Luxurious looks, eco sensibility. Hua Hin photo via Six Senses.
Luxury by its very definition means indulgence--while eco-consciousness, such as that employed by Scandic in its moderately-priced hotel chain, is more likely to mean slashing consumption. Yet because luxury resorts frequently are located in the world's most beautiful (and delicate) spots, a built-in need for a conservation and sustainability approach is growing fast--nobody will sign up for a safari if the animals are all dead. So when those really special occasions arise--from your honeymoon to your 25th wedding anniversary, to your college graduation--and a staycation won't cut it, try one of these green luxury resorts, located all around the world. All six combine pampering with a pronounced eco-sensibility, from the tropical 35-acre Star Island Bahamas resort to the otherworldly Longitude 131° in the heart of Australia.
Tents in the Australian outback via Longitude 131°.
1. Longitude 131°, Northern Territory, Australia.Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is considered the world's largest monolith, and the dominant feature of this small resort. There are only 15 individual "tents" at Australia's Longitude 131°. The entire resort sits on top of a sand dune, so the tents have been constructed on top of steel stilts to leave the desert sands beneath undisturbed. They also run on solar power. Voyages Hotels and Resorts, Longitude 131°'s owners, has resorts in all kinds of special Australian eco-systems and has learned conservation techniques to preserve the riches. The company has a corporate pledge to continually improve environmental performance, but apart from its extreme sensitivity to the fragile desert environment and use of renewable power (and perhaps the "local" outback cuisine and Australian wines) this resort errs more on the side of luxury experience than eco details. There's really nowhere to go and not too much to do at this resort--the main entertainment is admiring the gorgeous rock and dazzling sunrise and sunset at this World Heritage site.
Gaia Resort at night photo via kiwicollection.
2. Gaia Luxury Hotel & Nature Reserve, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.To look for the unique combo of luxury sensibility and eco features in Costa Rica seems to make perfect sense as the country has been chasing eco tourism for at least a decade. The Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo is swankier, but Gaia Hotel & Reserve's location on a large tract of coastal forest teeming with wildlife makes it a refuge in more than one sense of the word. Gaia is tracking and trying to reduce its water and electricity usage, and the resort recycles and composts, and has a biological wastewater treatment system. It has received four out of five "leaves" by the country's Sustainability Certification program for tourist enterprises, and plans to achieve its fifth leaf this year.
Photo of Hua Hin spa buildings via kiwicollection.