I think daydreaming about a holiday is half the fun so to get the most bang for our book so to help make your dreams more sustainable I’ve published a series on sustainable accommodation, which I’ll update as I find new information. The other articles in this series include Ireland and the UK, Europe and the Americas.
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I harvested most of the information here from a range of websites but I was very selective. Some accommodation providers have a loose interpretation of what is required to be sustainable so I’m ignoring places that limit their efforts to energy efficiency and asking guest to reuse towels! I’m only including locations that give concrete information on the range of initiatives they’ve implemented to lessen their impact on the planet.
If you’re researching your own accommodation Green Suitcase Travel have a good article on how to ensure your hotel is actually green. In summary, they believe hotels are on the right track if they
- have someone in charge of sustainability,
- have initiatives that go beyond asking guest to reuse towels
- keep surrounding development to a minimum, i.e. no manicured lawns and golf courses
- clearly state their sustainability policies
- measure energy, water and resources consumption
- support local causes or charities
- use organic, ethically sourced products
- are sustainably built
- are independently certified by a credible organisation
- pay their staff a fair wage
Please leave a comment if you know of a hotel or resort that does a good job of operating sustainably and I’ll add them onto one of my travel articles.
The Wa Ale Resort in Mynamar funds social welfare and conservation projects in and around the Lampi Marine National Park through it’s own foundation in collaboration with other NGO partners, including: The Wild Life Conversation Society, Instituto OIKOS and Global Medical Volunteers. 20% of net profits and 2% of room revenues are donated to the Lampi Foundation. The resort by constructed by local people and the wood used was mostly recycled from old homes, warehouses and boats from Myanmar. 50 % of the energy use at the camp is generated from solar energy and water is sourced from an island stream and via rainwater harvesting.
Gili Lankanfushi is an eco-resort in the Maldives made from sustainably sourced plantation teak, palm wood, bamboo, palm fronds and telegraph poles. All rooms provide organic toiletries in refillable earthenware containers. The island’s dedicated desalination plant provides bottled still and sparkling water for guests and the resort achieved Silver status in 2018 from Earthcheck, an organisation that helps businesses reduce their impact on the environment whilst reducing operations costs.
Reethi Beach Resort use an Energy Recovery System at the resort’s desalination plant, harvest rainwater system, recycle waste water for irrigation purposes, use a heat exchange system to generate hot water and dry clothes, provide drinking water in reusable glass bottles to guests, ban straws and plastic bags, use refillable toiletries and biodegradable cleaning products, minimise waste where possible, recycle and compost everything else, ban napkins and coasters, clean pool without chemicals, use biological controls and natural products against mosquitos and buy local where possible. The resort also engages in coral reef protection initiatives, voluntary maintain uninhabited islands and are actively involved in a wide range of local social and environmental programmes.
Soneva Fushi (see above) is one of 3 resorts in the Maldives that belong to the company Soneva. The resort creates their own cooking charcoal using resources on the island and provide 230,000 people in Darfur and Myanmar with fuel-efficient stoves that reduce deforestation and deathly indoor air pollution. They also filter, mineralise and bottle their own drinking water while using the proceeds to provide 750,000 people with clean and safe water. They do not import any single-use plastics and upcycle any discarded plastic into colourful and useful objects. They run the SLOW LIFE Symposia to encourage environmental and social collaboration within the local communities and to bring academic, political and business minds together to work on the world’s most pressing problems.
Coco Palm Resort staff releases baby turtles into the ocean during the hatching stage and have a resident veterinary surgeon dedicated to looking after any injured turtles. The resort has an on-site drinkable water production and glass bottling plant, and a comprehensive waste management centre that recycles materials such as aluminium, glass, and styrofoam. They have also banned plastic bags and bottles. They grow a selection of organic, home-grown herbs, fruits and vegetables, helping to reduce food miles.
Six Senses Lamuu provides drinking water in reusable glass bottles and wastewater is then treated onsite in a water treatment plant. Only biodegradable laundry detergents and cleaning supplies are used onsite and waste minimisation is prioritised with guests encouraged to take disposable and hazardous waste items back to their own countries where recycling facilities are available. Organic waste is composted for use on site and a waste heat recovery system is used to create hot water for the whole island. Villas have been designed to take advantage of passive cooling and natural ventilation and overhanging roofs create shade and reduce the need for air-conditioning. The resort is very involved in protecting local coral reefs and sea grass groves and support local and international environmental programmes, as well as local social ones. Unfortunately the resort currently uses diesel engines to generate its electricity.
Noomadi Barefoot Resort use ecologically grown wood, solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, a heat recovery system to heat water, an in-house water bottling to provide drinking water in reusable bottles. They also have a conservation centre to help develop ‘responsible activities’ for tourists, such as collecting data on the ecosystems while snorkeling. The resort recruit staff from the local community, buy locally grown food, support local environmental education programs in collaboration with the local school.
Kudadoo gets all of it’s power from solar cells core values and is built from sustainably sourced timber. The resort offers locally desalinated water in reusable bottles and uses biodegradable alternatives to plastic straws and cutlery. They serve line-caught fish as much as possible, reducing bycatch, and use biodegradable toiletries
Chiva Som is an adult-only wellness resort designed and built to minimise impact on the 7 acres it sits in. Rainfall is harvested within the resort, and waste water is collected and purified onsite before being used for landscape irrigation and maintaining resort lake levels. Perishable food items are distributed to local livestock farmers for animal feed, while other waste is recycled. Plant waste from garden maintenance is composted for use onsite and eco-friendly products are used. The venue also participates in social welfare programmes, hiring local staff and, whenever possible, purchasing local fresh food, products and services. Also all proceeds generated from sponsored events run by the resort goes to Preserve Hua Hin Group which funds environmental awareness, education and preservation activities.
Bangkok Tree House can only be reached by foot, bike or boat. They don’t fumigate to kill insects, or air conditioning in their public spaces but small ones in the rooms. The hotel is constructed from locally sourced bamboo and cook seasonal organic food, some grown on site, using solar cookers. They hire people who live less than 1km away to reduce transport emissions by staff, buy local goods, line dry laundry and compost food waste. 100% of their outdoor lights and restaurant lights are powered by wind and solar energy and they remove 1kg of waste from the river for every guest that stays. The onsite restaurant doesn’t serve meat, only fish, and they don’t use any leather or other animal byproducts in the Bangkok Tree House. They also give 15% off anyone who leave their mobile phone in a locker during their stay!
At Eco Logic 100% of profits go towards the development of local children. They have an organic farm, solar aquaponics fish and vegetable farm and run environmental educational projects. They hire only local staff and pay fair salaries and provide insurance. They also have a waste recycling bank and have banned plastic bags.
Keemala Resort use an onsite water treatment system to purify waste before discharge and methane from the on site waste management system is directed into the ground rather than the air. Greywater is reused to water the gardens and landscape. They state that they use environmental friendly synthetic material to prevent further deforestation, but don’t state what. Only glass-bottled water and paper straws are used and plastic packaging is avoided where possible. Landscaping has been done in such as way to limit the impact on the environment and daylight use is maximised to reduce energy consumption. Guest toiletires are 100% natural, paraben-free and not tested on animals. Organic herbs and vegetables are grown onsite and the resort does not sell tickets or accept commissions for tours and shows that exploit animals, such as elephant rides and shows, tiger shows, and dolphin shows. Also fabrics and textiles used at Keemala are produced by ethnic minority groups in Thailand under the Doi Tung Development Project, by the royal patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Tongsai Bay on Ko Samui avoid hardwood usage onsite and buy from sustainable commercial forests, they minimise waste and prioritise the protection of local wildlife, even going to so far as to fire employees found to have killed any. They use refillable ceramic containers for toiletries and avoid plastic wherever possible. They use a heat exchange system to heat hot water and electric vehicles in the compound. They are actively involved and support local animal welfare and environmental organisations. Their garden is organic, they use biodegradable cleaning products and non-toxic bio-chemicals, don’t spray against mosquitos and don’t facilitate attractions that exploit animals like zoos, aquariums and circuses.
The Park Royal Hotel in Singapore harvests rain water, has 2sqm of greenery for every 1sqm of land the hotel occupies, uses solar panels for energy production and uses sensors to minimise energy usage.
Undiscovered Mountains is an mountain focused adventure holiday tour company that use small independent accommodations wherever possible and local guides and instructors so the money you spend on your holiday is ploughed straight back into the local economy. They also run an Eco-Challenge to raise money for Tourism Concern and operate a carbon offsetting program through a rewilding project with our partner Mossy Earth.
Starting out as a marine reserve Song Saa in Cambodia is an island based resort run by a married couple. The resort carries out environmental and social projects via it’s foundation.
In 2010 Sokoun Chanpreda and Bill Bensley, purchased a 350-hectare wildlife corridor in the Cardamom National Forest. In order to protect the land from and fund conservation they decided to open a luxury tented camp on the site, called Shinta Mani Wild. Some of the fund for the camp go towards funding a dedicated Wildlife Alliance ranger station on the grounds, which guests are invited to help while there if they wish. The camp also provides employment for 120 people, who might otherwise have become involved in the logging industry. Shinta Mani Wild does not use any single-use plastics and they bottle our own water and use recycled containers. Food is locally sourced with some picked by staff from the surrounding forest. The resort also funds some sustainable community and environmental projects in the area.
Shinta Mani Wild Hotel in Cambodia takes a hands-on approach to conservation by collaborating with the Wildlife Alliance, local researchers and government agencies helping to protect the river valley from poaching, mining and logging. The resort has introduced alternatives to single-use plastics, and serves organic, seasonal and local ingredients in their restaurant.
World Nomads have written a articles on sourcing responsible hospitality in Cambodia.
Misool Eco-Resort in Eastern Indonesia aims to protect and revitalise their natural surroundings and the community in which they operate. They state that they work in partnership with Misool Foundation, to demonstrate to local hosts, government, and guests that sustainable tourism can provide a better life than logging, mining, or overfishing but I couldn’t find any specific information on how this sustainable form of tourism manifests itself in the resort.
The Sukau Rainforest Lodge sits on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River. They recycle their cooking oil to light lamps in our restaurant and lounge area and use rainwater harvesting to provide water for the kitchen and washing. Their lodge is equipped with septic tanks so that no waste is discharged into the river and organic waste is composted, while non-organic is sent to a local town for disposal and recycling. The lodge is designed for unrestrained air circulation and ventilation, thus minimizing the use of fans and water dispensers are located around the lodge and guests are encouraged to fill reusable bottles from them. Sukau Rainforest contribute in community project under non-profit BEST Society and 80% of the lodge’s staff are locals.
Bawah Reserve is on the islands of Bawah, which is the home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna including some 2000 year old trees. The building in the resort were constructed without machinery and using bamboo and other locally sourced natural building materials. All mirrors, sinks and bathtubs were made on the island using copper recycled from elsewhere in Indonesia. The iconic jetty was constructed over the coral reef that divides the two lagoons. To achieve this without damaging the coral, a team of specialist divers were employed to guide construction. The resort harvests rainwater and uses a desalination plant for drinking water. All wastewater is collected and pumped to a series of treatment areas: aerobic, non-aerobic, filtration system including UV, biological pond, and reed bed system. All solid waste generated on the island is sorted and sent for recycling where possible. A range of Bawah branded, locally-made ‘reef-friendly’ sun screen and other products are available for guests to purchase on the resort.
Pugdundee Safaris run a series of eco-lodges in National Parks in India. They state that they practise sustainable wildlife tourism in remote locations away from regular tourism hubs, which helps generate income for those living in remote areas. They choose sustainable, low-energy products, employee locals and procure from local businesses as much as possible. They also regularly train their staff on conservation related issues as they believe that to conserve our forests, we must look after the needs of local people. The company is a signatory of TOFT , an organisation that supports the protection, conservation and rewilding of natural wilderness and their wild inhabitants through responsible eco-tourism.
Prakruti Farm in India is a family-run 5 acre natural farm that uses permaculture, palekar and other natural farming techniques to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants and grains along with few livestock. Their private guest house which consists of a living room, fully equipped kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom can accommodate 6-8 people. The owners provide fresh South Indian food for breakfast. The place is a host to a wide variety of wild birds and so is said to be a haven for bird watchers.
Hara House is a 6 room zero waste guesthouse in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. It operates as a community hub and workspace for local, social entrepreneurs, setting aside 20% of all guest room and tour profits to their Hara Innovation Fund, a grant programme investing in projects focused on environmental action and education in North India. They reuse waste water to wash floors, make natural soaps, and provide locally sourced food and produce from our organic farm. They use solar panels to generate most of their electricity and hot water. They do not purchase products that come in plastic packaging and provide reusable tote bags to all guests to eliminate the need for disposable bags while shopping. They also encourage timed and bucket showers (although shower heads are available), compost food waste on site and any product in recyclable packaging purchased by guests and are given to local entrepreneurs selling recyclable waste to manufacturers.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on the Andaman Islands is located in a medley of rainforests, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, unspoilt beaches and ancient tribal cultures. The resort has it’s own biogas facility, water bottling plant, a reservoir for rainwater harvesting and partial solar energy. They’ve also partnered with the Pollution Control Board to keep the island plastic free while developing a plastic collection centre on the mainland. They also state that they are working consistently to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint.
Travel Blog Soul Travel has written up a very useful guide to responsible travel in Goa.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan
Serena Hotels have properties in some parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. They state that their hotels endeavour to emulate local sustainable architecture, promote awareness of local cultures, national heritage, conservation of the natural environment, empowers the local community, provides literacy and early learning opportunities, promotes health, safety and well being and facilitates the sharing of its achievements and knowledge on environmental responsibility to its guests, schools, communities and various stakeholders. we encourage and promote local community based suppliers and eco-friendly products – fresh food stuff is purchased from local farmers and companies that support small scale producers and dis-advantaged groups. Suppliers are also encouraged to reduce packaging or package in recyclable/biodegradable material and comply with international human rights and labour standards. The hotel group is focused on empowering local communities to benefit in sustainable income, food security and improved health and nutrition to more households thus improving the quality of life. I like the fact that you can read individual stories on the company’s sustainability page.
PS – In previous years at this time I’ve written about My Experience with Conker Laundry Liquid