El cascajo, Ecuador
Pikaia LodgeSet on two extinct volcanic craters 450 feet above sea level in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the extremely high-end (but still carbon neutral) Pikaia Lodge, which opened in mid-2014, is unlike anything the Galapagos has ever seen. With strict building regulations on the highly fragile islands, Pikaia, owned by a live-aboard dive yacht impresario, was the first lodge to be granted a building permit in more than a decade, and the lodge is built entirely of recycled materials. The terrain, a mix of dry savanna and tropical highland forest, was regenerated with 12,000 endemic trees and grazing habitats for giant tortoises, for which Pikaia created its own private reserve. The entire all-inclusive property is powered with portable Eolic wind generators and soundproof electric generators using clean biodiesel.
Despite the ecofriendly ethos of the property, there is no shortage of all-out luxury, from the infinity pool that’s softly illuminated at night, to the cushy spa or the lounge with a 3-D HDTV screen for lectures and videos. There’s also a contemporary restaurant and a wellness center on-site, plus two slick yachts used for excursions to neighboring islands and dive trips.