Looking for a low-carbon holiday in an exceptional natural environment? How about an eco-resort that combines stunning scenery with environmentally-conscious credentials? Some new hotels and resorts are prioritising sustainability and are exploring ways to limit their impact on the environment. Here are a few notable new openings or soon-to-open eco-friendly resorts that offer a sustainable escape to travellers looking to minimise their eco-footprint.
Related | European trails to try this summer
The exceptional natural environment of Miriandhoo, on the coral island of Baa Atoll, inspired a team of Milan-based architects (PEIA Associati) who wanted to create a sustainable escape in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Baa Atoll is a UNESCO biosphere reserve site with rich biodiversity and one of the biggest coral reefs in this part of the world. Neighbouring Hanifaru Bay, known for being the largest gathering place for manta rays, is a popular spot with underwater enthusiasts and promises unforgettable beauty.
The 70 over-water island villas and suites opened in October 2018. They were built using natural materials and feature double roofs to allow for natural ventilation, bathrooms that open to the outdoors and a few have the extra perk of a plunge pool.
Green measures have been put in place to minimise the environmental impact such as introducing reusable glass bottles to replace plastic and a desalination system to transform seawater into purified drinking water. Metal and plastic waste is recycled and rooftops have been fitted with solar panels and hydroponic gardens, while the use of electric boats keeps emissions down.
Related | Eco-resort: Ayurveda by the beach
How about a Zero Vacation on Zero Island? This innovative project was launched earlier this year on the island of Lidö, one of the islands of an archipelago just north-east of Stockholm. Behind the project is Neste, a Finnish company which produces renewable fuels and has been listed as the third most sustainable company in the world according to the Global 100 Index ranking.
Lidö island is protected as a national conservation site and is a popular vacation spot for Swedish families. Eco-travellers looking for a low-impact holiday can stay in the chic Nolla Cabin, created by Finnish designer Robin Falck. Built from sustainable wood and other materials, the compact 10m2 cabin has a peaked roof resembling a tent and its glass wall allows in a lot of natural light. The electricity is produced by the solar panels fitted on the roof, while the stove and heating are powered by renewable diesel that's produced from waste.
Georgia has been on many adventure seekers' radars lately and is particularly popular among trekkers who have a penchant for slow travel and want to explore the rugged beauty of the Caucasus Mountains. Those looking for eco-friendly lodgings with a bit of luxury thrown in will want to check in at Hotel Samzeo. This will be the first hotel of its kind to open in Omalo, a hilltop village of rustic stone houses and sweeping mountain views in remote Tusheti, a region of nature reserves and protected landscapes.
Set to open in July 2019, this sustainable boutique-style hotel has 43 rooms, 10 luxury suites, two apartments and is powered entirely by solar energy. The on-site spa is the ideal relaxing spot to recover after a day of exploring the forest-covered mountainous landscapes of the region and nearby Tusheti National Park. On the restaurant menu is traditional Georgian cuisine and local wines.
Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti is due to open in August 2019. This eco-friendly retreat is tucked away in the forests, mountains and waterfalls of Italy's South Tyrol (Alto Adige) region. Located in the ski area of Madonna di Campiglio in Pinzolo, the backdrop is the majestic Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This eco-resort has been built using natural materials like stone and wood to blend in with the surrounding landscape and 60 per cent of its energy comes from renewable sources. A highlight of the resort is the massive 5000-square-metre spa, Italy's first ecological spa certified by Ecocert. Spread over four levels, this is one of the largest spas in the Alps, with a dedicated wellness area for families, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a large whirlpool, nine saunas, and a 24-hour fitness centre.
A tribute to Nikola Tesla, T-Nest will open its doors this October in Lika, the region of Croatia where the inventor and innovator was born. This luxury eco-resort is made up of a collection of 70 wooden villas situated around a natural lake in a scenic forest landscape. Its green credentials include: a natural pool with a self-cleaning system, cycling and walking trails – including an elevated 'tree canopy trail', an organic herb and vegetable garden and greenhouses designed to supply the two on-site restaurants. Visitors can zip around the vast resort on electric carts or bicycles, or they can hire a Tesla electric car to explore the region.
The villas are embellished with decorative details by local craftsmen and contemporary Croatian art. Getting close to nature does not mean forgoing little luxuries: all the villas are fitted with audio and video systems, Wi-Fi and Jacuzzis, while a few of the larger units include notable extras like private saunas and plunge pools.
Words: Isabel Putinja