Ecotourism: what is an eco-friendly hotel?
7 May 2020
Escaping to exotic paradises while limiting your carbon footprint? Adventuring with your family in beautiful landscapes while being sure not to spoil them? Now the dream comes true since a green revolution invaded the worldwide luxury hotels. Nowadays, hotels are moving into low-energy buildings, with eco-friendly furniture and thus supporting a committed and respectful philosophy with regards mother earth without lowering the comfort or the high quality of the services. Little Guest gives you all its secrets to find the dreamed eco-hotel of your next holidays because luxury hotel and ecology can go together!
1 – What is green or eco-hotel?
Hotels integrated into the natural environment
By the seaside, perched on top of the mountain or curled up on the warm and white sand of a paradise island, the eco-friendly hotels thrive to live in symbiosis with their environment and to integrate themselves as much as possible into the landscapes that shelter them. The respect of the ecosystem is one of the top priorities of the new generation of hotels. For instance, the Soneva Kiri *****, a Thai eco-resort on a wild island, has implemented numerous initiatives such as through sorting, recycling and energy-saving to reduce its carbon impact. As a result, since 2012, Soneva Kiri has been carbon neutral.
Before hitting the road, are you looking to the values that the hotel conveys, does the hotel support an environmental protection association or is the hotel involved in social and solidarity actions with a local community? Once again, the Soneva Kiri resort is doing all that in donating part of its fund to associations working to protect local communities and clean up the oceans. It is a way to express its respect for the planet and attempt to fix it. Soneva Kiri hotel is not the only one to protect and preserve the planet to this extend.
There is another hotel on the other side of the globe, the Treehotel AB **** is lost in the steppes of Lapland where beautiful tree houses have sprinkled into the forest without disturbing the peaceful nature. To reassure you, no trees have been cut down or damaged and the wildlife of the forest has not been disturbed in any way. As proof, down to the comfortable tree houses, reindeers and snow foxes are walking peacefully in liberty. Nature has taken back its rights, the landscape deploys all its beauty for the pleasure of the guests. Moreover, keep an eye open on the activity and education program that hotels put forward. Are there any gardening activities or activities to raise awareness of the local fauna and flora in the Kids-club’s program? If so it is a pretty good sign! Because there is no age limit to learn and develop strong values for life. Some hotel chains, such as LUX* Resort and Hotels, are already offering to their guests the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, boat…) by financing, among other things, a field of solar panels in Mauritius.
Far from greenwashing strategy from numerous brands, the eco-responsibility needs a long-term commitment in the spirit of durability! The green movement favours low-energy buildings, which are practically energy self-sufficient and encourages the fight against waste. Water savers and rainwater collectors, circuit-breaking systems to prevent lights from burning all day long, are all ways for responsible energy management. The use of renewable energies such as geothermal energy or solar panels for hot water supply are also part of the movement.
Sustainable infrastructure is also characterised by the use of respectful, untreated, non-polluting and, if possible, local materials. The idea? To reduce the carbon impact as much as possible. In Crete, a hotel called the Nana Princess Suites & Villas ***** has deliberately decided to take actions voluntarily. The building used the famous black stone in the country. It has given a daring and elegant result; the hotel disappears into the natural landscape beautifully. Another trend has emerged, reusable materials are on the rise, the re-use of a material or object is far less polluting and in addition, has an incredible history. Renown architectural firms are now following this emerging trend.
With regard with the interior design side, more and more hotels are turning towards an eco-responsible decoration: the use of natural paints and dyes, the use of organic cotton or water-saving fibres (hemp, bamboo) bed linens, the emphasize of objects, furniture made by local craftsmen or the recycling of objects from flea markets that give a special touch to any interior while reducing the carbon footprint. In the same vein, the use of non-toxic or eco-certified products for the rooms is an undeniable bonus for our health and the conservation of the Planet.
Finally, let’s highlight the exemplary approach of the SapoCycle association, which, in partnership with many hotels, recycles soap scraps and unused cosmetics for the benefit of associations and families in need. The Grand Hotel des Thermes ***** (Saint-Malo) and the Gstaad Palace ***** have already been awarded the “SapoCycle” label. These hotels are making a significant gesture for the environment and the future of our children.
A new mindset for restaurants
As soon as you have the plate in front of your eyes, you can see straight away the ethos of the restaurant. As we know the food industry is not a good student in term of ecology between the production of greenhouse gases, the over-consumption of water and the use of pesticides. As a result, the impact of the food sector on the planet is considerable. In order to avoid serving you a tomato that comes from the other side of the world, more and more luxury hotels prefer to work with small local producers when they don’t have their own vegetable garden, orchards or chicken coop! As an example, in Italy, at the Resort & Spa Le Dune ****, enthusiastic guests can even pick up the organic eggs themselves from the hotel’s poultry house.
A first glance at the menu also informs you about the Chef’s philosophy: in an ecological mindset without forgetting the gourmet side, the use of fresh, local and seasonal products is most appreciated! The origin of the products and their labels (organic, sustainable fishing…) must be clearly specified. In case of doubt, the maître d’hôtel will be happy to assist you. Always on the lookout for food trends, more and more hotels are also choosing to offer vegetarian menus. A great initiative that is also good for the planet. For example, in the kitchens of the Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo *****, the great late Chef Joël Robuchon created a delicious all-vegetarian menu. Its variation around the artichoke, roasted, creamy and veiled with a turmeric cappuccino, simply awake your taste buds and will make your mouth-watering…
Moreover, the food is as important as tableware. In the green philosophy, the moto is to get rid of the plastic straws, cups and bottles! It’s so much chicer to drink from a nice craft glass, to sip your cocktail with a bamboo straw and to have table linen instead of disposable paper napkins that will pollute even more the environment.
To go even further, some hotels are striving to reduce the plastic use of the buffet food or bathroom amenities provided. A remarkable idea when you consider that every minute the equivalent of a plastic garbage truck is dumped into the ocean. In Switzerland, the luxurious Tschuggen Grand Hotel ***** is a good example: Nespresso capsules can be reused there, while waste and restaurant leftovers are used to produce biogas and compost. Nothing gets wasted everything is transformed!
Here are some demanding European labels to help you see more clearly on the green actions: The European Ecolabel, La Clef Verte, Ecorismo, Green Globe, Bio Hotels, Ethic étapes, Earth Check…
2 – TOP 3 of our hotels for an eco-friendly stay
Patrick’s Lodge, Senegal
At Patrick’s Lodge *****, be ready for a colourful sustainable slow stay. Exit the giant impersonal and polluting hotel complex. At Patrick’s Lodge everything has been designed for a convivial and memorable stay at a human scale. In order to respect the beauty and serenity of the place, the lodge welcomes no more than 16 people. The atmosphere is ultra-intimate, which only emphasizes the cachet of this little paradise. The harmonised and discreet buildings are dressed in sand and wood tones, they blend perfectly into the décor without disturbing its harmony. Inside, the decoration is distinctive with natural woven fibres, locally produced wax fabrics and African craftsmanship. In the highest respect of local craftsmanship, all the decorative elements have been created on-site by passionate and enthusiastic goldsmiths. We especially love the gigantic wood bathtub in the bathroom, directly carved from the trunk of a local tree, you can relax in harmony with the elements: just lovely!
On the gastronomic side, Patrick’s Lodge is unequivocally locavore. Every morning, the woman head Chef wanders the alleys of the nearby local markets and meets with the small farmers of the village in search of fresh and seasonal ingredients to incorporate into her delicious and high-end cuisine. Fresh Fish from the day’s cash such as monkfish is the signature dish of the Lodge’s table. The tasty fish superbly melts in the mouth and pairs well with spicy sauces and tagine-style vegetable. Once again it is a sense of conviviality that prevails and the meal is shared around a large table facing the endless ocean.
Another curiosity, the kids-club! It has been specifically dedicated to children and was entirely built into local materials and recycled products. In an arty-chic spirit, games are made of wood with recycling materials. Our favourite entertainment is the outdoor playground and its giraffe shaped seats made from upcycles tires with vibrant and nice colours. This unusual play area is accompanied by an educational program that is open to nature and alert on the respect of fauna and flora. The iconic kids-club mascot, the owl, is offering ornithological walks adapted to the whole family in order to learn how to recognize birds’ songs, learn more about their habitat and hunting techniques.
Hotel Manapany, Saint-Barthélemy
If Saint-Barthélemy wasn’t (yet) on your bucket list, the Hotel Manapany ***** will make you change your mind. This little eco-responsible jewel with a committed philosophy won an award at the prestigious ecolodges awards of 2019. Well-deserved recognition for a hotel that covers a large part of its electricity needs with the ingenious solution of using solar panels. Additionally, its station produces its own fresh and pure water for the comfort of its guests. To explore the estate, only electric cars are used in order to preserve the beauty and the shades of turquoise of the waves. For several years, the Manapany has committed itself to discharge NO pollutants into the ocean. This is one more reason to book a snorkelling session with your family and discover the beauty of the seabed and corals. A fragile beauty that is more than necessary to respect and protect.
At the Manapany, the eco-responsibility is present down to the smaller details, for instance, the cleaning and maintenance purpose is only steam and natural products. It is a health benefit for the sensitive skin of our little ones. The bath linen is made entirely of bamboo fibre, a natural plant which, in addition to its extreme softness and comfort, requires little water to grow. Another high-end detail that leaves no one indifferent is the brand used for cosmetics and spa treatment. It is Dr Hauschka, an organic brand well known from the beauty fan who are keen on natural care. One more reason to make a detour to the spa of the estate, and reward yourself with a treatment.
The spirit of Manapany is characterized by Francois Champsaur a designer and interior decorator who is well-known for the use of eco-friendly fibre. Based on sobriety and economy of means, a sharp and respectful design has been created without prejudice of the Caribbean art of living. The furniture is made of raw wood with fine marquetry while natural fibres are showcased on the quilts and cushions. Outside, nature shines and the windows open onto the mango, banana and passion trees into a fully organic orchard. The Manapany, a place you can only love… passionately, madly, in love!
Aguas de Ibiza, Ibiza
A contemporary boutique hotel by the sea? Aguas de Ibiza Grand Luxe Hotel ***** is a pioneer in the archipelago. The first of a kind eco-responsible resort on the White Island, Aguas de Ibiza Lifestyle & Spa has settled between land and sea. Perfectly trendy, this boutique hotel has been thoughtfully created in harmony with the surrounding nature. Designed by the island’s native architect Juan de Los Rios, its lines evoke traditional Phoenician architecture. We like the warm presence of stone and wood, natural materials of choice that give life to the facades. From a technical point of view, the hotel has installed a complex system of water and energy-saving (in particular the installation of photovoltaic rails) as well as state-of-the-art home automation. As a result, Aguas de Ibiza has reduced its energy consumption by 35% compared to a classic hotel of a similar size. Another great initiative is the sourcing from eco-friendly suppliers and the parsimonious use of paper throughout the estate.
What about facilities and comfort? The view of the Balearic Sea is breathtaking (especially from the hotel’s rooftop, which is one of the island’s must-see spots). The interior is neat and contemporary and has been designed by the Barcelona designers of the Triade Studio. The vibrant colours (an airy alliance of blue and white) and the materials used in the hotel illustrate the quality of the air, the water and the natural light that are famous to Ibiza. The rooms, arranged according to the Chinese Feng-Shui philosophy, invite you to be in harmony with the cosmos. From the bottom of your bed, you can admire the changing colours of the sea under the stars, and you will feel a powerful connection with the forces of nature. After a restful night’s sleep, the family heads to the Oligo restaurant to enjoy a healthy, organic breakfast with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The Acaï bowl and Chia pudding with papaya are a must-try!
You are now ready to try the green experience with your family and live a luxury eco-responsible holiday!
Have a nice and safe trip!
Mylène, 29 years old, art and travel lover, from Strasbourg, France