With Earth Day just around the corner, we round up some of the best green hotels and eco lodges across Asia Pacific
Travelers today care more than ever about making a lasting impact without leaving a carbon footprint. Whether volunteering with a local philanthropic organisation or feeling good about your hotel’s green initiatives, here are cool travel experiences and sustainable hotels ideal for conscientious travelers and budding young naturalists.
What mama in Singapore hasn’t daydreamed about a quick weekend getaway to Telunas (no flights required – so convenient!)? Those overwater villas aren’t just gorgeous – their unique design minimizes the resort’s carbon footprint and enhances the lovely ocean breeze, which means you don’t need to crank the A/C. The resort is also super focused on waste reduction, from composting organic waste to installing in-room water coolers that have eliminated the need for plastic, single-use water bottles. Telunas also appreciates – and makes use of – its natural surroundings, from planting mangroves, to using fallen sagu leaves to patch roofing, to farming its own tree plantation to source firewood for the resort’s woodfired kiln (which in turn makes sustainable pottery).
LooLa Adventure Resort, close to Singapore on Bintan island and accessible by ferry, was crowned the World # 1 Responsible Tourism Operator in London (2015). LooLa chalets are made with beautiful wood from renewable resources while the stunning LooLa Luxury Eco Villas boast the World-First Eco Aircon System which is completely chemical-free and powered by solar panels. Give your holiday purpose by getting involved in one of LooLa’s celebrated community projects. In addition, there are exciting outdoor family activities for every age – from water sports like kayaking, sailing and boom-netting to rock climbing, ziplines, archery, volleyball, and even coconut tree climbing to name just a few! At LooLa Adventure Resort you get a real sense of being in ‘the real Indonesia’ thanks to the authentic hospitality and Indonesian food offered by LooLa’s fully local staff.
The only hotel accommodation in the oldest rainforest in the world, Daintree Eco Lodge features 15 eco-friendly bayans set amongst the jungle canopy; listen closely and perhaps you’ll hear the private waterfall mixed in with the birds. Sustainability initiatives include partnering with Rainforest Rescue to plant 2,500 trees in the rainforest; installing solar panels to offset energy consumption; utilising rainwater catchment to become self-sufficient in water usage; and minimizing electrical appliances in rooms (though they do have aircon for when it gets hot and humid). All amenities and toiletries are either eco- or fair trade certified.
Daintree EcoLodge & Spa, Daintree 4873, Queensland, Australia, (+61) 7 4098 6100, www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au
This award-winning, ultra-luxurious resort that’s right on the Great Barrier Reef offers an astounding 24 private beaches to go with some of the best fishing, SCUBA diving and snorkelling in the world. Lizard Island literally sets the standard for all eco-tourism in Australia: the country launched its flagship program here in 1996. Food is sourced from the nearby Queensland coast and hinterland. And the island plays host to its own Research Station overseen by the Australian Museum, drawing coral reef researchers from around the world and leading the global fight to save the planet’s ocean reefs.
NB: Kids under 12 aren’t allowed at the resort, but on the flip side its Anchor Bay Suites offer multiple sleeping areas to cater to families with older kids.
Opened in 2012, this luxe private island in the virtually untouched Koh Rong Archipelago has pioneered conservation-based luxury tourism in Cambodia, with a dual aim of both improving local livelihoods and preserving the region’s marine life and rainforests. Each of 24 private pool villas was constructed from recycled and reclaimed timber, and decorated with repurposed items and local materials. The Song Saa Collective also works with local artisans to create textiles and ceramics at the heart of a new ethical fashion collection.
This incredible tented camp in rural Rajasthan helps to support the livelihoods of local families through a variety of sustainable development projects. In a 3-night stay, for instance, you can do everything from learn block printing, to sunrise yoga, to help build a local school. Cottages and tented camps blend into the mountainous scenery, but also feature creature comforts like hot showers, private verandas and comfy beds.
At this super cool eco resort in the jungle near Ubud, permaculture is the name of the game: 75% of the restaurant menu consists of local cuisine, much of it farmed on the premises. The resort farms everything from its own organic rice to free-range chickens, along with all manner of fruits, veggies, herbs and spices. Water is directly sourced from Mount Batukaru, and each bungalow has its own wastewater garden to help fertilize the plants. Hydro-electricity powers 60% of the resort. And the beautiful open-air bungalows have been specially designed with locally sourced materials, and are stocked with organic handmade local toiletries.
Bali Eco Stay, Kanciana Village, Kemetug, Gunung Salak, East Selemadeg, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82162, Indonesia, www.baliecostay.com
With an emphasis on “barefoot luxury”, this 5-star resort near Kota Kinabalu was built with minimal impact to nature. You’ll notice this as you cross paths with Proboscis Monkeys and wild boars, or as you take guided nature trail walks or go kayaking through mangroves. Located within Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Gaya Island is also home to a Marine Ecology Research Centre, which takes special care to look after the area’s endangered green sea turtles and is dedicated to coral reef preservation.
Gaya Island Resort, Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, www.gayaislandresort.com
Spread across 20 acres of private jungle in the remote Gal Oya National Park, this eco resort has been constructed from sustainable, local materials wherever possible, with each of nine spacious bungalows created in harmony with the natural features of the landscape. Wildlife abounds; Gal Oya is the only place in Sri Lanka where you can take a boat safari and possibly spot an Asian Elephant swimming in its natural habitat.
Galoya Lodge, www.galoyalodge.com
Located 19 kilometres east of Kandy, this eco resort encourages every guest to plant a tree, and demonstrates its dedication to sustainability by sourcing all materials and purchases from within a 5km radius. Guests can trek through local rice fields, tea plantations, and waterfalls, or support local school projects for a day or longer. Standard Lodges are constructed from a variety of materials found on the land, including wood, clay and brick.
Powaththa Eco Lodges, 69/1 Wepathana, Gomagoda
20184 Digana, Sri Lanka, Tel: + 94 (0) 714 236 677, www.polwaththa-ecolodges.com
Originally designed as a family vacation home by a retired architect, this collection of eight treehouses in the jungle outside Chiang Mai is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Treehouses are constructed from local trees, and in many cases have actual trees still growing up right through them. Other lovely features include open air showers and natural pools.
Chiang Mai Treehouse Resort, Rabeang Pasak, 7 Moo 1 Pasak Ngam Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand, www.chiangmaitreehouse.com
This ultra-exclusive beach resort on Koh Kood is actually closer to Cambodia than to Thailand (and handily offers twice-weekly charter flights to Siem Reap). Conservation efforts include a coral restoration project (discovering over 69 species of fish in the process!), banning plastic water bottles, and only cooking with locally sourced ingredients. The resort is also moving towards using renewable energy, and luxurious, airy villas are constructed from local materials wherever possible (balanced out by infinity pools!).
These gorgeous contemporary villas constructed from sustainable materials blend seamlessly into the sunny, mountainous scenery. The resort is dedicated to improving its carbon footprint and protecting marine life, including local turtles and dugongs. Further sustainability efforts include supplying local students with clean mineral water, building schools around the island, and offering free swimming lessons to local children.
If you’re after trekking, culture, and absolutely spectactular views, this low-key eco lodge just might be for you, mama. Sustainability is at the heart of what this resort is all about, whether employing local villagers or supporting the construction of local schools. Almost all food is sourced from local farms and markets, and leftovers are distributed to local farmers to feed their livestock. Electricity use is kept to a minimum, and wastewater is treated and purified by organic filtering in septic tanks.
Topas Eco Lodge, Tel: +84 24 3715 1005, www.topasecolodge.com