We like our getaways with white-sand beaches, private pools, knot-banishing spas and mouth-watering restaurant menus. We also like hotels that give a little something extra, not just to us, but also to their local communities, global causes and the environment (after all, those crystal-clear waters and lush rainforests aren’t going to protect themselves). So we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite do-gooder stays that accomplish just that.
Not only does remote island beauty Nihi Sumba have a turtle hatchery, it’s also committed to alleviating poverty on the island. Through the Sumba Foundation, it supports village-based projects that impact health, education, clean water and income-generation. It has an impressive track record, too: over the last decade and a half, it’s set up primary schools, built wells and clinics, and reduced malaria by 85 per cent in affected villages.
New York’s Nordic-cool 11 Howard hotel proudly wears its community involvement on its south face, with a 12-story tall mural by art and youth-activism group, Groundswell. Plus, each time you reach for the minibar you’ll support Feed, an initiative that provides meals and micronutrient packets to kids across the world. Additionally, the hotel partners with Thrive Market to help make healthy food more accessible to low-income American families. Now, that’s some cockle-warming hygge.
Sustainable surfers’ paradise the Harmony Hotel has a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism and works with a local non-profit to protect local sea turtle habitats and end poaching. If you want to get actively involved, take a break from yoga and pool sessions and join staff in planting trees in the local community to help offset carbon emissions.
On the surface, private-island resort Soneva Fushi is all castaway-chic villas on white-sand beaches, but an ethos of responsibility and sustainability is at its core. The resort runs a learn-to-swim programme for local children, has opened a pre-school, pledged to build a student science laboratory and provides scholarships to Maldivian citizens for its coral-reef monitoring venture. The hotel also set up the Thalassaemia Prevention and Relief programme, which provides early detection and disease prevention in newborns and parents-to-be.
At Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua, the hotel itself is made entirely from trees that were blown down during Hurricane Felix. The staff, who’s well-versed in sustainable practices, comes from the local community. Also, the lodge’s solar panels heat water and the chlorine-free pool helps to light the local school and health centre. And we thought we were sold with just the sunset views of Lake Nicaragua…
Cambodian marine reserve Song Saa Private Island has serious eco cred. It staffs a team of marine biologists and has implemented recycling and waste initiatives to protect the local ecosystem. The hotel is also involved in sustainability projects in nearby villages, including the youth-focused Song Saa Sea Turtle programme. Every September, the Song Saa Foundation and Song Saa Private Island collaborate with the medical charity International Medical Relief in an archipelago-wide health mission to provide elementary health services to all villagers.
A protected wildlife reserve and sustainable farm, Morgan’s Rock haçienda has owners who are involved in reforestation and conservation efforts with a local agroforestry organisation. The hotel also supports local education programmes by collecting donations for schoolchildren and helping to maintain school buildings. Plus, the hotel sources ingredients not grown onsite (and many are) from Rainforest Alliance-approved farms, so even your meals are socially conscious.
For more above-and-beyond stays, explore our award-winning hotels and villas.