This research has identified 12 Eco hotels that have been ranked as the top or the best ecotourist destinations. For each, this research has provided a brief description, the factors that make it eco-friendly, and two customer reviews. Additionally, this research presents two trends that are leading the ecotourism conversation: empowering women and shunning animal rides. These insights have been provided below.
Casa de las Olas, Mexico
- Casa de las Olas, located in Tulum, Mexico, is a boutique hotel that has received a Platinum rating LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) review. It was built by Carlo Shuber, an Austrian engineer, in the 1970s. The current owner, Jimmy Greenfield, has made adjustments to enhance its sustainability.
- This place takes pride in the community it attracts like-minded travelers that value sustainability and eats local food. Additionally, the hotel implemented retro-fitted solar panels, sorting trash by hand to recycle, and the use of natural toiletries.
- Review #1: True Sustainability in Tulum
- "I wanted to mention that before I book a hotel, for the most part, I will choose a hotel that is respectful of the environment, especially when visiting more delicate areas where there might be limited resources (such as waste management). I can say with confidence that CASA DE LAS OLAS is my TOP ECO CHOICE for hotels to stay at in Tulum. What makes it sustainable: - powered by the sun - eco-friendly septic - uses reusable bottles for shower toiletries - compost and recycling in-room and onsite — collects rainwater to use for irrigation - no AC, rooms are designed to be cooled by the ocean breeze. I can say that I NEVER felt hot - in fact, I needed their extra blanket at night. - source ingredients for their restaurant locally - support the local..."
- Review #2: Absolute Paradise! Didn't want to leave...
- "This place really is incredible if you're looking for a relaxing getaway with incredible views of both the ocean/white sandy beach direct from our balcony or make use of the amazing roof terrace to watch the sunset with a full panoramic scope of the breathtaking Tulum jungle with not a single building or neighboring property in site! Clo & Jimmy were super welcoming, great hosts with fantastic local knowledge & recommendations for sightseeing, restaurants, bars etc... The food was organic, homemade, and put many large hotel chains and high-end restaurants to shame! Breakfast was always a treat with fresh local fruit, homemade granola as well as the main plate which was always a tasty surprise with a Mexican twist."
Zuri Zanzibar, Tanzania
- Zuri Zanzibar is a hotel in Tanzania that is designed like an African village. It has been recognized as the first hotel in the world to receive the EarthCheck’s Sustainable Design Gold Certification.
- Each thatched-roof villa is supported by stilts above native plants and baobab trees that are used to create umbrellas. Additionally, it is recognized for its organic toiletries, "a magical fragrant spice garden", and "an energy-efficient Evening Breeze air-conditioning system."
- Review #1: WORLD CLASS
- "This property has it all - firstly one of the very best beaches anywhere, then everything else is perfect, the villas have all that one requires, the food is superb and the staff are not only extremely efficient but incredibly friendly and helpful. We're fairly well-traveled and Zuri is certainly up there with the best!"
- Review #2: Lost for words - the best holiday we've had
- "We stayed at Zuri just over a year ago, and we haven't stopped talking about it since. We have been lucky enough to visit some beautiful places but Zuri is by far the best we've stayed at. Zuri has achieved resort nirvana; combining utter luxury in a perfect setting whilst retaining genuine local culture and an environment that makes you feel at home from the moment you arrive. The rooms are the most comfortable, well-appointed we have experienced. The four-poster bed was like sleeping on a cloud! We spent most days on the (private) beach. The sand is so fine like cornflour and water is crystal clear, warm and rejuvenating. We enjoyed kayak rides and loved how well Zuri blended in with lush, green environment from our viewpoint on the sea."
Six Senses, Fiji
- Six Senses Resort in Fiji is a private island powered by the largest off-grid system in the South Pacific. It is surrounded by forests against the backdrop of bright-green tides.
- This resort is recognized for its sustainable implementations such as using energy from Tesla battery packs which are replenished by solar panels and providing its own drinking water using an "in-house reverse-osmosis plant and water refinery to alchemize rainwater." This resort is a plastic-free environment.
- This hotel has 190 reviews on TripAdvisor, with a rating of 4.5.
- Review #1: Hidden Gem
- "This resort is perfect for families wanting an extra value for their money. It is a great combination of fun and luxury. As I would possibly not recommend for exclusive honeymooners due to the inclusion of children, families and larger groups are to have a better experience with the many activities on offer. Staff were super friendly and we were well looked after. Major bonus was the food portions you really do get your moneys worth! Also, their home-made ice-creams are a must try!"
- Review #2: Beachfront fashionable villas on a beautiful island 30 minutes from the port
- "After a long trip from the U.K. to Fiji via Melbourne, we were delighted to arrive at Malolo Island, a 35-minute boat ride from the port on the main island of Fiji. Our lovely villa had a supremely comfortable bed, a nice living area, and an enclosed outdoor shower. We also had a little patio overlooking a plunge pool. Our villa was a short walk up from the beach. Our visit coincided with Cyclone Sarai so we were glad that the villa was sturdily built and we had the protection of trees surrounding us. Normally there are many activities at the resort, but due to the cyclone, we were mostly villa bound. The friendly and accommodating staff did all they could to keep us comfortable, well-fed, and calm."
The Brando, French Polynesia
- The Brando, a LEED-certified hotel, is located in the Pacific, French Polynesia.
- It was built using natural or recycled materials that were acquired locally. Additionally, its air conditioning system uses deep seawater. In addition to its garden, it relies primarily on renewable energy and is on its way to becoming carbon neutral and self-sustainable. The hotel also aims to preserve the cultural heritage and the biodiversity of the island by running several programs.
- The Brando is recognized for its low-impact air-con facility that would probably be the most innovative globally. The seawater, sourced at 3,000 feet below the surface, results in a reduction of energy demand by over 80%.
- Review #1: Great Resort!
- "Our bungalow was fabulous! Bed, extremely comfortable! Everything immaculate. Food was good but not great. Service was very good. Beware of the sun as it is so hot and dangerous! I did get burned! Loved it. Plunge pool was delightful!"
- Review #2: Return to Paradise
- "This was our second visit to The Brando and again we were amazed by the beauty of the atoll as well as the lovely, kind service from everyone. The spa is perfect, so relaxing and spiritual and Marine gave me the best massages I've ever had! The most thrilling experience was the hatching and release of the baby turtles which we were lucky enough to be there for, and the volunteers are quite impressive. I'm surprised someone feels there is little to do here because the concierge staff are so attentive and have so many activities arranged. The villa is beautiful and well maintained with an excellent housekeeping staff. The bed is very firm, but when I requested a pad and goose down pillows it was so comfortable..."
Wilderness Safaris Serra Cafema, Kaokoland, Namibia
- The Wilderness Safaris Serra Cafema is a secluded camp that is fully solar-powered. This remote tented hideaway is leased from the local Himba tribe, which is semi-nomadic. This demonstrates the respect and preservation that this resort has for the indigenous communities as well as its natural resources.
- Review #1: Remote and rare experience‼️
- "This was a fabulous place to stay in Namibia. Rooms are huge and unique. The service is 5 star! We had an exceptional guide who took us to several villages where we able to interact with the women of the Himba tribe. A very memorable and special experience."
- Review #2: Very nice
- "The hotel is in middle of nowhere and is beautiful. The food is excellent and the service is even better. The excursions were unbelievable and very different from the others in Africa. You have to see the Himba tribe!! Mandatory!!!"
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York
- This hotel, located in New York, was built using reclaimed wood, which creates a sharp contrast against the steely Manhattan skyline.
- This hotel was built using reclaimed wood and has living plant walls. The energy used by this hotel is 100% powered by wind, has a water-reclamation system that replenishes the neighboring Brooklyn Bridge Park during the extreme temperatures during the summer by collecting rainwater. A fully charged Tesla is also available for complimentary spins.
- Review #1: Another wonderful stay at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge!
- "We live overseas and often visit Brooklyn to see family. 1 Hotel B B is our favorite place to stay. It manages so well to uphold its eco standards whilst providing luxurious accommodation. This last stay was for a particularly special family celebration, and Eszter Toth, the concierge did everything possible to make sure it was a success in every way. Thank you all, we’ll be back!"
- Review #2: A haven you wish to own
- "I stayed in one the of Liberty view rooms and it couldn't have been a sweeter choice. Having a glass of wine with an open window on such a view definitely heightened the experience for us. And needless to say, we couldn't keep ourselves from keeping the curtains open the entire time we were there. There's nothing much to say about the amenities, except that they were of the highest quality. As a designer, I appreciated every little detail that the hotel possessed. We had a short stay of one night, but regardless our concierge Eszter made sure we were taken care of from a week before the trip until the time we checked out. She was attentive to our every ask and was only a quick text away should anything else come up during our stay..."
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
- The Mashpi Lodge is located in the Ecuadorian Choco-Andean cloud forest. This glass-walled lodge is largely free of plastics. With the help of naturalist experts, the lodge aims to increase scientific research that will study the diverse wealth of the ecosystem by expanding the Mashpi Reserve by 2,500 hectares.
- Review #1: Awesome adventure!!
- "We added a 3-day stay at Mashpi prior to our Adventures by Disney Ecuador and Galapagos trip. It was fantastic! Being a family of hikers and adventurers it was perfect. Hikes to the waterfalls both during daylight and at night were awesome. Don't be afraid to get wet and muddy and you will have a ball. Tour guides were great as was the food and accommodations. Highly recommend."
- Review #2: Amazing Experience
- "Mashpi was phenomenal, Thank you for the hospitality and friendship, the staff was so amazing, delicious food all the time, incredible wildlife, I hope to return one day, my stay was too short, God Bless."
Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Australia
- The Thala Beach Nature Reserve, located in Australia, is an ecotourism destination for nature lovers and has received the Advanced Eco Certification, which is the highest possible.
- This reserve was awarded the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World by Nat Geo because it promoted sustainable tourism, protected the natural heritage of its immediate surrounding by remaining environmentally conscious, and supported the local community.
- Some activities here include building timber bungalows that were supported on stilts within the forest canopy, encouraging biodiversity by implementing the revegetation programs, and the open-air restaurant that uses produce that is locally sourced.
- Review #1: A slice of paradise in Paradise
- "Beckoned in by a plantation of coconut trees the promise of a memorable experience is suggested. Rich timbers of sweeping stairs & lofty ceilings reveal open-plan vistas of tree tops & ocean. There’s nothing more refreshing than tropical mocktails with splashes of ocean & lush vegetation. As lunchtime draws near we venture into Osprey’s Restaurant and we settle on Popcorn crocodile on Thai slaw with chilly hair - the chilly hairs are hand done on the premises .... like spicy saffron threads!! Amazing. Followed by lobster & tiger prawn roll with truffle mayo - shredded cos & onion chives with juniper & celery salted fries with skin, such morish & crispy decadence. The tropical fruit & fruit sorbets were melting moments of heaven..."
- Review #2: Lunches over the weekend
- "My parents suggested going here for lunch because of the amazing location and views. We were taken back by how beautiful everyone was, it felt like a hidden oasis. We had such a lovely first lunch, that we came back the next day! The food and drinks were gorgeous and I’m glad I left room for dessert. Special thanks to Jamon who made us feel very welcome both days. When we visit Cairns again, this place will be on the top of our list to visit. And it should be on yours as well!!"
TreeCasa Resort, Nicaragua
- The TreeCasa Resort in Nicaragua is basically defined as a luxury treehouse for adults, built on two giant Ceiba trees within the El Encanto jungle.
- The resort aims to implement sustainable practices in celebration of nature and the jungle's ecosystem. The materials used in the construction of these structures were all-natural and eco-friendly. The reserve also practices organic agriculture, uses biodegradable cleaning products, and grows the fruits that are served to guests.
- Review #1: Luxury in the jungle!
- "I spent one month in Tree Casa. I just loved the architecture and the video of the full place! I also enjoyed the decoration of the room, the food, all the staff, the pools, the sunset spot. I definitely recommend."
- Review #2: Tree Casa is Mindblowing
- "Wow! What can I say? I stayed at Tree Casa for 30 days during my yoga teacher training. The resort is stunning but honestly, it's the staff that make this place what it is. They continued to go above and beyond for us during our training, food was exceptional, rooms were always cleaned top to bottom, our NYI contacts were always on hand, tours and excursions offered were absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to return next year."
Tambo Del Inka Hotel, Peru
- Tambo Del Inka Hotel is located in Peru, surrounded by mountains. This LEED-certified hotel is located at the heart of nature.
- It is recognized for creating its own wastewater treatment plant, implementing low-flow plumbing, installing an indoor climate monitor, a strongly-enforced recycling program, and the use of local materials, such as lumber, in the construction of the hotel.
- This hotel has 3,729 reviews on TripAdvisor, with a rating of 5.0.
- Review #1: 5 Star everything
- "To say that this hotel was amazing does not do it justice. Right in the middle of a small town is this five-star luxury, world-class property, and resort. The interior is immaculate in every way. The staff is friendly and welcoming, the restaurant and bar leave nothing to be desired, all the rooms were clean and spacious. We had a problem with our room and got moved without a fuss. The spa is very nice and the pool has a spectacular half in and half out design. I highly recommend this hotel if you’re considering it."
- Review #2: Amazing property and service
- "This hotel is amazing. I had wonderful and aggressively attentive service from the team every day, especially in the mornings at breakfast. He bent over backward to anticipate my every need!! The landscaping and rooms are extraordinary. The food was terrific."
Proximity Hotel, North Carolina
- This hotel is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. TripSavvy ranks it as the top eco-friendly hotel in 2019. It was also the first recipient of the LEED Platinum certification in the US.
- This hotel achieved recognition for being sustainable by installing a 100 solar panel roof, sourcing food locally, an elevator that re-generates power, and following the reduce-reuse-recycle method of conserving energy.
- According to TripAdvisor, the hotel has 653 reviews and is rated 4.5 stars. Additionally, it is ranked second of the 80 Hotels in Greensboro. It has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence and ranked by the GreenLeaders at the Platinum level.
- Review #1: Nice Change of Pace
- "Refreshing place to stay while in town on business. Beautiful aesthetics and thoughtful additions for traveler comfort. Pleasant check-in, a beautiful atrium, spacious and clean rooms, standard workout room. Room service was high-end, may have even needed some more causal choices."
- Review #2: Anniversary
- "Wow, we came to Greensboro specifically to stay at this hotel after seeing a piece about it on UNC-TV. It was our anniversary weekend and the hotel was very accommodating with a special package. We loved the classic timeless decor and the eco-initiatives that make the hotel a platinum level Leeds certified property, like the filtered water bottle filling station on each floor. It’s located in an office park area so not exactly downtown. But we hopped on our bikes (they had loaners off you don’t bring your own) and rode the nearby network of greenway path and got a good overview of the area. They also have a cool London cab to take you into town. Really enjoyed our stay and love supporting an employee-owned business."
Svart Hotel, Norway
- Svart Hotel in Norway will generate more energy than it uses in the course of its lifetime. The not-yet-constructed space-age hotel has ambitious goals.
- This hotel, from its raw materials, construction equipment, the daily processes, and its eventual demolition, is aimed to be highly sustainable and waste-free. As it is yet to be built, this hotel does not have any customer reviews available.
Trend#1: Empowering Women
- Initiatives such as the #MeToo movement have increased the awareness of issues facing women globally. The travel industry has joined in with this trend by looking for ways to uplift the women in the communities of their travel destinations.
- This trend has seen an increase in female-owned establishments and businesses witnessing an increase in bookings or by purchasing supplies or souvenirs from the local female traders and artists. Additionally, tour operators have noted the trend and are now designing packages that surround supporting women empowerment.
- Lokal is a tours' operator that supports women businesses, establishments, and destinations.
Trend #2: Shunning Animal Rides
- As growing ecotourism trends, safaris and natural reserves are beginning to implement rules to avoid animal rides and petting. Elephant safaris are popular in Asian countries. Even though the animals may not be physically abused, it goes against respecting the immediate environment and wildlife.
- It is unnatural to keep animals locked/caged in and maintaining increased human contact affects the animal's instincts negatively. It may interfere with their ability to adapt to their natural habitats.
- Social media has played a key role in increasing awareness of how some places are inhumane to these animals. Although entertainment purposes in zoos. these videos of cruelty may not be constant across various places, there are still some negative impacts that may occur, even to animals locked up for
- Tourists have joined in the fight against elephant rides and petting zoos. These efforts, coupled with petitions that are doing rounds, aim to prevent these practices from continuing, with the intention of releasing the animals back into their natural habitat.