Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

November 8, 2019 by  
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For travelers who want to learn more about the environment they are visiting, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort , a leading eco-luxe property in Fiji, is helping guests do just that with a recently expanded program for botanical education. Guests to the resort can take new tours, where they learn about medicinal and edible plants as well as rare palms. The initiative is part of a larger goal to protect the island’s natural environment. “At our resort, we’ve felt firsthand the great impact nature can have on the mind and the body, so we’re trying to preserve the traditional knowledge of this area, and, in turn, preserve culture,” said Bartholomew Simpson, general manager of the resort. Related: Jean-Michel Cousteau eco resort showcases traditional building Billy Railala, the resort’s expert on traditional herbal medicine , leads the Fijian Medicine Walk. The resort has offered this walk for several years, but recently expanded it to feature more than 120 species of Fijian medicinal flora and fauna. For example, the bark and stems from Fagraea berteriana flowers, or “bua ni viti,” are pressed into liquid and used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. Fijians dry and burn a feathery bamboo called “bitu,” then mix the ashes with coconut oil to treat burns. Liquid from the small tropical tree Syzygium gracilipes , or “leba,” is used to increase fertility. Edible plants like papaya, guava, taro and avocado flourish in the resort’s two-acre organic garden. Kids can participate in an organic farming program and dress up in chefs’ uniforms to help prepare their own meals. The resort has also been collecting rare palm trees endemic to Fiji. Most are threatened, critically endangered or even extinct in the wild. Horticulture expert and nursery manager Jim Valentine is working with the resort to propagate these rare palms and repopulate Fiji with them. Simpson said, “This initiative not only serves to pay homage to Fijian culture, which is a key mandate of the resort concept, but also serves to remind the younger generation of Fijians of the important uses of these plants and how the elders used them in centuries past; preserving the fragile Fijian culture , which is eroding quickly in the modern age.” + Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Images via Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

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Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions

October 21, 2019 by  
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A Finnish hotel is changing the tourism industry by showing that sustainability can really pay off. When guests consume less energy, attend ecological activities and make sustainable dietary choices during their visit, the price tag of their stay can be discounted by up to 50 percent. Benefiting the environment means guests can save more at Arctic Blue Resort. Set to open in 2022, Arctic Blue Resort will raise customers’ awareness of their environmental impact by encouraging guests to follow more sustainable lifestyles . It helps that the hotel will be located in the rural town of Kontiolahti, famous for its natural landscape and rich ecosystem of forests and estuaries. Related: Disney’s American parks will now offer hundreds of vegan menu items Some of the green gestures guests can take to reduce their bills include mindfully observing electricity usage, food choices and water consumption. Even planting a tree in the resort’s nearby forest garners another 5 percent off the hotel tab. Designed to be self-sustaining, Arctic Blue Resort will be constructed from natural materials, installed with its own water treatment system and powered by renewable energy sources. Guests can expect accommodations close to nature, with a choice of either enjoying a 360-degree view of the forest or sleeping beneath a star-filled night sky or the Northern Lights. Transportation throughout the resort’s region will be via electric vehicles to assist with the curbing of emissions . “We want to offer people a world-class eco-vacation and encourage them to make sustainable choices by having emission-based pricing for their stay,” explained Mikko Spoof, the vice president and founder of Arctic Brands Group. “We want the resort to be a place of true tranquility and thus encourage our guests to be more present in the moment and embrace digital detox.” Arctic Blue Resort will partner with local farmers to supply its food . The hotel menu will understandably reflect the wonders of the Finnish countryside’s seasons. The hotel will also plan plenty of nature-inspired excursions. Visitors can expect to grow their appreciation of nature with activities such as ice-swimming and snowshoeing in winter, or berry-picking and rowing in high summer. Tourism that centers around eco-friendly awareness and green living responsibility is likewise the goal of Kontiolahti Mayor Jere Penttilä, who said in a statement, “With Arctic Blue Resort, we want to lead an example by putting emphasis on environmental responsibility and by creating solutions to minimize the negative impact of tourism.” + Arctic Blue Resort Image via Arctic Blue Resort

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Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

October 10, 2019 by  
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Hidden in the misty mountains of Zhejiang , a new eco-sensitive resort made from local materials entices visitors with spectacular views and laid-back charms. International architecture firm kooo architects designed the Retreat Village, which comprises a cluster of luxury suites, for their client Hangzhou Origin Villa Hotel & Resort in the Dashan Village in Zhejiang, China. Taking inspiration from the local vernacular, the architects used local materials and techniques, such as rammed-earth construction, to create a resort that blends into its surroundings. Completed over the course of two years, the new Retreat Village is located on a remote, rural mountain. Although most of the original village architecture was built from rammed earth walls using local soils, the architects decided to only use rammed earth for a portion of the new construction so as to keep the interior from feeling too dark and constrained. The earthen walls are complemented by a natural material palette of bamboo, red bricks, stone and carbonized wood. To reduce site impact, the architects used locally produced as well as recycled materials and carefully sited the buildings to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Each of the buildings point in different directions to preserve privacy and to maximize views. An indoor- outdoor living experience is also emphasized in the design. Moreover, the use of natural materials and careful siting help make the village disappear into the landscape. Related: MAD’s ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will “float” on Zhejiang waters “There is no light coming from this lonely village’s surrounding at night, so one can feel sufficient brightness even with a minimum amount of lighting,” adds the firm. “We kept the lights that can illuminate the entire space uniformly, such as downlights, to the minimum, and used all-directional soft umbrella-like lights such as free-standing lamps and table lights throughout the space. These fixtures project soft arches of light and shadow, illuminating the seamless finish and rounded edges of the walls and ceilings. Wrapped with the warmth of light, the rooms feel more calming and comfortable.” + kooo architects Images by Keishin Horikoshi / SS

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These resorts are working diligently at sea turtle conservation

July 3, 2019 by  
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According to WWF, six out of seven of the world’s sea turtle species are threatened with extinction due largely in part to plastic pollution, climate change and poaching. Only one in every 1,000 marine turtle eggs will survive to adulthood, and one in two turtles have ingested plastic at some point. Female sea turtles are able to navigate through the ocean to return to the same beach they hatched on to nest, and many of those beaches are located within the property of popular resorts. Thankfully, a number of these resorts remain dedicated to ecotourism and the protection of the majestic creatures that frequent these beaches. Check out these resorts from around the world with conservation programs aimed (and succeeding) at sea turtle conservation. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacations that benefit destinations through conservation Panama Jack Resort, Cancun, Mexico All-inclusive and green-certified Panama Jack Resort in Cancun, Mexico celebrated World Sea Turtle Day in 2019 by implementing a new “Sea Turtle Package” available from August to November. The package includes a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy , a hands-on session with the resort’s conservation team and themed amenities such as a turtle bracelet and T-shirt. Each season, Panama Jack Cancun helps to create an environment that yields more than 10,000 hatched sea turtle eggs, thanks to its conservation efforts and the resort’s “Turtle Protection Committee.” The committee is responsible for beach cleanups and nest building at the on-site turtle farm, and the resort offers ecology courses for employees to learn about the proper handling of eggs. Guests are invited to participate in beach cleanups and watch the sunset turtle hatch and release. Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa, Costa Rica Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa in Costa Rica teamed up with local organization Osa Conservation to create a wellness-focused “Save the Sea Turtles” retreat program for yogis who want to do their part for the environment. The Osa Peninsula is visited each year by olive ridley and black or Pacific green turtles, who come to nest on the southern beaches. The specialized retreat is usually offered from April to November, but during other times of the year, guests can contact the retreat for turtle activity. Guests will participate in morning and evening patrols, sea turtle egg recovery and an early morning sea turtle release. Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, Florida In collaboration with local ocean conservation organization Loggerhead Marinelife Center , the Jupiter Beach Resort in Florida offers a special “Stay and Save the Turtles” package. For guests staying three nights or more, the resort will adopt a native sea turtle in your name, and you’ll receive a resort credit and turtle-themed toy. The adoption directly contributes to the continued care and treatment of sick and injured sea turtles at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center as well as further study of the green, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles that nest at Juno Beach, Jupiter and Tequesta. Turtle Beach Resort, Barbados Green Globe-certified Turtle Beach Resort sits on a stretch of coastline where leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles love to visit during nesting months. The Caribbean resort has teamed up with The Barbados Sea Turtle Project to create a hotel team of “turtle pioneers” responsible for teaching guests about ocean conservation and leading hatching sea turtles from their nests into the ocean. The conservation team organizes beach cleanup days, in which guests are also invited to participate. Surfing Turtle Lodge & Leon, Nicaragua The Surfing Turtle Lodge in Los Brasiles, Nicaragua created its own turtle hatchery in order to protect the nesting areas on the property frequented by olive ridleys, leatherbacks and green turtles. Unaffiliated with any other organization or charity, the Surfing Turtle hatchery is completely operated by the hotel employees and guests. While the hatchings occur year-round, the peak season runs from September through February in the area, and guests are able to experience baby turtles being released into the sea. Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies Located in St. Kitts & Nevis, The Four Seasons has worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Nevis Turtle Group since 2006, helping both visitors and residents protect native sea turtles . Sea turtle migration patterns within the open ocean are still somewhat of a mystery to scientists, and the satellite tracking devices can be costly. Every year, the resort sponsors two GPS satellite transmitters to assist the Sea Turtle Conservancy in tracking the migration patterns of sea turtles who return to Nevis annually to nest. Guests staying at the hotel can participate in identifying and marking sea turtle nests and obtaining data to track and study turtle migration paths. Guests can also help team members locate the actual turtles to be fitted with the GPS (after they have finished nesting, of course). This valuable information will give conservationists the tools and information they need to better protect the endangered sea turtles. Images via Jakob Owens , Isabella Jusková and Randall Ruiz

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This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

July 20, 2018 by  
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Blessed with serene mountain vistas and a rich history, Moganshan also boasts a wide array of beautiful resorts including Anadu, a new rural retreat designed by local architecture firm Studio 8 . Located at the northern foot of the Mogan Mountain in Huzhou, about two hours from Shanghai , the luxury resort embraces its enticing surroundings comprised of lush bamboo forests, tea fields and ancient villas. Constructed with natural materials throughout, the hotel is undeniably connected to its rural setting while still offering a contemporary edge. Completed in 2017, Anadu covers nearly 13,000 square feet spread across three floors. Studio 8 was commissioned to oversee the architecture, interior design and visual identity of the luxury resort, which highlights  local resources from the ingredients used in the restaurant to the selection of construction materials. Following the brand’s motto of “Find yourself in nature,” every floor embraces the outdoors through large windows and stunning water features. “Water itself, and especially a very calm water surface, generates immediately a sense of relax,” explained Studio 8 in a statement. “[We] decided that this element would be the core of the hotel, a connection between the rooms that articulates the structure of the entire building. For that purpose, the roof of each floor was turned into an infinity water feature. By bringing natural elements into the architectural spaces, the design fosters a connection between the building and the outside.” Related: Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai The resort’s various rooms are organized in four major narratives inspired by the immediate surroundings. The Tea Room, for instance, faces the white tea fields and is dressed in a material palette echoing the tea theme. To the south, the Mountain Room features a dark gray color palette and a water feature that reflects the distant mountain range. On the east side, the Bamboo Room mimics a bamboo forest with its bamboo wood furnishings and a rice-pink palette. The penthouse suite on the third floor follows the theme of Sky and is surrounded by an infinity pool to create the effect of a “floating island.” + Studio 8 Images by Sven Zhang ???

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This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

These colorful glamping pods are tucked into a South Korean mountain range

July 3, 2018 by  
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South Korean firm  Atelier Chang has installed a series of colorful glamping pods in a remote South Korean mountain range. Tucked deep into a green cypress forest, the contemporary pods that make up the SJCC Glamping Resort are designed for travelers who want to enjoy exploring Suncheon Ecological Bay, a beautiful coastal area 300 kilometers south of Seoul. The 16 glamping pods were built with steel frames and covered with brightly-colored fabric in shades of fuchsia, bright green and powder blue. The fabric is durable enough to insulate the structures year-round, even in wintertime. The area is known for its bitter winters, but the coverings, as well as the rounded shapes of the pods, help resist strong winds and snow loading. Related: Alterra beach resort uses shipping containers for private glamping cabins According to the architects, each of the colorful pods was strategically orientated to provide stunning views of the forest and the sea in the distance. “We wanted guests to feel as if they are living deep in the forest – directly in touch with the natural environment rather than being disconnected from it, as is the case with many ‘destination’ resorts,” said Soohyun Chang, founder of Atelier Chang. On the interior, guests can enjoy a rather large glamping layout of approximately 164 square feet. The pods feature an open-plan living area with a kitchen and bathroom. Each pod has two comfortable beds. To minimize the resort’s impact on the natural landscape, each pod has a wooden deck, which is raised off the ground by multiple piles. When not enjoying peaceful hikes around the property, guests can make their way to the clubhouse and restaurant. The bright white building, which sits at the center of the resort, was made using the same steel and fabric construction techniques. Its zig-zagged facade opens up into a large deck that looks out over the forest. + Atelier Chang Via Dezeen Images via Atelier Chang

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These colorful glamping pods are tucked into a South Korean mountain range

Experience bliss at a luxury Indian spa nestled in a former coffee estate

June 5, 2018 by  
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A former coffee estate with 125 acres of pristine forest has been transformed into a luxury resort and spa that embraces nature at every turn. Located a five-hour drive west of Bangalore in the sparsely populated Indian district of Coorg, The Ibnii  offers blissful respite to city-weary visitors in need of recharge and relaxation. A highlight at the resort is undoubtedly Manja, a spacious spa complex designed by PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL. Manja, which means ‘turmeric’ in the local Kodagu vernacular, is a full-service spa  set in one of the few clearings in the forest where the coffee estate workers’ quarters were once located. PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL designed the spa as a series of fragmented cuboid blocks connected via elevated walkways over a central body of water. Guests enter the spa complex from the north, while massage rooms lie along the perimeter. The herbal bath, changing rooms, saunas  and steam rooms are located toward the south. “The intention was to connect distinct architectural spaces, uniquely, to natural elements – central court to the sky above, massage rooms to the pond and corridors to the forest,” the architects wrote. “The most unique feature of the design is the steep 45-degree single lean-to roofs, the eaves of which almost touch the water below. They are designed on either side of the central courtyard converging into the water and opening the central space to the expanse of clear skies, which is a rare experience within the 110-acres, densely forested site that this resort is located in.” Related: These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers Clad in Himachal slate stone, the steeply angled roofs direct views from the massage rooms toward the water and preserve guests’ privacy. A natural materials palette  lines the corridors and includes local stones such as Jaisalmer, Chocolate Andhra and Kadappa. Strategically placed windows let in natural light and offer select views of the forest. + PLAYGROUP Studio Images by Ravindra Kanade

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Massive eco-resort with a theme park to rise on Vietnams beaches

February 12, 2018 by  
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The Vietnamese government has given the green light to Mui Dinh Ecopark, a massive eco-resort expected to become one of Asia’s largest hospitality and leisure developments. Designed by architecture firm Chapman Taylor’s Bangkok studio, the mega-project will span 1,800 acres and comprise seven hotels for a total of 7,000 rooms in addition to a theme park, 500 villas, casino, beach club, and mountain clubhouse. The project is envisioned as a “sustainable destination.” Set on southern Vietnam’s beautiful white sandy shores in Mui Dinh, the enormous eco-resort will take inspiration from the local area’s rich history while paying careful attention to the environment. Little has been revealed on how the massive development plans to reduce its environmental footprint, but the renderings provide some clues: the buildings appear to take cues from the local vernacular with thatched roofs and natural materials rather that concrete construction. The visuals also show an idyllic verdant setting thick with trees while the larger buildings take the form of rounded mountains. Related: Outstanding eco-friendly resort in China is made with recycled and locally-sourced materials “Set on a beautiful site on the east coast of Vietnam, Mui Dinh Ecopark is designed to reflect the key elements of the surrounding environment – sand, sea, salt and sun,” wrote the architects. “Intended as an unrivalled hospitality-led mixed-use development in Asia , the development is inspired by the rich local history of Mui Dinh, particularly that of the Cham tribal culture and architecture as well as the lost world of the last dynasty.” + Chapman Taylor Via ArchDaily Images via Chapman Taylor

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Massive eco-resort with a theme park to rise on Vietnams beaches

Minimalist glasshouse in Australia adds a tropical resort-like twist

February 7, 2018 by  
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Sarah Waller of Sarah Waller Architecture seized on a chance to build her dream home after a move took her from the UK to Australia. Channeling her love of minimalism and mid-century modern architecture, she designed and built Glasshouse, a 660-square-meter home in Noosa, Australia. Full-height glass spans the length of the home and blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor living. Simple lines, a monochromatic palette, and ample glazing help integrate the spacious steel-framed home into the surroundings that have been transformed with lush landscaping for a more tropical feel. Timber and the addition of greenery throughout the interior help break up the mostly black and white palette inside and out. Sarah drew inspiration from Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and the Philip Johnson Glasshouse . Related: Prefab Glass House lets you bring home the spirit of Philip Johnson’s masterpiece Luxury pervades Glasshouse, from the resort-like linear pool and cabana to the incredible master bathroom that opens up to a deep freestanding outdoor bath surrounded by greenery. The master bedroom is enveloped almost entirely in glass with framed views of coconut palm trees. Indoor and outdoor entertaining areas punctuate the home. + Sarah Waller Architecture Photos by Paul Smith Images

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8 gorgeous green hotels to add to your bucket list

May 11, 2017 by  
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Need an escape but don’t want to harm the environment in the process? There are hotels throughout the world centered around sustainability – from a seaside resort in Thailand that grows 100% of its produce to a self-sustaining vacation spot in Mexico. Featuring beautiful design and eco-friendly accommodations, these hotels allow you to satisfy your wanderlust in a conscious way. Hit the jump to check out the eight green hotels we’ve rounded up, and get your adventure started. Blue Lagoon hotel connects with Icelandic landscape When you think of Iceland , you probably think of the famous Blue Lagoon , colored via minerals in waste – but safe! – seawater from a nearby geothermal plant. But you may not know there’s a new resort, the Moss Hotel, under construction there, perched near the pools. The resort design is meant to connect seamlessly with the landscape. Visitors can explore lava corridors and waterfalls in a subterranean spa , and a new restaurant will feature seasonal and local ingredients. The 62-room hotel will open this fall. Related: Solar-powered cylindrical treehouse in Mexico is made with sustainable bamboo Thailand resort grows 100 percent of its produce Traveling to Thailand ? Look no further than The Tongsai Bay Hotel . The hotel was constructed with the environment in mind; not even one tree was cut down to make room for the family-owned resort. 66 species of birds and wildlife reside within the hotel’s 28 and a half acres. The resort also grows 100 percent of its produce , with food waste getting a second life as fertilizer. They practice radical reuse; a few examples include reusing old bathtubs as planters and old sheets as napkins. 121-year-old warehouse on Singapore River given new life as chic hotel An old Singapore warehouse – that once acted as an opium den – got a second chance as the classy Warehouse Hotel . The waterfront warehouse is 121 years old, but Zarch Collaboratives gave it new life with a design inspired by its industrial past in 37 rooms and a double-height lobby. The hotel kept some original elements of the warehouse like its peaked roofs and renovated others like the louvre windows. Self-sustaining Mexico resort incorporates permaculture principles Near Tulum, Mexico rests a self-sustaining, eco-luxe villa that’s the stuff of travel daydreams. The resort designed by Specht Architects is cooled in part by large cutouts in the walls and insulated with native plants adorning the roof. Solar-powered , the villa collects and filters rainwater for use. It even utilizes constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. Not only does the hotel boast impressive sustainability but stunning bay views and gorgeous modern design as well. Switzerland visitors enjoy connection to nature in open-air hotel Brothers and artists Frank and Patrik Riklin took sleeping under the stars to a whole new level with their one-room, open-air hotel in Switzerland – with no walls or roof. Visitors to the second reincarnation of Null Stern (the first being a nuclear bunker turned luxury hotel) may not have access to a bathroom but do have a butler for the night who will bring breakfast in bed. The minimalist experience provides stunning views of the Swiss Alps . Sweden’s famed Treehotel welcomes Snøhetta-designed 7th room amidst the pines Treehotel , a collection of designer treehouses in Sweden , recently welcomed their 7th room designed by Snøhetta . The cabin is lifted over 30 feet above ground and immerses guests among the enveloping pine trees – Snøhetta said their goal was to bring nature and people closer together. Massive windows and skylights afford opportunities to gaze at the Northern Lights, and a pine tree print across the bottom of the cabin makes it appear invisible from underneath. Locally sourced, natural materials comprise spruce-clad Swedish hotel As you might guess, there’s more than one eco hotel in Sweden. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed Öijared Hotel with a similar aim of blending the buildings into surrounding nature . Locally sourced and natural materials were used in the hotel’s 34 prefabricated rooms. Natural wood materials inside add to the earthy aesthetic. Whimsical hotel in Romania built with sand and clay In Romania , a storybook hotel built of clay and sand, hearkens back to both ancient stories and ancient building techniques. The Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor , designed by owners Razvan and Gabriela Vasile along with eco architect Ileana Mavrodin , includes 10 rooms and was constructed without drawing on any modern building techniques. Natural materials , shaped by local craftsmen, give the hotel a fairytale feel. Images via Blue Lagoon , Laura Mordas-Schenkein for Inhabitat, Warehouse Hotel , © Taggart Sorensen, Null Stern , © Johan Jansson, Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture , and Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor

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