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Eco-Innovations: Our Favourite Hotels Doing It Right

As well-informed travellers rightfully focus on how they impact the world, eco-friendly practices have become increasingly integral to hotel offerings. But there are some who stand out. These five hotels work hard to create eco-innovation in the hospitality space, and are leading the way to a more sustainable future.

Arctic Bath, Swedish Lapland

Eco-innovation: Floating Rooms And Pollutant-Free Swimsuits

Don’t bring your swimsuit when you visit Arctic Bath – you won’t be allowed to use it. Wellness facilities are central to this frozen, fairy-tale like hotel, but they’ll provide you with pollutant-free swimwear on check-in. It’s to ensure you don’t leave toxins behind when you plunge into the icy waters. The daring design of the circular spa has been brought to life with minimal eco-footprint. It – along with ‘water’ rooms – floats on the Lule River during summer, and is embedded into its frozen waters during winter. ‘Land’ rooms are built on elevated stilts, ensuring no damage to the underlying ground. Immerse yourself into the local Sámi culture with husky-sledding, ice-fishing, reindeer-herding, and evening folk stories around a fire. Visit between September and April for the best chance of catching the Northern Lights. 

The Brando, French Polynesia

Eco-innovation: Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC)

We love it when a hotel’s eco-practices have tangible, measurable results, as is the case at uber-private island resort, The Brando. Their innovative Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) saves circa USD 1.5 million a year in electricity consumption, reducing CO2 emissions by 1,980 tons. Read those numbers again, this is no small accomplishment. The exclusive, paparazzi-free island was the brainchild of actor and eco-pioneer, Marlon Brando, who once called the atoll home. Committed to creating innovative technologies in order to build a self-sustaining island, without compromising on comfort and style, he set a myriad of eco-practices into motion. The Brando (which opened 10 years after his death) is one of them. Here, hidden villas boast private beaches, a spa offers holistic treatments, and clientele includes Barack and Michelle Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Pippa Middleton. It’s clear Brando achieved his dream.  

Fenyan Eco Lodge, Jordan

Eco-innovation: Electricity Free (Almost)

A candle-lit staircase guides you to your bedroom at this remote, 26-room lodge in Jordan’s mountainous Dana Biosphere Reserve. Not to induce a romantic atmosphere – though it does that nicely – but because Fenyan Eco Lodge runs almost entirely without electricity. Atmospheric fireplaces fuelled by olive waste heat the property during winter months, laundry is air-dried, and drinking water comes directly from nearby spring, Wadi Dana. The kitchen is one of the spaces where electricity (generated via solar and photovoltaic panels) is used: to cool the vegetarian-only ingredients that will be whipped into delicious dinners of falafel, hummus, and other local favourites. Most meals are served alongside Arabic bread known as shraq, made daily by local Bedouin, Um Khalid. All other hotel staff are locals, too. 

Arenas Del Mar, Costa Rica

Eco-innovation: Community Support

We can’t discuss sustainability in Costa Rica without giving a hat tip to the country’s tourism model as a whole. In 1997, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute initiated a country-wide certification to guide sustainability. Arenas Del Mar, one of 400 businesses with official accreditation, is working hard to upkeep the strict standards achieved. The hotel – half rainforest, half beach (choose an Ocean Breeze Suite for views of both) – offers all the usual eco-friendly practices including no plastic, homegrown vegetables, and organic cleaning products, but is also actively involved with the local community. They provide meals for the homeless, support a local school, organise litter picking days, and are replanting the endemic flora that was once removed to make way for a plantain farm.  

Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Tanzania

Eco-innovation: Long Term Thinking

Putting the African wilderness first, the Singita way of thinking is far ahead of its time. One hundred years ahead. Their 100 Year Purpose includes the use of renewable energy, sustainable food sources, and anti-poaching methods. At Singita Mara River Tented Camp, on the Tanzanian side of the Serengeti, you’ll find safari-vibes-a-plenty. Each tent is built from natural, sustainable materials such as canvas and stone, and interspersed with fun furnishings from contemporary African designers, including from the local Nguni tribe. The open-air, breezy design also means you won’t need to rely on air conditioning as you relax into the lifestyle. Plan your trip during August for the best chance of catching the wildebeest migration.

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