Best for: Holistic wellness and alternative therapies
Rosewood Phuket offers the ideal balance of wellness, indulgence and sustainability. If you’re looking for a quick retreat away from Hong Kong, this makes the top of the list. The welcoming staff (the majority of whom are local to Thailand) create an environment that truly invites and relaxes you. Guests are instantly invited into the Rosewood family and every person you meet here has a smile on their face.
The quality of food and local produce is second to none, with three restaurants and a bar on offer. To unwind, head to the chilled pool-side restaurant with incredible ceviche and even better service.
Right beside it is Mai Bar, a romantic, rustic beach bar serving refreshing piña coladas and a thirst-quenching ginger beer sangria. Sip your way through the day whilst overlooking the most secluded part of Emerald Bay.
For dinner, head to Ta Khai, a candlelit resto located right by the seafront, run by a married chef couple. The European influence is seen in the impeccably-designed Italian restaurant, featuring its own pizza oven and a skilled team, including friendly Italian chefs and Thai pastry makers. This indoor-outdoor haven doubles as a breakfast spot, where you can expect everything from Belgian waffles and French crepes, to homemade pastries and signature baked eggs. Ingredients are local wherever possible, and you won’t spot single-use plastic anywhere in the hotel!
Taking sustainability to be an individual discovery, the icing on the cake here is the holistic wellness approach. Asaya offers so much more than a 90-minute spa treatment. From wellness retreats, daily yoga classes, alternative therapies (think: sound meditation and tapping), you’re guaranteed to leave feeling like a fresher, healthier, better version of yourself. We had the pleasure of meeting Steve Harvey, the Resident Wellness Practitioner. He epitomises the Asaya ethos of meeting people wherever they are on their wellness journey, ensuring that they feel supported, safe and stimulated in a sustainable way.
Best for: A city-centre stay in one of Asia’s most bustling cities
The constant hustle and bustle of central Bangkok may not seem like a setting that lends itself to a sustainable stay, but 5-star Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park will give you just that. With spacious rooms, countless dining options, skyline views from ABar Rooftop, plus a tranquil pool and spa area, it’s the perfect spot if you’re looking to unwind in one of Asia’s vibrant cities.
Team Sassy had the chance to check out the hotel ourselves and we were so impressed with how sustainability has been woven into every area of operation, from the elimination of single-use plastics, to the commitment to source and cook with local ingredients from independent producers. Chefs Michael Hogan and Daniel Butcher even found brie produced in Thailand!
Over the last three years, the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park’s F&B and management teams have truly committed to Marriott’s Serve 360 initiative, aiming to “do good in every direction” by reducing food and plastic waste, giving back to the local community and growing their own produce. The hotel even keeps chickens on the roof (so you’re guaranteed the freshest eggs at the breakfast omelette station).
By adopting the practice of “Second Love” Marriott has found creative ways to reduce food waste while providing delicious and inventive culinary experiences for guests. From using pineapple peel from the breakfast buffet to make the home-infused gins at the rooftop bar, to providing over 80 pounds of leftover food each day to NGOs to redistribute in the community, and many other sustainable initiatives, the team is well on its way to achieving a goal of 0% food waste.
Best for: An all-round approach to eco living
Cambodia’s Sihanoukville is a firm spot on a backpacker’s bucket list, but if you’re looking for sustainable luxury – Song Saa Private Island is the place to go.
The hotel sits in a self-made marine reserve (Cambodia’s first – measuring one million square metres), and there’s a team of marine biologists as staff at all times. Waste initiatives are in place and the hotel is involved in sustainability projects in nearby villages.
There’s even a Song Saa Foundation, which provides vital healthcare to local people, and distributes items like educational materials and water filters to the community.
Kit Wong, Expert Travel Designer from Jacada Travel says that “Song Saa is the pioneer in sustainable lodging in Asia”, the closest thing to “paradise” in Asia. This place is all about “Small Steps. Big Changes”, and we’re fully on board. If you’re looking to volunteer in Cambodia, there are plenty of ways to contribute your skills and time meaningfully and sustainably.
Read more: What To Do In Cambodia: Backpacking Siem Reap And Koh Rong Island
Best for: Exploring new and unusual holiday activities
If Ecuador isn’t yet on your list, it will be now. Set in one of the world’s most important bio regions, Mashpi Lodge is a futuristic and environmental “cocoon in the clouds”. Powered by 100% hydroelectricity, it’s no surprise this lodge is praised for its ecological, modern design.
Dining at Mashpi offers another form of exploration: a discovery of the diverse regions of Ecuador through the locally-sourced ingredients that are found in the hotel’s gourmet dishes. Pair it with exquisite wines and cocktails and soak in the panoramic views. The sheer amount of greenery is a breath of fresh air for Hong Kong travellers!
With a commitment to the community and Instagrammable views, this is truly a unique lodge. Make sure to check out the reserve whilst you’re there – there’s a group of dedicated biologists and para-biologists who spend their days and nights within the forest.
If you’re looking for experts to help plan your trip, it’s worth checking out Jacada Travel’s Ecuador itinerary. This luxury travel company offsets 100% of carbon emissions from every trip sold (proving it’s possible!).
Best for: Discovering ocean wildlife in Asia
Nihi is a resort with a conscience. The space is almost entirely preserved from urban development and the motto is to “return to a life well lived”. The majority of the restaurants’ produce is grown in the resort’s organic garden, fed by a carefully-constructed composting and water-recycling system. And the hotel’s green ethos extends through community outreach programmes in local villages.
The turtle hatchery is a truly impressive initiative, and the Sumba Foundation is tirelessly working to clean water and reduce malaria on the island.
For activities, expect everything from Yoga & Wellness, Surfing, Fishing, Spa Safaris and an exploration of all the eco features Nihi has to offer.
Best for: Waterslides and tan lines
Boutique hotel Soneva Jani’s eco-chic villas are straight out of a daydream. This relaxing resort has made sure responsibility and sustainability are at the core of its philosophy. The hotel strives to offer a community that works hand in hand with the environment to craft beautiful, bespoke experiences.
With one of the largest solar power plants in the Maldives, food grown and sourced locally wherever possible, and a purpose-built centre for waste management and recycling, it’s encouraging to see more luxury hotels taking the initiative.
We’re particularly impressed with the by the sustainable surfing, the first 100% sustainable surfing programme in the world.
The sister hotel, Soneva Fushi, offers a marine conservation programme, managing to keep pockets of the island’s coastline untouched so turtles can continue nesting there.
Read more: Planning A Week In Paradise: The Maldives Travel Guide
Best for: Uninterrupted time away from the Hong Kong hustle
Jean-Michael Cousteau Resort has made hugely successful advances in eco-tourism. It was the first resort in the South Pacific region to recycle paper and plastic – and in the process, it set up a recycling programme for the entire town of Savusavu. We’ll applaud that! Today, the resort has a reef protection programme, a giant clam-breeding project and an in-house marine biologist.
The resort has developed “edible landscaping”, meaning that the plants on site also supply the restaurant with fresh herbs and produce.
Buildings are tailored to the tropical environment, with sustainable timber construction and roofs thatched from local reeds. Oh, and if you’re keen for some spa time, Pure Fiji toiletries are used in the spa, and all water is recycled through lotus-dotted lagoons.
Best for: Exploring a UNESCO World Heritage site
Though China may not be a place we automatically associate with sustainability, Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain proves us wrong. Located at the picturesque gateway to the majestic Qing Cheng Mountains, it’s a natural paradise.
In fact, the hotel was created specifically to complement the UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site near Dujiangyan.
Staying in line with Six Senses’ philosophy, the resort is committed to improving its ecological and carbon footprint resulting from the resort operations. The idea is that the hotel and guests can work together to ensure the maximum benefits. For example, Six Senses purifies and mineralises its own drinking water (in reusable glass bottles), sources responsible ingredients and produce from the local community, and grows its own organic gardens. Stay tuned for the upcoming partnership with Panda Mountain, and the efforts to support a sustainable education within local schools.
Best for: Experiencing new sustainable practices
Surf, sand, sun, sustainability…it all goes hand-in-hand, really. The Harmony Hotel is a passion project for its founding couple. Priding themselves on creating an eco space, the hotel composts, uses solar-powered water heaters, landscapes with native plants and ensures at least 60% of the staff are locals.
We love that a greenhouse and farm provide most of the organic food served in the restaurant and juice bar. The experts here actually calculate and compensate for the hotel’s carbon emissions with a “Plant a Tree” project, where guests and staff plant trees in the local community. The dedicated staff also work with a local non-profit to protect the local sea turtle habitats and end poaching. There’s even a spigot near the reception area that provides purified rainwater!
Read more: Sustainable Style: Eco And Ethical Local Fashion Brands
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 by Tania Shroff and was most recently updated in February 2020.