Eco Lodges, Featured Articles
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Ecolodges Take the Conde Nast Hot List by Storm

Each year, Conde Nast Traveler publishes its annual hot list detailing the best of the best of the posh, sexy, and generally impressive new hotels around the world from the last year.

2012’s Hot List betrays an increasingly pervasive trend in luxury resorts: sustainability.

While Paris, New York, and London will always be chic, renewable energy, sustainably-sourced materials, and locally-produced decor have taken the high-end hotel scene by storm, adding fuel to the green is the new black fire.

This year, Conde Nast Traveler named nine full-fledged ecolodges to its 121-hotel hot list. Sure, it’s only 7%, but it’s a fantastic step in the right direction.

1. Sanctuary Zebra Plains, Zambia

Zebra plains
Image provided by Sanctuary Zebra Plains

What’s hot:

  • a “tea bearer” accompanies guests on their safaris
  • each of the four tents has its own butler, who adjusts guests’ outdoor showers to the perfect temperature

Best eco perks:

  • the camp is 100% solar-powered
  • in the off-season the camp is removed, leaving behind no trace of civilization to disturb the local wildlife migrations

2. Lamai Serengeti, Tanzania

Image from Flickr user Gill Penny

What’s hot:

  • Masai and Kuria guards keep guests safe from the local wildcats at night
  • prime spot for observing the annual wildebeest migration

Best eco perks:

  • wood and thatch lodges blend indiscriminately into the landscape
  • Nomad Tanzania was chosen by the government as the most responsible tourism company in the nation

3. Beresheet Hotel Negev, Israel

Mitzpe ramon
Image from Flickr user PC in Shenzhen

What’s hot:

  • infinity pool looking out over the dessert (ideal in 40+ degrees Celsius)
  • the just-out-of-town location affords crater views (see above) from several rooms

Best eco perks:

  • ingredients, like organic goat cheese, sourced from nearby Kibbutzes
  • no vehicle emissions are permitted at the resort; electric golf carts are provided when guests arrive

4. Kicheche Valley Camp, Kenya

Image provided by Kicheche Camps

What’s hot:

  • Masai bodyguards serve as impromptu babysitters
  • en-suite bathrooms have hot and cold running water (a rare luxury in camps in the Masai Mara)

Best eco perks:

  • Kicheche is part of the 55,000-acre Naishobo conservancy, a collaboration between the Basecamp Foundation and local Masai that has allowed the Masai to retain and profit from their land while preserving wildlife
  • the conservancy has the lowest tourist density in the whole Masai Mara

5. Naked Stables Private Reserve, China

Image from Flickr user PC in Shenzhen

What’s hot:

  • guests can hand-pick their own tea at the resort’s tea plantations
  • the resort is accessible by train from Shanghai

Best eco perks:

  • the reserve has been awarded the highest level of eco-architecture certification, LEED Platinum; guest huts are crafted from local mud, renewable bamboo and reclaimed wood
  • guests navigate the 60-acre resort on solar-powered golf carts

6. Puma Lodge, Chile

Puma lodge
Image provided by Puma Lodge

What’s hot:

  • wood-fired, open-air hot tubs
  • “Cordero al palo” celebrations with roast lamb and Chilean dance performances by locals

Best eco perks:

  • a completely self-sufficient lodge, Puma has its own waste and water treatment centers and renewable energy generation sites
  • the lodge lies at the typically-inaccessible meeting place of three valleys in the Chilean Cordillera, home to cyprus forests rife with endangered species

7. Singular Patagonia, Chile

Singular hotels
Image from Flickr user The Singular Hotels

What’s hot:

  • adjacent to the Torres del Paine National Park and the UNESCO-designated Chilean Patagonian biosphere reserve
  • two-story windows afford unobstructed views of Lake Sarmiento and the Patagonian mountains

Best eco perks:

  • the striking wooden frame of the hotel was created with sustainably-sourced wood and the hotel supports the Reforest Patagonia project to plant one million trees with its profits
  • all furnishings hand-made by local craftspeople and the native Tehuelche population

8. Abu Camp, Botswana

More abu camp
Image provided by Abu Camp

What’s hot:

  • the reserve has the most elephants per square mile of any part of Africa
  • the “star bed” experience in the elephant bona

Best eco perks:

  • set in a 450,000-acre reserve around the largest inland delta on the planet
  • interiors are furnished with locally hand-woven fabric and seagrass, hand-hewn wood, and hand-crafted ceramics

9. Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Uganda

Image provided by Kyambura Gorge Lodge

What’s hot:

  • game-viewing cruises on the channel between Lakes George and Edward
  • a clan of 20-odd wild chimps are your neighbors in this section of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Best eco perks:

  • all guest chalets are solar-powered
  • chalets have been constructed reutilized elements of the former coffee processing plant on the site

Notably, the ecolodges on this year’s list are primarily in unknown or up-and-coming destinations. Maybe next year, we’ll start seeing eco-hotels in popular tourist spots make the list.

What do you think of these new eco hotels? Any jumping to the top of your wish list or inspiring you to visit a new travel destination?


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