Guilt-free eco-hotels that don't skimp on luxury
Though it may sound contradictory, luxury and sustainability don't have be mutually exclusive. Whether it's harvesting grey water, collecting rain water, using renewable energy sources or tree planting, these hotel properties show that forward-thinking, innovative solutions can still produce five-star, luxury experiences for the world's well-heeled
A resort in Australia that helped bring a species of tree back from the brink of extinction, a lodge in Guatemala that’s completely off the grid, and a Japanese oasis that offers guests luxury eco-tours are being called some of the top, green-yet-lavish hotel stays in the world.
It may sound like a contradiction in terms: opulent hotels that provide five-star service and amenities while respecting the environment, but the two concepts don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Just an hour outside Tokyo, for instance, guests can find a secluded, mountainside spa resort, Hoshinoya Karuizawa, that harnesses the power of the area’s geothermal energy to provide a luxury hot spring experience which is said to have skin-healing properties. Styled after a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan, the resort is powered by hydroelectricity generated by the area’s fast-moving streams and rivers, while foods are sourced from local farmers.
As for entertainment, Hoshinoya Karuizawa offers a range of award-winning eco-tours on foot and bike that explore bird sanctuaries in the day and flying squirrels at night, and even operates a black bear conservation programme.
Here are a few other picks for the greenest luxury hotels in the world.
Laguna Lodge, Guatemala
Set in the lush, tropical jungles of Guatemala, this five-star boutique hotel offers sweeping views of Lake Atitlan and a trio of volcanic peaks in the distance. Suites are carved out of the area’s volcanic stone, adobe and palm and decorated in indigenous Mayan antiques. The lodge is also powered entirely from renewable solar energy and is off-grid, reuses grey water, collects rainwater and grows organic vegetables. Meals are meat-free.
The Scarlet, Cornwall, England
Set along the Cornish coast, the airy, seaside British resort is pitched as an Ayurvedic-inspired spa that tries to echo the rugged surroundings into its design. In addition to offering classes like ‘laughter yoga’, transformational dance, surfing and horse-riding, the wellness retreat also offers day-long sustainability courses. Eco measures include the harvesting of water, the collection of rain water and the use of solar energy.
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Australia
Deep within the Greater Blue Mountains, three hours from Sydney, guests staying at the Wolgan Valley Resort choose from 40 luxury suites styled after traditional, rural Australian homesteads, each with its own private terrace and swimming pool. Billed as Australia’s first luxury conservation-based resort, the property is also the first to achieve internationally accredited carbon neutral certification through cabonNZero which it’s maintained for three years in a row thanks to its rehabilitation programmes and use of renewable energy. By the end of last year, more than 200,000 trees were planted in wildlife corridors, for example, including the reintroduction of the Wollemi Pine, one of the world’s rarest trees, which was thought to be extinct.
Garonga Safari Camp, South Africa
A luxury safari sanctuary that promises intimate wildlife encounters with four of the five iconic African land animals, Garonga is glamping at its finest. Guests stay in spacious, airy tents outfitted with wooden decks, hammocks, large, draped beds and indoor and outdoor showers. Activities include safaris, spa services, wilderness walks, outdoor bush-baths and sleep-outs. Sustainability measures include the conversion of food and natural waste into natural gas, which is used to power the kitchen stove. The site also harnesses solar power, harvests grey water and grows its own vegetables while its fleet of vehicles is powered by biodiesel.