These places combine sustainability and luxury

Four sustainable luxury travel destinations

16 February 2021

Positive outlook for the future: sustainability and luxury are no longer mutually exclusive, but rather merge into one another. Above all, travellers can do a big thing for humanity by taking a small step when booking.

You don't necessarily have to plant a tree after every long-distance trip to ensure a clear conscience regarding CO2 emissions. There are many ways to travel sustainably. With the choice of destination, you take the first step and can already do good: resorts that protect their environment have a massive role model character in exotic locations and often act as catalysts for a new way of thinking. But that's not all: jobs are created, schools are built and employees are trained in equality.

Soneva Fushi

Kunfunadhoo Island, Eydhafushi, Maldives
T: +960 660 0304
From about € 2000,- per night

It is the first address in the Maldives and also unbeaten in terms of sustainability: At Soneva, it may be ostensibly about creating unique, authentic experiences for the guests, but at the same time they act consistently in the sense of the planet. The fact that this is possible is exemplified here and has meanwhile spurred and inspired many other resorts to also become plastic-free and CO2-neutral. But that's not the end of the story at Soneva: the visionary ethos has always spurred the founding couple Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmström to go their own ways and often to look for completely new ones.

For the construction of the new villas, for example, only ethical and environmentally friendly materials were used - many of them directly from the island and recycled themselves. An incredible 90 percent of the waste here is recycled, as compost or as building material. Just imagine: The largest water villas in the world (!) are made of garbage - exaggerated, but basically exactly the same. Luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

But it's not just the guests and the environment that benefit from this sustainability ethos, the local population does too. For example, the self-filtered water is not only served to visitors, but also distributed to local households, schools and businesses. The technical know-how around clean water is also shared on a larger scale and internationally - in the form of charitable foundations such as WHOLE WORLD WATER. Soneva has not only established "barefoot luxury", but is also committed to doing good - what a beautiful message!

Currently, this success story celebrates its 25th anniversary and has grown to three paradisiacal island resorts. Eva and her husband still have many plans, one can be curious. Unlike her biblical namesake, one can assume that she will never be chased out of paradise.

The concept of "Slow Life" is at the heart of Soneva's philosophy. It's about how you treat yourself, others and nature.

Raffles Seychelles

Anse Takamaka Baie Saint Anne Praslin, Seychelles
T: +248 429 6000
Ocean-View-Villa from € 1200,- including breakfast for two persons

Conservation, energy efficiency, recycling and social action: You can also holiday in the Seychelles with a clear conscience. Especially fans of a lively, well-preserved flora and fauna will find their happiness here. There are many endemic animals and plants in the island state, and three species of giant tortoises alone are known to exist. The last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the Cuvier's Rail, is also at home here. In order to keep it this way, species and nature conservation is a priority at this hideaway and is openly practiced: guests can participate by planting endemic trees, for example, in order to increase the natural habitat of the black parrots, which only occur here on Paslin Island.

But a heart for animals is not only shown in this way, but also in quite innovative, quite funny ways: For example, the golf balls that land in the sea turn into fish food! Speaking of fish: Especially lovers of maritime delicacies will get their money's worth here. The cuisine is based on the "catch of the day" principle, accompanied by home-made products sourced from local farmers.

The staff are also local: more than half of the staff come from the immediate vicinity. On the one hand, this allows guests to get an authentic impression of the island and a feeling for how important it is to preserve nature in the Seychelles. On the other hand, "Raffles" also proves its holistic concept of sustainability. Here, one simply wants to merge with one's environment. This philosophy has of course also been reflected in the architecture: the 86 villas in total, each with its own plunge pool and view of the Indian Ocean, appear as if they are merging with the island and the sea. There is no better way to enjoy your holiday.

Andbeyond Benguerra Island

Benguerra Island, Mozambique, Mozambique
T: +27 11 809 4300
From € 665,- per person

Beautiful, but far below the travel radar: after years of civil war, Mozambique is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped South African luxury tour operator Andbeyond from setting up a luxury lodge here. Here means: on Benguerra Island, 14 kilometres off the mainland, situated in a protected lagoon. And what a lagoon it is! Diving fans get their money's worth: the Mozambique Channel, which runs right next to the island, offers visitors a wealth of fish species that is unparalleled.

A special highlight, however, is a bizarre-looking mammal: Here, among other things, sea cows or dugongs, as they are affectionately called, cavort. These colossi are voracious herbivores that can be found in the immediate vicinity of the beach. Their closest relatives are - incredibly, but true - elephants. It's a good fit: "Andbeyond" is known for its sustainable lodges and game drives, and you can definitely call the excursions into the breathtaking underwater world a safari.

However, preserving these exotic worlds requires very special protection and commitment - especially here, on a mother reef. Tessa Hempson, marine biologist and ocean activist, explains what that is: "When they bloom spectacularly, mother reefs release seeds into the sea, which in turn attract tiny sea creatures and with them the great reef sharks, dugongs, humpback whales and green sea turtles." Mother reefs, you learn, are thus the breeding ground for an intact sea.

Tessa Hempson is also Operation Manager of the Andbeyond initiative "Oceans Without Borders", which aims to preserve the world's oldest coral reefs and their biodiversity together with the local population. No easy task, as the initiative includes three resorts in Mozambique and on Zanzibar and a total coastline of 2000 kilometres. Chapeau!

Laucala Private Island

Laucala Island, Fiji
T: +679 8880077
From approx. € 4146,- per person, with minimum stay of one week

Paradise on earth actually exists and is run by an Austrian: Laucala Island is a South Seas island that plays all the pieces. Turquoise sea and white sandy beach, tropical rainforests and endless coconut plantations, volcanic mountains and in the middle of it all 25 detached villas. Fiji Island is the epitome of exclusivity and luxury, owner and Red Bull legend Dietrich Mateschitz defined this among other things with absolute privacy.

Another mainstay: sustainability. Of course, this goes perfectly hand in hand with the demand for exclusivity. Because what could be more obvious than to establish a concept of self-sufficiency here? Today, up to 80 percent of the required resources are produced by the island itself; the island has greenhouses, orchards, herb gardens, Wagyu cattle, "Fiji Fantastic" sheep, and - curiously - Sulmtaler chickens, which Mateschitz had imported from Austria and which are among the rare, already endangered chicken breeds. Guests of the island can get an overview on a two-hour farm tour, cuddle with the sheep, examine the herb and flower garden or get to know the extensive hydroponic system.

A tour is worthwhile, because already at the first stop you learn exciting things: All the fruit trees and bushes have multiplied naturally over the years and now grow wild all over the island. Ten employees harvest bananas, limes, physalis, mangos, papayas, guavas and avocados here every day - depending on the season, the kitchen team of Laucala Island is also guided by the produce that nature provides. Other plants like the vanilla plants need more intensive care: they have to be pollinated by hand! Consequently, the spa products also come from the local gardens. The island's own botany is a treasure that is still honoured.

Picture Credits: Dookphoto / andBeyond, Soneva Fushi, Burak Issevan, Raffles Seychelles, Getty Images, Laucala Island Resort Ltd.

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Winter 2020.

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