Not all travelers are looking for a manmade paradise when they hit the road. Certainly you want to be comfortable and well provided for when you take off to parts unknown, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want a whole slew of overblown tourist traps (complete with paid entertainers and lavish synthetic settings). Many people have begun to embrace a different style of travel known as ecotourism. Rather than looking for the next big spectacle to take them away from the drudgery of their daily lives, a lot of travelers want to get away from it all, reconnect with nature, and do less to harm the environment along the way. So if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next walkabout, even as you enjoy the luxuries to which you have become accustomed, here are a few great resorts that could fit the bill.
1. CESiaK – Sian Ka’an, Mexico. The Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK for short) is part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, an ecological model of sustainability located near the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. If you thought that white-sand beaches, warm waters, and eco-friendly attitudes didn’t mix, think again. This beach resort situated on a 1.3-million-acre park employed local labor for building (and staffing) and uses solar and wind power for all of their buildings, plus filtered rainwater collected from cisterns.
2. Longitude 131˚ – Northern Territory, Australia. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding this establishment since its geographic location is right in the name; but just in case, look for the world’s largest monolith peeking up out of the desert. Situated on top of a sand dune just a stone’s throw from Uluru, this hotel consists of 15 so-called “tents” that are like little luxury cabanas on stilts. They barely disturb the desert floor and everything runs on solar power. Plus, all the entertainment comes from the natural surroundings.
3. Bardessono – Napa Valley, California. Dubbed the “greenest luxury hotel in America”, this resort has the creds to back up the claim (if their status of LEED Platinum certification is any indicator). Heating for rooms (and water) is geothermal, photovoltaic panels provide energy, a vertical garden covers the walls of the hotel lobby, and a massive compost (called the “Earth tub”) turns kitchen scraps into fertilizer. Talk about sustainable.
4. Camp Ya Kanzi – Kenya. With Mt. Kilimanjaro providing a scenic backdrop, you’ll feel the closeness of nature every time you look out the window. And with an eye on sustaining the view, the “Camp of the Hidden Treasure” used local building materials (cutting down nary a tree in the process). In addition, energy and heating come from solar panels, rainwater is collected and filtered from rooftops, and cooking takes place thanks to eco-friendly charcoal created from coffee husks.
5. Capital Coast Resort and Spa – Paphos, Cyprus. Although there aren’t many Paphos hotels that can claim to uphold any standards of ecotourism, this one has met local certification standards to be listed as a green/sustainable property. Not only is it adjacent to historical Cyprus attractions like the Tomb of the Kings and the Paphos Lighthouse, it also overlooks beautiful Paphos harbor. And in addition to checking its environmental impact, the property is also friendly to diverse communities, actively welcoming LGBT guests.