Top 10 Sustainable Hotels in the World
by Valeria Hinojosa
I got some news! I wrote an article for Casa Vogue Brazil sharing the top 10 hotels I visited for my blog around the world which captivated my heart and mind on another level. All, of course, sustainable! This article was translated by the Vogue team to Portuguese. You can get yourself a hardcopy magazine to read it, or scroll down for the pdfs. If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, you’ll do wonderfully.
For all others, English version is below these photos!
By Valeria Hinojosa for Casa Vogue Brazil
What comes to your mind when you hear the words “sustainable hotels”? Would you ever imagine that sustainability would go far and wide to include luxurious architecture, soul-enriching activities, nature-oriented adventures and holistic spas? Nowadays, pursuing that lifestyle with a conscience is becoming easier, accessible and wonderful without the need to sacrifice comfort or style. It is the perfect opportunity for you to explore the world while preserving our planet effortlessly. What make these hotels so different exactly? Well, let’s just say they will have you sleeping in a tree house in Thailand designed in the most lavish way with the purest natural materials and a view that overlooks organic gardens, or will take you all the way to Galapagos Islands to disconnect from the noisy world in a room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering majestic panoramic views of the island while being fueled by solar energy. Eco-friendly hotels have now become the perfect combination of lifestyle and mindfulness! Here are a few examples worth adding to your 2019 bucket list!
Entirely inspired in Phuket’s culture and history, this hotel is a 5-star paradise with nature in mind. Each nest, tree house and villa at Keemala was designed with a focus on the characteristics of the first four clans of Phuket: Pa-ta-pae (earth), Khon-Jorn (Wanderers), We-Ha (Sky), and Rung-Nok (Nest). For example, the Pa-ta-pae (earth) villa and was built on the belief that being connected to the earth brings health benefits; therefore, the entire place was made with soil, clay, bamboo, wood and other earthy materials. Whether you choose to stay high above ground in one of their “Bird Nest Pool Villas” or in their “Tent Pool” ones that take glamping to the next level, Keemala will open your mind to the wonders of eco-friendly luxury with a rainforest pool, a spa using medicinal plants and mind-bod-soul therapies, one-of-a-kind design, a restaurant using living and holistic ingredients for all diet types, sustainable practices such as an internal water reuse management system, and no plastic and animal-torture (no riding elephants here!) policy.
This sustainable 14-room boutique hotel was designed and built for the environmentally conscious and adventurous traveler by combining high levels of comfort in a remote location (on top of a mountain surrounded by mesmerizing layers of nature) with a unique design that runs on solar energy for electricity and water heating, collects rain water, and treats waste water reusing it for irrigation. Pikaia is also reducing its footprint even further with a design focused on natural light and air circulation, and a restaurant that serves an organic food menu with vegan and vegetarian options. Now, imagine all this topped with a room with big floor-to-ceiling windows making you feel like you are part of nature, and daily nature-preserving adventures! Every morning the hotel will schedule an entire day of activities around the islands for you. You will wake up early, grab a delicious breakfast, hop in their 100ft yacht and head to explore the magic of each island in the Galapagos. From hiking next to iguanas and the famous blue-footed booby, to snorkeling with white tip sharks, rays, sea lions, hundreds of different fishes and penguins. An earth-friendly experience of a lifetime!
At the front of sustainable energy in the tourism industry in South America, sits Tierra Hotels with three different collections and Tierra Atacama being one of them. Settled on the Atacama desert, Tierra Atacama, offers guests blissful and luxurious rooms designed with natural and handwoven materials, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows with views of nearby Volcanoes and the Andes mountain range. This hotel is fueled by 588 solar panels helping Tierra Atacama “avoid burning more than 110,000 liters of diesel annually”, and also extracts its water from the its own well, which is later treated by reverse osmosis. Tierra Atacama also prides itself in empowering and educating its staff of in the importance of sustainability, agriculture and tourism. Some of the activities and adventures you can embark on during your Tierra Atacama vacation are: biking, hiking, star gazing, and taking a dip in thermal springs and salt water pools among others.
Imagine opening your villa’s windows and looking straight into the most beautiful turquoise waters. You feel the sunrays warming your skin as you slowly walk towards the 7-step ladder that separates your feet from the ocean. There are two options. You either use the ladder or do a cannon ball straight into the water. That is Rockhouse hotel! No beach but mesmerizing underground caves to discover the minute your feet hit the ocean. This eco-friendly hotel was built on top of rocks in Negril, Jamaica, using local and reclaimed materials without disrupting nature. They also have an organic garden that provides veggies to the restaurant and medicinal herbs to the spa. If you decide to visit the hotel, make sure you take a tour of the schools of their nonprofit, The Rockhouse Foundation. They transform and rebuild schools in low income communities of Jamaica while also training and empowering teachers.
Have you had Machu Picchu in mind for a while? Why not combine that magnificent trip with this otherworldly adventure? Only a two-hour train ride and short car ride away from Machu Picchu hides this gem. Hanging from a mountain and overlooking the Sacred Valley, you will spot four bubble-looking capsules “glued” to a mountain. Yes, getting to your solar-powered room, involves climbing the 400 meters high via ferrata! Don’t panic yet though! You will be tied to a steel cable that runs all the way up through the entire path. A two-hour climb during a stunning sunset overlooking Sacred Valley to spend the night in a transparent luxury capsule that will give you direct access to a sky filled with stars. This is that “million stars” type of hotel! The staff will prepare delicious meals for you in the “mother capsule” or kitchen, and you will zip-line all the way down the next day. An opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and explore Peru in an energizing way!
An award-winning hotel in the National Park of Torres del Paine, Patagonia, and the perfect place for all nature and adventure lovers. This sustainable hotel will amaze you with its beautiful domes- inspired in ancient shelters of the region’s people- made of sustainable materials, and with options for every kind of guest. From the standard domes to the suite ones with a king size bed, a fireplace and their own heated bathroom. A 100% eco-friendly hotel running on solar energy and offering daily activities to help you connect with nature at a deeper level, such as: trekking, wildlife watching, kayaking, tours of the glaciers and many more. And for those days when your body is asking for some much-needed rest, Ecocamp offers yoga classes and massages. Yes, in domes too!
This unique hotel in Ubud, Bali, will take your breath away with its powerful combination of sustainability, luxury, comfort, and old & modern design. For the construction, Bambu Indah transformed old Balinese homes into magnificent guest rooms and bungalows. They also have a restaurant, yoga studio and some more guest rooms entirely made of bamboo, which is not only a sustainable material but also makes it easier to move or remove buildings with little impact to nature. Nestled between it all, lay fairytale-looking pools designed with lava stones and vegetation that cleanse the pools naturally without the need of toxic chemicals, and organic herb gardens and rice fields. Bambu Indah runs on solar energy, and other eco practices that involve composting, recycling, organic bath products, non-toxic mosquito repellent, and a delicious menu made with fresh and organic ingredients from their orchards. And last but not least, they added two tree-house tents that will have you glamping above a flowing river and completely surrounded by nature.
Nestled in a 100-acre Nature Reserve and in front of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, hides this luxurious boutique hotel. Inspired by the love of nature, Laguna Lodge was designed with volcanic stone, adobe and palm leaves, and is powered by 180 solar energy panels and rain water collection systems. Not only is the architecture breathtaking, but each room has magic of its own with bed runners woven by Mayan women, lamp-shades made from maize paper, walls made of adobe brick and clay produced at their gardens, organic bath products, and a balcony with a magnificent view of Lake Atitlan. Laguna Lodge also offers a lakefront restaurant with an award-winning cuisine team that only uses fresh, organic and plantbased ingredients. Some of the activities you can submerge yourself in: kayaking, zip-lining, hiking, yoga, arts and crafts, volunteerism, holistic spa, and many more.
9) Swaswara – India:
A sustainable hotel and peaceful destination to completely disconnect yourself from the world and stress. Swaswara was designed in harmony with nature and with the goal of introducing guests to the importance of a balanced and powerful mind-body-soul connection. It is a healing sanctuary for the soul offering daily Ayurvedic therapies, yoga and meditation classes, yoga enabled art and music classes, and an organic Wellbeing diet program.
They also thrive sustainably by reusing water and waste for the gardens, turning kitchen waste into bio gas for cooking and the compost into garden fertilizer. Swaswara also has three big reservoirs to collect and hold up to 18 million liters of rainwater during monsoon seasons to be later purified and used for all hotel’s needs.
In just five nights (or more, up to each guest), Swaswara will awaken your senses and will show you the wonders of listening to, and taking care of, yourself.
Looking to stay in a treehouse made with sustainably-certified wood in the Brazilian Amazon? Then this place is for you! With seven suites carefully designed and decorated to dance in synchrony with nature, Mirante do Gavião will captivate your heart and mind. Each suite offers a harmonious combination of luxury, comfort, adventure and sustainability, and some of the activities guests can embark on range from bird watching to sunsets overlooking the river, bike tours, taking a dip in their pool surrounded by nature, and more. Its restaurant also delights itself by offering an exotic mix of regional flavors with local ingredients.