Would you like to travel more responsibly but don’t want to give up your creature comforts? If yes, I agree with you, that is my favourite way to travel too. Whether you are after a luxurious once-in-a-lifetime eco-safari in Africa, or a stylish European city break here are my suggestions for a stylish yet sustainable holiday.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post but a collection of my favourite eco-chic resorts that are either high on my wishlist or I have been lucky enough to stay at myself on a press trip. For the latter, my travel, accommodation and meals will all have been complimentary for review purposes but as always I will only ever write my honest opinion. I’ve included them here because they are darn good!
Nihi Sumba Eco-Lodges on the Indonesian Island of Sumba
First from my wishlist on the little-known island of Sumba, is the Nihi Sumba eco-lodges located between the rich jungle and the golden sands leading into the Indian Ocean.
There are just 21 stunning villas, hand-built by local craftsmen, using materials indigenous to Indonesia. Reflecting traditional Sumbanese architecture each one features spacious outdoor living areas and open-plan interiors bringing the simplicity of island life to the villas. With a 90% Sumbanese workforce, the eco-lodges bring the best of local culture and hospitality into the resort with profits being funnelled into the Sumba Foundation aiding community-based projects.
This sounds the perfect place to relax and unwind but I also can’t imagine being lost for something to do here either. There is a myriad of daytime activities including hiking, yoga and horse riding and watersports such as surfing, while the Jungle and Hilltop spas offer treatments to rejuvenate. And with views like this, a stay here must be hard to beat.
For more information visit ScottDunn.com.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Borneo
On the banks of the Kinabatangan River, the award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge , is in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah famed for its wildlife experiences – think orangutans, proboscis monkeys and hornbills. When I visited a couple of years ago, the 2-hour boat ride from the city of Sandakan was just the start of a great adventure. The wildlife experiences started long before we reached the lodge.
Featured as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, is a stunning example of sustainable tourism, giving far more back to the environment and local community than it takes. This is a great example of how tourism, when managed properly, can play an important part in preserving the forest.
A pygmy elephant I photographed on the river bank near Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Borneo
Read more about my trip to Borneo, The wildlife of Borneo and the Kinabatangan River.
For more information visit Sukau Rainforest Lodge.
Enjoy an Eco-Safari with Singita Explore in Tanzania
Another from my wishlist, Singita Explore in the Singita Grumeti Private Game Reserve in Tanzania offers an unparalleled eco-safari experience right on the epic migratory route that’s crossed annually by more than one million wildebeest.
With a maximum of sx tents, each camp is put up at the request of private groups often in the most remote areas of the reserve. It can be moved directly into the path of the annual migration or to a particularly scenic location in the reserve depending on the season, the weather and the movement of the animals.
Everything about the camp is designed for minimal energy consumption with little environmental impact. Completely off the grid, the camp is completely run on solar power.
Singita Explore is a return to the simplicity and authenticity of safari life but without having to forfeit the comforts or attentive service that the company are known for.
For more information visit Singita.com.
The Inspira Liberdade, a boutique hotel in the heart of Lisbon
It’s not often you come across a city centre hotel so totally committed to sustainable tourism yet this is what you will find at the Inspira Liberdade Hotel (formerly the Inspira Santa Maria Hotel). Within easy walking distance of the city’s main attractions, this charming eco-chic hotel and spa is the perfect base whether in Lisbon for business or pleasure. When I visited Lisbon one December several years ago now, I was bowled over by their commitment to sustainable tourism and social responsibility.
All of their services, from the rooms to the spa, were designed based on the principles of feng shui and they also offer rooms specially designed for guests with reduced mobility.
“Being sustainable is not only limited to recycling and using environmentally friendly materials. It is a philosophy of life and a daily attitude. It aims to minimise the environmental impact of the life cycle of the business in its entirety – from development and construction to the daily operation in all its aspects. It is a constant quest for improvement, to help reduce the environmental footprint. Sustainability is not a luxury – it is an indispensable asset for all.” General Manager, NicolasRoucos.
For more information visit Inspira Hotels.
Sustainable Luxury at Brazil’s Cristalino Jungle Lodge
Hidden amongst huge tropical trees on a small bend of the Cristalino River in northern Mato Grosso State, next on my wishlist is the Cristalino Jungle Lodge is one of South America’s foremost conservation projects and eco-lodges.
The lodge can only be accessed by water; guests arrive by motorised canoe and walk up the path to a series of comfortable and spacious solar-powered wooden bungalows set in a jungle clearing. The accommodation comprises of eight rooms and four bungalows with private bathrooms. The highlights are the bungalows and the superior rooms, which were carefully designed in wood, with ceramic tile floors. All rooms have solar water heating and biological waste treatment, emphasising the importance of environmental sustainability.
A series of trails (22 miles in total) and river trips can take guests to six different ecosystems within the reserve, which vary from rocky savannah to dense primary rainforest. There is also a spectacular 50-metre canopy tower, arguably the best in the Americas I’m told, the perfect spot for keen bird watchers.
For more information visit ScottDunn.com.
Luxury and Sustainability at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
In an area of extreme natural beauty stands Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, a spectacular beach property situated on the beautiful central Vietnamese coastline. Awarded Eco-Spa of the Year 2013, Six Senses’ sustainability and responsibility to the environment spreads throughout the entire property and worldwide brand and I’ve been dreaming about staying here ever since.
The 59 luxury private pool villas are elegantly furnished with rustic natural woods and neutral fabrics and have all been built to blend in with the natural environment either on the beach, over the water or into the amazing rock formations.
Photo credit: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
Six Senses have partnered with two marine biologists to establish a swimming and snorkelling pathway through the reef and to create an inventory of marine life – both fish and coral – with the aim of protecting the reef from further damage. The partnership will also focus on coral preservation and reef restoration.
For more information visit SixSenses.com .
Mandina Lodges, Makasutu Forest, The Gambia
Deep in the heart of the sacred forest of Makasutu, you’ll find the perfect place to escape the world, relax and unwind, in these unique lodges on a tributary of the River Gambia. I’ve stayed here several times on press trips. I loved it so much that I returned with my husband on our honeymoon.
With just nine lodges, each sleeping two people, at many times, it feels as if you have this magical setting all to yourself. And with no WiFi, a digital detox is guaranteed. The lodges are simple but stylish and comfortable. If you tire of the beautiful river view from your River Lodge, you can take a dip in the lovely pool or get closer to nature exploring the forest on foot or by canoe.
As well as the floating River Lodges, there is one Stilted River Lodge and three Jungle Lodges set back from the river with stunning stain-glass windows and four-poster beds.
This really is a little corner of paradise perfect for wildlife lovers or anyone seeking a quiet escape.
Read about my very first stay here, A night on the river in Makasutu Forest.
For more information visit The Gambia Experience.
Bonsol Hotel Resort & Spa, Mallorca
Tumbling down the hillside (with interconnecting tunnels under the roads), Hotel Bonsol manages to maintain an intimate atmosphere despite its relatively large size. I’ve stayed here twice; once on a press trip and then a second time on my honeymoon. Yes, we were lucky enough to have two honeymoons.
Not only does Bonsol boast extremely high sustainability credentials, but they also have their own private beach and are within easy reach of the island’s capital Palma, not to mention the excellent service and friendly atmosphere. It was the perfect short-haul destination for a getaway after the excitement of our wedding.
There’s a vast range of facilities here too, including two swimming pools, two restaurants, free morning yoga classes, mini golf, tennis, an excellent spa and a private beach.
I’d recommend hiring a car to explore the surrounding countryside, beaches and villages, but if you don’t wish to drive, airport transfers are easily arranged and It’s a just short bus ride into Palma to discover the island’s capital.
For more information visit, BonSol.
Sustainable Comfort at Song Saa Private Island Resort, Cambodia
Tucked away in an untouched corner of the Cambodian coast Song Saa Private Island focuses on luxury and sustainability and is last but not least fro my eco-chic wishlist.
Inspired by local fishing villages, the resort uses thatched roofs and driftwood with features and facilities designed to work in harmony with the environment including the treatment and reuse of water on the island ensuring not a single drop is wasted.
A dedicated sustainability management plan is implemented by the resort including the creation and management of Cambodia’s first marine reserve improving the diving since the restoration of coral began.
The 27 thatch and stone villas, some with their own private pool, are dotted among the jungle or perched above the sea with stunning views of the ocean.We think Song Saa Private Island Resort is the idyllic place to escape the pressures of modern life, relax and rejuvenate and it all adds up to a superb eco-chic holiday.
For more information visit AmpersandTravel.com.
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