Earth Day: The Luxury Hotels and Resorts Going Green
In January 1969, the world watched in horror as over 100,000 barrels of crude oil spilled from an offshore drilling site into the Santa Barbara Channel. It was a disaster that would inspire Senator Gaylord Nelson to create Earth Day – a global event encouraging brands, hotels and individuals to show support for all things green.
On Thursday 22 April, Earth Day will celebrate its 52nd anniversary. As the climate crisis accelerates and concerns for the environment reach new heights, many are looking for ways to travel more responsibly.
However, choosing where to stay can be tricky, especially given that almost every destination is clamoring to show off its sustainable credentials. To mark this special day, we’ve rounded up a selection of hotels and resorts that are going the extra mile to protect the planet – both on Earth Day and beyond.
[See more: The Most Luxurious Eco-Friendly Hotels]
Fogo Island Inn – Energy Efficiency
Kicking off our list of Earth Day hotels and resorts is Fogo Island Inn – winner of last year’s Regenerative Travel Impact Awards. Situated on a rugged island off the northeast coast of New Foundland, Canada, the secluded retreat operates as a social business with all profits reinvested into securing a resilient future for the community of Fogo Island.
Designed by Newfoundland-born architect, Todd Saunders, the striking timber-clad property features 29 unique guest bedrooms all with floor-to-ceiling windows revealing stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Built with energy efficiency in mind, the Inn has high levels of insulation, triple-pane glazed windows, solar panels on the roof to supply hot water for underfloor heating and cisterns to collect rainwater from the roof which is filtered for use in the toilets, laundry room and kitchen.
A commitment to sustainability is evident in every last detail at the Inn, from the steel water bottles provided for guests on arrival and eco-friendly toiletries to the electric vehicle charging stations and bespoke furnishings made by local artisans. When it comes to dining, the Inn follows an ‘80/20’ rule, harvesting at least 80% of ingredients from the island itself including plenty of responsibly sourced fish from the surrounding waters.
Guests can also opt in to achieve carbon neutrality during their stay. Fogo Island Inn has partnered with Carbonzero which provides an estimate for the carbon footprint of an entire visit including travel to and from the Inn, room heating and food-related emissions. Once calculated, guests can purchase carbon offsets to support local projects including protecting marine life habitats in Newfoundland.
Four Seasons Hualalai – Kumu Kai Marine Center
Set within 865 acres of lush oceanside greenery on the idyllic Kona-Kohala coast of Hawaii island, it’s little wonder Four Seasons Hualalai has gone out of its way to protect and preserve the environment.
The property recently unveiled the results of its $100m renovation which includes the addition of the Kumu Kai Marine Center helmed by the resort’s five on-site marine biologists. Here, guests can take part in a range of interactive activities to learn about the incredible bounty of marine life and take a dip in the gigantic swimmable aquarium which is home to over 1,000 tropical fish.
Other work carried out by the team of marine biologists includes the creation of a marine reserve off the resort’s coast, implementing a no-fishing zone to aid the rejuvenation of aquatic life and creating a self-sustaining pond to cultivate seafood for the restaurant.
In its efforts to save water and plastic, Four Seasons Hualalai has also introduced a new closed-loop on-site bottling and filtration system that removes impurities from local Hawaiian water before depositing it in reusable aluminum bottles for guests to use during their stay.
[See more: Four Seasons Hualalai Unveils New Villa Concepts]
Under Canvas – Low Impact Luxury
Next up on our list of the best Earth Day hotels is Under Canvas which provides luxurious glamping experiences across America’s most beautiful national parks. The brand is dedicated to ensuring its camps leave a minimal impact on the environment by pitching the canvas tents on wooden decking and easily removable structures.
From April, guests will be able to charge their electric vehicles with Rivian Waypoints chargers at the Moab and Lake Powell-Grand Staircase locations, while from June onwards the first solar-powered destination is set to open at Bryce Canyon in southwestern Utah.
Under Canvas has also recently partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global non-profit environmental organization, to help fund conservation and raise awareness of key issues surrounding the climate crisis. As part of the collaboration, guests are encouraged to make a donation to TNC at check-in, while employees are given the opportunity to volunteer in and around the national parks.
Gaïa River Lodge – Renewable Energy
The next luxurious hotel on our list is aptly named after Gaïa, the Greek goddess of Earth. Located in the middle of Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve at the top of the spectacular Five-Sisters Waterfall, Gaïa River Lodge is the perfect setting to fully immerse yourself in nature and forget about the stresses of everyday life.
As a Green Globe-certified hotel, the lodge has an impressive track record when it comes to sustainability. The retreat is run entirely by hydropower energy generated from the waterfall, and there’s an on-site electric tram to transport guests from the accommodation to the river below.
As for the restaurant, much of the fruit and vegetables featured on the farm-to-table menu come straight from the organic garden where composted food scraps are used to nourish the soil.
Ibiza Gran Hotel – Cutting Carbon
Our list of the best Earth Day hotels would not be complete without mentioning Ibiza Gran Hotel. A short walk from Talamanca beach in the heart of Ibiza’s golden mile, the opulent abode boasts stunning views of Dalt Villa (the city’s UNESCO listed ‘old town’) and Formentera island.
Last year, the Balearic Islands introduced an array of legislation as part of its sustainable tourism initiative, requiring hotels to ban single-use plastics, introduce water-saving devices, optimize electric usage and prioritize locally sourced food. It is little surprise, then, that Ibiza Gran Hotel is doing its bit for the planet.
The property recently installed 370 solar panels on the roof to cut its carbon emissions by over 100 tons a year (the equivalent of planting around 800 trees). It’s also working with several non-profits including Ibiza Preservation to help conserve the island’s biodiversity, Ibiza Produce to support local farmers and producers, and Unicef’s Hotels Friends program to help fight the consequences of climate change for children while raising funds for water supply initiatives around the world.
[See more: Twenty for 20: The Most Iconic Hotels of the 21st Century]
VOMO Island – Marine Protection
Located within the Mamanuca Island group of Fiji this pristine island resort has made significant efforts to protect its stunning surroundings. During their stay, guests are encouraged to donate $5 to the Mamanuca Environment Society – a group the resort has worked closely with for over 20 years to preserve the marine environment.
During Fiji’s 20-month border closure during the pandemic, a fresh water bottling plant was built to completely eradicate single-use plastic and toiletries are now packaged entirely in ceramic dispensers. The resort has also partnered with eWater systems to reduce the property’s chemical footprint by installing new cleaning systems in its kitchens that turn desalinated water into cleaning products that won’t harm the delicate marine ecosystems.
Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, Maldives – Turtle Power
Next on our list of Earth Day hotels and resorts is Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. The luxury retreat is striving to become the first carbon-neutral resort in the Maldives through its host of environmental initiatives on dry land but the hotel also has an extensive program of activity to protect its crystal clear waters. Its resident marine biologist, Samuel Dixon, has led coral restoration projects throughout the archipelago, including the development of Fairmont Maldives’ Coralarium.
Dixon also collaborates with conservation-focused non-profits to collect data on the resort’s manta rays and endangered hawksbill turtle populations to better understand these amphibious creature’s migration patterns and ensure their protection. Younger guests can join Dixon as part of the resort’s newly launched Turtle Ranger program, designed to educate the next generation of eco-conscious travelers on the importance of caring for the underwater environment. ‘Rangers’ are invited to patrol the beach in search of turtle nests. If a nest hatch happens during their stay, they will play a key role in releasing the baby turtles into the ocean.
COMO Maalifushi, Maldives – Conserving Coral
For adults keen to do their bit to nurture the underwater world, the away-from-it-all resort of COMO Maalfushi invites guests to join its team of resident marine biologists on one of their Coral Propagation experiences. Maldivian coral reefs suffered two devastating bleaching events in 1998 and 2016 due to warming sea levels. While there is still a wealth of untouched reefs to snorkel and dive surrounding the private island resort, it is crucial to the country’s economy that all the islands’ coral flourishes.
The excursions are designed to educate guests on the diverse marine ecosystem and encourage coral to bloom via the planting of coral frames on the seafloor. The resort’s mission is to foster the growth of new reefs, allowing them to thrive in a bid to battle the disastrous effects of climate change.
[ andBeyond: Celebrating 30 years of Sustainable Luxury Travel]
Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve, USA – Protecting Bison
Founded by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, all three Ted Turner Reserves (Vermejo, Ladder, Armendaris) are founded on the pillar of conservation and are home to an extensive list of innovative wildlife programs – including breeding endangered species such as the Bolson Tortoise, Chiricahua leopard frog and Mexican Wolf – helmed by the Turner Endangered Species Fund.
The 558,000-acre reserve of Vermejo is set in the dazzling mountain landscape of Northern New Mexico and is the largest of the three reserves. Purchased by Turner nearly 25 years ago with the aim of restoring the native ecosystem, the reserve works to rehabilitate an array of endangered species such as the precious Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout and the unique Castle Rock Bison. This genetically unique bison is especially important for supporting efforts to re-establish wild herds and maintaining the genetic diversity of the species.
Preferred Hotel Group, Worldwide – Points for Good
Preferred Hotel Group is no stranger to sustainable tourism with its own philanthropic program and the recent launch of its new luxury eco-hotel portfolio called Beyond Green. The new collection launched in 2020 with 24 founding members, all of which are strongly committed to sustainable tourism, protecting natural and cultural heritage and contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.
In honor of Earth Day, the exclusive hotel group has launched ‘I Prefer Points for Good’, giving travelers the chance to exchange the points they have earned through membership of the group’s established loyalty program into cash donations for the Ocean Heros Network. The international charity supports emerging youth leaders to transform their passion for marine conservation into pioneering careers.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Rwanda – Gorilla Conservation
On the edge of the steep rainforest-covered slopes of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park sits the luxurious hideaway of Singita Kwitonda Lodge which houses eight suites and Kataza House, an exclusive four-bedroom villa. But this is so much more than a five-star retreat.
Named after the gentle-natured Kwitonda Silverback Gorilla, the property has been built sustainably from the ground up. Working in partnership with the Rwandan Development Board and local communities, Singita is committed to a long-term approach to conservation in this special landscape. The presence of the lodge on the park border creates a natural space between agricultural plots and the habitat of the estimated 320 mountain gorillas that call the area home. In a bid to combat deforestation and restore the gorilla’s natural surroundings, the lodge’s on-site nursery has to date provided approximately 250,000 indigenous forest shrubs, bamboo shoots and trees.
Singita hopes to be able to assist the Rwandan government in finding solutions to increase gorilla habitat while remaining sensitive in supporting surrounding communities to prosper economically.
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia – Marine Preservation
Six tropical islands in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, located between Malaysia and Borneo, make up the stunning eco-focused Bawah Reserve. The stunning resort is the first to be certified by WWF Indonesia’s Signing Blue program, recognizing its commitment to sustainability, community welfare and marine conservation.
Bawah’s surrounding waters are amongst some of the planet’s most diverse and in order to ensure they remain protected, the reserve launched the Anambas Foundation. The independent charity works alongside local communities and provides education on the negative impacts of overfishing and waste management. In 2020, the foundation launched a series of successful new initiatives focused on mangrove plantation along the neighboring Anambas Islands’ coastline. These act as a green belt area that withstands ocean waves, preventing abrasion and erosion and encouraging marine life to flourish.
[ Sustainable Countries to Visit in 2022]
Nayara Tented Camp, Costa Rica – Sloth Sanctuary
Twenty-five years ago, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America. This all changed in 1996 when the government made it illegal and set up a program to pay farmers to protect the hugely valuable natural landscape. Today, the national parks cover over 25% of the country’s land helping secure Costa Rica as a haven for approximately 500,000 species of wildlife including the much-adored sloth.
Committed to the cause is Nayara Resorts, which has planted 40,000 indigenous trees helping to restore this magical country back to its former glory as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations. The luxury travel company’s newest property, the spectacular Nayara Tented Camp, sits on an area that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Now set in vibrant natural rainforest, it has its own sloth sanctuary with over 1,000 Cecropia trees (the sloth’s main food source) and serves as home to 15 sloths.
[See more: The Most Sustainable Suites in Elite Traveler’s Top 100]
Fairmont Waterfront, Canada – Boosting Bees
From China to Kenya to Bermuda, a collection of Fairmont hotels across the globe have been partaking in the group’s Bee Sustainable program – a bee-focused initiative that supports habitat protection, pollination of gardens and flowers, and bee health.
This includes the Fairmont Waterfront located in the heart of Vancouver which is the final property on our list of Earth Day Hotels and Resorts. The luxury hotel has partnered with the charity Hives for Humanity to introduce mason bees to its garden as part of the larger Pollinator Corridor Project, which aims to build Vancouver’s local bee populations. While these super pollinators don’t produce honey, they are an essential part of the ecosystem. Fairmont Waterfront has also created its very own Bee Space—a permanent bee ‘hotel’ that enables Hives for Humanity to continue their community program throughout the chilly winter months.
[ Ultima Collection Partners with One Tree Planted]
Source: Elite Traveler