Responsible Resorts: The World’s Most Luxurious Eco-Destinations

Responsible Resorts: The World’s Most Luxurious Eco-Destinations

By Gemma Askham | Apr 20, 2021

Seeing “responsible” and “luxury” in the same sentence was once as likely as spotting a snow leopard on your morning commute. But the travel industry has stepped up: prioritizing sustainability alongside, rather than instead of, comforts such as plumbing. Meaning you can satisfy a planet-focused conscience and a love of great design, as these bookmark-now boltholes prove... 

Cuixmala, Mexico 


Not many hotels have graced the cover of Vogue Paris. Cuixmala has. Wildlife-documentary-meets-Architectural-Digest is the fantasy world inside this 30,000-acre nature reserve: zebra roam free, 270 bird species provide your Spotify soundtrack, and almost one million turtle hatchlings have been released from its private beaches.

Accommodation spans terracotta-walled villas as well as the palatial former residence of environmentalist Sir James Goldsmith, where the Master Suite’s outdoor jacuzzi overlooks the beach.

A biodynamic farm provides 90% of everything served here – including essential oils for massages; while Cuixmala’s volcano-side sister resort, Hacienda de San Antonio, produces organic coffee, cheese and milk.  

Svart, Norway 

Built on stilts in the ocean to minimize ground impact, and in a circle for 360-degree glacier views, the glass-fronted Svart looks… otherworldly. But even on this planet it’s a one-off: when it opens in 2022, it will be the world’s first energy-positive hotel – producing more power than it uses.

It’s hoped Svart’s innovations, such as capturing heat from the kitchens and repurposing it for central heating, will up the green-game of other hotels. Join mountainside foraging trips, or practice yoga in the midnight sun (the sun doesn’t set for several weeks during Norway’s summer). Winter is when to cross your fingers for a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights. 

Islas Secas, Panama

Want an unplugged paradise, but also really like wi-fi? Islas Secas, a private-island eco-resort 20 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama, offers the best of both worlds and throws in a private deck-top plunge pool. Here, 100% of energy is solar-generated, all food waste is recycled, there are no single-use plastic bottles, and its maximum occupancy is 24 guests.

The vibe is eco-conscious and intimate: backgammon and G&Ts replace TV; food is local, fresh and unfussy; and it’s staffed by a team of passionate environmentalists who’ll take you humpback whale-watching but won’t forget to bring wine. Islas Secas is for people who crave eco-adventure and AC. 

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa 

A true bucket-list experience, it’s one thing to try to rationalize the scale of Grootbos – 2,500 hectares of beach, forest, mountains and flower-rich heathland called “fynbos” – let alone its beauty. But this is style and substance.

Beyond its species-preserving ecological work, Grootbos upskills local communities, teaching crafts such as bee-keeping, as well as IT training. Which earned Grootbos a prestigious ‘Best in Poverty Reduction’ award from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Pick a Private Villa for the ultimate in quiet luxury: it comes with a chef, pool and your own wine cellar. This, on top of mountain-sourced spring water and homegrown food. 

Kudadoo Maldives Private Island, Maldives

When it opened in 2018, Kudadoo got people talking. Firstly, for the champagne-stocked minibars and unlimited spa treatments – both complimentary in one of the most comprehensive all-inclusive packages the Maldives had ever seen.

Secondly, for being the Maldives’ only fully solar-powered private island. The 15 overwater villas are also constructed from sustainable wood, and it champions sustainable line-fishing practices for seafood served in its restaurant. Which, we will name-drop, is headed up by Antoine Lievaux, alum of Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse.

Also worth noting: the rooms are enormous, and the spa has the Maldives’ first Himalayan salt cave, whose salty air is thought to heal. 

Six Senses Bumthang, Bhutan

Bhutan, in South Asia’s eastern Himalayas, is the only carbon negative country in the world – meaning it actually takes in more greenhouse gases than it emits. Over 70% of Bhutan is woodland, which helps, as does a sensitive approach to tourism where there’s a daily cap on numbers.

Once in, Six Senses Bhutan is the luxe spot to unwind. Bumthang, which opened in 2020, is the newest of the five lodges, and it’s especially eco-conscious. Architects worked around trees instead of clearing them – in doing so, creating a sense of being at one with the forest. All food is seasonal and valley-sourced, such as freshwater algae, hazelnuts and mushrooms. 

Borgo Pignano, Italy

Italian romances don’t get more movie-perfect than this 750-acre organic estate in Tuscany, with a resident beekeeper, soap-maker and herbalist – the latter handpicking potions for meals and spa oils.

The environment shaped Borgo Pignano as much as any master builder. The pool filled the gap left by a stone quarry. Accommodation was restored using local stone and eco paint, with power fueled in part by solar panels. While the restaurant – which will leave an oh-so-good taste in your mouth – is km-zero.

If living in an eco-friendly postcard isn’t enough, take an art class in the on-site gallery, then sip the estate-made Vermentino white wine.

Ready to wander? Here's what to pack:

Yuzefi Woven Basket Bag, $531

DMY by DMY Quin Sunglasses, $170

Ancient Greek Sandals Marilisa Clog, $485

House of Sunny Reef Swimsuit, $92



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