These hotels, from an island retreat in the Maldives to a hotel in a former ghost town, show how luxury and the land can live in harmony.

Across the globe, hotels are taking sweeping actions to lessen their impact on the environment from getting rid of single-use plastic toiletry bottles to eliminating food waste in restaurants. Still few can claim to tread as lightly as a handful of innovative properties that are showing how hospitality and environmentally-friendly practices can co-exist. While none of these stays come cheap, they represent the considered tourism that deserves support when it is safe to travel again.

The bathhouse at Dunton Hot Springs.
The Dunton Hot Springs bathhouse at dusk. Photo courtesy Dunton Hot Springs.

Dunton Hot Springs

This luxury resort in a 19th-century mining town outside Telluride hired a fulltime sustainability manager in 2018. Under her leadership, the property has upped its environmentally-friendly practices. The hotel separates all paper waste and uses it for fire-starting and composting (saving six cubic feet of paper from landfills per week). Chefs make yogurt, cottage cheese and cream cheese to eliminate single-use plastics. Chickens at nearby Bountiful Ridge Farm feed on organic waste from the kitchen. The hotel encourages guests to participate in whole animal butchering, and cheese and candle making. Dunton also believes in community outreach. Each month, staff members participate in two volunteer nights at The Bridge, a homeless shelter in Cortez.

Soneva Fushi is stunning and sustainable. Photo courtesy Soneva Fushi.

Soneva Fushi

Located on its own island in the UNESCO-protect Baa Atoll, Soneva Fushi is a Robinson Crusoe fantasy come to life. The resort’s 63 private villas with thatched roofs are hidden among dense foliage steps from a white sand beach. It also has an impressive commitment to keeping its environment pristine. The resort’s Eco Centro waste processing complex allows the resort to get rid of waste without the hazardous practice of openly burning garbage, common practice in the Maldives. The project was such a success, Soneva is building similar centers on neighboring islands. The resort also offers low impact surfing (all the gear is eco-friendly) and a creative kids program where children learn about the environment and make art out of recyclables.

A Chamber Room at Heckfield Place in Hampshire.
A farm-inspired guest room at Heckfield Place in Hampshire. Photo by Casey Hatfield-Chiotti.

Heckfield Place

Heckfield Place looks like a grand country house hotel, but dig deeper and you’ll see it’s a self-sustaining farm stay. At Home Farm, the heart and soul of the property, staff do everything from breed saddleback pigs to cultivate honey. The farm dates back to the 19th-century and is working towards achieving biodynamic certification. Sowing seed, weeding, planting and harvesting is done by hand. Thanks to the farm, the hotel is largely self-sufficient. The two restaurants rely on fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in the walled garden and in the fields. The loose and fragrant blooms that decorate the hotel’s common spaces and guest rooms are also grown on the 400-acre estate. Heckfield Place even makes its own skincare products using homegrown botanicals.

Six Senses in Portugal's Douro Valley.
The Six Senses in Portugal’s Douro Valley has extensive organic gardens. Photo by Casey Hatfield-Chiotti.

Six Senses Douro Valley

Many wine country retreats claim to be environmentally-friendly, but few meet the high bar set by this health and wellness retreat in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Six Senses takes its responsibility to protect the region’s 3,500 botanical species seriously. The property’s Forest Restoration Project is working to restore a 10-acre woodland containing old-growth trees. The hotel, located in a renovated manor house from the 1800s, has adopted a 1,640-foot stretch of riverbank, and it is investing in organic wine and agriculture practices. The hotel sponsors a donkey sanctuary close to the Spanish border where the last remaining Miranda donkeys are being saved from extinction.

A Bridge King room at 1 Hotels Brooklyn Bridge.
Many guest rooms at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge have river views. Photo courtesy 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

One of the world’s most environmentally friendly urban retreats lies near the banks of the East River in Brooklyn. 1 Hotel’s first property is certified Leed Gold. There are no single-use plastic water bottles in sight; guestrooms feature water filtration systems, and in-room cups and carafes are made from recycled wine bottles. Guest rooms bring nature in with reclaimed wood furnishings, industrial steel accents, custom organic cotton mattresses and sheets, and river views. The picnic-inspired cafe Neighbors stocks fresh items from Brooklyn purveyors like Bocces Bakery pastries and Plot Kombucha.

If you want to know how to help hotels during this time of economic uncertainty, go here.

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