Five boutique hotels that are big on eco awareness
Most of us know that the planet's oceans are under threat, ecologically-speaking. And a delicate balance needs to be struck, especially with tourism. On the one hand, attracting holidaymakers helps fund local eco projects. But on the flip side, too many visitors risk damaging the environment. So who on Earth is getting it right? Here are five boutique hotels putting eco projects into action.
1. Coral growing in Petit St Vincent
Boasting its own private island, tree-top spa and luxury cottages, this tiny Caribbean resort takes care of its pristine, tropical surroundings. And with two miles of powder-white sand beaches to call its own, Petit St. Vincent follows strict sustainability policies in coral reef restoration and recycling.
Its state-of-the-art reverse osmosis desalination plant turns ocean water into fresh drinking water straight out of the tap. It's also put into reusable glass bottles –reducing the need to import plastic-bottled water.
The hotel has also been working with the Philip Stephenson Foundation and CLEAR Caribbean to create a coral nursery inside a carefully managed restoration zone. Here, six tables on the Atlantic side have been anchored ten feet deep near existing coral outcrops. Populating these with fragments of collected Elkhorn coral will then help other reefs regenerate.
2. Sustainable fishing off Tiamo Resort
Heading north to South Andros Island in the Bahamas, Tiamo Resort is in a sheltered cove. A pure, back-to-nature escape, its eco-friendly, beachside bungalows are built from sustainable local pinewood and elevated on stilts to provide natural airflow.
Here you can snorkel an underwater limestone crevice teeming with sea creatures, or dive into the Blue Hole – the world's third largest coral reef. And spot 300 different bird species such as the Great Lizard Cuckoo and Cuban Pewee. The bio-diversity above and below the water is phenomenal, and passionately protected.
Tiamo Resort's environmental ethos extends far beyond its use of solar panels. Their delicious fusion cuisine is based on locally sourced seasonal produce. They've also removed lobster and conch from menus in a move to promote more sustainable fishing.
3. Clean and green at Zeavola
The tranquil northern tip of Thailand's Koh Phi Phi provides the perfect jungle and beachside setting for Zeavola Resort.
Its responsible practices begin with sourcing water from local wells and a rainwater collection system. All natural waste, including garden trimmings, is shredded and turned into nutritious mulch for the jungle garden. And nature conservation initiatives include providing fruit trees and medical assistance for birds, as well as monkey rescue and resettlement in uninhabited areas of the National Park.
Beach areas are meticulously cleared of rubbish and other pollutants. And every year, staff and guests at the hotel are encouraged to get involved in reef cleaning activities that form part of the Coral rehabilitation initiative.
4. Caring for turtles on Gaya Island
Golden beaches fringed by lush rainforest and mangroves. Coral reefs warmed by the South China Sea. Borneo's Pulau Gaya is paradise found, set in the heart of a marine conservation area. It's also home to Gaya Island Resort, an exotic collection of luxury villas where guests get to experience first-hand the hotel's vital marine conservation efforts. These were devised by the resident Marine Biologist, Scott Maybeck, to support three conservation pillars: Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation Through Education.
While protecting and cleaning the coral gardens below the water forms a vital part of his team's efforts, it's preserving the resident turtle population that Scott is particularly passionate about. Via this programme, he rescues and treats sick and injured turtles found on the beach before releasing them safely back into the sea. There's also a hut nearby that nurses baby turtles to a bigger, more predator-resistant size.
5. Lessening the impact on Pangulasian Island
Giant rock formations rising out of the deep blue sea and limestone cliffs blanketed in lush green forest are the setting for Pangulasian Island Resort. Deservedly known as the 'Island of the Sun', this highly protected UNESCO site has its own marine sanctuary on its powdery white sand doorstep.
Along with the 'no plastic bottles' rule here, you won't hear noisy jet skis or other motor sports. Everything is steered towards protecting the tranquil environment.