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The number of travellers taking eco-tourism holidays is growing three times faster than those choosing mainstream trips and is predicted to make up 5 per cent of the global holiday market by 2024. Eco-friendly holidays have also shaken off their "tie-died t-shirt" image. Ordinary holidaymakers - not just a fringe minority - appear to have caught the habit.
In the past 30 years, the earth has lost nearly a third of its natural habitat. Aircraft emissions contribute to greenhouse gases and tourism development, in the shape of new hotels, golf courses and resorts continue apace in environmentally sensitive areas.
Such issues have been brought into focus by the annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which recognise outstanding commitment to sustainable tourism. With the incredible rise in sustainable tourism, here is the list of our favourite top 5 eco/ sustainable resorts in the world.
Found in the far-flung South Pacific, some 50km from Tahiti, The Brando resides on the tiny island of Tetiaroa. It was first discovered – and subsequently purchased – by Marlon Brando in 1960, when he was scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty.
The Brando Resort is close to being a self-sustainable and carbon-neutral hotel. This resort is also LEED platinum certified and a member of the National Geographic unique lodges of the world. All the energy it uses is renewable, being produced either through solar power or by a biofuel power station powered by coconut oil. The seawater air conditioning system harnesses the cool water found deep in the sea and pipes it to the land for use. Any rainwater that collects on the roofs of the villas is collected to supply toilets and the laundry service. Guests are also encouraged to take one of the courses on offer that teach about subjects such as eco-technology, Polynesian culture, animal life and coral reefs. Since opening, it has welcomed Barack Obama, Leonardo Dicaprio and Beyoncé – just a few of the starry names in a bursting guest-book of A-listers.
This multi-award winning eco-friendly, the luxury boutique resort is alongside Savusavu Bay. As you would expect from a resort with a name like ‘Cousteau’ – the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Vanu Levu, Fiji, has lots of green credentials. The son of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel, was so enamoured of this five-star eco-resort that he agreed to put his name on it. Built completely out of local materials on a former coconut plantation, the 25 traditional thatched bures sit on a beautiful stretch of beach on the island of Vanua Levu. The resort has several measures in place to both reduce its impact on the local environment and to educate its visitors of the importance of looking after nature.
The resort has low-energy light bulbs and all the wood comes from certified local forests. Furthermore, the hotel has an onsite farm, growing produce such as coconuts, pineapples and mangoes, and which uses only sustainable agricultural practices. As well as this, the hotel offers educational tours to its younger visitors that teach them about environmentalism.
We recommend heading to the at the bustling, colourful Savusavu Farmers Market on Saturday’s as this is the day the locals traditionally shop for freshly caught fish, crabs and prawns. Or if your feeling adventurous maybe hike to a waterfall and take a cooling dip in a jungle pool at Waisali Rainforest Reserve, about 12 miles north of Savusavu town.
Hotel Punta Islita is a luxury hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica – which consists of suites, bungalows and villas spread across 80 hillside acres, and it’s won many awards for its sustainability. It describes its approach as “planet-friendly, people-positive”. Wildlife conservation, reforestation and local employment are key concerns, and the hotel rather poetically states on its website that its “caring attitude” makes it “better empowered to protect the environment, champion economic opportunity, and celebrate the cultural differences that colour the fabric of human experience.”
Beneath a fifty-foot thatched palm ceiling sits the poolside 1492 Restaurant it serves a daily breakfast of tropical fruit salads, eggs and fantastically strong Costa Rican coffee. The lunch and dinner menus are dominated by fresh seafood dishes, including a must-try ceviche and octopus carpaccio.
The Casa Spa offers nature-inspired treatments, founded on the wellness beliefs of the local Chorotega culture. The area is a hub for lots of adventurous activities, including surfing, hiking, kayaking, sea turtle spotting, horseback riding and zip lining. My personal favourite is to take in the local flora and fauna as you journey down the Ora River on a kayak tour (May–December).
Nestled in South Male atoll, Jumeirah Vittaveli sits graciously, just 20 minutes away from Male International Airport. The Jumeirah Vittaveli was recently awarded the Green Globe Certification (GGC) after a sustainability audit. The GGC has 349 strict standards with which tourism businesses must comply.
The Jumeirah Vittaveli has implemented a number of eco measures, including switching to LED light bulbs and installing a heat recovery system that channels energy from generators and uses it to heat the water. The resort also has the ‘Eco Pure’ system, which treats seawater to create fresh drinking water, and it bottles its own water in recycled glass bottles, saving around 50,000 plastic bottles a year.
The Jumeirah is made up of 43 beach villas and suites, 46 water villas and private ocean retreats and 1 incredible Royal Residence.
Now the activities set this stunning resort apart from every other for me personally. So there is the usual complimentary use of Vittaveli Bicycles which is great but there is a whole heap of activities on offer including scuba diving, snorkelling, kids clubs, spas, yoga and fishing. But this resort also has Flyboarding, cooking classes, coconut oil making classes, water sports and the incredible semi-submarine adventure… That’s right they have their very own semi-submersible submarine to explore the reefs and ocean wildlife. By far the most exciting thing I have ever done.
Campi Ya Kanzi is a Kenya safari lodge hotel offering bush-inspired interiors, luxurious tent accommodation, an eco-friendly ethos, miles of bush for game-viewing, a swimming pool, horses, massages, and its own private plane, in the Chyulu Hills near Mount Kilimanjaro and the Amboseli and Tsavo national parks.
This eco-friendly holiday camp in Mtito Andei, Kenya, has a long list of the measures it takes to reduce its impact on the environment. The whole camp runs on solar energy, the tented suites are made by local Maasai people from trees that fell on their own accord. They have a water catchment system that stores what little rainfall the camp receives, and even the used water is filtered and pumped into ponds to sustain the local wildlife. What’s more, visitors to the camp contribute a $101 conservation fee a day, supporting an organisation that pays locals not to kill the lions and leopards that threaten their livestock.
Although it is costly, this isn’t a swanky lodge. It’s a warm, comfortable thatched bush home, with sensational views and an authentic safari feel. Décor mixes modern animal photographs and hand-crafted furniture with local crafts. Incredibly the camp has its own plane, too, so Kenyan day-trips can be arranged, as well as pan-Africa adventures.
Campi Ya Kanzi serves delicious meals with an Italian twist, from big breakfasts and fresh fish and salads at lunch to four-course dinners featuring gazpacho, home-made pasta and roasts, and rich desserts. A wide range of South African and Italian wines are offered, as well as local beers and fresh juices.
NAECO is a sustainable swimwear brand we take plastic from the ocean and make incredible soft luxurious swim shorts. As an avid kite surfer and scuba diver, our founder spent a massive amount of his time in the ocean. Over the years he saw more and more plastic in the ocean that was spoiling the ecosystem.
Our aim is simple; to create a luxury brand that shows the world that there is no need to carelessly use our worlds natural resources. We can make clothing from sustainable materials that have a positive impact on our planet.
Naeco symbolises what we believe the fabrics of the future should be and what he believes a luxury fashion brand of the future needs to be. Using state of the art recycling methods, textile research and technology we are able to make fabrics re-born and repurposed for new lives as luxury clothing made to last.