If you’re passionate about minimising your eco footprint – even when you’re on vacation, then you’d be keen to check out our list of ASIA’S TOP 10 ECO RESORTS
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Global awareness of eco-tourism has grown rapidly over the years and an increasing number of holidaymakers are choosing resorts with a good environmental and social record. Eco or green resorts are built in such a way that reduces energy consumption and waste through the use of better design, construction and maintenance methods. Here is our pick of ASIA’S TOP 10 ECO RESORTS that are serious about conservation and leaving a minimal carbon footprint and impact on the surrounding environment.
1. Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia
The brand new Alila Villas is located on the enchanting island of Koh Russey on the Cambodian Riviera. It takes 20 minutes from Sihanoukville airport by private car and speedboat transfer to get there. During the construction of the resort, most of the island’s natural foliage has been preserved, with the low-density structures accounting for just 15 per cent of the 60 acres of lush grounds. Other sustainable features include villa systems that automatically adjust lighting and temperature when occupants enter or leave, a fishing exclusion zone which is set at 200 metres around the resort to preserve the marine environment and a special nursery which aims to protect more than 20 species of trees indigenous to the island. The resort, infused with Khmer culture and charm, is endorsed and certified by EarthCheck in the areas of operational and environmental sustainability as well as carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
The Song Saa resort was built with sustainability in mind and a concern for preserving the beauty of the Cambodian coastline. The building structure was mostly hand-made using local materials and infused with local art and soul. Building materials are mostly reclaimed timber sourced from the mainland. There are 24 villas within the resort and all are furnished with re-purposed furniture or recycled items like discarded oil drums turned into lamps, driftwood turned into tables and benches and salvaged fishing boat parts that are used as floor decks. Meals for guests are based on seasonal fruits and vegetables sources locally. The resort is committed to preserving the marine life in Cambodia, improving the lives of the local communities through multiple educational and health initiatives, and the conservation and restoration of land in the Koh Rong Archipelago.
3. The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
The Datai re-opened this year (2019) after an extensive one-year renovation with plenty of improvements and discreet additions. When the resort was built 25 years ago, architect Kerry Hill insisted that the main building should be perched on a forest ridge 40 metres above sea level and set 300 metres back from the beach. His idea was initially met with bewilderment as green initiatives and sustainability were unheard of then. Rather than using heavy machinery, trees were felled by elephants and the wood re-used in construction. Where a clearing had to be made, new trees were planted immediately. Some structures were built around trees or across streams. Hill’s vision for the architecture, mainly to give the resort a sense of belonging to the jungle, has paid off. Today, the resort takes its place in the rainforest in a non-intrusive manner, co-existing with the indigenous wildlife. Hotel guests are often treated to sightings of rare animals such as the adorable dusky leaf monkeys, the nocturnal tokay geckos and the bat-like sunda colugos during their stay.
4. The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh, Malaysia
The Banjaran is Malaysia’s first luxury natural hot springs wellness retreat, nestled in a valley amid 260-year-old limestone hills, geothermal hot springs and natural caves. Intent on reducing its carbon footprint, most of the lighting is LED, water is treated at its own sewage treatment plant and most of the materials such as paper, glass and batteries are recycled. The hot tubs inside the guest villas and swimming pools are filled with water drawn from the natural geothermal hot springs to reduce water wastage. The range of skincare products used in the spa are sourced locally and made with natural ingredients with no harmful chemicals. Suppliers and vendors have to comply with the resort’s green requirements while staffs are given training on good sustainability practices. The resort was recently awarded a Green Globe Certification.
5. Topas Ecolodge, Sapa, Vietnam
Located in the mountainous region of northern Vietnam, the remote Topas Ecolodge was built with sustainability in mind. The lodge’s architecture is based on ethnic design styles of thatched roofs and stilt foundations. One of the main attractions is the infinity pool which is heated by an eco-friendly system that uses 85 per cent less energy than regular pools. The restaurant serves locally sourced foods which are free of pesticide. It even has its own chicken farm and garden where organic vegetables are grown. To reduce waste, all food leftovers are given to local farmers to feed their livestock while cans and boxes are given to the local people to reuse in their households.
6. Naman Resort, Danang, Vietnam
Naman’s most distinctive design feature is its extensive use of sustainable materials such as bamboo, natural stone and greenery to create a harmonious sanctuary for resort guests. The resort is positioned as a wellness sanctuary with dedicated outdoor space for yoga and beach activities. Bamboo plants and trees are also extensively used along foot paths around the resort providing a natural shade for guests. The architect Vo Trong Nghia has managed to create an aesthetically stunning resort while leaving a minimal carbon footprint.
7. Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Maldives
Set in the heart of the Maldives archipelago on Vabbinfaru Island, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru focuses on a “high-touch, low-tech” approach that celebrates the human touch and the use of natural herbs and spices. The resort, awarded a Silver by EarthCheck, works towards water conservation as well as tapping renewable energy such as wind and solar energy to complement electricity use. To power its water heaters, the resort uses solar energy. Staffs are trained to be mindful about energy consumption and they will check to see that lights are switched off when not in use. Ceramic bottles are used to store massage oils to cut down on usage of non-biodegradable containers.
8. Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa, Philippines
Voted a “Travellers’ Choice” in TripAdvisor, Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa is a five-star eco-friendly resort just a scenic boat ride from Coron town in Palawan, Philippines. Because the island is in a remote paradise 22km from Coron, the resort has to be self-sustaining and rely on its own water and electricity needs. It has its own desalination plant to convert sea water to fresh water using reverse osmosis. For electricity needs, the resort relies on its own generators. Solar panels are also used to power the water heaters. The resort also has its own sewage treatment plant and waste water is treated and re-used to flush the toilets. Two Seasons understands the importance of being eco-friendly and has taken the initiative to provide a sanctuary for turtles and giant clams.
9. Nihi Sumba, Sumba, Indonesia
Voted “top hotel in the world” for two consecutive years by Travel & Leisure magazine, Nihi Sumba (formerly known as Nihiwatu) is a resort that takes an eco-friendly approach to promote responsible luxury. For example, much of the restaurants’ produce is grown in the resort’s organic garden, fed by a composting and water-recycling system. The hotel’s green ethos extends beyond its walls, with community outreach programmes in local villages, a turtle hatchery and a foundation working to clean water and reduce malaria on the island. Nihi Sumba is tucked away on one of Indonesia’s most unexplored islands, almost entirely protected from urban development.
10. Fivelements Retreat Bali, Indonesia
Fivelements Retreat Bali opened in late 2010 as the first of a new genre of wellness destinations bridging the wisdom of traditional healing cultures with innovative wellness concepts. To date, the eco-wellness retreat has garnered 18 awards across different categories. The resort is guided by Balinese philosophy and culture while its green initiatives covers areas like water treatment, energy conservation, use of sustainable materials, recycling of waste and monitoring indoor environment quality. For transportation, the resort supports the use of bicycles and electric buggies.
As a hotel guest, you too can make a difference in reducing your carbon footprint. The simple act of switching off the air-con and lights when you leave your room is a great start. Towels and linens need not be changed daily. Think twice before you open that extra bar of soap. If possible, bring your own slippers instead of using room slippers which are often discarded after you check out.