Without never sacrificing the comfort of its guests, the hotel industry is reinventing itself day after day to meet the expectations of demanding travelling families. Because the planet deserves to be cuddled, Little Guest (a collection of luxury hotels, villas and resorts for families with children) has taken a close look at the issue of sustainable tourism and ecological family vacations. Commitments, responsible practices, green labels…we tell you everything.
Where to go for a luxurious holiday while respecting the environment? This is the question that more and more parents are asking themselves as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint and exploit the facets of eco-responsible tourism. In order to shed light on the subject, we have investigated in order to guide you in the planning of eco-friendly family holidays.
According to the 1987 Brundtland Report of the UNO World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainable tourism is « a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
It is thus a form of tourism that applies the principles of sustainable development, with the aim of participating in the proper functioning of the economy and society, but also and above all of the environment. If this notion is rather simple to understand for us adults, toddlers may not understand much of it… Here is a small diagram that will explain in detail the pillars of sustainable development.
But in concrete terms, what is being done to reduce our environmental impact during the holidays? The most important thing to keep in mind is that just because we go on holiday does not mean that our behaviour has to change, or that we have to let ourselves go. When we know that 65% of French people say they sort their waste at home every day, but that only 57% do so on holiday (Développement durable et empreinte écologique. Futura. 2015), this is cause for alarm.
Economically speaking, the tourism industry is one of the most polluting in the world. It is considered that 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to mass tourism. To counter this phenomenon, you will surely hear about ecotourism, social, ethical, solidarity, humanitarian or fair tourism, or even slow tourism, but each of these formulas is no more and no less than a sub-component of sustainable tourism.
Therefore, so that your little family who cares about taking care of our planet organizes its holidays in the most responsible way, Little Guest has taken stock and gives you all its eco-friendly advice!
Because sustainable tourism remains a complex and somewhat scholarly notion, we have decided to talk to you more specifically about slow tourism, a form of tourism that is easy to adopt, as beneficial for you and your children as it is for the Earth.
The Art of Slow Travel defines this new approach to travel as « a state of mind that rejects traditional ideas of tourism and encourages you to immerse yourself in your environment and remain open to new experiences« . In other words, it’s about reinventing the way we explore the world and sharing these values with future generations in order to pass on our efforts and thank nature for what it has to offer.
In concrete terms, how do we practice slow tourism? Quite simply by taking our time and using it to rediscover the essential. Walking in nature, observing the local fauna and flora, avoiding crowded places, eating regional and seasonal products, taking care of oneself and one’s loved ones… these little habits apply particularly well to families with children. You don’t have to deal with stress and you concentrate on activities that are entirely dedicated to your well-being and above all respect the environment. If you want to read more about this new way to travel, check out our article about the topic!
According to Luc Mazuel, the main adherents to slow tourism are mostly young couples with children, young dynamic retirees, as well as larger families. When we know that the generation of millennials travels between 5 and 7 times a year for an average of 8 to 10 days, and that it takes about 2.5 months to prepare their next trip, it makes us think that our children and grandchildren will be big fans of slow tourism… so why not give them a good example now?
Always concerned about satisfying families, Little Guest has chosen to develop its range of eco-friendly hotels and to offer more choices allowing tribes to reconnect with nature and get closer to each other, in a healthy and natural setting. This is why we have selected for you the most beautiful villas in the world, sheltered from the daily hustle and bustle, as well as hotels with an irreproachable ecological charter.
Just like in the organic market, many labels have emerged, and deciphering their meaning has become a real puzzle. Don’t panic! Here is a small summary of the existing labels. One of them is the EU Ecolabel for Tourist Accommodations, an independent eco-label used by EU member states. To obtain this certification, an establishment (hotel, campsite or association) must meet 67 specific criteria and make a commitment on several points, including: the supply of renewable electricity, reduction of energy and water consumption, reduction of waste and wastewater, among others. One small black spot: AFNOR, which checks compliance with this charter, only carries out this check every two years.
The second label is « Hôtels au Naturel« , which lists 20 « human-sized » accommodations to stay in an intimate setting and get as far away as possible from mass tourism and large hotel chains. These places closest to nature tend to use sustainable solutions for a healthier future.
At Little Guest, we believe that certifications are certainly useful, but that they only represent additional information, and that it is necessary to make sure that the destination of your choice is simply respectful of the values of sustainable development, i.e. that it meets social and cultural issues, that it limits pollution and waste and that it protects fragile environments.
Of course, sustainable tourism rhymes with local tourism. The best places to visit are the establishments close to your home, in order to reduce your carbon footprint linked to travel as much as possible.
For French people, Little Guest recommends, for example, Les Fermes de Marie *****, a bucolic little corner of paradise in Haute-Savoie. This small hamlet of cosy chalets offers a breathtaking view on the surrounding massifs. In winter, you become the king of snow sports here, while in summer, families go on lovely hikes. When the sun is shining, children love to run in the gardens, catch chickens, or tend the vegetable garden… what could be more natural? On top of that, the traditional restaurant offers a refined regional menu adapted to each season!
For the northerners, Le Domaine de la Bretesche ***** is an excellent choice. Nestled in the heart of the superb Breton regional park of the Brière, this 14th-century castle has been listed as a historical monument since 1926. There, families can enjoy a peaceful and serene setting, taste delicious recipes made from local produce and practice their swing on one of the most beautiful golf courses in France.
According to a very interesting article entitled « Le tourisme fait s’envoler le réchauffement planétaire« , taken from the daily French newspaper Le Monde, it is estimated that 8% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to international tourism. As mentioned earlier in this article, this figure may of course seem enormous, but it is important to take into account not only CO2 emissions due to transport, but also those related to the consumption of tourism services. Moreover, it must be understood that 25% of these emissions are produced by internal and regional travel in the United States.
Thus, flying to a destination that is 100% eco-friendly and environmentally friendly is better than taking the car to spend your vacation in a hotel whose positioning in terms of sustainable tourism seems questionable, especially when you know that a plane consumes as much, if not less, than a car!
Little Guest’s catalogue features some very good students in this field. Eco-friendly activities, organic and local food, recycling and reuse of waste, let’s discover together what these establishments close to nature and concerned about the environment have to offer.
The French West Indies are waiting for you! To welcome you properly, they have one of the most beautiful eco-resorts in the world: Hotel Manapany. The responsible concept is simple: to offer the guests environmentally friendly facilities and services. These include wooden terraces, solar panels, an orchard and vegetable garden, organic cosmetics, local and seasonal cuisine, and electric carts.
Saint-Barthélemy has never been so proud to count among its architectural treasures a top-of-the-range establishment eager to take care of the area in which it is rooted, and understandably so! In addition to its committed offer, the Hotel Manapany offers breathtaking rooms, suites and private cottages. Islands lovers will not fail to fall under the spell of contemporary French decor with colourful touches and hand-crafted furniture. The little extra: each room features a terrace with a view of the garden or the ocean.
Change of scenery and temperature: head for Swedish Lapland and its enchanting landscapes. About 60 kilometres from the Arctic Circle is the Treehotel AB with its 7 tree houses perched in the trees of the boreal forest. Each one is as unusual as the next, these cosy little homes offer you maximum comfort. Scandinavian design and views of the valley all promise you starry nights…
Are you ready to stay in a flying saucer with intergalactic scenery? Or would you prefer to sleep soundly in a giant nest that magically blends into the picture depicted by the pine forest? Whichever cabin you choose, you’ll benefit from 100% eco-friendly facilities, such as a 3L eco-friendly water system for washing your hands and a dry toilet.
But what we love most of all is the many activities available, starting with explosive culinary experiences! Enjoy a convivial meal by the river, enjoy a candlelit dinner in a heated tepee on a frozen lake, taste local game meat such as reindeer or wild moose, and discover local specialities in an atmosphere of the 30s to 50s at Britta’s Pensionat restaurant.
Ready to reinvent the way you travel?
Pernell, 23 years old, travel lover, from Angers, France