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
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.