The era in which Earth Day occurred as the only time most people dedicated to thinking about the state of the environment has long since passed. The concept of sustainability now influences all of life’s sectors, including travel. A recent study revealed that 90 percent of travelers want sustainable travel options.
Hotels understand the increased importance of allowing guests to travel responsibly; however, it can often be difficult for travelers to discern if the property they select genuinely adheres to sustainable principles.
Hervé Houdré, Forbes Travel Guide’s Global Ambassador for Responsible Hospitality, hopes that the standards set in place through FTG’s forthcoming Responsible Hospitality verification program “will be the bridge between the guests, the travel advisors and the corporations and the hotels.”
As the hospitality industry worldwide gradually implements sustainability standards, we’ve gathered a list of eco-friendly options that have already demonstrated impressive efforts to preserve landscapes for future generations of travelers to behold.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba
The Aruba resort earned the Global United Nations 2020 Climate Neutral Now Award and the 2023 Energy Globe Award for initiatives like reusing water from sinks and showers for the grounds, using solar power to heat water in guest rooms and the laundry, boasting the lowest per- occupied-room electricity usage of all Aruba hotels along with its support of community wildlife conservation efforts such as Aruba’s Donkey Sanctuary and a local foundation dedicated to the protection of sea turtles.
Drake Bay Getaway Resort
With a location in the preserved land of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s rainforest, this Four-Star hotel takes its job as steward of the land seriously, achieving a carbon-negative status. It offsets more carbon than it emits by protecting the 160 acres of untouched forest that absorbs and stores CO2 and employs renewable energy sources such as solar-based water heating.
This trail-blazing, eco-friendly French Polynesia escape utilizes a pioneering AC cooling system where cold water gets pumped from the deep ocean. This allows the resort to reduce the energy used for its air conditioning system by 90 percent and overall energy by 45 percent. It also adopts other sustainable practices, such as composting all food waste for its garden, reusing wastewater for irrigation and relying on solar panels.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, A Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa
Famed for its traditional tea ceremony and accompanying sweets, the Five-Star gem makes its vegan carrot cookies in a rhythmic cycle with a local farm: the Kyoto hotel sends left over coffee grounds that the farm uses as fertilizer for the carrots. The result: A delicious treat that you can feel good about enjoying.
The Maldives hotel’s Soneva Foundation has embarked on a series of impressive projects to ensure the health of the environment, community and local economy. Not only limited to the hotel’s remarkable sustainability measures — ensuring carbon neutrality, sourcing ingredients from the property’s organic garden and fostering dialogue between top environmentalists and island council presidents of three local communities — the foundation creates positive change around the world using funding from the carbon tax placed on guests.
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
This Five-Star retreat takes a holistic approach to sustainability, one that incorporates practices such as the creation of its own water bottling plant, composting waste to use as fertilizer and inviting future generations to learn how to care for the earth with a miniature composting site . Additionally, the hotel invites guests to forge a more spiritual connection with the land through reflective rituals rooted in Vietnamese culture.
Atlantis, The Palm
As Forbes Travel Guide’s inaugural Responsible Hospitality award winner, the Dubai hotel earned the honor through its investment in green initiatives, such as the development of an onsite water-bottling plant that will allow it to eliminate single-use plastics (preventing the use of 2.7 million plastic bottles each year), decreasing the resort’s waste by 95 percent with food waste reduction technology, relying on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients whenever possible and aiding in local marine conservation projects.
Jumeirah Al Naseem
Launched in 2004 and unique in the region, the Dubai hotel’s turtle rehabilitation facility rescues and cares for injured or sick tortoises before releasing them back into their natural habitat. The facility has saved and released 2,050 turtles. Guests receive a toll-free hotline in case they come across a turtle in need of rescue. To celebrate the project’s success, the hotel offers a “Turtle Tea,” with sculptures made with recycled materials by Dubai-based French-Tunisian artist Idriss B, paired with vegan treats and information about the significance of the rehabilitation project.
The Knickerbocker Hotel
Given the hustle and bustle of city life, it’s easy to forget Manhattan’s proximity to one of the world’s largest naturally formed harbors. Fortunately, recent conservation efforts have sought to restore the once extremely polluted harbor, including a collaboration between The Knickerbocker and the Billion Oyster Project. Oyster shells act as natural water filters, allowing the marine ecosystem to thrive, but are often in short supply. The Four-Star donates the leftover shells from its restaurants to help the Billion Oyster Project achieve its goal: restoring 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035.
Fairmont Miramar Hotels & Bungalows
This Santa Monica hotel designed an entire bi-level suite dedicated to sustainability. Naturally, every element of the EverBlue Sustainability Suite proves that you need not sacrifice luxury while helping the environment with amenities like an Avocado Green Mattress, reusable face masks from Skin Sheet, dissolvable body wash sachets and the handwoven hammock hung on the private patio.
Founded to provide a sanctuary of well-being for the Earth and all its inhabitants, along with immersive wellness programs for guests, the Maldives hotel also provides a safe refuge for turtles with three rehabilitation and conservation centers created in partnership with the Olive Ridley Project. The resort allows you to forge a meaningful connection with the gentle creatures by visiting the rehabilitation tank to assist marine biologists as they care for the turtles. You can even adopt any of the rescue center’s turtles to receive monthly updates until the turtle is well enough to return home to the wild.
The Tides Inn
Thanks to the Irvington, Virginia hotel’s $3.6 million restoration project of the wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, the 3,000 migratory and wildlife species that populate the wetlands can continue to thrive with the creation of a “living shoreline” consisting of preserved and newly planted trees, native shoreline vegetation and an oyster reef. Celebrate the success of the inn’s impressive project this Earth Day with the launch of its new program that allows guests to help restore the wetlands accompanied by an expert ecologist.