With April being a month to highlight sustainability and the prospect of travel (slowly) becoming an option again, keyboards are tapping and cursors are clicking as we begin to find familiar places to revisit and new ones to explore. As we seek out adventure and fun (and long overdue reunions!) with our families and friends, the experiences of the past year are fresh in our minds, and along with that the intention to travel and travel well – not only for ourselves but for our planet and the communities we visit. If you’re looking to take a break completely but also minimize your footprint and support the growing number of initiatives to make eco-friendly travel more mainstream here are five sustainable hotels that are looking to change the hospitality experience into one that not only accommodates, but also inspires change.
White Pod Eco-luxury Hotel – Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Far from the crowds, this unique spot is not just one building but a series of ‘pods’ located in the Swiss Alps. Combining both pods (accommodating one person through to a family of four) and chalets (for larger groups). Family pods include a king-size bed, and a mezzanine level with smaller beds for two kids, as well as a shower and toilet. Breakfast is included in the price and is delivered to your pod (with a focus on a locally sourced homemade menu). There is also a restaurant onsite catering to both adults and children showcasing the many tastes of the region.
The idea of cozying up in a pod with the snow falling outside sounds so appealing but there is, even more, to do beyond the slopes in the summer. White Pod offers experiences for all their guests, all of which welcome them to engage with nature. Missing your dog at home? You can take some local Huskies for a mountain climb (the minimum age for kids is 6 years old)! Mountain biking is an option for families with younger children as the hotel offers a bike rental with a trailer option for the little legs who can’t quite make it yet. There is a special guide-led hike that’s ideal for families, showing how to survive in the forest, what you can and can’t eat, how nature supports us.
Located approximately an hour and a half from Geneva Airport, White Pod Hotel is anything but your usual hotel experience – choose your own level of adventure and no matter what you and your family want to do, you will find yourself connecting with and appreciating the simplicity of nature.
Hotel Shandranj – Dolomite Region, Italy
“We respect the environment, we respect you, and we respect your children.” This one sentence alone tells you everything you need to know about the Hotel Shandranj, located in the village of Tesero in the Italian Alps.
Making our list for top sustainable hotels, they pride themselves on holding the exclusive EU Ecolabel – the official European Union’s quality label that guarantees respect for the environment. Based on this philosophy, the hotel built its amenities and accommodations to be an accompaniment to the beautiful surroundings, rather than exploiting it. Their accommodations are a reflection of their environment: cozy yet spacious wooden suites, outfitted with modern amenities and spectacular views, and access to a restaurant focused exclusively on fresh, traditional Trentino dishes.
All of the lodges come with complimentary baby accessories, meaning you don’t need to bring along absolutely everything for the littlest member of your family. From guided child-friendly hikes to horseback riding to snowshoeing, guests of all ages can create a vacation perfect for their activity level. Hotel Shandranj has also created an amazing setup for parents looking to catch a little free time to themselves. They offer two kids clubs ‘Lillino the Chick” and “Lillo the Rooster” as well as a Junior Fun Club, all supervised by qualified hotel staff. Getting there by car is obviously an option, but the hotel also runs a free shuttle from a nearby train station meaning you have another environmentally friendly option to travel to this amazing sustainable hotel!
Canyon Lodge and Cabins – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming USA
With road trips featuring heavily in people’s travel plans last year and this year, it’s no surprise that many families are heading to National parks across the USA to experience a piece of their own (vast) backyard. The most obvious choice that comes to mind is Yellowstone National Park. Encompassing three states (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) there is plenty to explore and many places to base yourself while doing so.
Enter Canyon Lodge and Cabins, part of a sprawling range of rooms and cabins located on the East side of the park that has positioned itself to be very much a part of the drive to make exploring and appreciating the beauty of National Parks not only accessible but also supportive of the natural environment. Best environmental practices on-site include constructing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – the global environmental rating system for buildings) accommodations, removing all plastic water bottles from their operations (they have canned water, which is easily recycled), an opt-out of house cleaning program (take $5 off your stay for doing so), and recycling/compost bins in each room.
Canyon Lodge and Cabins’ dining options focus on sustainable menus with a cafe, a more formal restaurant, and even an ice creamery. Of course, you are perfectly located to explore the outdoors whether on bikes, by foot, or on horseback (Canyon is the starting point for rides of various durations ages 8 and over). Open June – October, Canyon Lodge and Cabins is a great options when looking for sustainable hotels and an ever better jumping-off point to explore this part of Yellowstone.
Six Senses – Malolo Island, Fiji
Escape to the Pacific with the sustainably and family-focused Six Senses Hotel situated in the beautiful Fijian island of Malolo. Their aptly named kids program, Grow with Six Senses provides daily activities for kids of all ages designed to immerse them in local culture, wellness and social activities, their knowledge, and achievements recognized in their personal Six Senses passport. Everything at a child’s level can be imagined here – yoga classes, snorkeling (for kids able to swim), young chefs class, surfing lessons, even solar oven making!
At night, the family can gather together for Cinema Under the Stars enjoying complimentary ice cream and a family-friendly movie. Whether you’re a small or large family, Six Senses has a variety of accommodations from a hideaway pool suite to a four-bedroom residence.
Sustainability is one of the core values of this hotel as evidenced by the day-to-day choices they make to run their operations (organic garden, bottling their own water in glass) and broader goals (they aim to be plastic-free by 2022!). Partnering with organizations such as Blue Marine Foundation and Manta Trust, Six Senses is working towards the mutually beneficial goals of sustainability and travel and is one of our top choices for sustainable hotels!
Mashpi Lodge – Ecuador
Heading off the beaten track in South America, Ecuador is one of the countries at the forefront of sustainable tourism and the beautiful place that is Mashpi Lodge is the perfect example of that.
Located three hours from the capital Quito, this family-friendly hotel was designed to be part of the surrounding environment and takes every opportunity not only on the outside but on the inside too. Before the Mashpi Lodge was even conceived, people were working behind the scenes to ensure that the reserve itself was kept safe from logging companies and that the next steps were one hundred percent focused on not only protecting what was left but regenerating it. This research informed their conservation and resource management strategy as well as connecting them with science-based organizations to share knowledge and findings of the local area. In turn, they use their hospitality to educate guests about the Mashpi reserve and the amazing array of flora and fauna that exist within.
Travelers can experience this simply by walking out their door onto the open-air terrace (use your binoculars to spot the various birds and butterflies) or take a quick twenty-minute walk to the Life Centre where you can breakfast while watching Tayras and wild birds feed. Kids are really included in the Mashpi Mission. Beyond the usual fun activities (night walks, sky bikes, day hikes, butterfly farm) they have a Kids Corner in their research lab, set up with appropriate sized tools and projects to inspire future botanists, biologists, and ecologists. Beautiful naturally lit, spacious rooms, and a commitment to local cuisine round out what is one of the more unique eco-friendly and sustainable hotels in the world.
Do you know of any other great sustainable hotels? Let us know in the comments below so we can check them out!
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