These chic establishments prioritize ecological responsibility without compromising on the slightest ounce of opulence. Once a groundbreaking idea embraced by a niche segment of the market, sustainable tourism has transitioned into mainstream consciousness, driven by an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base that’s acutely aware of its environmental impact. Research indicates that the pivotal moment for this movement came during the pandemic, and a 2022 report underscores that a staggering 81 percent of travelers now consider sustainable travel a matter of paramount importance. Luxury brands are taking heed.
A new breed of resorts is expertly balancing luxury and sustainability, incorporating features like solar panels, coral rehabilitation, and initiatives to reduce food waste. From Panama to Greece, here are five retreats where travelers can revel in an upscale environmentally-conscious escape.
Six Senses Kanuhura, Maldives
This month sees the grand opening of Six Senses Kanuhura, spanning three secluded private islands nestled within the pristine Lhaviyani Atoll of the Maldives. Sustainability has been at the heart of Six Senses since its inception in the mid-90s—long before the concept became a travel industry buzzword. Bryce Seator, the resort’s general manager, emphasizes, “Sustainability is one of the fundamental tenets of the Six Senses brand; it’s not a mere component of our operations or initiatives but defines who we are.” This ethos is evident in various aspects, such as the resort’s water-bottling plant, a part of the brand’s wider commitment to eliminating virgin plastic from its operations.
The resort also actively engages in local island conservation efforts, led by an on-site marine biologist, and maintains a garden where chefs and spa therapists gather organic ingredients for their culinary creations and wellness treatments. Among their offerings are the indulgent 90-minute Maldivian honey, papaya, and coconut cocoon, a holistic experience encompassing a scrub, wrap, facial massage, and sound healing. Rates start from $1,019 per night.
Nayara Bocas de Toro, Panama
Nestled on a secluded island off the Panamanian coast, Nayara Bocas de Toro is a resplendent off-the-grid retreat. The property boasts a rainwater purification system and relies on solar energy for its power needs. Earlier this year, this adults-only luxury resort introduced an adventurous element: two treehouses perched 50 feet above the ground. Designed by the acclaimed Bali-based firm IBUKU, led by Elora Hardy, these lofty accommodations were meticulously crafted using four varieties of locally sourced bamboo and hardwood reclaimed from the depths of the Panama Canal.
They feature deep-soaking tubs and open-air living spaces offering panoramic views of the surrounding mangrove canopy. Additionally, the resort has partnered with Caribbean Coral Restoration to install artificial reefs, enriching the marine ecosystem—a boon for snorkeling and kayaking enthusiasts. Rates start from $1,500 per night.
Santo Collection, Greece
This summer, the Santorini-based collection of luxury hotels unveiled three new or expanded properties, including The Villas by Santo Collection. Set atop the cliffs of Oia, overlooking the Aegean Sea, these two private, four-bedroom villas were designed with an equal emphasis on aesthetics and sustainability. Spacious rooms flow seamlessly onto private pools, while state-of-the-art water and energy management systems reduce resource consumption.
The collection has also instituted eco-conscious farming initiatives and introduced a groundbreaking Sustainable Supplies program—the first of its kind in Greece’s hospitality industry—which educates its supply chain about environmentally-friendly practices. Sustainability is the new norm for the tourism sector and an indispensable focus for luxury resort properties, affirms Marigianna Chalkiadaki, Santo Collection’s sustainability manager, emphasizing that “a new generation of eco-conscious travelers is intrigued.” Rates start from $6,351 per night.
Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo
MexicoApproaching the Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, which opened last autumn within a private nature reserve on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, guests may wonder why the drive through the jungle seems endless. Felix Murillo, the resort’s general manager, explains, “This is because we exist to protect and maintain the largest wild natural reserve of its kind in Mexico.” Spread across nine acres, the resort harmoniously coexists with thousands of untouched acres, home to wild cats and over 180 bird species. On-staff researchers and biologists lead guests on morning hikes to explore the region’s natural beauty.
Disposable water bottles and single-use plastics are conspicuously absent; instead, the resort boasts an on-site water filtration plant, a low-impact farm supplying ingredients for its dining venues and taqueria, and a food waste-reduction program featuring a family of Mangalica pigs that efficiently manage the property’s organic waste. Rates start from $1,495 per night.
Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort Hawaii
Nestled amidst the splendor of Hawaii’s Kohala Coast, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, made its debut this summer, offering a selection of accommodations and amenities. These include elegant beach bungalows inspired by traditional Hawaiian hale and the Asaya, the brand’s holistic wellness concept. Equally remarkable is the resort’s commitment to operating on 100 percent solar energy.
It’s a testament to the brand’s recognition of the long-standing role of sustainability in Hawaiian culture. Sandra Estornell, the resort’s managing director, emphasizes, “In Hawai’i, where natural resources are invaluable, and cultural heritage and history are rich, pioneering a sustainable approach is absolutely imperative.” Rates start from $2,500 per night