Ecotourism is growing in popularity. People want to know that their travels do not harm the environment. It is an essential part of sustainable tourism.
Travelers want to visit destinations that are preserving the environment and culture of the area. They expect nothing less from their accommodation.
An ecohotel provides accommodation in a facility that includes structural and functional features that minimize environmental impact.
These are some of the characteristics of a good ecohotel:
- Biodiversity sustainability is vital for an ecohotel. The hotel’s presence should not be a foreseeable threat to the area’s biodiversity. The facility should be acting to conserve the environment surrounding it.
- Sustainability is necessary for an ecohotel. One of the core levers of sustainability is uplifting the surrounding communities. Locals should get jobs, and there should be a strong emphasis on educational campaigns to maintain and preserve the environment.
- An ecohotel makes use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and water generated electricity. Electricity efficiency is another factor. Even if the hotel produces its electricity, power should still be used sparingly.
- An ecohotel sources fresh food from local producers who farm sustainably. Some hotels go as far as growing their vegetables.
- A good ecohotel will also have a robust recycling program involving all recyclable products. They include paper, plastic, glass, and water.
These are eight of the world’s best ecohotels:
1. Hoshinoya Karuizawa – Nagano, Japan
The tranquil resort is a surprisingly short drive from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Hoshinoya Karuizawa resembles a small village, with guest pavilions to suit every taste.
The resort and its surroundings offer the avid birdwatcher a veritable paradise with a diverse number of species.
The accommodation was built around trees that are centuries old. The rivers that run down from Mount Asama were left as they were during construction.
The trees, river and the surrounding area were the main features considered when designing the resort’s unique architecture.
The river system is crucial as it helps to create hydroelectricity that covers about 70% of the hotel’s power consumption. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Japan as the temperatures are mild making outdoor activities enjoyable.
The good weather makes it possible to enjoy the natural low-alkaline waters in the indoor stone bath, open-air bath, and sauna. These waters are said to have restorative and therapeutic properties.
2. Mombo Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana’s vast and well-renowned Okavango Delta boasts a unique landscape and the diversity of its wildlife. Visitors to Botswana should travel there between spring and autumn.
Summer temperatures are searing but once the rains come the area is a haven for many wildlife species.
Mombo Camp offers nine large tented suites, elevated above the ground to minimize the camp’s carbon footprint.
Nearby waterholes attract animals at sunset and are the perfect place to view both predators and prey as they slake their thirst. There are also game drives during the day.
The lodge uses solar power to generate 100% of its electricity needs. The African sun shines almost every day making it easy to generate solar electricity.
The lodge’s wastewater is treated in a special water cleaning plant before reentering the environment. The area is home to Botswana’s Rhino Reintroduction Project which has increased the area’s population of the highly endangered white and black rhino species.
3. Finca Rosa Blanca Inn – Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a haven for eco-tourists. The country has shown that tourism can be lucrative and sustainable. Just a short drive from the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, lies an eco-accommodation gem.
The inn sits in an organic coffee plantation. It is set against the dramatic backdrop of some of Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes.
For the coffee lover, Finca Rosa Blanca offers a chance to go on a tour of the plantation and finish with a tasting of different Costa Rican coffees.
Coffeeberry tasting is an additional feature of the tour during the coffee picking season which takes place around December.
The inn’s entire electrical system is housed underground so that wires and transformers cannot harm the local wildlife.
Sustaining the culture, environment, and economy of the local community is a priority. The inn ensures it provides income and education to the people that live around it.
4. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – Hawaii, USA
This resort has 290 rooms and suites as well as seven villas. Its proximity to the white sands and blue waters of the Pacific Ocean only makes it more attractive.
Despite its size, the resort was built with sustainability in mind.
The hotel forms part of the Hyatt Group which has corporate and social responsibility programs to benefit local people.
Hawaii has limited resources, and the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort aims to use them sparingly.
Solar power generates hot water, and there are low flow plumbing fixtures throughout the buildings to minimize water wastage.
All lighting is activated and deactivated motion sensors to reduce the amount of electricity wasted by leaving lights switched on.
Chillers and room temperature controls are automized to keep power usage to a minimum. This is the perfect place for the ecotourist who likes luxury accommodation.
Hawaii’s temperate climate makes it an attractive destination throughout the year.
5. Blue Apple – Cartagena, Columbia
The retreat is situated on a deserted island just off the southern shore of Tierra Bomba Island. It is a short drive from the thriving city of Cartagena.
The beach club welcomes day visitors and has ten rooms and bungalows for overnight guests.
The retreat shares the island with a village called Bocachica. It remains underdeveloped with limited access to resources and high levels of illiteracy and unemployment.
Electricity supply is sporadic. There is no piped water supply and limited waterborne sewerage.
The Blue Apple empowers the village by offering residents employment. Locals conduct many activities offered by the retreat such as walking and dirtbike tours.
All staff members have access to English lessons. Local fish appear on the menu and care is taken to make sure the demand doesn’t result in overfishing.
The retreat has its own compost facility complete with worm farms where thousands of kilograms of waste have been repurposed. There are also ten kitchen gardens on the island where most of the fruit and vegetables used in the menu are grown.
There are also ten kitchen gardens on the island where most of the fruit and vegetables used in the menu are grown.
6. Jalakara – Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman Islands are found in India’s Bay of Bengal. Jalakara sits on a former banana and nut plantation. Seven luxury rooms house the guests. They are scattered across the island, offering visitors privacy and tranquility.
Visitors get to interact with nature but reminded to enjoy it without destroying it. There are hiking tours, and one of the greatest highlights is the chance to snorkel among the turtles off the island’s shores.
The hotel swimming pool operates on rainwater alone. Harvested rainwater is kept it full. The visitor will be hard-pressed to find any plastic products at the resort as they are not allowed.
Nor are chemical cleaners that are harmful to the environment. Visitors should avoid the monsoon season and travel to Jalakara between October and March.
7. Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses – Kaikoura, New Zealand
For the discerning tourist, the Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses on New Zealand’s South Island offers a unique experience. There are five treehouses above the canopy of a manuka grove.
They offer some of the most spectacular views of the ocean that the seaside town of Kaikoura has to offer. The visitor can also view Kaikoura’s mountain landscape from the treehouses as they provide a 360° view of the area. The lodge itself has six guest rooms.
The owners took care to build the treehouses form sustainable and recycled materials. Much of the furniture is handmade from local materials. The trees in the area had been cleared away over the years to make way for grazing land for sheep.
The former sheep farm is being repopulated with native trees, and indigenous bird species are being reintroduced into the area. For each night that a guest stays over, the owners plant a tree. Over 11,000 trees have been planted so far.
8. Borgo Pignano – Tuscany, Italy
The hotel is hidden amid 750 acres of olive groves, vineyards, and gardens. The main part of the hotel is a converted 18th-century villa.
The outer buildings also form part of the accommodations. Any new buildings added are carefully crafted to fit in with the original aesthetic.
One of the best activities that visitors can indulge in is horseback riding through the surrounding areas.
The groves, vineyards, and gardens are farmed organically, and many of the menu items include the harvested produce as ingredients. Rainwater is collected and stored to irrigate the crops grown on the land.
The restoration of the villa was painstakingly completed with sustainability in mind. The plaster used is 100% organic, and eco-paints were used to achieve the rustic, traditional Tuscan effect.
Solar panels were installed to fuel the heating systems partially. Chip-fired boilers supply the rest of the energy to keep the hotel heated.