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Sustainable Hotels Around the World

Published 13 May 2024

From coastal retreats and jungle lodges to luxury floating hotels, the range of sustainable accommodation worldwide is expanding.

The hospitality industry has witnessed a notable shift towards sustainable practices and eco-friendly initiatives, with hotels embracing green technologies, reducing waste, and integrating local cultures into their operations. Not only is this shift good for the planet, but it’s also beneficial for the bottom line as hotels reduce waste, embrace cultural appreciation and adopt green technologies to optimise operations.

With so many hotels embracing holistic sustainability, we’ve highlighted a variety to showcase the diverse range of eco-friendly accommodations to help you get inspired.

Let’s take a tour around the world, but first, what makes a hotel sustainable and why is it important?

What makes a sustainable hotel?

 

In short, a sustainable hotel is known for its dedication to reducing its environmental footprint while making positive social impacts and economic contributions. However, there’s more to being a sustainable hotel than this alone, and it’s a combined effort of committing to sustainable practices whilst driving impactful changes that really make a difference.

Hotels and other types of accommodation contribute approximately 2% of the 5% global CO2 emitted by the tourism sector, which adds to the need for more sustainable options within the hospitality industry. With major hotel companies needing to reduce carbon emissions by at least 66% by 2030 and up to 90% by 2050, there’s a lot of work to be done.

There are many ways hotels can promote and practice sustainability, but eco-friendly accommodation is not about greenwashing, or green-hushing for fear of being seen as not doing ‘enough,’ it’s a real commitment to the environment, the industry and the planet.

Several certifications, organisations, and awards recognise sustainable hotels based on their environmental practices, social responsibility, and overall commitment to sustainability. Some of these include recognition from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the Green Key certification and Earth Check which uses internationally recognised criteria to report on sustainability performance.

It’s also crucial that hotels making green claims in their advertising (e.g., promoting sustainability practices, eco-friendly amenities, energy efficiency, etc.), ensure that these claims comply with the ASA’s Green Claims guidelines to avoid misleading travellers and guests. The Green Claims Directive imposes fines on hotels in the EU for making misleading or inaccurate environmental claims, requiring companies to ensure that their claims are verified and supported by scientific evidence.

 

10 top sustainable and eco-friendly hotels

 

So now we know what makes a hotel sustainable, let’s embark on a journey around the world to explore some of the most impressive eco-friendly accommodations.

Our list ranges from luxury safari-style lodges in South Africa to the most energy-efficient hotel in Slovenia, in no particular order, to showcase exciting and diverse accommodations from around the globe. Get inspired to incorporate similar sustainable strategies into your hotel operations.

Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, Vienna

Nestled in the heart of Vienna, Austria, Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is a stand-out eco-friendly hotel known for its commitment to sustainability. Producing as much energy per year as it consumes, this is Europe’s first zero-balance hotel, which is impressive.

This stunning hotel is “green at heart,” with its philosophy, lush green courtyard and all employees adopting a leadership role in sustainability.

Ways the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is driving change:

  • Excluding mini bars from rooms, saving 21,024 kg CO2 emissions per room, per year
  • Separating 100% of rubbish and waste
  • Producing clean electricity all year using the hotel’s photovoltaic panels
  • Promoting water conservation through smart water management systems

Guests can also enjoy locally sourced organic breakfasts and relax in rooms designed with eco-friendly materials. They even have a lavender garden planted on the roof, promoting biodiversity and creating a haven for bees and wildlife.

Sustainable Hotels - Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, Vienna
Grootbos sustainability hotel

Read more about our work with Grootbos and find out how we’ve helped them get a comprehensive and analytical view on their business using our sustainability management platform.

Grootbos, South Africa

Located near Hermanus in South Africa, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers luxurious eco-friendly lodges, surrounded by pristine landscapes and rich biodiversity.

Dedicated to conservation and community development, the reserve supports local initiatives, protects endangered species, and practices sustainable tourism by offering guided nature experiences that highlight the region’s flora and fauna. The Grootbos Foundation was started in 2003 to conserve the surrounding fynbos whilst training and upskilling the local community.

Since 2018, Grootbos has been certified as carbon-negative and has worked hard to become world-leaders in sustainable tourism, using data analysis to understand more about their impact.

Ways Grootbos are making a difference:

  • Growing fresh, organic produce on their farm to promote sustainable agriculture
  • Creating environmental education programs for local schools and communities to raise awareness about conservation and sustainable living practices.
  • Winning awards for both its luxury accommodation and conservation efforts, including ‘Condé Nast Traveler, Reader’s Choice Award 2022,’ and ‘We are Africa Travel, Winner Engage Africa Award’ in 2018.
  • Saving and recycling water in a water-scare endemic fynbos biome.

Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

In the Middle East, Six Senses Zighy Bay stands as a beacon of sustainability against the backdrop of Oman’s rugged mountains and serene coastline. The resort emphasises conservation efforts through water and energy efficiency, waste management, and community engagement.

Sustainability might seem challenging to a large resort compared to smaller hotels or nature reserves, yet Zighy Bay showcases its commitment to being eco-friendly through a variety of initiatives:

  • Zighy Bay boasts an “Earth Lab” where guests can learn about conservation, experiment and explore.
  • 80% of organic and glass waste is recycled or upcycled, with more than 80% of all single-use plastic being removed from the resort.
  • Production of their own bottled water via reverse osmosis and the saltwater from their pool – the largest in the Middle East.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Omay
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Nepal

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Nepal

Tiger Mountain is a serene mountain lodge set 1,000 feet above the Pokhara Valley in Nepal. Leading the way in sustainable and regenerative tourism practices in Nepal, Tiger Mountain operates luxury lodges and resorts in the Himalayan region, offering guests a unique and environmentally conscious experience.

Demonstrating a holistic approach to responsible tourism, Tiger Mountain’s initiatives not only minimise their environmental impact but also contribute positively to local communities and ecosystems.

Further ways Tiger Mountain supports sustainability include:

  • Blending the lodge surroundings into the landscape to support wildlife and the habitat for birds, butterflies and native animals.
  • Conserving water with measures like reduced toilet flushes, taps fitted with aerators and leaks fixed as soon as possible. With the installation of eco-friendly shower heads, water usage in guest showers has been reduced by 50%.

“The businesses committed to true sustainability have to be able to validate any claim they make, for this data is essential. The team at Tiger Mountain has been logging its sustainability data for over a decade. We now use Weeva as our preferred system for managing data and reporting impacts.”

— Marcus Cotton, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge

Cempedak, Indonesia

Situated on a private island in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, Cempedak Private Island is an exclusive eco-resort known for its sustainable design and practices. The resort features eco-friendly villas crafted from recycled wood and uses renewable energy sources like solar power. Cempedak prioritises waste reduction, composting, and organic farming, providing guests with a tranquil retreat immersed in nature.

This adults-only, ‘barefoot luxury’ island resort works with local communities and neighbouring islands to source supplies and materials, bringing sustainable practices full circle. Intending to show that responsible tourism can be profitable and beneficial to the environment, Cempedak protects and restores its surroundings – without compromising on luxurious comfort for guests.

Find out how we supported Cempedak in managing one of the world’s most successful responsible tourism businesses using our sustainability management platform.

Sustainability hotels Cempedak, Indonesia
SUJÁN, India Sustainability Practices

SUJÁN, India

Renowned for its commitment to luxury and sustainability, SUJÁN offers exceptional accommodations that prioritise guest comfort and environmental responsibility. At SUJÁN, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a core principle that guides every aspect of their operations.

With three camps in their portfolio, SUJÁN Sher Bagh, SUJÁN The Serai and SUJÁN JAWAI aim to preserve and protect wild spaces in India through sustainable and conservation efforts.

There are many ways SUJÁN are making a positive impact:

  • 80.5% of employees are from local communities in and around the state of Rajasthan.
  • SUJÁN currently funds the Village Wildlife Volunteer’s anti-poaching programme, protecting over 1700sq. kms in collaboration with the Rajasthan Forest Department.
  • Supporting education for over 10,000 students within 14 schools across the 3 districts of Rajasthan.
  • Laid a water system of fresh and clean water pipes to bring potable water to an entire village.

Hotel Aguas Claras, Puerto Viejo

Hotel Aguas Claras a property of the Cayuga Collection in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, embodies sustainable luxury amid the country’s lush rainforests and pristine beaches. The hotel prioritises the environment through rainwater harvesting, organic gardening, and wildlife conservation. Aguas Claras offers guests a chance to unwind in harmony with nature while supporting local conservation projects.

This hidden gem is making waves in sustainability by:

  • Volunteering to help clean and maintain principal nature trails at Cahuita National Park, protecting over 55,000 acres of marine area.
  • Investing in home-grown hospitality by hiring exclusively Costa Rican staff from the local area to upskill and educate.
  • Using solar energy generated by the hotel to heat water for guests and help reduce carbon emissions.
Hotel Aguas Claras, Puerto Viejo
Top Sustainability hotels: SaSaab, Kenya

Sasaab, Kenya

Sasaab a property of The Safari Collection, is a boutique safari lodge located in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve, dedicated to wildlife conservation and community empowerment. The lodge supports local schools and health clinics, employs members of nearby communities, and implements sustainable tourism practices to protect the region’s wildlife and habitats.

Through ground-breaking projects and carbon offsetting schemes, Sasaab is a ‘climate-positive safari company,’ meaning that they reduce the emissions they can and analyse what they can’t reduce to purchase responsible carbon credits and counterbalance their usage.

In 2022, Sasaab achieved The Long Run‘s Global Ecosphere Retreat® status and became a centre of excellence in sustainability.

Bohinj ECO Hotel, Slovenia

Bohinj ECO Hotel in Slovenia is recognised as one of the most energy-efficient hotels in Europe.

The hotel is designed with eco-friendly materials, utilises renewable energy sources, and promotes sustainable tourism in the picturesque Bohinj region. Demonstrating that luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand, guests are offered a green getaway surrounded by breath-taking natural beauty.

Remaining the most awarded and most energy efficient hotel in the region to date, Bohinj promotes sustainability through a wide range of initiatives such as:

  • Using power LED lighting instead of regular or halogen lightbulbs to reduce the amount of electricity the hotel uses.
  • Accessing water via a 430 meter well next to the hotel to provide warm water and heating for the hotel.
  • Creating a hotel roof made with wood and natural materials to provide insulation – the first of its kind in Slovenia.
Bohinj ECO Hotel, Slovenia
Meliá International Sustainable Hotels

Meliá International Hotels

Meliá International Hotels is a global hotel chain committed to sustainability across its properties worldwide. Whilst not one hotel in particular, we chose to spotlight the company due to their sustainability efforts that have won them a ranking in the S&P Global Yearbook.

The S&P Global Yearbook ranks companies based on their sustainability performance and assesses various criteria, including environmental impact, social responsibility, governance practices, and transparency. In recent years, Meliá Hotels has consistently achieved high rankings in the S&P Global Yearbook for going above and beyond in its sustainability efforts within the hospitality industry.

Melià is making an impact in many ways, including:

  • Achieving the highest score in the industry for Climate Action – implementing measures that prioritise environmental sustainability within the company’s strategic roadmap.
  • Supporting vulnerable people through employment and upskilling them with training and education.
  • Actively seeking cooperation and partnership with local suppliers, for example sourcing eggs from cage-free providers.

“…we are committed to using exclusively cage-free eggs by the end of the year 2026. This commitment includes both fresh eggs and the eggs used to make egg products, and concerns all of the Group’s hotel brands worldwide.

So, there we have it. Our showcase of some of the world’s most diverse hotels that are setting a positive example for the hospitality industry and inspiring travellers to embrace sustainability during their journeys around the world.

If you’re feeling inspired, read our guide on what sustainable tourism is and learn more about how to measure your sustainability.

Want to learn how Weeva can assist you on your sustainability journey?

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