Choosing where to stay

 

Discover great hotels, lodges and campsites that go the extra mile to conserve vital resources, protect the environment and plough something back into their own communities. There are some real gems. Rest easy. Sleep green.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

But before you book do investigate. It’s easy for them to claim they’re eco-friendly. Do they really mean it, and can they prove it?

What do they do to protect the environment?
Do they conserve water?
Do they reduce and recycle waste?
Do they use alternative energy?
Do they help local communities and if so how?
What information is available to guests to explain the local wildlife and culture?

AWARD WINNERS

With so many possibilities the world is – ahem, pardon the cliché! - your oyster. Here are four of the best, all admittedly up-market. They are among past winners of the prestigious annual Responsible Tourism Awards.

Overall Best Destination: Aspen, Colorado, USA

Aspen is one of North America’s most beautiful and glamorous ski resorts. It has four ski areas (Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Snowmass) as well as two hotels (the five-star Little Nell and the Snowmass Club), as well as 15 mountain restaurants. According to the judges it “leads the way in showing how resorts can green up their operations.” It is also the first ISO 14001 certified resort in the US (this is an internationally recognised standard for environmental management). It uses biodiesel in its snow groomers and offsets all of its electricity through buying wind-energy certificates.”

Best in a Mountain Environment: Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Resorts, Canada

Whistler is consistently rated as the top ski and snowboard resort in North America and among the best in the world. The resort is two hours from Vancouver and covers over 8,100 acres and boasts two mountains, three glaciers, with over 200 marked ski trails and 12 alpine bowls. Its citation praised it for producing an environmental management system that addresses land stewardship, waste reduction, water quality, conservation and energy management of mountain areas and its car-pooling/CO2 reduction initiative.

Best a marine environment: Wakatobi Dive Resort, Indonesia


Wakatobi claims the most pristine reefs in the world and is set right by the beach on the tropical island of Onemobaa, southeast Sulawesi. The reefs team with marine life including the occasional whale, dolphins, sharks, rays, tunas, barracudas, marlin and more. The luxury resort prides itself on its unique commitment to the environment. Guests each pay £5 towards a reef- management program. In the ten years since it was founded the scheme has helped to protect 12km of seagrass beds, mangroves and reef tops.

Best for conservation of an endangered species: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa.

This 100 000 hectare reserve is one of the largest private conservation projects in Africa aiming to "restore the Kalahari to itself". It has introduced thousands of game animals including the rare desert black rhino, sable and roan antelope, Cape buffalo, cheetah and lion. Visitors are provided with superb accommodation too.

For the full list of award winners visit Responsible Tourism Awards 

CAMPING

Take your roof with you! Camping and caravanning can be great fun and the Camping and Caravanning Club has almost 100 sites throughout the UK. Locations include the Royal Estates, National Parks, by the coast and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Several of their camp sites are also recognised by the David Bellamy Awards and are active in recycling and environmental awareness. Past winners have included Canterbury, Charmouth, Derwentwater, Ebury Hill, Hertford, Keswick, Rhandirmywn, Sandringham, Scone, Trewan Hall, Winchcombe, Windermere and Woodhall Spa. Details of these and a further 1200 smaller certified campsites are on its website along with its international travel service – each year over 70,000 members use this to book holidays in 200 individually-inspected camp sites in 19 European countries.