Sustainable and Waste Conscious Hotels for Earth Day
With Earth Day approaching, we’re excited to share these waste conscious and eco-friendly hotel properties that were designed with respect to their surroundings and the environment.
Nestled in the charming mountain town of Arosa, the Valsana Hotel is inspired by the surrounding Swiss Alps and designed with sustainable, recycled building materials and décor elements to help bring the outdoors in. With architecture by Roman Mooser and interior designs by Switzerland native Carlo Rampazzi, the property boasts 49 rooms and apartments, each complete with natural Elky Mattresses, a spa and wellness center using only organic products, and a lounge and restaurant that locally source all meat, bread, cheese, produce, and wine.
Adding to the natural and sustainable themes is the property’s Ice Battery, which powers the Valsana through an extensive, completely self-sufficient waste water heat recovery system that allows access thermal energy to be stored and used by extracting the energy from the water until controlled freezing takes place. The first hotel in Switzerland to be designed with an Ice Battery, the Valsana’s ecological footprint has been reduced to four percent since opening in 2017.
Shipwreck Lodge — Skeleton Coast, Namibia
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 and 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. As a result, the guest areas have been constructed from sustainably sourced timber that can easily be demounted, whilst the back of house areas are housed in modified shipping containers that can simply be picked up and relocated as required. Much of the property was constructed from the use of recycled wood, rope, linen and cotton. To support local communities and talent, the artwork on the sliding doors and around the rooms and main area is original and created exclusively for the lodge by local Namibian artists. Shipwreck Lodge was designed to be as sustainable and ‘clean and green’ as possible by incorporating the following:
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 made by a Namibian company.
The structures are nailed together using timber nails, an innovative technology that is being trialled for the first time.
The 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. Any heating that is required is provided by closed combustion wood stoves using ‘bush- blocks’ made from invader bush.
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.
Water is sourced entirely from a river bore-hole, and water-efficiency measures are in place. Sewage is treated on site in sealed units, with outflow water clean enough to be released back into the environment.
The baskets around the lodge and placemats in the dining room are made locally by women from Otjomuise, a low-income community, who use recycled and leftover materials such as newspapers and plastic bags to make their products.
Limited plastic is used at the lodge and glass straws.
Singita Volcanoes National Park
Arguably built as one of the most sustainable lodges on the continent, Singita Volcanoes National Park honours Rwanda’s people and its fertile land by touching lightly on the land, while contributing significantly to conservation, community partnerships and ecotourism. Singita’s One Planet sustainability framework, which supports all of Singita's operation, is integral to the design of the lodge that treads lightly on the land; a conservation philosophy which means sourcing local materials as much as possible, minimizing waste, saving water and conserving energy.
Throughout Singita Volcanoes National Park natural elements like mud, earth, mist, rain and lava are cleverly integrated into furniture pieces and linear art, while the vivid color palette echoes the surrounding landscape that flows in through large windows. Key textural and decorative themes include hand-tooled geometric pieces and the Rwandese tradition of Imigongo, which entails decorating walls with striking patterns. More than 500 local artisans and builders were involved in crafting features like lava rock walks, exquisite woven ceilings and hand-fired terracotta brickwork, ensuring an authentic translation of local culture into the design of the lodge and villa, while boosting local employment and business. Finishes include raw and burnished timbers, natural pigments on walls and the hand-fired terracotta tiles that are typically seen on Rwandese rooftops throughout the countryside, while long-lasting furniture pieces anchor each room and space, providing a profound sense of groundedness. This ties in perfectly with the serious, soul-centering experience of meeting the gorillas up close on treks – creating a sense of place, purpose and perspective.
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 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.
Malibu 747 Wing House
Constructed almost entirely out of the recycled parts of a 747 Boeing plane, the Famous Malibu 747 Wing House in Malibu, California has won numerous awards for its unique and innovative design and it is also eco-friendly, with the materials coming from 100% post-consumer waste. The home is available for exchange for members of luxury travel and property club, THIRDHOME.
The entire 747 was used throughout the residence with aluminum airplane wings serving a new duty as the roof and ceilings. 4.7 million smaller parts were repurposed in various ways in the rest of the house. Additionally, solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation are incorporated throughout, as well as high performance heat mirror glazing. Both wings are held up by four large mounts, which allows the outside walls of the building to be made of highly efficient self-supporting glass instead of wood, which in turn maximizes solar gain for heating and allows the entire building to be opened to the outside. This helps keep the home cool in the summers and minimizes the need for artificial light.
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.