As the scope of sustainable travel has grown, remote ecolodges have inspired new ways to tread lightly and care for local communities and the environment. The paradigm now embraces geothermal energy, upcycled furniture, and sourcing food directly from farms—initiatives found in lodgings that range from safari camps to urban hot spots.
Big players in the hospitality world, such as Hilton Hotels & Resorts, with the new LEED Gold-designed Lodge at Gulf State Park—are catching up to pioneers like the award-winning Cayuga Collection, often using their size to sway guests and staff to focus on responsible travel. Whether you’re headed to the backcountry or the big city, these new accommodations offer overnights that put sustainability in style.
Designer Bill Bensley constructed Shinta Mani Wild on the border of Southern Cardamom National Park in west Cambodia to help protect the surrounding 860-acre forest. A National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, the complex features 15 luxe tents cantilevered over a jungle river, each sporting a theme—National Geographic is one—and an outdoor bathtub. Guests can arrive via zipline and fill their visits with picnicking by waterfalls, hiking, and helping rangers check wilderness cameras that deter poaching. The staff of 120 includes former poachers and loggers. (www.shintamani.com)
Partnering with African Parks and Rwanda’s Development Board, Wilderness Safaris’ Magashi Camp aims to make the 2,50,000-acre Akagera National Park economically self-sufficient. The six solar-powered tents frame lake, savanna, and wildlife views. (wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/magashi)
Just eight beachfront casitas and one villa share Isla Palenque, a 400-acre private island resort in the Pacific’s Gulf of Chiriquí. Built sustainably and staffed by locals, this National Geographic Unique Lodge invites each guest to plant a tree. (www.islapalenque.com)
Built of bamboo and earthen blocks produced on-site, and provisioned by organic kitchen gardens, 18-room Cannúa presides over 27 acres (22 are protected forest) in biodiverse Antioquia. Visit coffee farms, hike ancient trails, and spot wild parrots. (cannua.com/en)
The heating mechanism for Valsana Hotel & Appartements in the alpine village of Arosa? An “ice battery” that stores geothermal energy. Check in to the hotel, built partly with recycled materials, to check out the skiing, hiking, and lake swimming. (valsana.ch/en)
The floating, Haida-owned Ocean House resort, on pristine Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, immerses guests in nature and Haida culture. Artists often headline multinight packages that feature tours of traditional villages and kayak excursions. (www.oceanhouse.ca)
Aiming for LEED Silver certification, Hotel Cerro in San Luis Obispo bans single-use plastics and provides reusable water bottles and filling stations. The hotel’s Edible Gardens, where guests can forage, grow organic veggies for Brasserie SLO. (www.hotelcerro.com)
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge frames views of Manhattan from the foot of its historic namesake. The design channels nature with a green wall in the lobby and moss planters in the guest rooms. Behind the scenes: efficient heating/cooling and rainwater reclamation. (www.1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge)
The Babai River Camp is set up on demand, introducing safari-style lodging to Bardia National Park, where rhinos, elephants, and endangered Bengal tigers (56 at last count) roam. Guests can help deliver water filters to locals protecting the park. (nepalecocamp.com)
Sundy Praia’s 15 tented villas sit on Príncipe Island, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Explore rainforests and reefs from this National Geographic Unique Lodge where guests can recycle glass into jewellery and take jaunts in traditional local canoes called pirogues. (sundyprincipe.com)
Six townhomes in London’s Paddington district have been converted into the 89-room Inhabit. Nordic minimalism sets the scene for wellness (think Peloton bikes and meditation), plant-based foods, and furniture made by a social-enterprise factory. (www.inhabithotels.com)
Set amid six islands in the Anambas archipelago, Bawah Reserve lodges travellers in 35 overwater bungalows and bamboo-walled suites. Discover a dozen beaches, plus dive sites that offer access to reefs in the surrounding marine preserve. Self-sustaining measures include an ambitious permaculture operation spanning agriculture and landscaping. (www.bawahreserve.com)
Offshore reefs and 63 beaches draw divers and surfers to car-free Rottnest Island, where the Discovery Rottnest Island resort has introduced 83 “eco-tents” linked by boardwalks to reduce erosion—and protect the native, cat-size quokka. (www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au/discovery-rottnest-island)