If you’ve been following Just Leaving Footprints for a while now, you know that this site is as much about sustainability as it is about tourism and travel. While I have been traveling quite slowly and mainly staying with friends, I have yet to stay at a proper eco hostel or hotel. Luckily, I was able to turn to some fellow travel bloggers who have stayed at a variety of eco accommodations. I am so happy to have been able to put together this round-up of some most inspiring eco hostels, lodges and hotels together. I really and truly couldn’t have done it without the wonderful bloggers who contributed. While reading, please check out the bloggers and their websites as well.
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Constance Moofushi is an absolutely fabulous place to chill out and relax. It’s five star bliss. You’re surrounded by warm, turquoise ocean and white sand beaches, staying in an over-water villa with unobstructed sea views. We also loved the fact that Constance Moofushi is all-inclusive – and the fact it isn’t any old all-inclusive. The food was out of this world. The wine list was extensive. The barman mixed dreamy cocktails. Our trip even included a snorkelling trip on the reefs where we saw turtles, manta rays and brightly coloured shoals of fish.
Some eco hotels shove their eco credentials in your face, but not Constance Moofushi. It gained the prestigious Green Globe certification back in 2014. Since then Constance Moofushi installed a host of eco-friendly improvements including energy-efficient lighting and non-toxic cleaning products. This was all on top of initiatives such as recycling and composting. In its most recent certification, it achieved an impressive 84% compliance score.
So book a trip to Constance Moofushi knowing you’ll have an out-of-this-world trip in a hotel that seeks to respect the environment.
When we moved to Mexico we began our new life with a month chilling out in Oaxaca specifically because I’d nursed a longing to get myself up into the ‘cerros’ (small mountains) that surround the city of Oaxaca since our Mexican honeymoon in 2009.
We ended up in Latuvi, one of the eight remote villages that make up the ‘Pueblos Mancomunados’, or commonwealth villages. These villages got together to create a different type of tourism in order to reinvigorate their own villages whilst maintaining their traditional way of life.
We chose Latuvi because we only had a few days to spare and Latuvi is the most accessible of the villages, particularly with small kids. The village didn’t disappoint. We spent our time walking, exploring and chilling out in hammocks. We barely saw other visitors at all. Our accommodation was the village cabins where we enjoyed a roaring fire in our room every night and hammocks with views over the stunning Sierra Norte. We ate in small comedores and while the food wasn’t great, it was perfectly passable and affordable.
We went to get out of the city and to enjoy being close to nature and we certainly got that! There were some incredible plants and trees along the long walks we took and we chatted to local people who thought we were crazy to make our tiny children do so much walking (but who couldn’t resist patting their cute blonde heads!) and basically relaxed after a month in the hectic city of Oaxaca.
Not many people visit Kenya without experiencing the Maasai Mara… Going on a safari here is one of the biggest attractions in the country, and for very good reason!
Unfortunately, there are quite a few accomodations throughout the savanna that aren’t kind to the environment, animals or planet in general. But thankfully here at Losokwan Luxury Tented Camp, that is certainly not the case!
Situated in Lemek Conservancy in the Maasai Mara, Losokwan is a small, luxury camp that knows how to create the perfect combination of sustainability and luxury.
Not only is it a breathtaking camp with unbelievable views, the sustainability aspects are some of the best I’ve ever experienced…
Over 90% of the staff come from local Maasai communities. It’s a free to roam camp meaning that the wildlife is left undisturbed. The camp’s electricity is run entirely off of solar energy, as well as all of the lighting. Hot water is heated with eco-friendly wood burners using sustainable firewood. They have their own garden which produces a lot of the crops to supply their delicious home-cooked meals. All waste is disposed of correctly. This includes an on-site bio pit for all organic waste, and the camp itself strives to have lowest impact possible on the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Pretty amazing right? And the very best part is that the service, the facilities, the safari, and the amazing location are beyond what you would expect at any average hotel.
This camp taught me so much about sustainability, and I have no doubt that it will do the same for you!
The world’s largest sand island Fraser Island (or K’gari in the aboriginal language) is a remote but accessible destination that we need to protect. I loved how Beachcamp Eco Retreat is committed to conserving the beauty of this paradise while providing an exciting experience for their customers.
They have found many ways to connect their visitors to nature and the local culture. And their genuine passion makes them go the extra step backstage with beach clean-ups and composting and recycling actions, although recycling is unfortunately not available yet on the island.
Tucked away in the southern corner of Siem Reap is a hotel that embraces two fragile vectors that are affected by tourist footfall in South East Asia. These are the environment and the rural underprivileged youth. Sala Bai is a French-NGO backed facility that trains more than 100 rural students a year for free in hospitality positions. An impressive 70% of the students are girls. Their hotel and restaurant are manned entirely by these kind and enthusiastic young folks who made every moment of our stay so much fun!
We woke up in our spacious rooms to views of trees and birdsong. On the long days that we were out at the temples, Sala Bai provided breakfast in a box to enjoy with sunrise. At other times, we walked down to their restaurant for a choice of Cambodian or continental fare. There was just one vegetarian option for lunch though, but the risotto was pretty darn good. The students were always on the alert for anything we needed, giving us many options for non-temple things to do and making reservations for us. The biggest win was how free this whole place was of single-use plastic. I almost gave the glass bottles in our room a mighty hug!
Maintaining a sustainable hotel is one part of the equation, educating the youth about it is the more important vector. Here in South East Asia, there is still a long way to go to create awareness and infrastructure that can handle the plastic and pollution that come with the rising number of tourists. More hotels like Sala Bai are needed if we ever hope to share the wonders of Asia with our future generations.
Babel Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a friendly and vibrant accommodation run by passionate owners Katrine and Simen. They employ local staff for all aspects of the running of Babel, which is done in a socially and environmentally-responsible way.
Staff are paid fairly and work in great conditions, which include further education opportunities and team-building trips together. I know that the fun and happy atmosphere of Babel is created from people being respected and looked after there. Babel is also a member of Childsafe and ConCERT responsible traveler programs.
Their many environmental initiatives include using biodiesel in their generator; participating in Cambodia’s Refill Not Landfill program to reduce bottled water consumption; buying local food without plastic packaging; collecting plastic for two recycling projects; using beeswax wrap and locally-made bamboo straws in their restaurant and bar; and reducing waste and washing in rooms with education and various initiatives for guests.
My family and I spent 3 weeks at Babel and we loved every minute! Over Christmas we had a beautiful celebration with other guests and staff, and we always felt safe and welcome there. We will definitely be back to support Babel next time we visit Cambodia.
I’m a stingy traveler when it comes to accommodation – I’d rather spend my cash on experiences and activities than fancy hotels. So I was very surprised when I rolled my suitcase up to the Planet Traveler Hostel in Toronto, and discovered that it was not only eco-friendly, but also comfortable and cool. I’m more used to staying in hotels and hostels that have seen better days.
Planet Traveler Hostel has some serious green credentials too. It uses a geothermal heating and air conditioning system, solar panels, solar thermal water heating, and LED lights. Plus wastewater heat recovery and recycling is a BIG thing. You get a little welcome tour upon check in, where the recycling policy is explained in detail.
But the best bit was probably the rooms. There are little lockers to store your valuable and each room has its own bathroom. Plus there’s a little ante-room outside of the sleeping area where you can get changed without waking up the whole dorm. The kitchen’s well stocked, there are great activities planned nightly for solo travelers who want to make friends, and the common areas are cosy as well. Did I mention it’s located in the “cool” part of town, in Kensington Market? It’s surrounded by some delicious cafes! There’s no reason NOT to stay at Planet Traveler Hostel!
Imagine the comfort of a hotel housed within the beauty of the jungle, operated by a local ranch owner, with sweeping views of Costa Rica’s most active volcano and you will find yourself at Rancho Margot. Rancho Margot is a certified environmentally sustainable and self-sustained eco-lodge. It was recognized as the first carbon-negative company in the country by Carbon Clear in 2012 and is the tropical retreat of your dreams. Rancho Margot generates all their own electricity, sources all their delicious foods onsite, and makes their own furniture and soaps. If you’re looking for yoga classes, plant-covered roofs, and local community immersions, Rancho Margot has it all and they do everything responsibly.
Included in the stay are many amenities including the natural spring-fed pools, many gorgeous hikes, cow milking lessons, fishing and even a tour of the ranch. Plus with several options from bunks to private bungalows there is something for every budget. If that isn’t enough, you can immerse yourself in sustainable living, get certified as a yoga instructor, or even learn Spanish through immersion – the best way to soak it all in! We really enjoyed relaxing with a yoga class in an open air bungalow over the marsh. We also got to dip into the spring fed pools after a long day of hiking and touring the beautiful ranch. With so many green-washed resorts that don’t do nearly as much as they seem, this eco-lodge and ranch is one of the best options in Costa Rica. They truly live out the mission of the environmental community.
April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies for Sustainable Travel. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.
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