ECO TOURISM cre­ative re­treats

Eco tourism is more than sim­ply en­joy­ing your sur­round­ings. Cre­ative re­treats are now fo­cus­ing on con­ser­va­tion and pro­vid­ing the ben­e­fits of iso­la­tion, con­nec­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment and of course trav­el­ling green and glam­orous. MICHELLE PRENDIVILLE in­vest

Travel Digest - - FRONT PAGE -

Eco tourists en­rich their mind, spirit and the lo­cal econ­omy with­out harm­ing the lo­cal ecosys­tem. More than any­thing, eco tourism is trav­el­ling with care and aware­ness that is di­rected to­wards ex­otic nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments, in­tended to sup­port con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and ob­serve wildlife.

Green Growth 2050 is the new global stan­dard be­ing in­tro­duced to en­cour­age sus­tain­able tourism and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions. It is de­signed to ac­com­mo­date the tourism in­dus­try by driv­ing so­cial, cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal change. One of the largest hos­pi­tal­ity and leisure com­pa­nies in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion, Mi­nor Ho­tel Group, has been the first to ce­ment it­self as one of the global lead­ers in sus­tain­able tourism by im­ple­ment­ing the Green Growth 2050 sus­tain­abil­ity so­lu­tion.

Travel has the art of be­ing able to in­spire cul­tural aware­ness, tol­er­ance and com­mit­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity. The jour­ney to be­com­ing an eco-tourist starts with an aware­ness that as a vi­tal part of the global tourism in­dus­try, trav­ellers have the power to help trans­form the way the world trav­els. The first way to turn travel into op­por­tu­ni­ties for positive change, is to start mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions and that be­gins with the choice of stay.

A grow­ing num­ber of re­gions across the earth are be­com­ing pop­u­lar eco tourism des­ti­na­tions. As far in the world as Costa Rica, to hum­ble begin­nings in New Zealand, all of the fol­low­ing re­treats are com­mit­ted to con­ser­va­tion, with the added value of style.

Resur­gence Lux­ury Eco Lodge, Pakowhai, New Zealand

Motueka’s eco gem was voted one of the world’s 25 best eco-lodges by the Na­tional Geo­graphic travel mag­a­zine. Resur­gence Lux­ury Eco Lodge cov­ers 50 acres of re­gen­er­at­ing na­tive rain for­est. Since 2003 sev­eral thou­sand na­tive trees have been planted in the area which have been eco-sourced from lo­cal sup­pli­ers, to pro­vide food and shel­ter for na­tive birds. All rooms at the lodge are de­signed to have a nat­u­ral air flow to ob­vi­ate the need for air-con­di­tion­ing. The main lodge is con­structed with re­cy­cled tim­bers with lo­cal wool car­pets and fab­rics. Their mis­sion is to de­velop a lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion in an ex­cep­tional set­ting that will be an ex­am­ple of sus­tain­abil­ity to the rest of the tourism in­dus­try. Waste man­age­ment, elec­tric­ity and water us­age are all closely mon­i­tored to help re­store the ecosys­tem. This lux­ury wilder­ness ex­pe­ri­ence brings you closer to the beau­ti­ful na­tive bush and birds in New Zealand. The Resur­gence is well suited to re­ju­ve­nat­ing va­ca­tions that em­brace re­lax­ation and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties.

Luna Lodge, Costa Rica

This se­cluded eco-lodge is set in the pris­tine and cap­ti­vat­ing Osa Penin­sula rain for­est, near Cor­co­v­ado Na­tional Park in south­west­ern Costa Rica. The Luna Lodge was con­structed by Costa Ri­can peo­ple with the is­sues of con­ser­va­tion and preser­va­tion of the rain­for­est a pri­or­ity. The lodge has been de­vel­oped with cre­ative ini­tia­tive and com­mit­ment to the ideals of ed­u­cat­ing visi­tors to be en­vi­ron­men­tally and cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive. Pre­pare to go hik­ing where you will share trails with sloths, tapirs, kinka­jous, anteaters, spi­der mon­keys and the oc­ca­sional jaguar. The eight stylish thatched roof bun­ga­lows have large win­dows and a high thatched-palm roof pro­vides am­ple air cir­cu­la­tion, while the walls of white cane add a dec­o­ra­tive rus­tic touch. Each room over­looks vast trop­i­cal rain­for­est and each have their own pri­vate trop­i­cal gar­dens. This ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­tremely rare and can­not be found any­where else in Costa Rica.

Scan­dic Si­monkenttä, Fin­land

The new-mil­len­nium Scan­dic Si­monkenttä is a gleam­ing ex­am­ple of what a big ur­ban ho­tel can do for the en­vi­ron­ment. This is a classic case of eco green, meet­ing ur­ban de­vel­op­ment right in the heart of down­town Helsinki. The ho­tel is one of Fin­land’s most well known eco-friendly places to stay and com­bines modern Scan­di­na­vian ar­chi­tec­ture and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly think­ing, in an el­e­gant man­ner. The 360 rooms in­cor­po­rate earth-friendly ma­te­ri­als through­out, from the parquet floors made of spe­cially cul­ti­vated Nordic trees to re­cy­cled rub­ber trash bins, to or­ganic bath prod­ucts. Green is the em­pha­sis at the Scan­dic, every­thing from its own struc­ture to en­sur­ing prod­ucts sold at the ho­tel are made with green tech­nolo­gies.

Con­cor­dia Eco Re­sort, US Vir­gin Is­lands

This amaz­ing des­ti­na­tion is set on a cliff above some of the finest snorkelling waters in the Caribbean. Con­cor­dia Eco Re­sort of­fers two dis­tinct types of ac­com­mo­da­tion. One be­ing Eco Tents, they are wood framed, soft-sided struc­tures that of­fer guests a more in­ti­mate con­nec­tion with the out­doors. Or the Eco Stu­dios with a full kitchen units, and ef­fi­ciency units are avail­able for the guest who prefers a more tra­di­tional room ex­pe­ri­ence. All look onto thou­sands of pris­tine acres that are right at the doorstep. The re­sort’s eco-cen­tric founder Stan­ley Se­lengut, first wel­comed guests to Maho Bay in Novem­ber 1976. These days the re­sort has ex­panded to 125 tree-house struc­tures that are the def­i­ni­tion of rest and re­lax­ation. Keep­ing with its deep con­nec­tion with the en­vi­ron­ment, Con­cor­dia has so­lar show­ers, translu­cent walls, heat-re­pelling roofs, fu­ton beds, re­frig­er­a­tors and med­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties for trav­ellers to con­nect with the en­vi­ron­ment.

Moskito Is­land, Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands

Moskito Is­land is in the un­spoiled Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands. The is­land cur­rently fea­tures a recre­ation area and a three-villa Bran­son Es­tate. Sir Richard Bran­son de­vel­oped this eco-re­sort that has five three-bed­room vil­las, a mas­sive cliff­side res­i­dence, na­ture trails open to the pub­lic, an or­ganic gar­den and or­chard, a swim­ming pool and ten­nis courts. The re­sort is on 125 acres of stun­ning par­adise, sur­rounded by turquoise Caribbean waters. The is­land is pow­ered us­ing so­lar pan­els and wind tur­bines. No diesel power is be­ing used on this all green is­land, util­is­ing wind and so­lar as part of its plan to green the is­land. Richard Bran­son wants the is­land to be a work­ing model for how other is­lands can cut ex­pen­sive diesel im­ports. Moskito Is­land is a pri­vate par­adise that is de­voted to sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and re­spect­ing the lo­cal com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­ment.

Couran Cove Is­land Re­sort, Aus­tralia

These lux­ury beach con­dos with a mind for con­ser­va­tion are sit­u­ated on South Strad­broke Is­land, just 40 min­utes from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Gold Coast’s Surfers

Par­adise. The style is sim­ple, pure, sus­tain­able, prac­ti­cal and per­fectly re­flects Aus­tralian tra­di­tions and her­itage in ar­chi­tec­ture. All ma­te­ri­als are from sus­tain­able re­sources, in par­tic­u­lar the use of tim­ber and glass. All of the cab­ins have so­lar hot water units and the ve­randa roof re­flects light and air across the curved ceil­ings, cre­at­ing an im­me­di­ate sense of space and light in the room. The ar­chi­tec­ture utilises nat­u­ral air flows, ma­te­ri­als and light­ing which has con­trib­uted to an over­all re­duc­tion of 85 per cent in green­house gas emis­sions within the re­sort, com­pared to a sim­i­lar sized con­ven­tional is­land re­sort, and 75 per cent com­pared to a typ­i­cal main­land house­hold. The prop­erty hired colourists to blend the build­ings against the bot­tle-blue sky and tawny plants. And tele­vi­sion screens let guests mon­i­tor their per­sonal us­age of water, gas and elec­tric­ity and the re­sult­ing green­house-gas emis­sions. This sandy is­land is wired with eco-friendly con­ve­niences.

Dain­tree Eco Lodge, Queens­land, Aus­tralia

Es­cape from the city life­style and im­merse your­self in the gen­tle warmth of the trop­ics. Visi­tors can en­gage in one of the most an­cient rain forests on earth that is just 90 min­utes north of Cairns on one of Aus­tralia’s most scenic drives.

The unique Dain­tree re­sort is one of the most awarded eco des­ti­na­tions in the world and pro­vides guests with a sense of re­mote­ness. Its sub­tle de­sign fea­tures re-styled bayans that op­ti­mise the sun and other nat­u­ral el­e­ments to cool, heat, light and ven­ti­late guest ar­eas with­out the use of any en­ergy. The on-site water sup­ply, rain­wa­ter catch­ment and bio­cy­cle waste treat­ment fa­cil­ity are just a few of the mea­sures used to re­duce en­ergy use, green­house and car­bon emis­sions.

Luna Lodge is set in a rain for­est, near Cor­co­v­ado Na­tional Park in south­west­ern Costa Rica.

Moskito Is­land in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands is Sir Richard Bran­son’s lat­est lux­ury eco- re­sort, pow­ered by so­lar pan­els and wind tur­bines.

Dain­tree Eco Lodge is in the midst of one of the most an­cient rain forests in Aus­trala­sia.

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