For many of us, our natural homes are our safe haven. However, getting away has been so very green and so appealing thanks ecostiletto to eco-resorts worldwide. These innovative retreats are committed to conservation, isolation, cultural sensitivity, and of course style. Whether you are planning next year’s getaway or hoping to cash in on a last minute trip, consider one of these Top 10 Eco-lodges as an eco-friendly option.
10. Gaia Napa Valley Hotel, U.S.
This fantastic hotel holds the honor of being the first property in the United States to be awarded the Gold certification through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The United States Green Building Council designates points earned in six different categories in order for buildings to reach LEED certification. One of these categories is the design of a sustainable site, which is Gaia’s specialty. The tiles and carpets are recycled, the wood is harvested solely from a managed forest and the manicured grounds flaunt heedlessly without the need of fertilizers or chemicals. The property itself is equally as notable. It is located an hour drive from San Francisco, deep in the heart of California’s wine country. While the location of the Gaia is notable, indulging in their eco-friendly spa is even more so!
9. Machaca Hill, Belize
This eco-resort is nothing short of amazing! It lies deep within the 11,000 private nature reserves in the southern tip of Belize. This desirable rainforest retreat boasts fascinating tree house rooms, orchards on grounds, as well as all natural aromatherapy. Machaca Hill’s main concern is reducing the travel imprint for its guests. This result in an eco-adventure complete with all local food, products and staff. Not to mention the added benefit of nearby Mayan ruins, Belize City, and snorkeling/scuba diving excursions. Machaca Hill is notable to say the least.
8. Sjogetorp, Sweden
Urnatur is one of the world’s top self-sustainable hermitages available. It is located three hours southwest of Stockholm in the Holaved forest. Urnatur offers guests six handcrafted huts and a pair of tree houses. Lighting needs are met with kerosene lamps and the facilities are heated with solar power and wood fires (the wood of course being gathered solely from storm-fallen trees). Menu items all procured locally including crayfish from the lake, berries gathered in the wild and tea made from local herbs staff will help guests forage and make themselves. They even hold the food items in an earth-fridge if necessary. There is also a communal wolf cot “living room” that is complete with a peat roof covered with strawberries seasonally as well as an event room in the communal “Tin Castle”. For those interested in more of a hermitage experience rather than luxury, Urnatur may be your next stop on your eco-travels.
7. Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, British Columbia
No eco-tourism list is complete without the mention of this facility. Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat is located on the shores of the Bedwell River in British Columbia. Here guests are privy to view bear, whales, porpoises, moose and bald eagles as they sea kayak, hike, or enjoy a healthy horseback ride. Back at the main lodge guest can enjoy their eco-friendly spa as well as their famous meals featuring the bounty of British Columbian items. What’s on the menu? Halibut, tuna and nearly every type of salmon available not to mention loads of fresh local fruits including figs, blueberries, gooseberries and yellow golden berries. Clayoquot also offers variety to its guests thanks to its extensive organic garden. Clayoquot isn’t just concerned with its adventurous guests; they also offer much back to its community. Clayoquot participates in numerous environmental legacy programs including the restoration of salmon streams, mapping bear habitat, and teaching the local people the virtues of eco-tourism.
6. Maho Bay Camps, U.S. Virgin Islands
This gorgeous resort first opened in 1976 and its owner Stan Selengut has been honored with great compliments since. The striking resort is remarkable! St. John is only a few miles east of the overdeveloped St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, other than location it has little in common with its neighbor. More than 60 percent of St. John and its nearby waters are comprised of Virgin Islands National Park, a magnet in the Caribbean for the eco-adventurist. Hiking trails crisscross through the arid and semi-tropical terrain past some 800 species of foliage. The resort also boasts a “Trash to Treasures” program. The resort’s trash is recycled into art and other crafts. The resorts offer 114 tent-cottages which are woven into the tapestry of the stunning landscape. Each dwelling is composed almost entirely of recycled materials and is powered solely by solar panels and wind energy.
5. Mocking Bird Hill, Jamaica
Port Antonio is one of the most ideal places in the world. Overlooking twin harbors and tucked into the foothills of the Blue Mountains, it features the best of the both worlds- exotic beach and lush rainforest. The small but remarkable resort, Mocking Bird Hill, calls this its home. Mocking Bird Hill is a 10 room inn famous for its fusion complete luxury and eco-friendly practices. Mocking Bird Inn offers its guests an indulgent spa featuring massage oils made from local, indigenous herbs. On the grounds is Mille Fleurs, their acclaimed restaurant offering local and organically grown dishes. Even the art present throughout the Inn is created by local artisans and craftsmen. An extra highlight to this eco-resort is a bamboo-raft trip on the Rio Grande River. If you are looking for serenity, beauty and eco-friendly practices, you can’t go wrong with Mocking Bird Hill.
4. Finca Rosa Blanca, Costa Rica
Finca Rosa Blanca is a tranquil retreat nestled in the countryside high above the urban buzz of Santa Barbara. This retreat recently received 5 stars from the country’s green tourism commission. This is the highest ranking a resort can receive. The owners have even been asked to train other resort owners regarding environmentally friendly practices. Obviously, a resort like this recycles but they do so very much more. This inn actually hosts a recycling center that educates the whole area about the practice. Local artisans offer the artwork in the suites including painters, welders, and a local senior-citizen center. The Inn also offers innovative restaurants where all vegetables are grown organically in their own personal greenhouse. Their pool is also eco-friendly as it is heated by large solar panels and while the use of chlorine is prohibited they have instead opted for ionization system that keeps the water clean, water and environmentally safe. It is also noteworthy to state that the Inn uses a portion of its income to help fund the local high school. The owners have had such success they have now even opened a second boutique hotel. The Arenas del Mar recently opened. It is located near Manuel Antonio National Park.
3. Sumba, Indonesia
Nihiwatu is located on a tiny exclusive island in eastern Indonesia. This eco-resort is the true model for social and environmental responsibility. Nihiwatu was created out of a desire to conserve both bio-diversity and culture. Today, it does just that. Nihiwatu offers guests seven luxury bungalows and three two-bedroom villas. The resort works tirelessly as providing for its guests as well as its local islanders. 95 percent of its staff is from the island itself, furthermore the resort strives to create opportunities for all islanders. It positions itself as an agent for the land and ocean. The result? Guests can expect to enjoy an incredible Indonesian experience, including world famous diving and picturesque scenery. They can also have the satisfaction of helping to the make part of the world a much better place.
2. Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK), Mexico
On the Yucatan Peninsula near the Mayan ruins of Tulum is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. It is the largest protected area on the Mexican Caribbean. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. CESiaK takes eco-friendly to a new a whole level. On its 1.3 million acre mix of beach and wetlands, guests are offered their own private raised cottage. CESiaK operates completely on sun and wind energy. They also utilize rainwater for water needs as well as a wetland waste treatment system. Not only is this eco-resort serious about its policies, it’s also serious about offering its guests the best experiences possible. Sea Kayaks are easily available, bird watching abundant, local fishing, hiking with local naturalists and plenty of hammocks available for a quiet afternoon. The possibilities are endless. Furthermore, all proceeds fund education and conservation programs at the Sian Ka’an including dune restoration and native plant propagation. This resort should be at the top of anyone’s list.