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10 of the world’s best eco-friendly luxury hotels

Who says luxury and eco-consciousness have to be mutually exclusive?

These days, going on a green break doesn’t mean sacrificing the comforts which you’ve come to expect on a holiday of a lifetime.

Many hotels with five-star service are starting to place a greater amount of emphasis on sustainability in a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and, ultimately, help the environment.

From foraging in the Swedish wilderness for leaves to brew your morning cup of tea, to relaxing in your own above-water villa in the Maldives, why not have a look at some of the incredible holidays you could take whilst still looking after the environment?

The Whitepod Eco Resort, Switzerland

This resort, located in the Swiss Alps, offers the chance to sleep in luxurious pods in the middle of your own winter wonderland surroundings. The pods are low impact which means the utilise minimal water and electricity and only use renewable resources wherever they can.

The URBN hotel, China

The URBN hotel is China’s first carbon neutral hotel and it has plans in store to reduce its carbon footprint even further in the future. The decor of the hotel is made from recycled or locally sourced materials and they also make use of energy efficient lighting and cooling systems.

The Hix Island House, Puerto Rico

The Hix has become renowned for its environmentally friendly practices. The hotel uses solar panels to power both their electricity and hot water, they also use recycled water from the guests’ showers and basins to feed the guavas, bananas and papayas growing nearby.

The Ramada Eco Beach Resort, Australia

Undoubtedly one of the front runners in eco-tourism, the Ramada Eco Beach Resort does everything it can to encourage eco-friendly behaviour, from self-sustaining solar power to their very own on-site water recycling plant. The resort even offers the opportunity for guests to use energy monitoring systems in their eco-villas to monitor and adjust their individual consumption.

The Proximity Hotel, America

This Northern Carolina hotel currently has over 70 different sustainable practices in place, making them one of the highest rated green hotels in America. The building uses nearly 40% less energy than a conventional hotel or restaurant and water usage has been reduced by 33% through the use of high efficiency plumbing fixtures, saving two million gallons of water in the first year alone.

The Saffire Freycinet, Australia

The Saffire was created for the purpose of rejuvenating an area which had been previously damaged and limit any further impact. Since setting up, the Saffire Freycinet has implemented many sustainable practices such as installing energy efficient water usage and lighting, natural cycle air flow systems and double glazing. They have also spent a lot of time helping to recover the native plants to their natural form.

The Park Hyderabad, India

This relatively new building was created with the aim of encouraging sustainability. To aid the green aspect of the architecture, a unique metal screen cladding was used around the exterior of the building. This gives the structure a modern look and also maximises the use of natural light for both lighting and heating, reducing the need for electricity.

The Campi ya Kanzi, Kenya

The Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya was built using only local materials that had fallen from trees naturally. The also only employed local Maasai during the construction. The energy is sourced through photovoltaic panels and their water, which is their scarcest resource, is sourced from the rain using their special catchment system.

The LeFay Resort, Italy

The LeFay Resort in Italy boasts some incredible figures for their consumption of renewable energy, including: 100% for electrical energy, 85% for thermal energy and 100% for room cooling and air cleaning. They also take part in measures to improve their waste management, water saving and social responsibility.

Urnatur, Sweden

This Swedish stay offers accommodation which takes you straight back to nature. From staying in tree houses to foraging for leaves to make your own cup of tea. The heating is either solar powered or powered by wood collectied from storm fallen trees.

How to go green when you travel

Traveling green takes a little extra effort at first, but it soon becomes second nature and those extra steps can enhance every trip you take. Not only will you feel better about your travels, but you’ll also leave a more positive impression on the place you visited and often have more meaningful experiences along the way.

We believe responsible travel is a force for good: it can open hearts and minds, give us a broader understanding of the world, and inspire us to make a difference; but when you consider the environmental impact of commercial aviation, the sometimes negative effects of tourism on other cultures, and the trail of strained resources travelers can leave behind, tourism doesn’t look so pretty.

Here are our tips for going green with ease and making travel better for everyone.

Choose an ethical travel destination

Independent nonprofit organization Ethical Traveler ranks destinations each year by their environmental protection standards, social welfare and human rights record. 

By visiting countries on these lists, your tourism dollar supports their efforts to create sustainable tourism industries, and encourages other destinations to follow suit.

Choose a green hotel

Look for certified green hotels that are in LEED Certified buildings, use renewable energy, recycle, use environmentally friendly cleaning products and offer options for guests to make an impact (such as not having the sheets changed daily).

There are several certification programs - the better-known ones include Green Key Global, Green Globe International, Green Seal and EcoRooms & EcoSuites. Staying in smaller, locally run hotels and B&Bs is often the greenest method around, making your stay environmentally and socially responsible as well as being a more direct boost to the local economy.

Choose a green tour company

Going with an independent local guide can often be the best way to ensure your money is doing the most for your destination’s economy.

When looking for a tour company look for the following:

  • The company proudly promotes their ethical practices.
  • They use green office products.
  • You can tangibly see how they contribute to the community.
  • They respect the local flora and fauna.
  • They take destination-specific social and political issues into account.

Drive Green

Sometimes it can be hard not to require the need of a car when travelling. There are car rental companies who offer low emission, electric and hybrid vehicles in countries worldwide. Green Motion Car Rental specialises in the offering of low emission vehicles for daily rental and are in over 22 countries worldwide.

Eat locally sourced food

Support the region's farmers, get a more authentic taste of the cuisine and cut your carbon footprint even more. Look out for restaurants advertising local produce or, if that’s not possible, eat local dishes at mom-and-pop-style places that will most likely use what’s produced nearby. Whatever you do, don’t eat endangered species like turtle or over-harvested shellfish.

Carbon offset

Calculate your carbon offset via this handy calculator at Sustainable Travel. While it's better to concentrate on shrinking your footprint in the first place, a contribution to carbon offset programs will help by funding reforestation and renewable energy projects.


Now that you’ve experienced a place, met its people and seen what is needed the most, why not make a donation to one of the region’s grass-roots organizations? Perhaps you found this on the road or researched it as an afterthought, but there’s always a way to give more back.

A trip to San Diego - 'America's Finest City'

San Diego calls itself ‘America’s Finest City’ and its breezy confidence and sunny countenance filter down even to folks you encounter every day on the street. It’s the nation’s eighth-largest city, yet we’re hard-pressed to think of a place of any size that’s more laid-back.

What’s not to love? San Diego bursts with world-famous attractions for the entire family, including the zoo, Legoland, the museums of Balboa Park and SeaWorld, plus a bubbling downtown and beaches ranging from ritzy to raucous, and America’s most perfect weather.

With 70-degree days, countless beaches and a scenic spot in Southern California, sun-filled San Diego is the ultimate place for road trips.

San Diego is very spread out so you’ll almost certainly want to rent a car. To pick the best area to stay, think about how you want to spend your time. For laid back beach towns, Solana Beach and Encinitas are perfect. If you’re in town for margaritas and a good time, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are best. Most people will be happy staying in the Gaslamp downtown or on Coronado Island, since there’s a great mix of things to see and do in both places.

Downtown, and specifically in the popular Gaslamp Quarter, there are a handful of fantastic rooftop bars where you can kick back with a cocktail in the open air. J6 Bar, which attracts people who fancy themselves trendsetters, is the sleek fourth-floor lounge and pool area of the Hotel Solamar; Altitude Skybar, 22 floors up atop the Marriott, brings in a mixed crowd of tourists and locals.

For a hike that's both rewarding and easy, make your way to Torrey Pines State Reserve. The Guy Fleming Trail, named for a longtime nature guide and activist, is a six-tenths-of-a-mile loop that skirts along sheer cliffs overlooking the ocean. At the north end of the trail, a bench offers a view that on clear days extends as far as Santa Catalina island. Tip: An hour before sunset, the admission price is cut in half.

For a world-class sunset, go to the place named for it, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. From high atop craggy rocks, the ocean and sky seem endless, and the light is extra dramatic. Don't leave without walking along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and checking out the five-foot-high peace sign, 40 feet above the sea on a rock, near Froude Street. The artwork appeared mysteriously last spring, and while it's illegal, people like it so much that no one has taken it down. "The goal was to make the piece 'organic' to the surroundings, as if it had sprung from the ocean," the anonymous artist says at "Mostly, it was intended to reflect whatever peaceful insights and wishes each viewer projected upon it."

Opened in 2004, the Petco Park baseball stadium has brought in record attendance and served as the cornerstone for the revitalization of downtown. The Padres' ballpark is a home run for many reasons, including decorative waterfalls, lots of bougainvillea, and menus with tacos from local favorite Rubio's.