Welcome to the world of eco luxury travel where tourists can experience high-end luxury and sustainability without compromising the planet. Eco luxury tourism refers to travel that blends luxury amenities with environmentally friendly practices.
Sustainable travel doesn’t have to be gritty. Travelers can experience luxurious accommodations and experiences without sacrificing their responsibilities as global citizens.
It is gaining popularity among eco-conscious travelers who want to reduce their carbon footprint while enjoying their creature comforts.
Since Adventures Abound tends to focus on budget travel, we have invited some incredible travel writers to share about the best of eco luxury travel.
In this article, we will explore what ecoluxury tourism is and why it is important. We will also feature some of the best luxury and eco-friendly examples in accommodations and experiences, including eco-lodges, eco-resorts, eco-hotels, glamping, upscale vegan restaurants, eco-luxury treatments, and luxury small-group tours.
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What is eco-luxury travel?
Eco-luxury travel includes finding high-end but low-impact accommodation, transport, and experiences, ensuring sustainability but great quality memories. This type of tourism ensures the protection of wildlife, land, and local communities with thriving, authentic cultures.
While luxury travel may sound very indulgent and extravagant, it is often considered by many travelers to be unsustainable. But that is not always the case! Eco-luxury travel involves gaining the best quality experiences possible without creating a vast and unnecessary carbon impact.
Often people think that to travel sustainably you need to minimize your experience and opt for staying in traditional accommodation with basic facilities. However, luxury tourism can still be sustainable! You don’t have to miss out on comfort and convenience, as long as you are mindful.
The desire for globetrotting has exploded since the pandemic and more and more people have been in search of eco-friendly travel plans and wanting to explore the world as an ecotourist. It is well-known that climate change is an increasing worry for many people and minimizing our impacts can only be a good thing.
Companies across the globe take this demand very seriously and often display affiliations with climate bodies proudly on their websites. Airlines give details of CO2 emissions for every flight, ensuring their customers have the choice of the most eco-friendly option.
Hotel companies have equally become more climate-conscious, promoting on their sites their commitments to limiting their carbon impacts. Simple policies such as not replacing towels every day, limiting air conditioning to the hottest times, and recycling all make a huge difference.
And while you don’t have to choose to stay in a little shack, it won’t hurt! Many countries have started to offer authentic style accommodation, such as lodges using sustainable, local materials containing home comforts.
Contributed by Charlotte of The Geo Room
Why should luxury travelers care about eco-tourism?
Many travel companies nowadays choose to be branded with terms, like “sustainable”, “green”, or “eco-conscious”, but what, in practice, is eco-luxury and why should you care?
Eco-luxury experiences are designed to have a minimal negative impact on the environment or surrounding community while still providing a comfortable and spectacular experience for the traveler.
This can take the shape of anything from accommodations to a day excursion or even a week-long group trip. For example, think of a four-star hotel that powers its rooms with solar power, recycles wastewater for use in its landscaping, and uses sustainably sourced materials in its (impeccable) construction.
Alternatively, eco-luxury experiences like a high-end safari camp focus on investing in local guides, using fuel-efficient vehicles, and preparing your gourmet meals with organic and locally sourced ingredients.
Given that traveling (especially via airplanes) leaves a negative impact on the planet, choosing eco-luxury is an excellent way to help offset some of the lasting consequences of your adventures—all while still indulging in a luxe experience.
And, in case you’re worried, choosing eco-luxury will definitely not make your vacation any less enjoyable.
Take, for example, Arenas del Mar, in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This luxurious boutique hotel is tucked away in a lush jungle along a beautiful secluded beach and acts as an excellent springboard to enjoy all of the incredible things to do in Manuel Antonio.
While the resort heavily leans into sustainability, from banning single-use plastic to only having electric-powered vehicles in its fleet and using fruits and vegetables grown onsite at its restaurants, you’ll also have a spectacularly luxurious experience while staying here, from the property’s two pools to rooms with their own private balconies with hot tubs.
As another example, there are entire tour companies dedicated to curating eco-luxury experiences. For example, Luxe by Exo plans thoughtful itineraries throughout Asia for discerning travelers, perfecting luxury with authentic and local experiences.
Contributed by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
How to Spot an Eco-luxury Experience
Eco-luxury experiences are a unique blend of luxury and sustainability, focusing on minimizing the impact on the environment while providing a luxurious experience. These experiences can be found in various forms, including eco-friendly hotels, resorts, and tour operators. One example is Ubud in Bali, which is gaining more and more popularity for eco-luxury resorts and hotels.
In order to confirm that a luxury experience is truly sustainable, look for these key factors:
1. Sustainability is at the heart of the experience
A genuine eco-luxury experience is built around sustainable principles, from the materials used to construct the property to the activities offered. Properties should have eco-friendly features such as rainwater harvesting systems, solar panels or other regenerative energy sources, or low-flow toilets. Tour operators should provide activities that showcase the natural environment without harming it, such as wildlife viewing, hiking, and birdwatching.
2. Certifications and awards
Many credible organizations offer certifications and awards to businesses demonstrating a sustainability commitment. For example, Green Globe is a certification program that assesses a business’s environmental impact and offers guidance on improving it. If a hotel or tour operator has received such certifications or awards, it is a good sign that they take sustainability seriously.
3. Ethical practices
An eco-luxury experience should also incorporate ethical practices, such as fair treatment of employees and support for the local community. Ask the hotel or tour operator about their policies on fair labor practices and community development. They should be able to provide you with information on how they support the local community and contribute to its economic development.
4. Minimal carbon footprint
A key indicator of an eco-luxury experience is a minimal carbon footprint. This means that the hotel or tour operator should be reducing their carbon emissions, such as using renewable energy sources, offering carbon offset programs, or encouraging guests to use public transportation or bikes instead of cars.
Finally, a genuinely eco-luxury experience should be transparent about its sustainability practices. Ask for information on their environmental impact, their sustainability goals, and how they plan to achieve them. If they are open and transparent about their sustainability efforts, it is a good sign that they are committed to providing a genuinely eco-friendly experience.
Contributed by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Now that we know what sustainable luxury travel is, why it matters, and how to spot them, let’s talk about different types of eco-luxury tourism
Sustainable Luxury Accommodations
Eco-friendly resorts for a long time have been associated with remote locations and beautiful scenery but low-key facilities, often mainly geared towards backpackers.
However, a radical change has been underway for some time and it is precisely the luxury hotels and resorts that are driving this shift.
When we talk about eco luxury hotels and resorts we need to evaluate all the aspects to which these places contribute. We often tend to focus on environmental protection interventions, which are fundamental, but not sufficient to classify a place as eco-friendly.
The new eco-luxury resorts are built using or reusing local materials, develop operating processes to minimize waste, and optimize the use of water and energy aiming at self-sufficiency. They support communities by hiring and training local people while helping the local economy. They reinvest the money brought by wealthy tourists to preserve and recover the ecosystems in which they are inserted, to finance research, and guarantee a neutral impact on the environment.
All this without compromising luxury, but rather making the traveler part of this new way to enjoy travel. Many brands are putting a lot of effort into securing eco-friendly approaches.
A very interesting example is the Mangala Resort and Spa on the east coast of Malaysia. This resort is the result of 15 years of incessant work to reclaim an abandoned area near the coast reduced to a putrid muddy landscape after 40 years of tin mining and another almost 30 years for the supply of sand.
The work has led to the construction of this little paradise now filled with lush vegetation, lakes, and wetland. The even more incredible aspect is that as nature has begun to flourish again, even the animals have returned to settle in the resort areas. In fact, there are now more than 100 species of birds nesting around the resort, and, more importantly, these spaces have once again become a transit and resting point for migratory birds.
The Mangala Resort and Spa is a perfect destination for a short trip to Malaysia to reconnect with nature while enjoying the stunning views from one of the lovely houses dotted through the resort grounds or over the water.
Contributed by Clotilde from A Princess Travelling with Twins
Eco-luxury is a concept that involves high-end accommodations that strive to minimize their impact on the environment by implementing practices like recycling, reusing old materials, and composting food leftovers. Many eco-luxury hotels also use solar panels and various devices that help them minimize their use of electricity and avoid wasting natural resources.
The concept proves that a hotel still can offer high-end amenities and luxurious accommodations while helping the environment without having to sacrifice comfort.
If you are looking for a cool sustainable hotel, you will enjoy the Hotel Makaaba Eco-boutique in Bacalar, an eco-resort located along the stunning lagoon of Seven Colors, which earned Bacalar the nickname of “The Maldives of Mexico.”
Makaaba Ecoboutique boasts a cool minimalistic design, but what earned it recognition is its sustainable practices that aim to minimize the hotel’s impact on the environment. Makaaba doesn’t use any disposable plastic and makes most of the food with vegetables from its own garden.
The main feature of this hotel is a swimming pool that uses rainwater that is collected and filtered through a special system.
The hotel has a beautiful on-site garden nourished by compost from the hotel’s kitchen. The garden grows on an Evapotranspiration tank which treats the wastewater and benefits the produce at the same time.
Hotel Makaaba also doesn’t use single-use plastics, rather serving their food and drinks in refillable containers. It’s a great place to stay if you care about the environment and want to support one of the best sustainable hotels in Bacalar.
Contributed by Daria from the Discovery Nut
From basic earth-friendly camps to sprawling off-grid estates, ecolodges can be found in every shape and size, making for a great way to enjoy an Earth-friendly vacation. Especially when looking for an eco-luxury getaway, ecolodges tend to be among the most environmentally friendly.
While eco-friendly luxury resorts and hotels can be found anywhere, eco lodges are generally located in remote locations, like on private islands or deep in the wilderness. They also tend to be the most environmentally conscious, stewarding their environment well by going off-grid, collecting rainwater, and using sustainable-sourced materials in building practices.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be roughing it! Oftentimes ecolodges are incredibly luxurious despite their remote locations, offering a first-class stay with spectacular service that makes them worth escaping to.
Looking for some inspiration for where to experience an ecolodge? Consider heading into the Amazon Rainforest in countries like Ecuador and Peru, where eco-lodges hidden among the riverside and among protected nature reserves are the best bases from which to explore. Expert guides take guests on nature walks and adventures down the river to spot unforgettable wildlife during the day, and on special night nature walks to see the creatures that only come out at night.
Another popular destination for ecolodges is Patagonia, with environmentally-friendly hotels like the Tierra Hotels in Chiloé and near the impressive Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. These are among the most architecturally stunning yet sustainable ecolodges in the world and make for a memorable way to visit Patagonia.
Contributed by Carley Rojas Avila of Explorers Away
Glamping: Experience sustainable luxury and slow travel
Glamping is an exciting way to enjoy eco and sustainable luxury travel. It combines the luxury of a hotel stay with the natural beauty of outdoor camping.
The great thing about glamping is that it offers a unique opportunity for travelers to connect with nature without sacrificing their comfort or convenience. Unlike traditional camping, glamping offers amenities such as beds, running water, electricity, and even air conditioning. This means that one can enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors while still staying comfortable and connected.
Plus, glamping sites often offer a variety of recreational activities like biking, hiking, fishing, and kayaking, as well as swimming pools and spa services. The access to activities, away from the maddening crowds cannot be beaten. It is a great way to connect back to nature and enjoy a nice digital detox.
Glamping is also a great way to save money on luxury lodging costs while still enjoying the beauty of nature. Since glamping sites are often located in remote areas away from commercialized hotels, they often offer lower rates than traditional eco-luxury accommodations.
Plus, since glamping typically requires fewer resources than traditional camping, travelers can save money on fuel and food costs. Also, their stay is impacting the environment less.
Glamping is also a great way to support the local economy. Since most glamping sites are owned by small businesses or individuals, spending money in these locations helps contribute to the local community. Additionally, because glamping doesn’t require extensive infrastructure, it often leads to less of a strain on the environment than traditional camping.
Finally, it is a great way to explore new places in an eco-friendly and sustainable way like glamping in Slovenia. Many glamping sites are located in natural or remote locations, so travelers can enjoy activities like bird watching, stargazing, and nature walks without disturbing the local ecosystem.
Overall, glamping is an excellent way to experience eco and sustainable travel luxuriously. Not only does it offer the luxury of hotel stays with the beauty of nature, but it is also a great way to save money, support the local economy, and explore new places in an eco-friendly manner.
Contributed By Stephanie from Bey Of Travel
Spectacular Eco-Luxury Adventure Treks Of The World
Do you feel your adventurous heart beat a little faster when you picture exploring stunning remote areas of the world? At the same time does leaving the comforts of the civilized world behind for the duration feel a little daunting?
Trekking in mountains or jungles does not sound very luxurious, does it? Actually, it can be!
To experience some of the most spectacular, off-the-beaten-path treks of the world accessible to those of us that are not super-human, a variety of adventure companies offer packages that will facilitate amazing experiences for everyone!
The most breathtaking adventure treks of the world are strictly regulated, to protect nature, ancient sites, and remnants of past civilization along the trail. These hikes take adventurers to places they can see and admire, but often require an organized group with guides.
Many adventure companies also cooperate with local communities to support indigenous peoples and cultural heritage as part of their sustainable concept.
Now you can combine these incredible nature treks with a luxurious ambiance you never imagined possible while at the same time connecting with your inner explorer – and protecting the environment! You can experience magnificent treks of the world in a haze of luxury with porters, nice sleeping conditions, and amazing meals prepared for you on the way.
Some of the dreamy treks you can do under luxurious conditions are the Inca Trail in Peru, the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal, and the Lost City hike in the Sierra Nevada, Colombia. You can even reach the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, in relative luxury!
The only thing they can’t help with is the actual walking. But the reward of feeling like a million bucks from the mastery, and priceless memories are more than worth it.
Contributed by Hege from The World By Hege
Upscale Environmentally Conscious Dining
Plant-based food is bursting in popularity worldwide, already being a multi-billion dollar industry and projected to increase. Vegan food isn’t just something appreciated by vegans, but by foodies, the health-conscious, and recently people seeking upper-scale dining. A fine-dining vegan meal makes for a special culinary treat for vegans and meat-eaters alike.
The good news is that the plant-based phenomenon is lowering our carbon footprint, by effectively cutting out ‘the middle man’ in the food industry. Rather than eating animals that eat plants, we can short-cut straight to eating plants.
This heavily alleviates the deforestation involved with raising animals for food. With every plant-based meal you eat, you’re voting for a future that embraces the power of plants to not only fight global warming but to nourish and wow us with dishes that are healthy, creative, flavorful, and even elegant.
Vegan Restoran V located in the heart of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is an upscale fine dining experience where all the food is plant-based. At Vegan Restoran V, you can enjoy beautifully arranged plates with flavors and combinations that can’t be found elsewhere.
Restoran V is the first vegan restaurant in Estonia and opened nearly 10 years ago. It is located right in Tallinn’s medieval Old Town, in a historic building on Rataskaevu Street, known for popular restaurants. With very limited seating, Restoran V has a cozy, intimate atmosphere with stone walls – perfect for a romantic evening.
With Restaurant V’s Elegant-looking platters and beautiful presentation, the plates are just as delicious as they are visually pleasing.
Some patrons describe trying to get a seat in Restoran V like winning the lottery – it’s best to make a reservation in advance. As Vegan Restoran V’s website says, ‘It’s never too early to make a reservation.“
Several Tallinn restaurants have followed suit since Restoran V opened as the first plant-based restaurant, and are now fully vegan or have vegan options. This has helped the popularity of the plant-based food scene grow in other Baltic cities too, such as Riga and Vilnius.
The growing popularity and novelty of upper-scale vegan cuisine worldwide is making a positive change for the planet.
Contributed by Kristin of Tiny Footsteps Travel
Environmentally Friendly Luxury Treatments
Eco-luxury treatments are gradually becoming a popular trend in the wellness industry. So much so that now, people are traveling and seeking out these eco-friendly spas and health centers. Why? They provide a perfect balance of indulgent self-care and eco-consciousness, catering to the growing awareness of our impact on this planet.
But what do eco-luxury treatments entail?
These treatments prioritize using natural, organic, and locally sourced ingredients like essential oils and herbs known for their therapeutic properties. For example, an eco-luxury spa might offer a massage using natural oils that soothes sore muscles and promotes relaxation. These natural ingredients are gentler on the skin and contain fewer chemicals that can harm the body and the environment.
These spas and health centers often use energy-efficient lighting and equipment, indigenous techniques, recycling, composting, and minimizing water usage – thereby reducing waste and carbon footprint. The treatments may also prioritize ethical and socially responsible practices, such as supporting local communities and fair trade initiatives.
Whether you are looking for a full-body treatment, relaxing massage, or facial, eco-luxury treatments provide an array of options for self-care without sacrificing quality or luxury. You will find such spas in your city or while you travel.
But that’s not all.
Now you can also visit eco-luxury resorts that focus on health treatments. The ailments for treatment can be anything from chronic pain to stress and insomnia. These treatments are given at the resort while staying in a luxurious room surrounded by nature with nourishing organic food. Therefore, the focus is not only on healing your body but also on your overall well-being. In addition, the resorts might also focus on responsibly sourced eco-friendly building materials, solar heating, and rainwater recycling.
Ayurveda (one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems) focused wellness resorts in India, like Sitaram Beach Retreat and Six Senses Vana, heal your ailments at their luxurious resort instead of a dreary hospital.
So now it is possible to travel to new destinations and indulge in luxurious self-care, all while keeping up with the values of mindfulness and sustainability.
Contributed By Trisha from Try Wandering More
Small Group Luxury Tours
Wrap all of the above luxurious and eco-friendly experiences into one with eco-luxury tours.
In the world of travel, there is a growing demand for personalized and intimate experiences, and small-group luxury tours are becoming more popular. These tours offer a more immersive and authentic experience, with a maximum group size of typically 10-16 people. The focus on quality over quantity with tailored itineraries allows travelers to experience more in a shorter amount of time.
Geographic Expeditions offers incredible luxury tours that are ethical, sustainable, and responsible. The tours include the entire trip from landing to take-off with accommodations, activities, and everything needed for an incredible eco-luxury experience.
GeoEx, as they are also referred to, offers a range of tours that cater to different interests and destinations, from photographic safaris in Africa to cultural expeditions in Latin America. Their itineraries are designed to offer unique activities, like visiting local markets, cooking classes, and private tours of museums or historical sites.
Geographic Expeditions also emphasizes sustainability and responsible travel. They have partnered with local organizations and communities to support conservation efforts, and they work to ensure that their tours have a minimal impact on the environment. In addition, they offer tours that focus on cultural preservation, such as visits to traditional craftspeople or indigenous communities.
One example of a small group luxury tour offered is their “Highlights of Japan” tour. This 12-day trip takes travelers on a journey through Japan’s unique culture and stunning landscapes, from Tokyo’s vibrant city streets to the serene temples of Kyoto. Some of the highlights of the trip include a private sushi-making class, a visit to the famous Tsukiji fish market, and a walk through the peaceful Sagano Bamboo Forest.
Another example is their “Wildlife and Wonders of Botswana” tour, which takes travelers on a 12-day safari through some of Botswana’s most pristine wilderness areas. With a maximum group size of just eight people, this tour offers a truly intimate and personalized experience. Highlights of the trip include game drives in the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve, as well as a visit to the remote Makgadikgadi Pans.
Overall, small-group luxury tours offer a unique and authentic travel experience that is unmatched by larger, more traditional tours. Companies like Geographic Expeditions are leading the way in providing these immersive and sustainable tours, with itineraries that are tailored to each traveler’s interests and preferences. Whether it’s exploring the Japanese culture or going on safari in Africa, there is a small group luxury tour out there for every type of traveler.
Eco-luxury Travel Wrapped Up
In conclusion, eco-luxury experiences are a growing trend in the travel industry for those who want to enjoy high-end amenities while maintaining a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. From eco-lodges and resorts to glamping and upscale vegan restaurants, there are plenty of options for travelers looking for a luxurious yet eco-friendly vacation.
Additionally, eco-luxury treatments and small group tours offer authentic and immersive experiences that allow travelers to connect with the local community and environment.
By choosing eco-luxury experiences, travelers can reduce their carbon footprint while supporting sustainable tourism practices.
So why not plan your next getaway with an eco-luxury focus and experience the best of both worlds?
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