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7 Eco-friendly Resorts – 100% Sustainable Tourism

By Sandra Roussy November 08, 2023 Travel

Imagine waking up to the symphony of nature, surrounded by lush greenery, pristine beaches, or majestic mountains. Eco-friendly resorts not only provide a haven of tranquility but also prioritize minimizing their ecological footprint. From innovative architectural designs that harmonize with the environment to renewable energy sources that power their facilities, eco-friendly resorts are committed to sustainability in every aspect of their operations.

Indulge in organic and locally sourced cuisine, pamper yourself with eco-conscious spa treatments, and embark on adventures that allow you to explore the natural wonders of your surroundings. Discover how eco-resorts support local communities, engage in conservation efforts, and offer immersive experiences that deepen our connection to the Earth.

As the travel industry embraces a greater sense of responsibility towards our planet, these resorts stand out as shining examples of how hospitality and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand.

  1. Soneva Fushi – Baa Atoll, Maldives – Soneva Fushi is a luxury eco-resort situated in the Maldives. It focuses on sustainability, conservation, and community development. The resort implements various eco-friendly practices, such as using solar power, recycling waste, and supporting local communities. Soneva Fushi offers exquisite accommodations, pristine beaches, and a range of sustainable activities.
  2. Song Saa Private Island – Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia – Song Saa Private Island is a secluded eco-luxury resort set amidst the turquoise waters of the Koh Rong Archipelago. It aims to protect the surrounding marine environment and promotes sustainable practices. The resort features stunning villas, a spa, and various eco-friendly initiatives, including water conservation and waste management.
  3. Lapa Rios Lodge – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica – Lapa Rios Lodge is an ecolodge located in a remote rainforest reserve in Costa Rica. It is dedicated to conservation, community empowerment, and sustainable tourism. The lodge offers immersive nature experiences, comfortable accommodations, and eco-friendly practices such as using renewable energy, supporting local initiatives, and protecting wildlife habitats.
  4. Six Senses Yao Noi – Phang Nga Bay, Thailand – Six Senses Yao Noi is a luxury resort situated on a picturesque island in Thailand. The resort is committed to sustainable practices, including renewable energy usage, water conservation, and supporting local communities. It offers stunning villas, spa services, and various eco-friendly activities.
  5. Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort – Vanua Levu, Fiji – Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is a luxurious eco-resort in Fiji, founded by renowned ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau. The resort follows sustainable practices, including coral reef conservation, renewable energy usage, and supporting local communities. Guests can enjoy pristine beaches, water sports, and educational marine activities.
  6. Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda – Gargnano, Italy – Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda is an eco-friendly wellness retreat nestled in the scenic Italian Lake District. The resort is built to high energy efficiency standards, features sustainable architecture, and utilizes renewable energy sources. It offers spa treatments, holistic wellness programs, and organic cuisine.
  7. Islas Secas – Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama – Islas Secas is a private island resort in Panama’s Gulf of Chiriquí. The resort is dedicated to marine conservation and operates sustainably by employing solar power, desalination systems, and recycling initiatives. Guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations, water activities, and nature exploration.

These resorts showcase a commitment to sustainability and offer luxurious experiences while minimizing their impact on the environment. However, it’s worth noting that achieving 100% sustainability can be challenging, and different resorts may have different interpretations and approaches to sustainability. It’s always a good idea to research and contact the resorts directly to inquire about their specific sustainable practices and certifications.

How to Verify if a Resort Is Eco-Friendly

When verifying if a resort is eco-friendly, there are several certifications and awards that you can look for.

LEED Certification

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a globally recognized green building certification program. It assesses a building’s design, construction, and operation based on factors such as energy efficiency, water conservation, materials usage, and indoor environmental quality.

Green Globe Certification

Green Globe is an international sustainability certification program for the travel and tourism industry. It evaluates a resort’s environmental performance, social responsibility, and contribution to local communities.

EarthCheck Certification

EarthCheck is a leading scientific benchmarking and certification program for the travel and tourism industry. It assesses a resort’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability based on rigorous criteria and performance indicators.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Recognition

The GSTC is a global authority on sustainable tourism standards. Their recognition indicates that a resort aligns with internationally recognized criteria for sustainable tourism.

Also look out for awards and accolades specifically related to sustainability and eco-friendliness, such as TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program, National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, or Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Tourism Awards.

What Makes a Resort Eco-Friendly

An eco-friendly resort is characterized by its commitment to minimizing its environmental impact and promoting sustainability in various aspects of its operations.

Sustainable Design and Construction

Eco-friendly resorts often incorporate sustainable design practices, such as using locally sourced and renewable materials, maximizing natural light and ventilation, and implementing energy-efficient technologies. The resort’s buildings and infrastructure are constructed with a focus on reducing their environmental footprint.

Renewable Energy

Eco-friendly resorts prioritize the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind energy, or geothermal systems. They aim to minimize reliance on non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels and actively seek ways to reduce energy consumption throughout the property.

Water Conservation

Sustainable resorts implement water conservation measures through initiatives like rainwater harvesting, wastewater treatment and recycling, low-flow fixtures, and landscaping practices that minimize water usage. They also educate guests about the importance of water conservation and encourage responsible water usage.

Waste Management

Eco-friendly resorts are conscientious about waste reduction, recycling, and proper waste disposal. They implement recycling programs, use composting systems for organic waste, and minimize single-use plastics and packaging. These resorts also aim to educate guests about waste reduction practices and encourage them to participate in eco-friendly initiatives.

Conservation and Biodiversity

Eco-friendly resorts often operate in harmony with their natural surroundings and take steps to protect local ecosystems and biodiversity. They may engage in conservation efforts, support local wildlife rehabilitation programs, and implement sustainable practices that preserve the natural beauty of the area.

Community Engagement

Sustainable resorts strive to have a positive impact on local communities. They may source products and services from local businesses, provide employment and training opportunities to local residents, and support community development initiatives. These resorts often collaborate with local organizations to implement environmental and social projects that benefit the community.

Guest Education and Engagement

Eco-friendly resorts aim to raise awareness among guests about sustainability practices and environmental conservation. They may offer educational programs, nature tours, and workshops to encourage guests to engage with and appreciate the natural environment. By fostering a sense of environmental stewardship, these resorts empower guests to make eco-friendly choices during their stay and beyond.

By incorporating these elements, eco-friendly resorts create a harmonious balance between luxurious experiences and responsible, sustainable practices that contribute to the preservation of our planet.

How to Prepare and Enjoy Your Eco-Friendly Vacation

Preparing for an eco-friendly vacation involves taking conscious steps to reduce your environmental impact while enjoying your trip.

Pack Light and Responsibly

Opt for eco-friendly travel essentials such as reusable water bottles, cloth bags, and eco-friendly toiletries. Avoid single-use plastics and excessive packaging.

Respect Nature and Wildlife

Follow guidelines and regulations when visiting natural areas. Avoid disturbing wildlife, refrain from feeding them, and observe animals from a safe distance. Leave nature as you found it, avoiding littering or damaging ecosystems.

Conserve Water and Energy

Be mindful of your water and energy usage during your stay. Take shorter showers, turn off lights and air conditioning when not needed, and reuse towels and bed linens instead of requesting daily replacements.

Respect Local Communities and Cultures

Learn about and respect the local customs, traditions, and cultural practices of the destination you’re visiting. Support local communities by purchasing locally made products and by interacting with respect and cultural sensitivity.

Leave No Trace

Practice the “Leave No Trace” principle by taking your waste with you and disposing of it properly. Leave natural areas as you found them, without leaving any garbage or traces of your visit.

Remember, small actions collectively have a significant impact on preserving our planet for future generations.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Resorts

Soneva Fushi – Baa Atoll, Maldives

Situated in the idyllic Maldives, Soneva Fushi is not just a luxury resort but a beacon of sustainability and conservation. This eco-resort embraces a holistic approach to environmental responsibility, implementing a variety of eco-friendly practices.

Soneva Fushi harnesses the power of the sun through its extensive use of solar energy, reducing its carbon footprint. Waste is carefully managed through recycling and waste reduction initiatives.

The resort actively engages with local communities, supporting their development and fostering a sense of shared responsibility. Amidst the stunning surroundings, guests can enjoy the exquisite accommodations, relax on pristine beaches, and immerse themselves in a wide range of sustainable activities, creating unforgettable memories while leaving a positive impact on the environment.

Visit the Soneva Fushi website for more information.

Song Saa Private Island – Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia

Tucked away in the captivating Koh Rong Archipelago, Song Saa Private Island is a hidden gem, offering a secluded and eco-luxurious escape. This pristine resort takes its commitment to environmental preservation seriously, with a focus on protecting the surrounding marine environment and promoting sustainable practices.

Guests are treated to stunning villas that blend seamlessly with the island’s natural beauty. The resort also boasts a luxurious spa that rejuvenates both body and mind.

Embracing eco-friendly initiatives, Song Saa Private Island prioritizes water conservation by implementing measures such as rainwater harvesting and efficient water usage. Waste management practices ensure that the resort minimizes its environmental impact through recycling and responsible disposal.

To learn more about Song Saa Private Island head over to their website.

Lapa Rios Lodge – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Snuggled within a remote rainforest reserve in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Lodge stands as an extraordinary ecolodge that harmonizes conservation, community empowerment, and sustainable tourism. This eco-conscious retreat invites guests to immerse themselves in transformative nature experiences while enjoying comfortable accommodations that blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment.

Lapa Rios Lodge is committed to eco-friendly practices, utilizing renewable energy sources to power its operations. By harnessing the power of the sun and wind, the lodge minimizes its carbon footprint and sets an example for sustainable living.

Lapa Rios Lodge actively supports local initiatives and empowers the surrounding communities. Through collaborations with local organizations, the lodge contributes to community development, creating a positive impact on the lives of the residents.

The eco-lodge also plays a vital role in protecting wildlife habitats, ensuring the preservation of the rich biodiversity found in the rainforest reserve. By promoting responsible tourism and respecting the natural surroundings, Lapa Rios Lodge fosters an environment where guests can witness the beauty of nature firsthand while actively contributing to its conservation.

Visit the website to learn more about Lapa Rios Lodge.

Six Senses Yao Noi – Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Perched on a scenic island in Thailand, Six Senses Yao Noi is an exceptional luxury resort that showcases a deep dedication to sustainable practices. Embracing renewable energy usage, the resort minimizes its environmental footprint and harnesses the power of nature to create a luxurious experience for guests. Water conservation is also prioritized, ensuring responsible usage and preservation of this precious resource.

Beyond its commitment to the environment, Six Senses Yao Noi actively supports and engages with local communities, fostering sustainable development and cultural preservation. Guests can revel in the beauty of the surroundings, indulging in the stunning villas and rejuvenating spa services offered by the resort.

With a range of eco-friendly activities, such as nature walks, kayaking, and organic cooking classes, Six Senses Yao Noi provides guests with a truly immersive and sustainable experience. Whether exploring the island’s natural wonders or simply relaxing in the lap of luxury, guests can feel good knowing they are supporting a resort dedicated to sustainability and responsible tourism.

Six Senses Yao Noi website.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort – Vanua Levu, Fiji

Situated in the paradise of Vanua Levu, Fiji, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is a luxurious eco-resort that reflects the passion for conservation and exploration of its founder, Jean-Michel Cousteau. With a strong commitment to sustainable practices, the resort takes an active role in coral reef conservation, preserving the vibrant marine ecosystems that surround it.

The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort embraces renewable energy usage, minimizing its impact on the environment and showcasing the potential for sustainable living. The resort also engages with and supports local communities, recognizing the importance of community empowerment and cultural preservation. Through initiatives that provide economic opportunities and educational programs, the resort contributes to the well-being and sustainable development of the local area.

Guests at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort are treated to the epitome of luxury, with immaculate beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a range of water sports activities available. Beyond recreational pursuits, the resort offers educational marine activities that provide insights into the incredible underwater world, allowing guests to deepen their understanding of the importance of marine conservation.

Visit the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort website to find out more.

Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda – Gargnano, Italy

In the beauty of the Italian Lake District, Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda stands as an exceptional eco-friendly wellness retreat. With a strong commitment to sustainability, the resort has been built to high energy efficiency standards, ensuring a minimal ecological impact.

The resort’s architecture harmoniously blends with its natural surroundings, showcasing sustainable design principles and utilizing locally sourced materials. Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda embraces renewable energy sources, harnessing the power of nature to minimize its carbon footprint.

Guests can indulge in a wide range of spa treatments and holistic wellness programs that promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and overall well-being. From yoga classes to meditation sessions, the resort offers a serene sanctuary for nourishing the mind, body, and soul.

The resort’s commitment to sustainable and locally sourced ingredients ensures a dining experience that is both delicious and environmentally conscious.

Check out the Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda website.

Islas Secas – Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama

Located in Panama’s Gulf of Chiriquí, Islas Secas is a private island resort that seamlessly blends luxury with a profound commitment to marine conservation. The resort serves as a steward of the surrounding marine environment, employing sustainable practices that leave a minimal ecological footprint.

Islas Secas operates with a focus on renewable energy, utilizing solar power to meet its energy needs. The resort also employs desalination systems to ensure a sustainable freshwater supply, reducing its reliance on external sources.

In line with its dedication to sustainability, Islas Secas implements comprehensive recycling initiatives, minimizing waste and promoting responsible waste management practices.

Guests of Islas Secas are treated to luxurious accommodations that harmonize with the natural beauty of the island. They can partake in a wide range of water activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, while witnessing the vibrant marine life that the resort strives to protect.

Nature exploration is also encouraged, with opportunities to discover the diverse flora and fauna found on the island and engage in educational activities that foster a deeper understanding of the surrounding ecosystem.

Visit the Isla Secas website to find out more.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you been to any of these resorts? Do you plan on visiting an eco-friendly resort soon? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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