From an Argentine wine getaway to a Tesla-powered resort in Fiji, these resorts make going green even more glam.
The year may have only just begun, but it’s never too early to need a vacation. Whether you’re seeking an escape from cold temps, work stress, or your news alerts, these eight eco-conscious resorts (all opened or enhanced in the past two years or opening by mid-2018) help you disconnect from the madness—then reconnect with what’s important. A nearly private island in Panama, a hideaway in the untouched Andaman Islands, a treetop safari “skybed” under the stars—wherever you choose, just leave the phone charger at home.
This unique combo experience connects guests to the sights, sounds, and wildlife residents of Botswana’s Khwai Private Reserve. Launched in 2016, Skybeds are a series of three-story-high platforms set in the middle of the reserve, overlooking a watering hole frequented by elephants, wildebeests, lions, and more. Each “pod” features a fully functioning bathroom, living space, and—at the very top—a cushy double bed that’s totally open to the stars, making for the ultimate “disconnected” stay. After a couple of days among the trees, check-in to nearby sister camp, Sable Alley (opened in 2017), to enjoy spacious, upscale tents (with outdoor showers and private verandas overlooking a lagoon) and engaging safari activities. Both camps are part of the Natural Selection collection and boast such green practices as solar power, water treatment programs, and sustainable bath amenities.
Set on 17 acres sandwiched between virgin mangrove forests and a sandy Gulf of Papagayo beach, this LEED-certified hideaway originally opened in 2014, then was relaunched as an Autograph Collection resort in 2016. The 85 suites help you destress with touches like in-room hammocks and see-through showers (each lined with paneling from local sugarcane). The public spaces include a sweeping outdoor pool and spa bungalows with private gardens and open-air massage decks. (Also relaxing: the all-inclusive meal and beverage option, which eliminates the need to ever see a bill.) In addition to its sustainable operational and design elements, the resort honors the location with a range of community initiatives, from leading local children in English classes and beach clean-up days to donating organic waste to a nonprofit pig-feeding project in nearby Playa Panama.
This March, all eyes are on India’s remote Andaman Islands chain, where—on a Bay of Bengal-fronted beach on Havelock Island—the venerable Taj brand is launching what is set to be the region’s top eco-luxe resort. From a base at one of the 75 low-rise villas—designed in the style of traditional Jarawa huts (albeit with luxurious furnishings and amenities)—soak up the stunning surroundings with kayaking trips through the mangroves, underwater photography sessions along the coral reefs, or a lazy day on the beach, under the shade of coconut and aracknut trees. Designed with a light footprint to help the island’s fragile ecosystem, the resort features its own bottling plant (to cut down on the use of plastic bottles) and sustainable waste management system, and it boasts an on-property naturalist who works with area authorities to help ensure the preservation of marine and bird life around the property.
British Virgin Islands
Relaunching following the hurricanes of 2017, this resort community on Virgin Gorda’s north shore adheres to developer David V. Johnson’s philosophy of being “in harmony with nature.” Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the resort worked with the BVI government to make solar power legal, and it now uses the renewable resource to run everything on the resort, such as the air-conditioning, water heaters, “turtle friendly” public lighting, and desalination plants. Explore the car-free community via bike or electric golf cart, enjoying amenities like the pool, spa, restaurants, and educational Nature Center. Accommodations range from suites to multi-bedroom villas; the first restored villas will begin rolling out in March.
Escape to paradise—aka Fiji’s Malolo Island—this April, when the Six Senses brand brings its signature eco-luxe style to the South Pacific. Set on a secluded bay with 2,100-feet of private, golden beach, Six Senses Fiji makes it easy to disconnect with a range of distractions, from on-site perks like a Wellness Village—with pampering spa treatments, a make-your-own-products “alchemy bar,” and a treetop yoga pavilion—to activities like snorkeling, tennis, and surfing on nearby reef breaks. The 24 breezy suites and villas feature thatched roofs, private pools, and plenty of outdoor lounging space, all backed by panoramic views. In addition to following Six Senses’ extensive sustainable and conservation practices, the resort features extra-green touches like 100 percent solar energy powered by Fiji’s largest microgrid, which uses Tesla batteries.
It’s easy to get away from it all at this Panamanian resort, set to open in June 2018: With just eight beach suites and six vacation rental villas, there’s never going to be too many other people crowding your tropical paradise. Arriving by boat from Boca Chica (transfers are included, as are three meals a day), you’ll find untouched beaches, wilderness trails, and shimmering ocean views providing the backdrop for an intimate resort that feels at once remote and exotic and—thanks to the friendly staff—like a comfortable family getaway. The developers are committed to keeping the island pristine and wild, building on only 5 percent and maintaining the rest as a nature reserve—which you can explore with hikes, canopy tours, kayaking, bird watching treks, and fishing excursions. Structures made of local teak and furniture crafted from trees that naturally fell on the island add to the green vibe.
Envisioned by Argentine architect Alberto Tonconogy, the Casa de Uco resort in the heart of Mendoza wine country opened in 2014 with 16 rooms, all crafted using local materials and set in front of the Andes Mountains and sun-soaked vineyards. With the early 2018 launch of a collection of villas, the resort’s eco-factor jumped to another level. Featuring green rooftops, geothermal energy under the floors and behind the walls, self-contained water and heating systems, and solar panels charged by the region’s 330 days of annual sunlight, the villas cushion you in conscious contemporary luxury. Savor gourmet meals prepared using estate-grown products—paired with plenty of Mendoza-made wine, of course—then explore those fertile lands via foot, bike, or horseback. Wine-infused spa treatments, mountain-view hot tubs, and rooftop yoga offer more ways to clear the mind.
Set at the intersection of the rain forest and the reef, in the southern Belize beach town of Placencia, Itz’ana melds sophisticated design (from NYC-based Samuel Amoia) with plenty of relaxed, tropical charm. Born from the owners’ dedication to “mission-driven luxury,” the resort’s three pillars of sustainability focus on Natural Conservation (represented by the carbon-neutral villas and organic, farm-to-table cuisine); Health & Wellness (including both guest experiences and community initiatives); and Arts & Heritage (with a focus on preserving Mayan traditions and art forms.) Explore the region with trips to Mayan ruins, underwater caves, coral reefs, and jaguar reserves, or stay put around the negative-edge pool.