How These Top Eco-Friendly Hotels Around the World are Championing Sustainable Practices

by | 7 May 2024

If you walk into the Martinhal Lisbon Oriente, you’ll see a pile of trash in the lobby.

The trash is an installation by Bordalo II, a Portuguese artist who collects city garbage and creates animal busts out of it. In Martinhal Residences, a new sustainable hotel in Portugal’s capital, Bordalo II’s beautiful installation is of a lion and her cub.

It’s a creative method of recycling, to say the least. But this is just one of many green initiatives used by environmentally friendly hotels to create a positive impact, alongside using sustainable materials, sourcing seasonal ingredients, and replanting forests. Here’s a roundup of how top eco-friendly hotels around the world go beyond the norm to champion sustainability.

What is the meaning of an eco-friendly hotel?

An eco-friendly hotel is an establishment that prioritizes sustainability and green initiatives in its construction, operations, or both. They could be carbon neutral or negative, but this isn’t a requirement, seeing as this is a very high benchmark. In general, they’re simply designed to have a positive impact on the environment and local community.

As this is a broad definition, there are lots of ways that hotels can improve their green credentials in a wide range of areas in order to become ‘eco-friendly’.

Calilo | Ios, Greece



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Picture this: a developer buys a huge plot of land for a 5-star resort, transforming every square inch to their liking no matter the impact on the land. Sound familiar?

Well, that’s not Calilo’s story in Ios, Greece.

Despite all temptation to create a sprawling resort complex as seen on so many other Greek islands, Calilo’s land was purchased specifically to see a sustainable dream come true. Only 1% of the land purchased was developed. The other 99%? Preserved for the local community and future generations to enjoy as Mother Nature intended.

And it doesn’t stop there. One of Greece’s most eco-friendly hotels, Calilo also champions a conservation project that has planted nearly 69,000 trees and bushes on the island. They even went so far as to buy up 550 ancient olive trees from Athens that were set to be destroyed and replanted them in Ios.

Read next: How to check if your tour itinerary is eco-friendly

Six Senses Zighy Bay | Musandam Peninsula, Oman










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As we await the opening of Six Senses Svart — a Norwegian off-grid, carbon-neutral hotel near the Arctic Circle — Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman continues to draw attention as one of the world’s top eco-friendly hotels for educating guests.

On the Musandam Peninsula, this green hotel’s goal is to exist in harmony with its surroundings — be it in nature or in community. They’ve got lofty goals: going plastic free (they’re 80% there), achieving zero waste output (most organic and glass waste is recycled on-site), conserving energy (they’ve already cut it by 30% annually), and prioritizing organic farming (they have an on-site organic garden and even produce their own bottled water through reverse osmosis).

Six Senses Zighy Bay does plenty more, including funding medical treatments and supplies for the village, but they understand that they can’t do it alone. That’s why they promote educational experiences focusing around sustainability like beach cleanups, underwater cleanups, and operate an Earth Lab where guests can learn sustainability practices to use in their daily lives.

Learn more: How dining with Insight Vacations does a world of good

Cheetah Plains | Sabi Sand Nature Reserve, South Africa

Luxury vacations and sustainability seem like odd bedfellows, but Cheetah Plains make them a perfect pair.

You’ll never believe you’re vacationing completely off the grid when you stay at this swanky eco resort in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Nature Reserve. Renewable energy via solar power does more than fuel the villas and suites: it also powers your safari experience.

This carbon negative lodge has retrofitted Land Cruisers to make electric safari vehicles. That means that every game drive is one step closer to achieving both an unforgettable and zero-emission safari experience.

Save for later: Insight investigates what is greenwashing and how to avoid it

Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort | British Columbia, Canada










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Finding eco resorts isn’t difficult in many countries, but even the best ones in the world have certain structural limitations. It’s no surprise that alternatives to hotels are growing in popularity, not unlike the sustainable dude ranch at Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort.

Call it glamping, call it luxury camping; whatever you call it, this B.C. wilderness hideaway is sustainable through and through. The off-grid sustainable lodging offers primarily nature-based activities like horseback riding, wellness walks, and yoga in the great outdoors to cut down on any power consumption.

Speaking of consumption, their culinary offerings are nothing short of world-class and everything but wasteful. Dishes full of organic food grown on their 2-acre farm and made from scratch to ensure zero waste. For the offsite essentials, spot prawns are caught sustainably while wines and morel mushrooms are sourced from nearby vineyards and forests rather than flown in from across the world.

You might like: 11 eco-friendly restaurants in Europe that are leading sustainable dining

Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers | Copenhagen, Denmark

Want to see how sustainability is done right in Denmark? Look to Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers as a role model in reducing environmental impact.

It’s the country’s leading hotel in sustainability and one that many eco friendly hotels can learn from. Groundwater-based cooling and solar panels are just the start. Its literal green atrium has a 1,400 square-meter forest to pump out fresh oxygen.

The hotel’s construction itself is full of recycled and reused materials, reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint. Discarded boat sails cover the ventilation shafts, acoustic ceiling tiles are composed of old PET plastic bottles, and even the floor has sustainable footing with reused concrete and rubber.

Related: How Sweden maintains its status as one of the world’s most sustainable countries

Soneva Kiri | Thailand



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Hidden behind tropical rainforests and surrounded by gorgeous beaches, this eco resort in Thailand is the perfect combination of luxury and sustainability. Take a stroll through the organic garden, which reduces their carbon footprint by locally sourcing their produce and reducing their reliance on imports.

They’ve even developed a Carbon Calculator which monitors how energy efficient all their operations are, from freight, paper, to water and energy consumption.

Saffire Freycinet | Australia



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Tasmania is one of the most sustainable places in the world, with the whole state going carbon neutral all the way back in 2015. The gorgeous Saffire Freycinet eco resort is one of the most luxurious and eco-friendly resorts in Australia. Made up of minimalist 20 suites which overlook the beautiful Hazard Mountains, you’ll be treated to a private terrace, courtyard and a plunge pool or lounge. The hotel’s put in lots of effort to leave a positive impact on its beautiful surroundings, replanting over 30,000 native plants to regenerate the area.

Forestis Dolomites | Italy



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Forestis Dolomites is a testament to style, elegance and sustainability. This top eco-friendly hotel is completely carbon-neutral in its construction and operations, reimagining the traditional Alpine retreat to be more harmonious with nature. They planted two seedlings for every tree affected by their construction, and only use local staff and ingredients; like Roland Lamprecht’s ‘forest cuisine’ menu uses foraged ingredients. Even the drinking water is sourced from the nearby purifying Plose Mountain.

COMO Laucala Island | Fiji


By using local volcanic soil for its body scrubs and homegrown herbs and spices for its scented products, COMO Laucala Island is committed to being self-sustained, local, and luxury. They grow their own vegetables and raise their own cattle, pigs, goats and ducks, making them 86% self sustained. It’s like staying on an eco farm, but you’re on a private island paradise and living in luxury.

Fogo Island Inn | Canada


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Fogo Island Inn sits mysteriously on a remote, windswept island in Canada, providing the ultimate escape away from the rest of the world. Instantly striking upon first glance, the eco resort was built using local wood, filtered rainwater, and almost no plastic. The onsite restaurant serves a seasonal menu with farm-to-table fare by locally sourcing foraged fruits and plants, as well as seafood from the nearby North Atlantic.

In your room, you’ll see thought and care has gone into every detail, from the ethically sourced mattress to the refillable recycled bottles – in case you don’t have a water bottle. The floor-to-ceiling windows give you the most unbelievable views of uninterrupted ocean stretching out into the horizon, as well as nonchalant wildlife strolling past the hotel. Take your pick of amazing activities, from snowmobiling, boat building, pottery making, and whale watching. Then relax back at the hotel with a spectacular sauna and hot tub on the roof.


About Nick Dauk
Nick is an American travel writer based in Orlando. From visiting a Mayan god in Guatemala to sand boarding in Egypt to sniffing out white truffles in Italy, Nick embraces unique cultural experiences wherever and whenever he can. When he’s not lugging his backpack between Bogota and Bucharest, he’s carrying his children through the zoos and museums of Central Florida.