Meet the World’s Most Sustainable New Hotels
As travelers start moving around the world again after our long pause, this year’s Stay List focuses on what matters most for our collective path forward: sustainability. These 14 hotels set the standard for what the most environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and community-centered hotels can be in 2021. These properties minimize their impact on the planet, connect travelers to their destinations in mutually beneficial ways, and exemplify an intentional, inclusive approach to hospitality. They’re also, quite simply, incredible retreats that offer their guests sublime experiences. Read on for the world’s most exceptional new and renovated hotels committed to making travel a force for good. —Jennifer Flowers
North and Central America
Designed by the prominent Mexican architect Alberto Kalach, Puerto Escondido’s Casona Sforza is one of the most visually striking new hotels in Mexico. Built using local brick, the open-air guest rooms and public spaces feature dramatic arched ceilings of varying heights. The 11 suites showcase regional Mexican crafts, from the patterned rugs of Teotitlán del Valle to the cabinetry and ceramics of the Oaxacan highlands. Some of the pieces were made by artisans at Pueblo del Sol, a nearby social project created by Casona Sforza founder Ezequiel Ayarza Sforza to bring economic opportunities to Indigenous communities.
Book Now: From $290, casonasforza.com
The cofounders of the beauty brand Fresh opened this belle époque–inspired retreat in Hudson, a former factory town two hours north of Manhattan by train. Comprising 11 rooms in three historic buildings—one is a Georgian mansion—the Maker mixes European and American antiques with the works of local artisans, including water decanters from Pierre Bowring of BowGlass Works and floral wall motifs inspired by Victoria Maxfield. Throughout the hotel, guests can feel the connection to past and place: the Hudson Valley master craftsman Gary Keegan restored original architectural details.
Book Now: From $425, themaker.com
Paradero Todos Santos
At Paradero, the beaches and galleries of Todos Santos—a surf town about 70 miles northwest of San José del Cabo Airport—are an undeniable draw. But Pablo Carmona and Joshua Kremer, the Mexico City–based founders of this indoor-outdoor retreat, have gone to great lengths to offer experiences that go beyond the ocean. Paradero’s 35 suites, some with soaking tubs and firepits, were designed to blend in with the desert landscape, with rough concrete walls and handcrafted Mexican furnishings. They’re a perfect base for an art and architecture walk in town, or an invigorating hike for a closer look at dozens of plant species, including Mojave yucca and Shaw’s agave.
Turtle Bay Resort
The team behind this resort on O‘ahu’s North Shore has long been committed to its sustainability scorecard. In 2009, they established a Green Committee to focus on lowering the property’s carbon footprint. Since then they’ve installed a solar roof, boosted recycling efforts, and established monthly staff beach cleanups and upcycling programs. The hotel has also set aside close to half its 1,300 acres of private land strictly for conservation. A recent renovation embraces that planet-first philosophy: Walls in the lobby were removed to make way for large windows showcasing ocean views, and works by Native Hawaiian printmaking artist Abigail Romanchak welcome guests.
Set along the sparkling waters of the Golfo Dulce on the Pacific coast, the six canopy suites at Cielo Lodge run on solar power and a micro-hydropower system, and come stocked with biodegradable soaps and other amenities. The 380-acre property, which features both primary and secondary rain forest that was partially logged 60 years ago, is a regeneration story in the making: Cielo has partnered with the National Forestry Financing Fund to reforest the land, and together they’ve planted more than 4,000 endemic trees to date. The lodge also partners with a number of NGOs to help monitor the area’s wildlife, which includes jaguars and sea turtles.
A former post office dating to 1912 (and set next to Tivoli Gardens) houses Villa Copenhagen, a 390-room property that has integrated several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into its operation. Conscientious features include the rooftop pool heated by excess energy from the hotel’s cooling systems; the handsome, neutral-toned Earth Suite created by Danish architect Eva Harlou using only recycled materials and textiles; and the simple yet chic staff uniforms designed by Sur le Chemin, a Danish fashion brand focused on sustainability. Dining at Villa Copenhagen is a zero-food-waste affair, and the fresh pastries and breads from the in-house bakery, Rug, are not to be missed.
The Pig at Harlyn Bay
For more than a decade, British hotelier Robin Hutson and his wife, Judy, have been adding to their growing empire of Pig hotels, a group of cozy, food-centric countryside getaways. The Hutsons’ seventh project, the sea-facing Pig at Harlyn Bay, is set in a 15th-century former Cornwall residence surrounded by pesticide-free gardens. Several of the 26 rooms are outfitted with four-poster beds, and guests can borrow Hunterwellies for exploring outdoors—rain or shine. In the wood-paneled dining room, the menu revolves around seasonal meat, fish, and produce sourced from no farther than 25 miles away.
Book Now: From $185, pigatharlynbay.com
Italy’s Alpine wonderland has long been considered a wellness destination, thanks in part to the region’s high altitude, fresh air, and extensive trail network. In everything from its minimalist architecture to its spa treatments, Forestis Dolomites reflects the natural surroundings. Locally based owners Teresa Unterthiner and Stefan Hinteregger created an ecoconscious sybarite’s dream: The glass-and-stone property, designed by area architect Armin Sader, runs entirely on renewable energy, and all 62 guest rooms are clad in natural woods and equipped with biodegradable amenities. Large windows and terraces showcase the surrounding forests and mountains.
Book Now: From $590, forestis.it/en
Oceania and Asia
The Johri at Lal Haveli
Jaipur’s most famous hotels tend to be palatial affairs removed from city life, but a duo of young Indian hoteliers have opened an intimate new property that puts guests right in the thick of things. The Johri at Lal Haveli is built in a 19th-century merchant family’s haveli, or manor, within an ancient bazaar. The five guest rooms, which face a peaceful interior courtyard, are maximalist displays of color and texture, with scalloped arches and latticework made mainly of materials found in Rajasthan. Don’t miss dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, where chef Sonu Kumar prepares organic vegetarian dishes, including truffle cheese kulcha (a flaky bread) and tandoor oven–cooked, yogurt-marinated broccoli.
Book Now: From $300, thejohrijaipur.com
New Zealand’s greenest new hotel is part of a larger waterfront revitalization project in central Auckland some 16 years in the making. Hotel Britomart snagged the highest rating from the third-party New Zealand Green Building Council, thanks to its extraordinary efforts: Builders reused or recycled 90 percent of hotel construction waste; mixed captured or reclaimed water with the building’s carbon-intensive concrete; and constructed with bricks made of 80 percent recycled concrete. The handsome dark wood in the 99 guest rooms is reclaimed timber, plumbing is all low-flow, and neutral-hued linens are made with fair trade fabrics.
One of Beirut’s most exciting new hotels is a tapestry of Lebanon’s past, present, and future. Zoe and Nabil Debs, a British Lebanese couple, reimagined four Ottoman-era buildings in the Gemmayzeh neighborhood, creating 23 rooms and suites with stone walls and high ceilings that invite in natural light. The buildings, which are part of Nabil’s family estate, provide the backdrop for their art collection, which features Byzantine-era works and other archaeologically significant pieces. In the wake of last year’s deadly Beirut explosion, which damaged the hotel on the day it was set to open, the Debses organized an exhibit to raise funds for Red Cross Lebanon—and opened the hotel a month later.
Habitas, a sustainability-centered company, opened its latest property in January in sandswept Namibia. In keeping with the company’s mission, Habitas Namibia was built with modular structures to reduce waste of resources, offsetting its modest footprint by funding reforestation projects. The 15 solar-powered, canvas-walled tents are set on a private, 120,000-acre wildlife reserve that was once a hunting area, and the hotel is staffed by locals through a partnership with the nonprofit group Saira Hospitality. While the resident white rhinos, giraffes, and hippos are a thrill to encounter, the retreat puts a heavy emphasis on cultural programming, offering medicinal plant workshops, drum circles, and a pop-up bush braai dinner experience.
The owners of Sussurro, a new lodge set along a turquoise lagoon in southern Mozambique, pulled out all the stops to ensure that the hotel treads as lightly on its habitat as possible. The six bungalows, inspired by the regional architecture, were built using primarily natural and local materials. About 90 percent of the resort’s energy is renewable, thanks in large part to solar power. Meals in the dining room use ingredients from neighboring fishing and farming operations. Travelers spend their days scuba diving, exploring the water on a traditional dhow, or journeying inland for a safari in the wildlife-filled Gorongosa National Park.
Book Now: From $495, sussurro.co
The most innovative way to stay in South Africa’s Kruger National Park offers a rare look at the social history of the country’s famous wilderness. Kruger Shalati hovers 50 feet above the Sabie River on a retired train track that carried Kruger’s earliest visitors into the park about a century ago. Developed by Motsamayi Tourism Group, which describes itself as South Africa’s oldest Black-empowered tourism group, Kruger Shalati offers 31 guest rooms (some fashioned out of refurbished train carriages) where travelers can look down at waters filled with crocs, hippos, and elephants.