The best eco-friendly hotel does far more than recycle paper, serve organic eggs and suggest you re-use your towels: it's wholly committed to conserving, protecting and enjoying the environment, has an ethical approach, strives to minimise its footprint, and does this all while enhancing the guest experience.
Here on this remote spot in the Cape Range National Park, campmates aside, your only likely visitor is the occasional kangaroo. These luxury seaside tents rely purely on solar power, use composting toilets and have a tightly controlled water system: overall, it’s an inspiring example of striving to protect a fragile eco-system.
‘Eco here is all about heritage, which is refreshing. Building sensitively, using local materials and labour isn’t cheap, so to make a successful business of it is commendable’
Holly Tuppen, editor Green Hotelier
‘At Cuixmala there’s an excellent local food-sourcing practice, local materials are used across the estate, and there’s also the turtle protection programme’
Livia Firth, Eco-Age creative director
Does this hotel strive in all ways for low environmental impact without sacrificing on comfort and quality? Does it conserve water, use renewable energy sources, eco-friendly products and building materials from sustainable sources?
Buildings that are not just carbon-neutral or low-impact but which lead the way architecturally; pioneering use of new technology or a showcase for traditional methods; trailblazers in the eco-hotel sphere.
Is the hotel recognised by a respected body or authority? It may not have LEED or STEP certification, but the hotel that wins the Eco Award should have a demonstrable commitment to environmental goals, such as conforming to ISO 14002 and raising the bar for same-destination properties.
Guests don't always need to know how their waste water is used, or what kind of lightbulbs the hotel has chosen. An eco-friendly hotel will inform, share, show and guide where necessary, and there should be transparency – but nobody wants a lecture.
Does this hotel employ local staff and support local projects? Eco-friendy may be the catch-all term, but ethical awareness, conservation of all kinds and respect for the larger regional community count.
Watching turtles hatch, or rare sharks swim over a protected house reef; marvelling at a pristine landscape sound in the knowledge that you are not also polluting it; meeting people who have benefited from community projects – a hotel that can make these moments happen is to be celebrated.
BEST OF THE REST Vigilius Mountain Resort, South Tyrol, Italy The Scarlet, Cornwall, United Kingdom Lapa Rios, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Gayana Eco Resort, Sabah, Malaysia Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque, United States Six Senses Con Dao, Con Dao Islands, Viet Nam H2 Hotel, California Wine Country, United States