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Discover how luxury hotels and resorts worldwide are leading the charge in sustainable travelIn the heart of Monteverde, Costa Rica, the 26-room carbon-neutral Hotel Belmar stands as a bastion of sustainability. With a core commitment to reducing the plastic footprint, this luxury boutique ecolodge has set a high bar for environmental stewardship. Eco-conscious procurement policies that favour eco-packaging and bulk purchases are just the start. The hotel’s robust recycling and reuse programs have significantly minimised plastic waste. Through its involvement with Ecoheroes, an initiative to eradicate plastic waste from Costa Rica’s coastal areas, Hotel Belmar provides monthly financial support that empowers local families to collect and recycle plastic waste, transforming it into material used in construction. Nearly four decades since its inception, Hotel Belmar remains a pinnacle of eco-tourism, actively protecting and regenerating the Monteverde cloud forest and enriching the local community with educational and professional opportunities.

Noteworthy are the hotel’s ongoing initiatives:

  • Eight years of operating without plastic bottled water, maintaining a virtually plastic-free bar.
  • Onsite production of plastic-free sodas using an in-house seltzer machine, flavoured naturally with amaranth and hibiscus.
  • Adopting the Biointensive Agriculture Method to maximize agricultural output on small plots, emphasizing water conservation and organic practices. Its Finca Madre Tierra farm is the first in Costa Rica to achieve a carbon-neutral certification.

Halfway across the world in Rishikesh, India, Ananda in the Himalayas offers a serene retreat within a Maharaja’s palace estate. This wellness sanctuary employs a zero wastewater policy where recycled sewage nourishes the gardens, and food waste benefits local agriculture. Its onsite water bottling plant drastically reduces plastic waste using reusable glass bottles. Additional initiatives at Ananda include:

  • Heat pumps reduce daily carbon dioxide emissions by 1,200 kg.
  • Programs supporting underprivileged girls in spa therapy training, matching guest donations.
  • Emphasis on local, organic produce and educational cooking classes promoting Ayurvedic dietary practices.

In Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the beach town of Las Catalinas presents a unique sustainability model. As a car-free zone, it focuses on restoring its tropical dry forest ecosystem through reforestation and fire prevention strategies. The town has planted over 5,000 native trees and enforces strict water and energy usage policies to protect and enhance its natural environment. Las Catalinas also promotes a sustainable closed-loop food system and has integrated stormwater management practices to prevent erosion and maintain ecological integrity.

Meanwhile, in Saint Lucia, the Calabash Cove Resort and Spa offers an all-inclusive, adults-only haven with a strong focus on reducing plastic usage. The resort serves all beverages in glass bottles and locally sourced food, reducing its carbon footprint. Sustainability measures at Calabash Cove include:

  • Solar energy for all hot water needs.
  • An onsite water treatment plant for recycling irrigation water.
  • Support for local agriculture and responsible waste management practices.

In Rome, Italy, the Bettoja Hotels family has embarked on a mission to eliminate plastic waste, beginning with removing all plastic bottles from their properties. This initiative alone reduces annual plastic waste by tens of thousands of bottles. Bettoja Hotels continues to innovate by substituting plastic items with natural materials and employing local resources to minimize its environmental impact.

Moreover, travel companies like Scenset are enhancing sustainable tourism practices. Based in San Francisco, Scenset specializes in creating personalized, eco-friendly travel itineraries in Botswana and South Africa, promoting conservation and community engagement.

As these examples show, hotels and travel companies globally are not just participating in Earth Day once a year but making it a part of their daily operations. By adopting and advancing sustainable practices, they play a crucial role in the global movement towards environmental stewardship, setting a standard that inspires others in the industry.

This proactive approach to eco-friendly operations showcases a powerful commitment to sustainability that preserves our planet and enriches the travel experience for all, ensuring that we can enjoy the world’s natural beauty for generations to come.




Written by: Jill Walsh