Safari Under the Stars, Laikipia

World Earth Day: Eco-Travel Trends 2020

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Tread lightly on our precious earth

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This eco-travel trends round-up was written before the earth stood still, but in honour of World Earth Day, we thought we’d revisit the best ways to plan for greener travel, tomorrow.

Going green is no longer optional. The great climate revolution is underway and travel in particular is under the microscope. One of life’s best rules of thumb can be applied in ecotourism to great effect: do less, do it better. But with a world of wonder to discover and more travel temptations than ever on offer, how do we make our holidays more eco-friendly? For some food for thought, we bring you 2020’s biggest eco-travel trends…

Eco-Travel Trends 2020

The Road Less Travelled

To combat the damaging impact of over-tourism, choose locations and travel times that fall outside of peak popularity and overlook crowded tourist traps in favour of discovering cool new gems and hidden wonders waiting to be explored. The school holidays are obviously a logistical nightmare for avoiding the crowds, but do you need to follow the hordes to your usual coastal bolthole, or would the kids prefer a week camping (or glamping, should you rather) on the Welsh border?

Get Outdoors

Speaking of camping, al fresco holidaying is one of the eco-friendliest ways to enjoy a holiday. Camping typically uses far fewer resources than any other type of accommodation (particularly true off-grid camping) and with the demand for more eco-friendly holiday options, there are more camping and glamping options than ever.

Slow Travel

As detailed in our main travel trends 2020 roundup, sustainable travel is all about resisting the urge to cram as many trips as possible with micro trips and long-haul hops and spend longer in your chosen destination really getting to know the place. Opt for a cycling tour over taxi rides, or make the journey to your destination part of the trip with a luxe train journey or boat trip. Think fewer, more immersive holidays per year rather than whirlwind visits to multiple destinations.

Live Like a Local

Once you’re on holiday lower your carbon footprint during your stay by avoiding imported foods, souvenirs and other imports and do your best to ‘live like a local’. Visit restaurants with farm to fork and zero waste practices rather than those that fly in ingredients from all over the world. There are even ways you can give back to the local community you’re visiting, whether it’s by taking part in a Pack for a Purpose initiative, where you use some of your luggage allowance to carry vital supplies to areas in need, or joining in with local conservation or beach cleaning schemes in between sun worshipping sessions.

For more ways to live like a local pick up a copy of the March issue of Country & Town House or check out our round-up of eco-friendly resorts below.

Tourism for Good

More and more tour operators are promising to ‘give back’ to offset the damaging effects of tourism. Look for those going above and beyond carbon offsetting (surely there’s a limit to how many trees can be planted to negate our travel habits?) and seek those making a true, measurable impact on the communities and environments they are a part of. Red Savannah has launched Green Savannah to hammer home its eco initiatives, which include sponsorship of the Rainforest Trust UK, while Natural World Safaris launches Expeditions for Change, a new series of philanthropic safaris.

Read more in our Travel Trends guide

Svart Hotel

Svart, photo: Snøhetta Plompmozes Miris

The Future: Carbon-Positive Hotels

For the ultimate in feel-good travel, seek the places making a real impact on how we use and produce energy. Svart in Norway’s Arctic Circle is set to open in 2022 as the world’s first energy-positive hotel, consuming 85% less energy than a traditional hotel and positioned within a circular design to exploit the sun’s energy no matter the time of day or season, with Norwegian solar panels cladding the roof, produced using clean, hydro-energy. Now to find a carbon-positive way of getting ourselves there in time for the opening…

Inspired to go green? Check out our edit of the ecotourism destinations and resorts getting it right, below.

Ecotourism: Eco-Travel Destinations 2020

Looking for the best ecotourism destinations on the planet? From UK hotels going green with biomass boilers and upcycling towel schemes to far-flung retreats created solely to preserve their local environment, these eco-travel accommodations are all worth adding to your bucket list. These are the ecotourism destinations, hotels and retreats getting it right… 


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  • THE SCARLET - MAR 2019 0002

    UK: The Scarlet

    If you want to stay closer to home for a more, well, eco eco-escape, look no further than north Cornwall’s The Scarlet, with solar panels, biomass boilers, eco-dining initiatives and upcycling towel programmes all upping its green credentials. Perched on a cliff top with breath-taking views, there are few places better positioned to consider the importance of protecting our glorious planet.

  • Aristi Mountain Resort

    GREECE: Aristi Mountain Resort

    This award-winning eco lodge has multiple green policies in place, from wastewater reuse, zero plastic in room policies and energy consumption control. As well as protecting its environment (which happens to be spectacular mountains), the ecotourism resort encourages visitors to live like a local and try their hands at activities such as traditional carpet weaving at the Rizarios Handicraft School nearby.

  • Tanjong Jara

    MALAYSIA: Tanjong Jara

    There’s nothing that can make you feel like a local, rather than a guest, than taking responsibility for the mess you’re making on holiday. And when you start taking responsibility for other people’s messes, you know you’ve gone native. Don’t worry, there’s a full housekeeping service at Tanjong Jara Resort, but along with participating in the turtle protection programme, the resort encourages guests to join the conservation efforts offered by the hotel, including regular beach cleans on the surrounding beaches. Guilt-free sun worshipping here we come.

  • Azura Retreats

    MOZAMBIQUE: Azura Retreats

    As Mozambique celebrates its 45th anniversary of independence, guests of Azura retreats are encouraged to not only live like a local and immerse themselves in everyday life but make an impact on the lives of local children and families, too. A member of the Pack for a Purpose initiative, they encourage guests to save a few kilos of luggage space to take supplies for local schools and medical clinics.

  • Dharana at Shillim

    INDIA: Dharana at Shillim

    This ecotourism retreat and spa is located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sahyadris mountain range in southern India. Guests are encouraged to take nature walks through the rice fields, bamboo plantations and organic gardens at Dharana at Shillim Estate, where everything is focused toward environmental sustainability and Ayurvedic wellness principles.

  • Safari Under the Stars, Laikipia

    KENYA: Safari Under the Stars, Laikipia

    Brand new for 2020, The Safari Collection has launched its first mobile camp experience, allowing visitors to ‘safari like a local’ off the beaten track. Siruai will be composed of seven cosy canvas tents, set up exclusively for guests over three nights. As well as bedding down in the bush under the stars, activities will include bush breakfasts, walks and game drives. This eco-conscious safari will leave no trace of its visit following each camping stop.

  • The Montagu Arms

    UK: The Montagu Arms

    Guests at The Montagu Arms – part of The Green Tourism Business Scheme – can enjoy delicious seasonal, coast and country-inspired dishes at the hotel’s award-winning Terrace restaurant, headed up by Michelin-trained chef Matthew Whitfield. Here, home-grown sustainable produce is specially curated and picked by a resident kitchen gardener, only eggs from the hotel’s nest of rescue hens are used, and recipes have been tailored to minimise food waste as much as possible. Before and after meals, enjoy all of the stunning surrounding countryside the New Forest has to offer, or put your feet up in the hotel’s Thai spa located nearby at Careys Manor.

    For more UK Eco Staycations check out our edit

  • Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project, copyright Sinamatella

    UGANDA: Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project

    The Kyambura Gorge Ecotourism Project, in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority and Volcanoes Safaris, has been safeguarding the gorge’s fragile ecosystem for a decade. Known as the ‘Valley of the Apes’, this Ugandan wildlife hotspot is home to a rich wildlife bio-diversity including chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys. Guests at the Kyambura Gorge Lodge can experience a new series of walks for 2019, in the eco buffer zone and the wetland.

  • W Hotel Bali Goby the Fish

    INDONESIA: The W Hotel, Bali

    Travellers will be no stranger to The W; the luxury hotels are dotted across the globe, but The W Bali is particularly special – and not just because of its unique tiered swimming pool, gracious service, and cooler than cool reputation. Chef’s Garden is the hotel’s new kitchen garden used to grow fresh fruits and vegetables (everything from lettuce to ghost pepper), micro greens, herbs, and edible flowers, working to maximise sustainability and find ways of growing and using food on site. If you’d like to harvest your own meal, the ‘Wanna be Chef’ experience at the W’s Starfish Bloo restaurant invites you to do it all yourself (under the guidance of an expert, of course). It’s a simple but effective initiative; do good, eat good. Plus, you won’t find any plastic straws or plastic bags used here – and if guests do pick one up on the outside, they’re invited to pop them into ‘Goby the Fish’, a giant wire fish installed on the hotel’s beachfront to raise awareness around plastic waste in Bali’s oceans.

  • Eco Lifestyle Lodge

    BARBADOS: Eco Lifestyle Lodge

    Barbados as a whole is embracing sustainability, with a host of initiatives to protect our planet. As of this month, the importation, retail, sale and use of petro-based single-use plastic (plastic made from petroleum) is no longer allowed in Barbados. Carlisle Bay in the south west of Barbados is a marine-protected area, and home to the Eco Lifestyle Lodge, which features tropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, an appealing farm and sea-to-table restaurant offering and rooms with furniture made from upcycled mahogany.

  • The Eco Lodge, Chamonix

    FRANCE: The Eco Lodge, Chamonix

    This self-sufficient lodge has some serious ecotourism credentials, running completely on renewable energy. The lodge is built to passivhaus standard using green technology throughout, geothermal and solar-thermal systems providing the heating and solar panels producing enough energy to make the house zero emissions. The outdoor terrace features a sauna pod and a hot tub from which to enjoy mountain views of the beautiful planet that needs our

  • Turtles and divers, andBeyond Oceans Without Borders

    MOZAMBIQUE: andBeyond Oceans Without Borders, Vamizi Island

    Through their Oceans without Borders initiative, andBeyond is turning its focus to marine conservation, using its three island properties (andBeyond Benguerra Island and andBeyond Vamizi Island in Mozambique, and andBeyond Mnemba Island off Zanzibar) to influence more than 3,000 km of Indian Ocean coastline. On the Oceans without Borders Small Group Trip from 9-14 October 2019, guests can embark on a privately guided 6-day experience and gain insight into the marine conservation and community development activities on the project. They will also have the chance to enjoy a dive on Neptune’s Arm, stand up paddle boarding and snorkelling (in between some beach time). The trip will be guided by Dr Tessa Hempson, one of the leading Marine Biologists in East Africa. The Oceans without Borders Journey costs from US$ 10,775 per person based on two sharing.

  • Knai Bang Chatt, Kep

    CAMBODIA: Knai Bang Chatt, Kep

    Knai Bang Chatt, a boutique hotel on Kep Sur Mer on Cambodia’s South Coast, has been awarded a platinum ‘Green Growth’ certificate, and is the first Cambodian hotel to be recognised as internationally sustainable. Sustainable practices include significantly reducing the consumption of plastic packaging by sterilising and bottling drinking water in reusable glass bottles, using bio-degradable plastic bags, and drawing on its own bio diverse organic gardens to feed its guests. The resort also has a Sustainability Manager on site and offers tours to guests to highlight initiatives.

  • Costa Navarino, Messinia, Greece, pool

    GREECE: Costa Navarino

    Sustainability and ecotourism is at the heart of everything Costa Navarino does, reflecting their commitment to responsibility for the local area. With policies in place to protect the undisturbed area of southern Greece, the resort adheres to strict environmental management guidelines, with environmental protection as a top priority, from construction and design through to operation. It is home to Europe’s largest olive grove transplantation program, preserving trees that have been part of the landscape for hundreds of years, there is a loggerhead sea turtle protection programme and it protects the habitat of the only European population of the African chameleon in Gialova lagoon. Furthermore, all properties use bioclimatic design and the whole resort has a wholly sustainable water system using only water that is naturally replaced. Green credentials aside, It’s one of our favourite family-friendly Greek holiday destinations.

  • Mallorca 6

    MALLORCA: Mallorca 6

    One of the hottest destinations of 2019, if Mallorca is top of your list for a weekender this year, book into Mallorca 6, tucked between the Sierra Tramontana mountains and the Mediterranean sea on the north coast of the island. An eco-friendly self-sufficient home has its own solar panels and its very own organic vegetable patch. The villa also benefits from a natural and fully sustainable spring-fed plunge pool, which is constantly refreshed by water straight from the mountains meaning it’s completely chemical-free.

  • Villa Lena, Tuscany

    ITALY: Villa Lena

    Having re-opened this May, Villa Lena in Tuscany has been completely redesigned with a drive toward carbon neutrality. Largely powered by solar energy, a new light and rain pavilion will host a water recycling plant and collection system, re-using water and contributing to its sustainability. The villa also features a farm-to-table organic restaurant which benefits from the estate’s biodynamic agriculture programme.

Find your next UK break with our Great British & Irish Hotels guide | Sustainable Dining: A Guide