With Earth Day right around the corner, here are a number of hotels and resorts from across the globe with sustainability and conservation initiatives that go above and beyond:
Finch Hattons in Kenya has placed sustainability at the forefront for the last 30 years. Located in Kenya's largest national park, Tsavo National Park is one of the largest sanctuaries home to extradorinaiy game, placing an emphasis on sustainability initiatives to protect these species and landscapes. Further, Finch Hattons features a sustainable design approach that leaves a gentle mark on the surrounding nature.
Finch Hattons has partnered with Save Giraffes Now to perform photo-ID monitoring of giraffes to better understand their habitats and ultimately revive their population, as just over 4,300 remain in Tsavo. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been performing studies using radio and satellite collars on Elephant migratory patterns within Tsavo. The goal is to understand the establishment migratory to protect them and ultimately reduce human-elephant conflict.
The environmentally friendly camp design leaves a gentle mark on nature, featuring an open plan concept with the 17 eco-tents elevated off the ground ensuring a minimal environmental footprint. Each of the tent roofs are made from sustainable sourced makuti palm leaves, providing shade and a natural cooling affect, and the bright Tsavo sun warms the solar hot water heaters. Finch features a sustainable waste water management recycling system and provides filtered vivreau drinking water bottled at camp.
Gaya Island Resort
Gaya Island Resort is a five-star property located on the Malaysian island of Borneo set within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a group of 5 islands located off Kota Kinabalu, each with fringing coral reefs. Nestled on Tavajun Bay, the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre is accessible either by a 5-minute boat ride from Gaya Island Resort’s jetty or through the 45-minute Tavajun Trek. Committed to leading the community in marine conservation, the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre advocates three conservation pillars – Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation through Education. Their programs were conceptualized and are being implemented by Scott Mayback, the resort's Resident Marine Biologist.
Since its launch in October 2013, the Marine Centre has rescued, treated and cared for multiple endangered green sea turtles and one critically-endangered Hawksbill. The Marine Centre is also home to four coral reef display tanks for educational purposes as well as producing coral fragments that will be returned to the sea. Outside the turtle rescue area is a 14,000-liter recovery tank, which provides a safe and stable environment for sick or injured sea turtles to have the best chance for survival. This recovery tank also houses a coral nursery that establishes an artificial environment to aquaculture coral fragments that will be returned to the sea to help rejuvenate and enhance the natural reefs. The Marine Centre’s coral nursery provides an on-land opportunity for guests to become engaged with coral reef conservation. It also provides a controlled environment for freshly planted corals to recover. This initiative is carried out in collaboration with Reef Check Malaysia, a non-profit organization. Activities include the collection of broken or non-viable coral fragments, their attachment to coral blocks or artificial reef structures, placement in the nursery for observation and their return to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to rehabilitate damaged areas.
Bel Air Tremblant
Bel Air Tremblant, nestled amidst the picturesque Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, presents an extraordinary sustainable haven for eco-conscious travelers. This architecturally striking property has gone to great lengths to establish itself as a leader of environmentally friendly hospitality. Key features include sustainable design with locally-sourced materials, reliance on renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines, an extensive waste management system coupled with a zero single-use plastic policy, eco-conscious amenities with energy-efficient appliances, a farm-to-table culinary journey at Le Chalet that supports local producers, and a strong commitment to environmental education through partnerships with local conservation initiatives.
Shipwreck Lodge — Natural Selection
Designed to mimic the eerie shipwrecks that dot the Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, Natural Selection’s Shipwreck Lodge is one of the most dramatic and architecturally interesting lodges in Africa. The property is located within Skelton Coast National Park and sits on a raw, rugged slice of African wilderness, where the towering sand dunes and wind-swept plains roll up and down the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. An impossibly remote area of the country, it was important that the lodge would leave not a blemish on the pristine landscape should it ever have to be moved.
Shipwreck Lodge was designed to be as sustainable and ‘clean and green’ as possible by incorporating local, sustainable products, leaving as little carbon footprint as possible. All timber used in the building of the lodge comes from managed forests, and apart from the structural timber, comes from South Africa, the closest source for FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified timber. The doors and window-frames are also timber, and sourced from a Namibian company. The structures are nailed together using timber nails, an innovative technology that is being trialled for the first times, and entire site can be dismantled and moved at any given time, leaving no trace on the landscape. Insulation for the walls, floors and ceilings is made from recycled plastic water bottles. By insulating all sides, top and bottom included, less energy is required to heat the buildings. A solar system and wind generator supplies all electricity, backed up with a bio-diesel generator for use in emergencies only. The electrical systems were designed for high efficiency, with only LED lights, and all use timer and motion-sensor switches for efficiency.
Natural Selection is fully committed to leaving a positive impact on wildlife conservation and in the local communities of Africa. The Natural Selection Conservation Trust places 1.5% of each guest’s stay with Natural Selection into to conservation. Guests can also contribute to the Natural Selection Foundation by donating to directly support conservation initiatives the Natural Selection Foundation is constantly working through, such as wild dog disease prevention, wild shots outreach, and the Sesfontein sustainability project.
Tswalu’s recently released impact statement is a new tool developed in collaboration with The Long Run to provide travelers with annual data on operating sustainably while measuring the positive impact on local communities and the environment. As Tswalu means “a new beginning” in the Tswana language, the impact statement demonstrates transparency as to how the cost of a guest’s stay contributes to Tswalu’s long-term goal of restoring and conserving The Kalahari’s natural wilderness while respecting the cultural heritage of the region. Working alongside of the internationally recognized conservation organization, The Long Run, has bolstered Tswalu on a journey of continuous improvement as it is only awarded to organizations that demonstrate a holistic balance of the 4Cs: Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce. Adhering to the 4 C’s, a guest staying at Tswalu assists in various conservation and community initiatives just by lodging at The Motse, Tarkuni, and Loapi (Opening in summer 2023). From conserving 500 species in 114,000 hectares to investing over $5 million in nature and people, guests’ money is being put to work through various research projects and initiatives through the Tswalu Foundation. Guests can also participate in various conservation projects throughout their stay, such as visiting the Dedeben Research Center and Tswalu School. With the lowest ratio of guests to space in a privately protected area in South Africa, Tswalu is more than just accommodation, providing guests exclusive access to a private wilderness experience.
Being transparent about Tswalu’s financial choices will hopefully provide Tswalu guests with a clearer understanding of the cost of conservation and how much it takes to operate sustainably, especially during a time when the urgency of the climate crisis and sustainability efforts makes accountability and transparency so important.
The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa
Located in the tranquil, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, within minutes of Johannesburg's world-class shopping and business hub, the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, is an exclusive 5-star, all suite-hotel situated on 10 acres of magnificent indigenous gardens. The Saxon is committed to a comprehensive green efficiency program throughout the expansive estate which includes well-managed recycling practices, organic gardening and environmentally friendly marketing collateral. The hotel employs an energy-saving program which includes energy efficient lighting, thermal glazing for temperature control, heat pump technology for water heaters, and more. Additionally, the energy supply and water usage on property are managed by smart meters to ensure maximum efficiency. With an efficient recycling program in place, the Saxon has an ongoing goal to reduce landfill volume by 25% each year and ultimately reaching a zero-landfill target. For materials and waste, the hotel practices a strict waste separation program for recycling, and utilizes recycled materials for marketing collateral, and in-room services like suit bags, soft drink bottles, and newspaper and wine bags. Additionally, the vast gardens and greenery of the Saxon were planted using only indigenous species. The hotel also features a rooftop garden that is home to of all the fresh produce, herbs and vegetables used by chefs for dishes.
Ellerman House is dedicated to the future and well-being of Cape Town, and by reducing their carbon footprint hopes to inspire other businesses in the city to become more eco-friendly as well with the hotel’s green projects. Ellerman House’s commitment to sustainability is a variety of ongoing environmental initiatives to protect the planet, such as waste management including recycling and single-use plastic reduction, water saving including an indigenous water-wise garden, boreholes and other measures, as well as a strong focus on local procurement. The hotel’s green projects including solar panels, LED light bulbs, heat pumps, earthworm farms and recycling systems, were implemented with the goal to be leader in Cape Town’s eco-friendly luxury hospitality. The entire staff on property recycles garden and kitchen trimmings, coffee grounds and shredded paper and adds them to the eight earthworm farms at Ellerman House. The materials eventually turn to compost, used in the picturesque Ellerman gardens, comprised of indigenous and drought tolerant plants, as well as species from the famed Kirstenbosch Garden. Water-capture systems onsite are used to irrigate the estate. Additionally, the heat pumps at the hotel consume less electricity and produce heat efficient hot water.
Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach
As food and water waste accumulate to almost 261 Million tons each year, it is crucial for businesses in the hospitality industry to take action. The team at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach, IHG's first five-star hotel in a resort location, recognized the importance of limiting their waste and took steps to combat the industry's effects. With a total of 289 rooms, including 23 suites and 19 villas, the team had to be creative in finding ways to tackle this issue. To reduce their water waste, the hotel incorporated a repurposing "tool" called water ponds throughout the property. These ponds collect water from various sources and pump it through the hotel's own filtration system to be repurposed in the garden area. By doing this, the hotel minimizes its use of freshwater for hotel activities and reduces its impact on the environment.
In addition to their efforts to reduce water waste, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach partnered with Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) a year after opening in 2017. SOS helps send excess food to local, low-income communities, with the aim of creating food equity and making good quality surplus food accessible to underprivileged populations. Hotel employees package up leftover food in tuber-wares that would have otherwise gone to waste, properly store it, and transport it to a facility operated by SOS. Over the last five years, this partnership has provided meals to thousands of people in the local community, helping to reduce food waste and promote food equity.