Saving the planet: our top 5 eco-friendly hotels around the world


With environmental awareness an increasing concern across the globe, especially when it comes to hot topics such as global warming and plastic waste, luxury hotels are also increasingly doing their bit for the planet, with guests encouraged to play their part during their holiday. Ditching plastic water bottles for reusable non-plastic ones is just the tip of the (rapidly-melting) iceberg: these five hotels push the boat out when it comes to eco-friendliness – without stinting on luxury and style.

The Brando, Tahiti

Marlon Brando fell in love with Tahiti while filming Mutiny on the Bounty in the 1960s, and ended up marrying his Tahitian co-star and owning the beautiful private island of Tetiaroa, which is made up of 12 motus, or islets, surrounded by aquamarine waters. The Brando is the culmination of his lifelong vision for a sustainable luxury hotel on his very own slice of paradise – while keeping it a paradise, and its stunning setting pristine.

Alongside offering superior luxury in Polynesian-style thatched villas, set on their own patch of white-sand beach, the hotel’s eco-friendly initiatives include an air conditioning system that comes from cold seawater from the ocean bed, and alternative energy sources such as solar power and coconut oil, alongside sustainable cuisine featuring fresh fruit and vegetables from the organic gardens. Guests can enjoy tours on land and sea with naturalist guides and biologists to discover more about the local environment.

The Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

The Six Senses Yao Noi sits on an island between Phuket and Krabi, surrounded by jagged limestone peaks, and is a prime example of offering Robinson Crusoe-style luxury alongside environmental protection. The Six Senses brand has always had a focus on sustainability but has recently upped its game with policies such as banning toxic sunscreens, which damage coral reefs, and providing eco-friendly alternatives, and has selected products that use plant-based or fully compostable packaging.

At the Six Senses Yao Noi, as well as swimming in your own infinity pool and unwinding in the holistic spa, you can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine with a difference – you can even collect your own fresh eggs for breakfast in the morning from the hotel’s chicken farm, whose chickens spend their days listening to jazz music (!).

Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Mashpi Lodge has a stunning setting, perched on a hilltop surrounded by protected cloud forest in Ecuador, and is one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. This eco-lodge offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in their surroundings and learn about the importance of protecting rapidly-disappearing unique natural environments such as these.

Guests young and old can enjoy can enjoy excursions to waterfalls and thrilling rides on the Sky Bike high above the rainforest canopy, while children can take part in a Mashpi Ranger Adventure, and go walking in the forest with a naturalist guide, finding out about local wildlife and birdlife from monkeys and pumas to tree frogs and tropical birds. Hands-on experiences include using tree leaves to imitate bird calls and joining biologists in the lab for interactive learning activities.

The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia

The Datai Langkawi is not only a supremely luxurious and stylish hotel, set amongst ancient rainforest and by Datai Bay, which is considered to be one of the world’s best beaches, but employs exemplary eco-friendly initiatives. It has its own recycling, upcycling and bottling plants, a permaculture garden growing herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables, and a Fish for the Future scheme which involves building artificial reefs that are monitored by marine biologists, engaging local fishermen and communities. The hotel is also cultivating a coral nursery, whose corals are planted back in the ocean.

The Datai even has innovative uses for its waste. Currently, almost 8o% of its waste is diverted from landfill and is used in creative ways wherever possible, such as making stepping stones for walking trails out of crushed glass and shredded plastic, and it is set to achieve its aim of ‘zero waste to landfill’ by the end of 2019.

Cheetah Plains, South Africa

Cheetah Plains is an exclusive eco-luxe safari lodge in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve near Kruger National Park, which has sustainability and environmental awareness at its heart while offering a rewarding wildlife-spotting experience, beautiful accommodation and impressive hospitality.

The lodge operates completely off the grid, using solar power, and also uses water recycling systems, while its customised electric zero-emission Land Cruisers are smooth and almost silent, allowing you to concentrate on seeing wildlife, and their unobtrusive nature ensures a premium safari experience as well as an eco-friendly one. There are plenty of ways guest can learn more about the exceptional wildlife and landscapes on the doorstep, from immersive walking safaris to a bespoke children’s safari programme. After a busy day exploring, you can relax in style by the pool.

Thomas Ryves is Marketing Director at Exsus Travel. Exsus Travel specialises in creating the very best luxury tailor-made holidays, honeymoons and family adventures in over 80 destinations worldwide.

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Comments (12)

  1. Diana Presley says:

    I really get the impression that the tide is finally turning and that at long last many of the citizens of the world are beginning to take environmental concerns seriously. It would be even better if some world leaders, with great power and influence, took the issue so seriously.

    There are a lot of hotels around now who are setting a great example with their eco-credentials and these five show exactly how it can be done. If hotels show imagination, innovation and creativity – backed by sound investment – then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to stay in luxury whilst also saving the planet.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Diana,

      Yes, it’s true that the environment is high on the agenda, and hotels are really making strides in providing eco-friendly initiatives alongside a luxury experience.

  2. Jim says:

    When there’s a choice of hotels I usually try to do some research to investigate how eco friendly the hotel actually is.

    One thing that I find really encouraging is the number of hotels that are keeping their own bees. Recently bee numbers have been declining so all these hives should help to rebuild numbers. Usually it’s just a matter of getting an experienced bee-keeper to call in once a week so it’s not a lot of work or expense. And the guests get very fresh honey too.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Jim,

      It’s true – bees are vital to the planet and you can find people keeping bees everywhere – from the roof of Tate Modern to luxury hotels around the world. And the fresh honey is delicious…

  3. Sarah Bugden says:

    Reading posts like these which just sweep across the continents with supreme ease often makes me think that I missed out on my true vocation. I adore travel and spend every spare penny on getting to exotic places. Looking back it would have been absolutely brilliant if I could have made a career out of my passion. I’m very envious of those people who get to stay in these luxurious hotels as part of their job.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Sarah,

      There’s no age limit to following your true vocation… in the meantime, keep travelling!

  4. Claire Smith says:

    It is impressive that Cheetah Plains runs on solar power and runs exclusively off grid. As people largely tend to head for sun-baked destinations for their holidays it is an example that ought to be followed by most hotels in warm weather destinations.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Claire,

      Yes it is impressive, and it definitely makes sense making the use of the natural year-round sunny weather in many destinations around the world.

  5. Nora Johnson says:

    Environmental credentials of travel companies, destinations and hotels are certainly becoming far more important and increasingly sought after by travellers. It’s good to see more impetus on being environmentally friendly though it’s not always as easy to identify what accommodations are morally and socially responsible, so posts like this can be really helpful. It’s really positive that the Six Senses Yao Noi has paid attention to the details with the likes of sunscreen and banning such toxic products. Do they sell the eco friendly alternatives to guests? I’ve also never come across a hotel where you can collect your own eggs for brekkie in the morning either so that’s an interesting one!

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Nora,

      Glad to be of help! Travellers are indeed becoming more eco-aware and are looking for places to stay that give back to local environments and communities, and offer enriching and memorable experiences alongside a luxurious stay.

  6. Ben says:

    At the moment it is the luxury hotels who are leading the way in the race to be more environmentally considerate. It has to be remembered that at the moment it is all new and quite experimental for them too. They are bearing some of the R & D costs. Eventually as guests’ eco-friendly expectations develop hopefully all of these innovations will filter down to mid-market hotels too.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Ben,

      Yes, hotels are becoming more eco-friendly in response to the increasing expectations of savvier travellers, and this is likely to become more and more widespread, and it is great to see!

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