Eco-hotels all the rage

Sunday, 13 December 2009 09:58

If you love living it up on your holiday but have as much passion for the environment, this is for you.

EC3 Global, an independent industry environmental group, recently named the world's top environmentally friendly luxury hotels.

The organisation, which certifies hotels according to their sustainable tourism efforts, handed its inaugural, annual 'Seed Award' to the Banyan Tree's properties in the Maldives, which it said have a comprehensive plan to protect the environment.

"Banyan Tree's four resorts in the Maldives – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Angsana Ihuru, Angsana Velavaru, and Banyan Tree Madivaru – don't limit sustainability experiences to guest activities, they can be seen in every facet of operations," EC3 Global said in a statement.

Singapore-based Banyan Tree, a developer of luxury hotels, manages or owns 26 hotels and resorts in Asia, most under the Banyan Tree and Angsana brands.

Runner-up for the 2009 award was Dubai's own Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, which includes a sanctuary for several species of animals and has previously won the World Legacy Award for conservation.

EC3 Global said it had assisted 1,000 hotel operators in more than 60 countries become more environmentally friendly, but added that with tourism being one of the world's largest industries it will take "the commitment of all to help preserve the beauty we travel great distances to enjoy". Emirates Business looks at the world's top eco-hotels.

The winner

Banyan Tree Madivaru, Maldives

Officially inaugurated in 2007, Banyan Tree Madivaru features six tented pool villas, the first such concept in the Maldives, set amid white sandy beaches, a beautiful shallow lagoon and breathtaking house reefs.

Built without removing large trees and with only the exact footprint of each villa cleared, trees were transplanted to different areas of the island. This also cut the light visible from the ocean, helping protect the natural turtle nesting ground.

All boats at this property are equipped with four-stroke engines that are more environmentally friendly than the two-stroke engines. A team of 25 staff ensure everyday activities have the least environmental impact.

The runner-up

Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, Dubai, UAE

Since its opening 10 years ago, Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa has gone beyond being just the ultimate holiday destination by leading the regions' conservation efforts. From breeding specimens of more than 6,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses to the re-introduction of the regions' first free-roaming herds of endangered Oryx and many other indigenous wildlife species, this get-away is also home to an ever-growing population of small mammal and bird species from Arabia. Sponsored by Emirates airline, and managed by the resort's dedicated team of conservation officers on behalf of Dubai Government, this property nurtures five per cent of Dubai's land area.

Other finalists

Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, Maldives

Soneva Fushi's guiding principle is "sustainability means doing things better – not doing without". The resort believes luxury is compatible with minimal environmental impact and promotes the "slow life" philosophy, by supporting organic industries and initiatives such as the Carbon Offset Programme.

Grand Mayan Riviera Maya, Cancun, Mexico

A private escape into the world of the Mayans, history mixes with the modern at this resort where you can experience world-class spas, dine at gourmet restaurants and step back in time to visit majestic Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza. The Croc Farm within the resort's grounds, gives guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with these fantastic animals.

Playa Viva, State of Guerrero, Mexico

Playa Viva is designed to help the environment by using alternative energy sources and strategies for waste management, as well as integrating the local people, customs, economic strategies, construction methods and materials.

From being picked up from the airport in a low-emission, diesel-fuelled van, to encouraging organic farming within its property, all aspects of this resort's operations have been designed to have the least impact on the environment. A turtle sanctuary, an archaeological site and 1.2kms of beach front is proof this property is committed to preserving the ecosystem.


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