Many luxury resorts call themselves green. In fact, many have adopted sustainability programs, such as water conservation or sourcing produce from local gardens. But a handful of our favorite properties around the world—from a honeymooner’s paradise in French Polynesia to an adventure lodge in Canada—have gone to great lengths to conserve their natural environments. These are some of our favorite eco-friendly hotels that are committed to sustainable luxury.
For Far-flung Romance: The Brando, French Polynesia
Marlon Brando’s over-the-top private island paradise also happens to be a trailblazer in its approach to sustainability. In 2016, the Brando announced its LEED Platinum certification (it is the first project to earn this accolade in French Polynesia) and the property employs and provides housing for engineers, naturalists and scientists to carry out environmental projects. These range from maintaining the island’s 4,200 solar panels (which provide up to 70% of the power on the island) to its seawater-pumping facility which recycles deep seawater through air-conditioning units to create an alternative cooling system on property. Guests, who stay in spacious and stylish beachside villas, can learn more about these initiatives on the hotel’s Green Tour, which highlights the benefits of sustainability at this one-of-a-kind island escape.
For A Barefoot Caribbean Getaway: Turtle Inn, Belize
When director Francis Ford Coppola’s first iteration of Turtle Inn was virtually wiped out by a hurricane in 2001, he re-created it, resulting in a barefoot-chic hideaway with a true appreciation for the surrounding environment. The resort’s 19 open-air villas are designed with all-natural materials including pine and thatched roofs and ceiling fans that eliminate the need for air-conditioning; water use is carefully monitored; and swimming pools are sanitized with environmentally friendly products. In addition, Turtle Inn eliminated plastic bottles and straws, and used glass bottles are recycled as building materials for the local communities. The Coppola family is committed to sustainability efforts in the region, and the resort collaborates with area environmental groups to raise awareness and promote initiatives, such as beach cleanups and coral reef preservation programs.
For Outdoor Adventure: Nimmo Bay, Canada
Tucked away on the shores of a secluded inlet off the coast of British Columbia, Nimmo Bay is an intimate wilderness lodge that has been focused on sustainability since its founding in 1980, when an innovative water wheel hydropower facility was installed. Now, the water wheel still powers more than 85% of the lodge, and the resort significantly reduces its carbon footprint with a waste management system and numerous wildlife conservation programs. Chief among these is the grizzly bear protection initiative, which offers complimentary stays to hunters in exchange for the promise to rescind their hunting licenses, in an effort to protect endangered animals in the area.
For Laid-Back Seclusion: Mukan, Tulum
Opened in 2018, Mukan blends seamlessly into the surrounding biosphere, which, at nearly 1,600 square miles, is one of Mexico’s largest protected nature areas. The seven-acre property sits on a spit of land between the ocean and the brilliantly colored Sian Ka’an lagoon, home to lush mangroves and Kermit-green tropical forests. The lodge’s eco-friendly programs include a wind turbine, solar panels and a comprehensive water recycling program that purifies fresh water from a nearby well. While Tulum’s saltwater climate is not the most fertile for growing vegetables, the resort has a nursery with raised Ka’anche gardens, mimicking traditional Mayan methods.
For Rejuvenation in the Rainforest: Pacuare Lodge and Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a pioneer when it comes to ecotourism: 25% of the country is protected by the National System of Conservation Area and the nation plans to be completely carbon-neutral by 2021. Most hotels in the region have impressive sustainability programs, but two rainforest retreats have raised the standard for eco-luxury. When it was built in 1993, Pacuare Lodge, located in a 25,000-acre swath of protected rainforest, saved the area from being demolished. Trees were preserved and the resort was built from teak wood brought in from reforestation projects. The lodge’s sustainability efforts have only increased since then: examples include a hydroelectric turbine and waste management system. Lapa Rios Lodge, which sits 350 feet above sea level, has a particularly impressive community program that provides resources and education on environmental conservation to schoolchildren. Aspiring nature guides can attend classes to learn about sustainability and the environment.
For High-Design in the Jungle: Tri, Southern Sri Lanka
In the beginning, Tri’s owner Rob Drummond fell in love with a majestic Banyan tree perched on a hilltop overlooking the Kogalla lagoon, Sri Lanka’s largest natural lake. Today, this Banyan is the centerpiece of Drummond’s eco-friendly, wellness-focused resort, located on the country’s southern coast. In order to celebrate and preserve its setting, Tri has introduced solar panels, energy-efficient LED lighting and ‘living design,’ which requires the use of recycled wood and all-natural materials for all buildings. The resort has eliminated an estimated 100,000 plastic bottles. Representatives from the Tri also plant indigenous trees to reverse damage caused to the surrounding habitat by previous development.