3 of the best luxury eco retreats in the Maldives

With the Maldives introducing a new ‘green tax’ to fund conservation efforts, here’s our pick of three of the best sustainable and eco-friendly hotels and resorts in the region…

Soneva Fushi

This resort lives by the ‘S.L.O.W. L.I.F.E’ philosophy (Sustainable Local Organic Wellness, Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences). With a carbon offset programme, its own organic food production and facilities for on-island bottled water production, this beautiful resort pairs great eco credentials with ‘intelligent’ luxury. Secluded chic beach villas and a ‘Mr Friday’ butler service are available for guests, and wildlife fans will appreciate the stretches of undeveloped shoreline that have been left to encourage turtles to continue nesting on the beach.

Soneva fushi
Soneva fushi

Coco Palm, Dhuni Kolhu

This resort is ideal for those passionate about marine wildlife. A ‘Manta Ray Day’ is held every Wednesday, where guests are led by Coco Palm’s resident marine biologist into the shallows to observe the island’s beautiful creatures. As well as manta rays, the house reef provides excellent snorkelling opportunities with chances to spot whale sharks and dolphins too. Coco Palm is also located in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve whose resorts work together to conserve the area.

Coco Palm resort
Coco Palm resort

Kuramathi Island Resort

There’s a long list of green initiatives being undertaken  by Kuramathi, one of the biggest islands in the Maldives. There is an education eco-centre, filters and ozonators to save water in the modern Jacuzzis, water recycling system, energy saving air-con in the newer villas and a hydroponics garden where fresh salads and herbs are grown for the resorts kitchens.

Eco Kuramathi
Eco-friendly Kuramathi

A closer look at the Indian Ocean, like you’ve never seen before…

The many islands of the Indian Ocean are famous for their white sand beaches and beautiful turquoise waters. Although gorgeous to look at, these paradise beach images can give the impression that the Indian Ocean islands are all very similar to each other. In fact, when you take a closer look, the Maldives, Mauritius and other destinations are all very different from each other.

Maldives close-up
Maldives close-up

In November, luxury travel experts Kuoni launched their collection of microscopic sand photographs taken from their seven resorts in the Indian Ocean. The initiative behind the project is to show travellers that when you take a closer look at the smaller details, the islands of the Indian Ocean are all completely unique from one another.

The different sand grains reflect the geology of each island, giving clues as to what kind of activities you can enjoy there. For example, the sands from La Reunion (an island just west of Mauritius) have yellow lava crystals and black grains made from volcanic basalt. These point to the volcanic origins of the island and travellers here can indeed trek through the forests to see amazing craters and live volcanoes. On the other hand, the grains from the Maldives show six tiny snail shells and a rod spine from a sea urchin, pointing to the amazing snorkelling and diving opportunities to be found in the coral reefs of the Maldives.

Seychelles close-up
Seychelles close-up



5 of the best…Luxury wellness holidays

From educational eco-forest walks in Bali, to dining on nutritious organic cuisine grown in New Zealand, Paul Joseph, co-founder of wellness holiday specialists Health and Fitness Travel, picks five healthy eco-friendly holidays to make you feel more connected to yourself and nature…

These luxurious wellness retreats boast superb eco-design and green-friendly awards, meaning you can travel abroad happy in the knowledge that these retreats actively support sustainable tourism.

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Italy: Lefay

Situated on the shores of magical Lake Garda, this eco-friendly holiday destination values the connection between personal and environmental wellness. From the heat insulation and local natural materials used in the eco-designed architecture, to the use of renewable alternative energies, Lefay actively promotes eco-sustainability. Begin your holiday boosting your health and fitness by personalising your stay with activities from personal training to Pilates and Tai Qi. Ideal for a singles holiday, make the most of complimentary group fitness classes from yoga to circuit training, before unwinding with a relaxing spa massage.

New Zealand: Aro Ha

Encircled by New Zealand’s stunning Southern Alps, luxury wellness retreat Aro Ha fuses eco-friendly accommodation with self-sufficient cuisine, using locally produced organic ingredients from their on-site garden. Enhance the connection between yourself and the environment around you with sub-alpine hiking and kayaking across the lake to the natural bird sanctuary of Pigeon Island. Complement TRX, yoga and meditation sessions with daily therapeutic spa massages and unlimited use of the water therapy suites, to ensure you return home in optimal wellness from this breath-taking eco-friendly holiday destination.

Bali: Zen

Escape to this luxury holistic and eco-friendly wellness holiday destination in Bali, surrounded by pristine tropical gardens. This green retreat offers a range of healthy cuisine, using only the freshest ingredients, with fish caught in the nearby sea and fresh fruit and vegetables grown at the on-site farm. Get closer to nature with a sunrise dolphin sail, rice field trekking and educational eco-forest walks to learn more about local wildlife, flora and fauna. Escape the stress of everyday life with sunrise yoga, sunset mediation and holistic spa treatments.

South Africa: Karkloof Safari Spa

Working with environmental and wildlife professionals to restore the region to its natural splendour, the surrounding eco-system of the eco-friendly Karkloof Safari Spa in South Africa, is happily once again home to a diverse range of indigenous fauna, flora, wildlife and birdlife. The perfect destination for a luxury spa holiday, enjoy indulging with unlimited spa treatments using natural ingredients, from a Maldivian black pepper scrub to a coconut body polish. Explore your natural surroundings by hiking, fishing, mountain biking and spotting local wildlife with private guided safaris.

Greece: Porto Carras

Make a healthy getaway to the white sandy beaches of northern Greece where this eco-friendly holiday destination boasts Blue Flag beaches and respected awards such as the Green Key Eco Label. Using natural ingredients for relaxing therapies, such as mud and clay treatments, pamper yourself at a choice of two luxury spa centres. Ideal for a fun-filled activity holiday, relish in the variety of sports and activities you can enjoy from tennis to windsurfing and meditation. Take advantage of complimentary group fitness classes, including yoga and aerobics, to improve your fitness levels and leave you feeling renewed and revitalised.

For advice, guidance and booking visit www.healthandfitnesstravel.com or call 0203 397 8891

About the author: Paul Joseph is co-founder (with Adam Heathcote) of Health and Fitness Travel, the leading experts in tailormade healthy holidays worldwide. He searches for the rare and hidden gems around the world and puts together exclusive and trend-setting holidays for those who would like to improve or maintain their health and fitness whilst on holiday. As well as a love of all things travel, Paul’s other love is exercise, cycling and yoga. Paul also contributes to the travel pages of various high-profile newspapers and magazines where he offers his expert advice on wellness holidays.

Nest in Sweden’s Treehotel this winter

You’ve heard of the Ice Hotel – now experience the Treehotel. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from this winter wonderland in Sweden.

In the tiny Swedish village of Harads sits the Treehotel – a stunning complex of architecturally designed ‘treerooms’. The Swedes certainly know how to harness the restorative nature of the great outdoors, and the whole complex is designed to offer you peaceful and rejuvinating stay in this pine forest glade with river valley views.

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Winter may be dark but nothing compares to the experience of waking up among the snow-capped treetops, before embarking on a day of dog sledging, snowmobiling, snowshoe walking, ice fishing and Northern Lights spotting!

Responsible tour operator Go Barefoot are offering discounted rates for December and January bookings (see below).


There are currently six tree rooms available, all with a unique and exceptional design: The Mirrorcube, The Cabin, The UFO, The Bird’s Nest, The Blue Cone, Dragonfly. The rooms are built 4-6 metres above the ground and are accessible by ramp, bridge or electric stairs. Lighting, furniture and interiors are all custom made. They vary in size from 15 to 30 square metres – the largest accommodates up to four people.

All have been built to be environmentally-friendly with minimum impact on nature and come with water efficient sinks and conbustion toilets.


For the full Scandinavian experience, guests can make use of The Tree Sauna which accommodates up to eight people. Britta’s Restaurant on the Treehotel site prides itself on serving fresh, wild, local, Norrland produce with a daily buffet and three-course meals available on request.


Plenty of snow-based fun to be had here – just take your pick from an exhaustive list of Arctic activities including dog sledging, reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoe walking, ice fishing, ice dining, moose safari, and horse riding. You can also join a Northern Lights tour, visit the local Sami people, or finish the day relaxing in a forest spa.

Responsible tourism operator Go Barefoot, who specialise in trips that support sustainable development, cultural preservation and environmental protection, are offering special discounted rates for all Treehotel bookings for December 2014 and January 2015. Visit www.gobarefoot.travel or call +44 (0)20 3290 9591 for more information.


Explore Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago with Song Saa Foundation

Join the new ‘Journeys of Change’ tours to find out how the Song Saa Foundation is making a positive impact on the people and places of Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago

Fancy an unforgettable trip to Cambodia’s southern coastal region? The Song Saa Foundation, an initiative of the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island, has launched a new programme of fascinating tours in this generally undiscovered region. The ‘Journeys of Change’ tours allow visitors to get first hand experience of the Foundation’s charity projects across the Koh Rong Archipelago.

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The region itself is a beautiful mix of palm-fringed beaches, coral reefs and dense tropical rainforest, all home to a vibrant range of animal and marine life, and indigenous Khmer communities. The Song Saa Foundation runs a number of charity projects in the region to improve the lives of local people and help protect precious species and habitats. On a four-day ‘Journeys of Change’ tour, visitors can see exactly how these projects are making a positive impact in Koh Rong, while using the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island as their base.

Accommodation on the tour

All tour bookings include a four-night stay in a Jungle Villa in Song Saa Private Island (twin share), complete with private pool and sea views. The tour price also includes all drinks and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There are several opportunities during the tour for guests to spend some time at their leisure and enjoy the spa and water-sport facilities on offer. The multi award-winning luxury resort is considered a leader in sustainable tourism due to its continued commitment to reducing waste and energy use, recycling and reusing wherever possible, and being fair employers that support the local community and local livelihoods. (You can find out more about their sustainability credentials here).

Tour itinerary

Day 1: Boat transfer from Sihanoukville; welcome drinks at Song Saa and introduction to the programme

Day 2: Introduction to Khmer words and customs; island safari around Koh Bong and Koh Ouen; Khmer fishing village encounter including participation in an education workshop with the Foundation’s youth environment group, the Song Saa Sea Turtles

Day 3: Boat of Hope Voyage – join the monthly outreach programme visiting communities across the archipelago to offer clinics and deliver nutritional support. Lunch will be a special picnic on the beautiful 5-mile beach.

Day 4: Guests can pick a morning and an afternoon activity from the following: Marine conservation encounter (help the work of the conservation team in the islands’ marine reserve); Rainforest conservation encounter (work alongside Foundation staff as they survey the surrounding rainforest); Garden to Plate cuisine experience (learn the art of sustainable food growing and Khmer cooking); The World is Your Basket (learn how to make a traditional Khmer basket).

Day 5: Spend the morning at leisure or taking part in one the activities listed above; boat transfer back to Sihanoukville.

Dates, prices and booking

The four-day tour costs £980, which includes accommodation on a full-board basis, speedboat transfers, and all charity project excursions and activities. Tours take place 16-20 of each month in June, July, August and September 2014. For booking and further information visit www.songsaa.com or email: reservations@songsaa.com. For full information about the Song Saa Foundation and its work visit www.songsaafoundation.org.

Recommended for… Those looking to get involved with charitable projects in Cambodia, but who only have limited time

Be aware that… Flights to Cambodia are not included in the tour price

‘Good’ credentials:

  • 100% of tour fees go towards continuing the charitable work of the Song Saa Foundation in Cambodia
  • Stay at a leading sustainable eco resort
  • Join and support marine conservation, rainforest conservation, and community charity projects
  • Tour groups kept to a maximum of 10 people to ensure minimal impact


(Please note: Google Marps marker is only an approximate indiction of location)

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A luxury stay at Costa Rica’s Lapa Rios Eco Lodge

Guest blogger Bev Sninchak reviews a luxurious eco resort nestled in the rainforest of Costa Rica…Macaws at Lapa Rios, Costa Rica

Tucked away in the Costa Rican rainforest, eco lodge Lapa Rios, which means ‘River of Scarlet Macaws’, is a green resort which oozes luxury. According to a Stanford University study published in the Journal of Ecotourism, Lapa Rios offers significant eco-tourism benefits to the region, in addition to offering economic boosts to the area.


Nestled in a private rainforest wonderland of beaches and wildlife, Lapa Rios touts its destination as the place to be for tourists who insist on the ultimate green travel, combining ethereal luxury with environmentally friendly practices that put the goal of sustainability as the top priority. What’s more, the land can never be developed to ensure the forest remains untouched, based on a conservation easement signed by owners John and Karen Lewis.


At 930 acres, Lapa Rios’s Eco Lodge features 16 luxurious rainforest bungalows set right in the middle of the rainforest. Awaken to the sound of macaws and enjoy being surrounded by delightful jungle animals such as toucans, sloths and howler monkeys. You can take in a Pacific Ocean view directly from your bed, and when you’re ready for a meal, saunter down to Lapa Rios’s award-winning Brisa Azul restaurant.


Focusing on eco-friendly fare, Brisa Azul serves dishes featuring grass-fed beef, organic chicken, locally caught seafood, and fresh vegetables and fruits produced from the local region alongside organic wine.

Horse riding at Lapa Rios, Costa Rica


This stunning location in a private rainforest set on the Osa Peninsula reserve that stretches a thousand acres provides visitors with active participation in sustainable eco-tourism. Guided tours with trained local guides teach about the biodiversity of the area. Access to waterfalls as well as three beaches provides a wealth of experiences for lovers of sand and surf, including boating trips, horseback riding along the beach, kayaking, and surfing.

Recommended for…Those who want to completely ‘unplug’ there is no internet, air conditioning, telephone, or television at Lapa Rios.

Be aware that…Lapa Rios is a private rainforest reserve located 45 minutes from the closest airstrip in Puerto Jiménez, and driving takes seven hours from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Lapa Rios was the first Costa Rican hotel to receive the highest status for sustainability from the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
  • Provides both organic and biodegradable shampoo, soap, and lotion.
  • Eco-friendly grooming products are produced locally.
  • Serves to educate about biodiversity through the use of informative materials located in a guide hut.


For additional information and to book your trip, visit www.laparios.com

About the author: Bev Sninchak is a veteran freelance writer with 16 years of experience producing content for various publications. She writes about many subjects, from managing your social media platform to Reputation.com testimonials.

Relaxation and Opulence at Heritance Ahungalla, Sri Lanka

Guest blogger Erin Steiner looks forward to an eco-friendly winter getaway in Sri Lanka…

I don’t know about you, but every year, after the fun of Christmas is over and I’m going to work in the dark and coming Goodtrippers - Relaxation and Opulence at Heritance Ahungalla in Sri Lanka Pic 1home in the dark, all I want to do is get away. I want to go somewhere warm and sunny and beautiful and, instead of me taking care of everybody else, there is a staff of everybody else who takes care of me.

That’s why the Heritance Ahungalla Hotel and spa in Sri Lanka is on the top of this year’s holiday list.

This resort offers 152 rooms that are spread out, along with the hotel’s facilities and spa, across 15 acres of beautiful beachfront property in southern Sri Lanka. The rooms feature native-grown and polished wood furniture and throws, as well as pillows and cushions that are all woven locally, reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint. No imported junk here! You also get your own private balcony with an ocean view.

The culinary team at the Ahungalla Hotel has won awards for everything from its teamwork to its energy efficiency standards and green approach to food prep. This hotel offers a buffet; a coffee shop; and private, individually catered, candlelit dining on the beach. The fare is local, which is a huge bonus for people who love their spices.

The hotel has a spa (a really great one). It also offers infinity and swimming pools, shopping, bicycle rental, and a full gym. It even has a conference venue and business centre for workaholics (ahem) who like to try to get a least a tiny bit of work done while they are relaxing.

Goodtrippers - Relaxation and Opulence at Heritance Ahungalla in Sri Lanka Pic 2Activities
I can only stay put, even in paradise, for a few days before I start looking for something to do. Here, among other things, I’ll be able to take hot air balloon trips, wander over to the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery to see the efforts being made to save the local turtle population, or go whale watching.

Recommended for…  Those looking for a luxury eco escape

Be aware that… The airport is a 3.5-hour drive away from the resort, so take advantage of the car service offered by the hotel.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • The hotel is designed to be perfectly lit by natural light during the day so the lamps and lights aren’t turned on at all until night-time.
  • The hot water system is solar powered.
  • All of the waste produced by the hotel is handled or recycled on site; none of it is allowed to escape into the natural landscape that surrounds the grounds.
  • They only use locally grown food and locally produced furnishing. No imports here!

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer from the US who has written about travel, invoice software and geek culture for a variety of websites.

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Tasmania’s Saffire Freycinet resort – dedicated to ecotourism

Guest blogger Sarah Boisvert profiles a luxury eco resort in Tasmania, Australia

When rain and fog took their toll on my psyche during my Cambridge days, I found my thoughts turning to someplace warm and beautiful. It’s trendy now for many wild, scenic areas to claim to be ecotourism sites, but for me, it’s important to be sure the resort really is environmentally-friendly and has put in place properly green measures to ensure sustainability. Here’s the scoop on one venue that meets my high standards for eco travel.

the resort location (pic courtesy of Saffire Freycinet)

Tasmania, southeast of the Australian coast, is a series of islands that has a temperate maritime climate, so there are rarely vast extremes in temperature. The Saffire Freycinet resort located at Coles Bay is not just a nature resort in a spectacular setting. As early as 1929, the original site was used as a caravan park and backpackers hostel, resulting in considerable erosion of the landscape. The award-winning facility works to restore the area to its natural splendor and is in the process of replanting over 30,000 native species to encourage revitalization of the land. This commitment to restoring the eco-system to its natural state is part of the resort’s core principles.


Everywhere on Saffire Freycinet, architects used natural local products such as sustainably harvested wood and beautiful stone. Colours reflect the hues found in the surroundings, including the gemstones mined here. Building designs appear to bring nature indoors and take advantage of external elements. While the well-appointed Luxury Suites and Signature Suites with their view of Great Oyster Bay are a beautiful way to enjoy the resort, the Private Pavilions provide an added level of privacy. Personal meal preparation by your own private chef can be arranged in your ensuite kitchen, and the Pavilion’s courtyard boasts a personal plunge pool.

Activities – outdoor fun, meditation and spa indulgence

accommodation at the resort (pic courtesy of Saffire Freycinet)Resort Spa – The world-class spa is a testament to the creative use of natural local products. Unique treatments draw from the healing powers of local sapphires that range in color from blue to green to yellow. Yoga mats are provided in each suite, and meditation classes are also available.

Outdoor Fun – Complimentary in your Saffire Freycinet experience are guided tours that range from walks in the spectacular Freycinet National Park with commentary to visits to a local winery or oyster farm. The resort also has its own private archery range with trained instructors. Also, there are kayaks, mountain bikes, kites and other sources of entertainment for the entire family.

Signature experiences let you explore the surrounding area more extensively. There are trips aboard the resort’s especially designed boat, Saffire, with fishing or stops at beaches, as well as exciting tours on Quad Bikes on four-wheel-drive tracks. 

Whether you want to relax in your Pavilion or get your heart pumping both from physical activity and the beauty of the landscape, there’s something for everyone’s taste.


Menus, which change daily at the Saffire Freycinet resort, begin with homegrown produce and local ingredients. Classically trained Executive Chef Hugh Whitehouse says, “In the kitchen, I use premium local ingredients sourced from an established network of Tasmanian and specifically East Coast growers. I believe that showcasing the best of the season allows us to offer a more balanced and textured dining experience.”

At the end of the day, the Saffire Freycinet resort is an eco-friendly destination that takes its mission seriously while offering a 5-star holiday experience.

Recommended for… Travellers looking for a luxurious accommodation; there are plenty of activities for an active family, although the privacy aspect lends itself well to honeymooners or romantic interludes.

Be aware that… It is a high-end resort so add-ons are dear

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Commitment to restoring natural ecosystem of surrounding area
  • Use of sustainably harvest wood and local materials
  • Meals use homegrown or locally-sourced produce
  • Low impact activities on offer making the most of the natural environment

For more information and booking visit www.saffire-freycinet.com.au

About the author: Sarah Boisvert has travelled the world over, as evidenced by her two million frequent flier miles. She has resided in both the British and American university cities of Cambridge and misses English delicacies such as Spotted Dick. And she is always sure to check the online reputation of a resort before she stays there.

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Hotel Xixim, Mexico – a honeymooners’ eco paradise

Guest blogger Rachel Cafferty reviews an eco retreat in Mexico perfect for honeymooners

Hotel Xixim is a tiny piece of paradise in the northwestern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and is part of the ‘Special Biosphere Reserve’ of Celestun.  It’s tucked away from all the noise and people, located along a three mile stretch of white beaches, and home to many species of birds, animals and flowers.

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Nature plays an important role at Xixim, the hotel has been built in a way to minimise any disruption to the land. The area is one of the main feeding grounds for the American Pink Flamingo, which can arrive in their hundreds, and to sea turtles who choose to nest in the beaches.

I may be biased as I spent my honeymoon there but to me, it was beautiful and I wouldn’t hesitate to back. We were lucky enough to be the only guests for two of our five nights there, so had the whole complex to ourselves. The things that stand out are the extraordinary stars in the night sky, the many lizards of various sizes which lined the paths and climbed up the walls, and the attentive staff who made sure we were well looked after (and excellent food and drink).


There are 32 bungalows and every one has a private terrace and an amazing sea view. The Master Suites are perfect for honeymooners and despite not having any air conditioning (they only have ceiling fans for ecological reasons) they stay cool and comfortable. Huge four poster beds take up most of the room and are perfectly positioned for watching the sunsets, while the bathrooms are minimalist but stylish. A member of staff sneaks in each morning and leaves a tray with tea and sweet bread for when you wake up.natural pools Hotel Xixim, Mexico


The hotel is out of the way and once you get you there, you may not feel like leaving. The onsite restaurant does delicious (and relatively healthy for Mexico) food, making the most of the fresh fish and traditional Mexican flavours, and the bar serves strong cocktails. There are two pools – one ‘Family Pool’ and one ‘Wellness Pool’, both with cafes serving snacks and drinks, a wellness centre, yoga and small gym facilities and massage centre.


If you don’t want to leave the immediate area then you can swim, sunbathe, kayak, take part in a yoga session, walk along the three-mile beach or use one of the hotel bikes. There are also a number of day trips and excursions you can do – boat trips to see the flamingos (season depending) and the Petrified Forest; or visit the old haciendas; visit Uxmal (ancient Mayan city); a mangrove adventure; offshore fishing; or even a moonlight safari.

Recommended for… Couples, honeymooners, families (pets are welcome too)

Be aware that… This isn’t a ‘budget’ break and as the hotel is away from the nearest smallest town, you do end up eating each night at the hotel restaurant

‘Good’ credentials

  • The bungalows are designed to harmonise with the surrounding nature
  • No air conditioning – just ceiling fans and thatched roofs provide ventilation
  • Organic garden
  • Reforestation – planting of 30 hectares with Malayan dwarf coconut trees
  • All water is biologically recycled, grey waters go through a biological filter

For more information, including booking, for Hotel Xixim, Yacatan, Mexico, visit www.hotelxixim.com, T: (01-988) 916 21 00, E: info@hotelxixim.com

About the author: Rachel Cafferty works in charity PR in London and has discovered the joys of choosing holidays based on how much nature there is, thanks to her husband’s insistence on seeking out wildlife and staying in yurts.

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Eco-friendly lodging at Switzerland’s Whitepod

Guest blogger Andrew Lisa takes to the slopes at this Swiss eco resort

Skier in front of MatterhornSwitzerland’s Whitepod resort is not only located in a pristine, pollution-free section of the Alps, but it works hard to keep it that way. Combining the charm of a childhood camping trip with the amenities of a luxury hotel, Whitepod’s eco-friendly strategy boasts a surprisingly low environmental impact. Their ecological policy is the blueprint for their goal of being a model to sustainable tourism.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to explore the Alps without ruining them.

Switzerland is a beautiful, majestic destination — especially the mountain region. Whitepod offers a glimpse of life camping in the mountain wilderness without actually having to camp in the mountain wilderness. A slew of impressive amenities provide creature comforts to a resort that blends into — and protects — the surrounding environment.


Available in both summer and winter, each guest or group of guests reserves a pod, which is a globe-shaped structure that looks like a giant golfball anchored to a wooden platform. They are decorated and stocked with local art and furniture, and offer astounding views of the Alps. They feature fully-fitted bathrooms, wood-burning stoves, and a king-size bed in all variations, from single size to family unit.

FoodSwiss flag

No need to bring tinned goods like you would on an ordinary camping trip: all meals are provided on site. Cuisine described as “traditional yet refined” can be found at the Les Cerniers restaurant, which offers spit-roasted barbecue, daily specials, and authentic mountain fare.


You’ll run out of holiday before you run out of things to do at Whitepod. Many of my favourite activities, both indoor and outdoor, are included with the cost of your pod. You can also take a wellness or survival course, enjoy the Japanese bath and sauna, or explore the Alps with a day of hiking or mountain biking.

Recommended for… The environmentally conscious; nearly every aspect of Whitepod is geared toward sustainable tourism. And for those that love the snow-capped mountains.

Beware that… Due to their environmental policies, there are no motorized vehicles to carry your luggage, which means you’ll have to lug it up to your pod yourself. Also, there is no wi-fi in your individual pod.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Conservation of energy and resources – pods are heated by wooden stoves and lit by oil lamps; water usage is limited
  • Local, sustainable materials and fuels are used where possible
  • Bedding is organic
  • Pods are designed to blend into the natural surroundings
  • Whitepod works to educate guests on responsible environmental practices

For more information including prices and booking at Whitepod, Les Giettes, Switzerland, visit www.whitepod.com

About the author: Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about European travel and profiles business leaders such as Steve Wynn.

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Ta-Dar! Escape to the Dar HI Eco Lodge, Tunisia

Heard of a ‘dar’? It could be your new Tunisian eco escape…

Tourism in Tunisia is slowly on the increase again as independent travellers seek out the vibrancy and exoticism of northern Africa. And stylish eco hotels and lodges are popping up all over the area, many in the form of ‘dars’ – boutique hotels converted from townhouses and mansions.

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One such dar, which proudly proclaims its eco credentials (and is therefore a safe bet for any ‘Goodtripper’), is the Dar HI Eco Lodge and Spa located in the historic Nefta town, southwest of Tunis, on the edge of the Chott El Jerid desert (a location that has played backdrop to the Star Wars films to name but a few). The lodge area includes date tree gardens and shaded terraces in which to relax.

Dar HI is super stylish with contemporary design throughout using a mix of natural materials, Arabian inspiration and zingy, uplifting colours. It even houses a ‘laboratory’ for PalmLab – a network dedicated to researching modern uses of the palm tree, whether in cooking, skincare, architecture and design. Dar HI displays many of the project’s pilot designs in its interiors.

Accommodation:Dar HI Pill house

The 17 rooms are based around four concepts: The Pill Rooms (high above ground with exceptional views); The Troglodytes (reminisent of the traditional troglodyte homes of Matmata, each room has a private terrace and is linked to the others by a circular communal space); The Dunes (at sand level these rooms are inspired by bivouacs and the natural, cave-like spaces the wind creates in sand dunes); Dar Malika (a traditional house in the village, perfect for families who still wish to use the hotel facilities).


The natural source of hot water beneath Dar HI means the available hammam and swimming pool remain warm with no need for additional energy to be used in heating. The on-site spa offers the usual range of treatments you’d expect alongside some Arabic specialities including Arabic massage and warm sand scrubs (using sand from the nearby desert).


Organic food is served in the restaurant which is housed in a lovely caven-like space where diners can watch the chefs at work in the open-plan kitchen. They also grow and cook their own vegetables on-site.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Sustainable design and interiors throughout (including hosting PalmLab)
  • Natural hot water source used for pools and hammam
  • Organic food served in the restaurant (using homegrown produce)


For more information, including prices and booking, visit www.dar-hi.net/en

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