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Meet the destinations proving that high-end travel doesn’t have to cost the earth.
By Emma Al-Mousawi | April 21 2021
Thursday April 22 marks Earth Day, a global day of celebration for all things green which honors the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
So much has changed in the travel industry in the past year, never mind the past 50 years. But one phenomenon growing in prominence amongst travelers the world over is a desire to travel more responsibly.
A recent study by online travel giants booking.com into the future of travel revealed that over half (53%) of global travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future, citing the Coronavirus pandemic as one of the main drivers behind this shift. And the website believes this greener attitude towards travel is only set to grow throughout 2021.
As a salute to this special day, we have curated a selection of Earth Day hotels and resorts that are committed to doing their bit to help protect the planet, both on April 22 and beyond.
First on our list of Earth Day hotels and resorts is Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. The luxury retreat is striving to become the first carbon-neutral resort in the Maldives through its host of environmental initiatives on dry land but the hotel also has an extensive program of activity to protect its crystal clear waters. Its resident marine biologist, Samuel Dixon, has led coral restoration projects throughout the archipelago, including the development of Fairmont Maldives’ Coralarium.
Dixon also collaborates with conservation-focused non-profits to collect data on the resort’s manta rays and endangered hawksbill turtle populations to better understand these amphibious creature’s migration patterns and ensure their protection. Younger guests can join Dixon as part of the resort’s newly launched Turtle Ranger program, designed to educate the next generation of eco-conscious travelers on the importance of caring for the underwater environment. ‘Rangers’ are invited to patrol the beach in search of turtle nests. If a nest hatch happens during their stay, they will play a key role in releasing the baby turtles into the ocean.
For adults keen to do their bit to nurture the underwater world, the away-from-it-all resort of COMO Maalfushi invites guests to join its team of resident marine biologists on one of their Coral Propagation experiences. Maldivian coral reefs suffered two devastating bleaching events in 1998 and 2016 due to warming sea levels. While there is still a wealth of untouched reefs to snorkel and dive surrounding the private island resort, it is crucial to the country’s economy that all the islands’ coral flourishes.
The excursions are designed to educate guests on the diverse marine ecosystem and encourage coral to bloom via the planting of coral frames on the seafloor. The resort’s mission is to foster the growth of new reefs, allowing them to thrive in a bid to battle the disastrous effects of climate change.
Founded by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, all three Ted Turner Reserves (Vermejo, Ladder, Armendaris) are founded on the pillar of conservation and are home to an extensive list of innovative wildlife programs – including breeding endangered species such as the Bolson Tortoise, Chiricahua leopard frog and Mexican Wolf – helmed by the Turner Endangered Species Fund.
The 558,000-acre reserve of Vermejo is set in the dazzling mountain landscape of Northern New Mexico and is the largest of the three reserves. Purchased by Turner nearly 25 years ago with the aim of restoring the native ecosystem, the reserve works to rehabilitate an array of endangered species such as the precious Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout and the unique Castle Rock Bison. This genetically unique bison is especially important for supporting efforts to re-establish wild herds and maintaining the genetic diversity of the species.
Preferred Hotel Group is no stranger to sustainable tourism with its own philanthropic program and the recent launch of its new luxury eco-hotel portfolio called Beyond Green. The new collection launched in 2020 with 24 founding members, all of which are strongly committed to sustainable tourism, protecting natural and cultural heritage and contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.
In honor of Earth Day, the exclusive hotel group has launched ‘I Prefer Points for Good’, giving travelers the chance to exchange the points they have earned through membership of the group’s established loyalty program into cash donations for the Ocean Heros Network. The international charity supports emerging youth leaders to transform their passion for marine conservation into pioneering careers.
On the edge of the steep rainforest-covered slopes of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park sits the luxurious hideaway of Singita Kwitonda Lodge which houses eight suites and Kataza House, an exclusive four-bedroom villa. But this is so much more than a five-star retreat.
Named after the gentle-natured Kwitonda Silverback Gorilla, the property has been built sustainably from the ground up. Working in partnership with the Rwandan Development Board and local communities, Singita is committed to a long-term approach to conservation in this special landscape. The presence of the lodge on the park border creates a natural space between agricultural plots and the habitat of the estimated 320 mountain gorillas that call the area home. In a bid to combat deforestation and restore the gorilla’s natural surroundings, the lodge’s on-site nursery has to date provided approximately 250,000 indigenous forest shrubs, bamboo shoots and trees.
Singita hopes to be able to assist the Rwandan government in finding solutions to increase gorilla habitat while remaining sensitive in supporting surrounding communities to prosper economically.
Six tropical islands in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, located between Malaysia and Borneo, make up the stunning eco-focused Bawah Reserve. The stunning resort is the first to be certified by WWF Indonesia’s Signing Blue program, recognizing its commitment to sustainability, community welfare and marine conservation.
Bawah’s surrounding waters are amongst some of the planet’s most diverse and in order to ensure they remain protected, the reserve launched the Anambas Foundation. The independent charity works alongside local communities and provides education on the negative impacts of overfishing and waste management. In 2020, the foundation launched a series of successful new initiatives focused on mangrove plantation along the neighboring Anambas Islands’ coastline. These act as a green belt area that withstands ocean waves, preventing abrasion and erosion and encouraging marine life to flourish.
25 years ago, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America. This all changed in 1996 when the government made it illegal and set up a program to pay farmers to protect the hugely valuable natural landscape. Today, the national parks cover over 25% of the country’s land helping secure Costa Rica as a haven for approximately 500,000 species of wildlife including the much-adored sloth.
Committed to the cause is Nayara Resorts, which has planted 40,000 indigenous trees helping to restore this magical country back to its former glory as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations. The luxury travel company’s newest property, the spectacular Nayara Tented Camp, sits on an area that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Now set in vibrant natural rainforest, it has its own sloth sanctuary with over 1,000 Cecropia trees (the sloth’s main food source) and serves as home to 15 sloths.
From China to Kenya to Bermuda, a collection of Fairmont hotels across the globe have been partaking in the group’s Bee Sustainable program – a bee-focused initiative that supports habitat protection, pollination of gardens and flowers, and bee health.
This includes the Fairmont Waterfront located in the heart of Vancouver which is the final property on our list of Earth Day Hotels and Resorts. The luxury hotel has partnered with the charity Hives for Humanity to introduce mason bees to its garden as part of the larger Pollinator Corridor Project, which aims to build Vancouver’s local bee populations. While these super pollinators don’t produce honey, they are an essential part of the ecosystem. Fairmont Waterfront has also created its very own Bee Space—a permanent bee ‘hotel’ that enables Hives for Humanity to continue their community program throughout the chilly winter months.