Green hotels aren’t just huts on the beach — and if they are, these exceptionally modern green hotels have luxury in their corner. These ten are just a sampling of a stunning array of how far the eco culture has come and how it can provide a dreamy honeymoon or adrenaline-filled getaway for every type and budget.
10. Adrère Amellal: Desert Ecolodge, Siwa, Egypt
[Also see our travel article “Visiting the Ancient City of Luxor“]
Step way, way back in time at Adrère Amellal, where beeswax candles replace electric lights and the crisp desert nights stand in for air-conditioning. Set in the protected Siwa Oasis, the ecolodge was hand-built using a mixture of stone, salt water and clay, and blends into the shade of a giant yellow rock mountain. Except for the modern bathrooms and comfortable, locally made beds, the place looks like it hasn’t changed in thousands of years. Leave modernity behind while dining on local organic fruit and veg, and learn the value of an early bedtime and sunrise wake-up call.
9. Six Senses, Con Dao, Vietnam
Six Senses cares for its guests, the environment and its neighbors in equal measure, making it a truly guilt-free splurge. The hotel puts a portion of its mineral water sales towards building a clean water supply for the local school, buys its food from local vendors, and works with suppliers that share its views on sustainability. The family friendly hotel itself is built for maximum airflow, reducing the need for air-conditioning. Bikes are available for sightseeing. Golfers can even aim for the water, as the golf balls biodegrade in 48 hours and release fish food. The pools, crystalline waters and private atmosphere seal the deal for an unforgettable stay.
8. Tierra Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile
[Also see our travel article “Two Weeks in Chile“]
Set just outside Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia is an eco haven for eco-adventurists. Quite impressively, the setup requires no air-conditioning in summer and barely any heating in winter. The soft curves of the hotel’s architecture juxtapose the jagged mountain peaks that dominate every window view. Lenga wood comes from a sustainable rainforest, and the majority of furniture is also locally made. Tierra Patagonia also plants one tree for every visitor, helping along the reforestation efforts after the January 2012 forest fire.
7. Whitepod, Aigle, Switzerland
Almost 4,600 feet above sea level and at the beginning of the Swiss Alps, White Pod features 15 igloo-esque pods that dot the pristine landscape. The pods are low-impact, and the resort puts a heavy emphasis on low electricity and water consumption, using renewable resources and educating guests on environmental protection. The airy pods come with a wood-burning stove and tons of natural light. Luxury is just a few steps away, with the main pod-house offering massages, a Finnish sauna and a Japanese bath. In the winter, skiing is obviously the main draw, along with dog sledding, treks and paragliding. The summer season offers hikes and dog karting, bringing a sense of summer camp to sustainable luxury.
6. Saffire Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania
With colors and sweeping curves that reflect the landscape, Saffire Freycinet almost becomes one with the incredible views from every window. Between the on-site farm and nearby ones, local produce colors the extravagant meals. The resort planted 30,000 native plants to help restore the once-battered landscape, and the buildings, designed by a Tasmanian architect and filled with locally made furniture, limit light pollution and collect and conserve rainwater. One of the best (and most extravagant) ways of getting back to nature includes dining on fresh-caught oysters and sipping local white wine while still in the estuary.
5. Treehotel, Harads, Sweden
[Also see our “Travel Guide to Stockholm and its Top Attractions“]
Treehotel turns typical luxury a curveball with a unique, offbeat setup in the middle of nowhere. A few miles from a village of 500 and set in the middle of a forest, the hotel features five cabins, or rather, treehouses. Treehotel took great pains to build these cabins into the trees without disturbing the surrounding environment and allows visitors a one-of-a-kind experience without a giant carbon footprint. The wooden floors contain no trace chemicals, and each cabin features underfloor heating, LED-lighting, combustive toilets and hydroelectric power. In addition to a guilt-free stay in a UFO or cone-shaped or mirrored box cabin, visitors who pass through in the colder months can dine on the ice, snowshoe and possibly catch a showing of the aurora borealis.
4. San Camp, Kalahari Desert, Botswana
[Also see our travel article “The World’s Best Places to See Wildlife“]
San Camp provides five-star accommodation in an oasis on the decidedly less hospitable Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Calling the six custom-built canvas lodges tents doesn’t fully define the romantic, elegant design among a surreal landscape. Each tent is made from sustainable Zimbabwean teak, and the furniture is crafted by local artisans. Solar energy powers almost the entire sight. Perhaps best of all, San Camp knows the value of leaving while they’re ahead — the camp packs up at the end of every dry season, leaving almost no trace behind except for the same tracks that every jeep uses on the way out to reduce land disruption.
3. Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Family owned and family and honeymooner-friendly Morgan’s Rock sits in the middle of a 4,000-acre jungle and next to a mile-long private beach. Sea turtles are a year-round staple, as are howler monkeys and sloths. In addition to ziplining through the pristine forest or getting tipsy on the beach, visitors can lend a hand with the daily operations by helping out at the organic farm in the morning and enjoying the fruits of their labor at the dinner table. Morgan’s Rock supplements its farm-to-table meals with food from local farms and vendors, which aligns nicely with its commitment to local education and preservation. The 15 three-sided bungalows that were constructed by a sustainable Managua-based company are an adventure in themselves, as they rest on cliff-side treetops across a suspension bridge.
2. h2hotel, Healdsburg, California, United States
From top to bottom, LEED gold certified h2hotel is a prime example of eco-friendly chic. Many of the building blocks were sourced from nearby, and 85% of the leftover debris was recycled. Minimalist yet cozy guest rooms contain bamboo flooring, organic sheets and towels, and glass carafes made from recycled wine bottles. Both the bar and restaurant source local food and drink for fresh and refreshing dining. Solar panels heat the pool and washrooms, and the living roof filters rainwater, some of which is then used in an art installation downstairs. Guests can further reduce their environmental impact by using the hotel’s complimentary bikes to visit the local wineries.
1. Chumbe Island Coral Park Eco-Bungalows, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Chumbe Island cleverly mixes rustic charm with a sort of ultra modern Robinson Crusoe-type adventure, with open-air bungalows, crystal clear snorkeling and a heavy emphasis on environmental education. The unpopulated island only accepts a maximum of 14 guests at a time, immediately giving the place an exclusive feel. The luxury, though, comes in the form of being next to one of the last unspoiled coral reefs in Africa and at being one with nature. The park maintains a strict standard of making almost zero impact on the surrounding land. This includes solar power, composting toilets and an impressive system of filtering rainwater for the washrooms and then cycling that out to nearby plants.