Six Green Retreats to Put on Your Travel Wish List

Small Luxury Hotels of the World has launched a collection of actively sustainable properties that go the extra eco mile.

On the terrace at Forestis in Italy’s Dolomites. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

Responsibly minded travelers still have to cut through a lot of greenwash to find accommodation that’s right for them, but the process is getting easier. Case in point: the Considerate Collection from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Carefully selected from SLH’s diverse network of 500-plus boutique properties, the portfolio debuted in October with 26 “actively sustainable luxury hotels” in 16 countries, each vetted against criteria developed in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Singapore-based consultancy Greenview. Recognized for their community mindedness, cultural custodianship, and environmental consciousness, the properties all pursue meaningful sustainability initiatives, the details of which are spelled out on the collection’s website. And more SLH members are destined to join the list. In the meantime, here are six to consider for your future travels.


The living room of a suite at Forestis. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

Forestis, Italy

Powered solely by renewable energy and designed with natural materials sourced from the surrounding countryside of South Tyrol, Forestis is an Alpine escape with a conscience. The spa hotel’s scenic perch 1,800 meters up in the Dolomite Mountains is matched by an elevated commitment to sustainability (for every tree felled during construction, two others were planted) and community engagement, complimented by a zero-waste kitchen that showcases foraged ingredients and regional produce. At the spa, guests can also sample the healing traditions of the ancient Celtic tribes that once roamed this land, including a druidic style of yoga called wyda.


Tent villas at Phuket’s Keemala. (Alex Teuscher/Courtesy of Keemala)

Keemala, Thailand

Whichever style of accommodation one chooses at Keemala — there are tent villas, clay cottages, tree houses, and cocoon-like “bird’s nest” villas — all are designed to attune guests to the rhythms of the surrounding forest. Set in the hills above Kamala on the west coast of Phuket, the resort is restorative in more ways than one: it’s an active supporter of the Royal Thai Navy’s Sea Turtle Conservation project as well as community-based mangrove restoration and tree planting. Food menus emphasize ethical eating, each villa has its own water treatment system, and there’s a small menagerie of rescued animals, including a water buffalo that was saved from the slaughterhouse.


A seaside villa at Petit St. Vincent. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

There are just 22 villas on this private Caribbean resort islet, which was originally developed in the 1960s and given a multimillion-dollar revamp by its new owners a decade ago. Guests can expect both barefoot luxury and a regenerative ethos highlighted by coral restoration activities and efforts to develop marine protected areas around the island. Home to one of only two Jean-Michel Cousteau dive centers worldwide, Petit St. Vincent produces its own fresh water at a state-of-the-art desalination plant and helps fund the education of its employees’ children.


Poolside at The Fortress Resort & Spa. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

The Fortress Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka

Situated at Koggala on Sri Lanka’s sun-drenched south coast, The Fortress mixes Dutch-colonial architectural influences with homegrown Sri Lankan charm. Most of its 53 teak-floored rooms and suites have unobstructed ocean views; there’s also an Ayurvedic spa, an Olympic-size pool, and an emphasis on sustainably sourced food from nearby farmers and fishermen. Certified by Green Globe, the resort runs its own turtle conservation project and offers an array of immersive experiences within the local community.


A bathtub with a view at Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan. (Courtesy of Gangtey Lodge)

Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

Set on a ridge above the fields and forests of central Bhutan’s Phobjikha Valley, this 12-suite Himalayan hideaway takes its design cues from traditional farmhouses but with the added comforts of plush bedding, heated hand-cut stone floors, and cozy fireplaces fueled by sustainably sourced firewood. Guests are encouraged to connect with the local community through meditation sessions and blessing ceremonies with the monks at the nearby Gangtey Goenpa monastery; they’re also invited to visit farming families to make cheese and butter and assist with the harvest. Additionally, the property carries out an annual tree-planting program and helps maintain the winter roosting grounds of the valley’s endangered black-necked cranes.


Left to right: The spa at La Sultana Marrakech; Riad Bahia, one of the five riads that make up the hotel. (Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World)

La Sultana Marrakech, Morocco

The Kasbah quarter of Marrakech’s World Heritage–listed medina provides an atmospheric backdrop to one of the city’s most inviting boltholes. Comprising five historic riads, La Sultana is a showcase of traditional Moroccan decorative arts — intricate stuccowork, zellij tile mosaics, sheeny tadelakt plaster — that guests can explore on tours led by resident heritage and architecture curators. Kitchen ingredients are sourced from a small network of slow-food producers, the on-site boutique champions local artisans, and the spa, equipped with two colonnaded hammams, incorporates locally made products such as argan oil and ghassoul clay.


This article originally appeared in the December 2021/February 2022 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“For Your Consideration”).

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