in the Bali Starling breeding and release program, with the aim of saving this precious bird from the very real threat of extinction. Amankila is also participating in the ROLE Foundation’s “Waste to Wonder” program, which introduces waste management services and infrastructure development planning at a community level.

  • Hotel websitesAmankila, Amandari, and Amanusa.
  • Other accolades: Amankila also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Bali.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP benefits when booking the Aman Bali resorts via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one lunch or dinner for 2 at each property).

AMANUSA, BALI, INDONESIA


4. NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES

North Island Seychelles is one of the world’s most exclusive hideaway, unashamedly aimed at providing the very best in privacy, location, accommodation, services, facilities and experience. The insanely beautiful private island resort has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas, all of them with private plunge pool, overlooking pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters. Once used as a copra (coconut kernels) plantation, the resort’s Noah’s Ark project is undoing the resulting significant loss of flora and fauna and restoring the island’s natural habitat. Alien plant species are continually cleared and have been replaced with 120,000 native seedlings grown in the resort’s nursery. The result: many indigenous wildlife species have returned, including both green and hawksbill turtles. The uberluxurious resort, which received the National Geographic’s 2017 World Legacy Award, gained instant world fame in 2011 when it made headlines as Prince William and Kate’s royal honeymoon destination.

 


3. SIX SENSES QING CHENG MOUNTAIN, CHINA

The Six Senses brand has sustainability in its DNA and I could easily have filled this list with only Six Senses properties. One resort merits particular recognition, the eco-friendly brand’s first foray in China: Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain. Not only does the resort incorporates all the Six Senses sustainability benchmarks for which the group is recognized (e.g. app-controlled lighting and air-conditioning, a dedicated recycling system, organic gardens) but it takes it a step further with the introduction of a Tesla Model S electric vehicle for airport transfers. Located at the picturesque gateway to the majestic Qing Cheng Mountains, Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain has been created to complement the UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site nearby Dujiangyan. The resort has been brilliantly designed to incorporate regional architecture and landscaping, resulting in an extraordinary cultural offering with a strong sense of place wedded to contemporary attitude.

SIX SENSES QING CHENG MOUNTAIN, CHINA


2. SONEVA KIRI, KOH KOOD

Remote yet accessible by a 90 minute flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private plane, phenomenal Soneva Kiri sits on Thailand’s 4th largest but least populated island, Koh Kood, in the Gulf of Siam. Located on the idyllic beach or sunny slopes in the rainforest, the 36 resort villas (including 11 private residences) are amongst the largest in the world and all come with stunning infinity pools, eco-chic furnishings, and personal electric buggies. Soneva Kiri is part of the Soneva Group, a pioneer in sustainable luxury tourism. Ahead of the trend in which luxury moves toward experiences rather than possessions, Soneva endorses a concept it calls SLOW life – which stands for Sustainable Local Organic Wellness Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences – and holds annual symposiums with leading environmentalists. In the dedication to SLOW life, cherishing the local community and a sustainable way of being are cornerstones at Soneva Kiri.  For example, among all spectacular things that you can enjoy at Soneva Kiri, Cinema Paradiso might be my favorite thing: films screen nightly in an open-air, jungle-enshrouded cinema built over a rainwater-harvested reservoir that supplies the resort with fresh water. Another example is encouraging eco-enthusiasts to travel with a “Stay for Good” promotion where you’ll get free nights in exchange for working alongside marine biologists, ecologists, and horticulturalists to help support local sustainability initiatives in the area.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Kiri.


 1. SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES

IMHO, Soneva Fushi is the best example of a sublime resort that blends luxury with sustainability. This desert island hideaway – the pioneer of luxury travel in the Maldives – is located in the stunning Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Massive, Robinson Crusoe-style, multi-bedroom luxury villas and private residences are hidden among dense tropical foliage. In keeping with the castaway theme, many are built to resemble tree houses. All open to their own private stretch of sugar white sands, and most boast their own private seawater swimming pools. Environmental and social responsibilities are at the core of the resort’s philosophy. For example, Soneva Fushi has one of the largest solar power plants in the Maldives, its food is grown and sourced locally where possible, it recycles waste materials, and it preserves ecosystems (Soneva Fushi has two nature reserves on site, where turtles can nest). Another brilliant initiative in line with Soneva Fushi’s ecofriendly policy is the stunning Glass Studio, where the Maldives’ waste glass is turned into valuable works of art. Here, you can watch world-renowned glass artists create glass art, participate in art exhibitions, learn the art of glass blowing in special courses, or even personally design your own masterpiece to take home at the Maldives’ first glass studio.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Fushi.


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