Travellers have undergone a shift in conscious and are looking for more sustainable, responsible options!
Globetrotters have recently undergone a shift in consciousness and are today seeking travel experiences that are not only luxurious but also responsible, sustainable and authentic.
They’re much more aware of the effect of their explorations and are looking for options that allow them to embrace the beauty of nature and relax in well-appointed settings, while being mindful of the local environment and culture.
We’re massive advocates of this trend and so we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite resorts trailblazing the ‘conscious travel’ space.
INDONESIA – Bawah Reserve
Situated 300km north-east of Singapore at the southern end of Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago, Bawah Reserve is an intimate, luxuriously-sustainable retreat featuring 35 standalone suites and over-the-water bungalows that have been developed with the preservation of the island’s natural beauty in mind.
Accessible exclusively via the resort’s own amphibious seaplane, Bawah Reserve – and its six previously uninhabited, forest-clad islands and 13 beaches of white hourglass sand – is the first island group in Indonesia to be powered by a renewable microgrid.
No heavy machinery is allowed on the island, so every mechanical process – from repurposing stones to breaking boulders for building material – has been done by hand; all water is sourced on the island and recycled as drinking water; and the entire resort was hand-built from sustainable bamboo and other recycled material, such as driftwood and copper.
Bawah Reserve General Manager, Tom Blachere, worked alongside renowned architect, Sim Boon Yang (founder, partner and director of eco.id), to create a design that strikes a harmonious balance between luxury and modernity, while upholding a sustainable approach towards the natural surroundings.
The Bawah Reserve team is so committed to preserving the natural environment that it founded the Bawah Anambas Foundation, which channels money back into the local community and is focused on addressing the three main development challenges in the Anambas: marine conservation, forest conservation, and community development.
MALDIVES & THAILAND – Soneva
The Soneva brand, which encompasses two resorts and one luxury yacht in the Maldives, plus one luxury Resort in Thailand, is an absolute visionary when it comes to plastic awareness. The Soneva properties haven’t been using plastic straws for more than 20 years and in 2008, they banned imported water, saving approximately 1.5 million plastic bottles since then.
Soneva has a target of zero waste and already recycles 90% of its solid waste, with glass, food waste, jungle trimmings and polystyrene all processed onsite. Now the focus is on tackling the last 10%, which includes small amounts of plastic, paper, cloth and tetra pak packaging.
As part of their ‘Soneva Maker Programme’ and in partnership with global grass-roots initiative, ‘Precious Plastic’, Soneva recycles plastic that washes onto the resorts’ pristine shores, making a range of useful products like flower pots and building blocks.
Guests and resort hosts are invited to get creative with plastic waste and some of the innovative creations they’ve come up with include surfboards made from recycled polystyrene and Easter eggs for children made from plastic bottle caps.
We also love the fact that all glass is crushed and re-blown onsite into decorations for the resorts or household items that are donated to charity. These guys are truly inspiring!
MALDIVES – Coco Collection
Coco Collection comprises three boutique resorts – Coco Privé Private Island, Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu – with an affinity for ecologically-sound practices and preserving the beautiful Maldivian environment that serves as their mutual muse.
Their latest green initiative, ‘Coco Dreams Green’, is dedicated to reducing the consumption of single-use plastic – with an end goal of zero – at all Coco Collection properties, including their corporate office.
Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, killing marine life, entering the human food chain, and costing $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. According to the UN, if current rates of pollution continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
As part of Coco Dreams Green, the resorts are introducing more stringent policies regarding guest services; facilities; amenities; services, including those offered to their associates; and their education and outreach programs.
Some of these new policies include introducing paper straws in all outlets instead of biodegradable plastic, as this plastic breaks down into microplastics, which is deadly to marine life and detrimental to our own health; banning plastic bags on all islands; and replacing in-villa amenities with those made from natural materials, such as wooden toothbrushes and cotton buds made without plastic.
In addition to this, Coco’s sustainability program includes a monthly island clean-up program to clean the beaches, reefs, and lagoons of non-biodegradable debris; and marine conservation awareness and outreach programs for guests and staff.
In 2015, Coco Collection announced an official partnership with the Olive Ridley Project, a UK charity whose mission is to remove discarded fishing nets (also known as ghost nets) from the ocean, and to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles injured by these nets.
As part of this partnership, Coco Collection opened a Marine Turtle Rescue Centre at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, where 23 turtles were treated within the first six months of its opening. The resort’s resident Marine Biologist also works closely with the Olive Ridley Project to remove ghost nets from surrounding seas, and to conduct an awareness and education program for guests, staff and local schoolchildren to teach the dangers of plastic pollution and the importance of protecting marine life.
SAMOA – Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa
Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa is deeply ingrained in the local community and their ethos pays homage to familial ancestors and the stunning Samoan environment. They support a heart-warmingly long list of local charities, initiatives and community groups via donations, sponsorships and support programs.
Some of Sinalei’s most noteworthy initiatives include: funding the Palalaua College Cultural Fale in 1997, which has since served as a mainstay for events such as village meetings and student cultural demonstrations; continually donating essentials and funds to the village hospital; supporting the Sinalei String Band by selling CDs in the resort’s boutique, with funds going back to the band; and backing the local rugby club in the annual Sinalei Sevens Competition.
They also regularly sponsor the Poutasi Arts Centre, preschool, and ukulele school, local sewing lessons and the Poutasi Gardens, as well as the village community hall and local volunteer programs.
One of our favourite elements of this tropical haven is their farm-to-plate philosophy, which not only results in the freshest and tastiest seasonal meals at the resort’s onsite restaurant, but it also supports local farming families!
CAMBODIA – Song Saa
The Song Saa group is committed to authenticity, integrity, creativity, innovation and beauty and its flagship property, Song Saa Private Island, is Cambodia’s leading eco-luxe private island. Created with sustainability in mind, this stunning resort reflects the beauty of the Cambodian coastline and breathes in time with nature, built from local materials, by local hands, and infused with local art and soul.
Each villa is a private sanctuary, a refined blend of thatched roofs, linen-draped canopy beds, up-cycled décor and repurposed furniture. Discarded oil drums find new life as lamps. Driftwood serves as a table or bench. Salvaged wood from old fishing boats and factory yards now forms decks and floors and beams.
Song Saa’s culinary practice is based on locally-sourced ingredients: seasonal fruits and vegetables, wildlife-friendly Ibis rice from farmers in the north, fleshy cashew nuts and meaty coconuts from nearby villages. Then there’s the distinctive favour of Kampot pepper infusing their cuisine with a truly local culinary twist.
Finally, the inspiring Song Saa Foundation is a not-for-profit group dedicated to protecting the habitats of the Koh Rong Archipelago and improving the welfare of its communities!