Sustainable luxury trends

Over time, luxury has been gradually developing in the tourism sector traditionally hand in hand with the hospitality industry. We have had this benchmark for decades with which we have traveled and the hotels where we stayed were one of the main identifying traits of our trips. Luxury were established by the name of the hotel, its historic building, the size of its suites measured in square meters, the Michelin stars of its restaurant, the design and decoration of its lobby or the quality of its spa treatments. All these elements in combination made our experience truly unique and special. But something is changing. The economy of the world improves, countries that were formerly not issuing travelers now are, airlines are growing everywhere and the world seems increasingly closer and affordable for everyone. More planes, more people traveling, more hotels are been built and the debate is served. Overcrowding, environmental impact, loss of local culture and unsustainable growth seem to be the news that comes to us from many corners of the world. Consequently, we are increasingly becoming more and more aware of the impact we are leaving in the countries we visit and the luxury of travel is gradually been redefined. They no longer only help the large suites and the magnificent lobbies. Today we are looking for something further and the experience of luxury is evolving around three concepts: the sustainable, the remote and the experiential. This type of responsible and sustainable tourism has found a formula through tourism development projects framed in luxury and exclusivity where sustainability is been understood far beyond using solar panels, not washing towels daily or recycling waste.

A private and protected island (Wa Ale)

The island of Wa Ale is located in the Myeik archipelago in southern Myanmar. After three flights from Spain, there are still two hours of boat to reach this private island of 3,600 hectares. For some years now Chris Kingsley had the vision to protect this small and remote piece of paradise through a tourism development project minimizing the impact on local ecosystem, generating a real economy for the population and functioning as an ecosystem protection from the land and sea island. Today local population of the island receives 20% of the benefits and 2% of the income per occupied room. In addition, it manages the project for the protection and conservation of the Green and Lute turtles working together with the local fishing community to protect these two endangered species. The project includes the protection of the coral reef by the anchors of local boats working together with the local fishing communities.

The hotel is the main source of income for the island and has 11 villas and 3 cabañas built with degradable and local materials combining wood and bamboo. This style have been inspired to the style of the houses of local villages.

  • Turtle conservation project is one of the great attractions of the island. 
  • If we are lucky, we can see the odd pangolin, a small species of dwarf armadillo very rare.
  • In Kayaks and paddleboards you can surround part of the island and paddle between mangroves or explore the fauna of the island by foot for its forest road system.
  • Water of the archipelago, full of coral reefs, is excellent for snorkeling and diving.

An old recovered wood plantation (Nicaragua)

In Nicaragua, Poncon family acquired more than 1,600 hectares on the Pacific coast making it a private reserve. Over the years, the entire reserve have been replanted with native vegetation recovering the jungle, attracting species of local animals such as the howler monkey, parrots, anteaters, lazy bears and spotted deer.

It has an organic garden, a farm, a shrimp farm and all served fish is directly fish in the bay of the reserve. We could say that it is almost self-sufficient. 

In addition, every hotel cabin has been built with wood brought from timber plantations of responsible ecological management.

All employees have been hired in local populations to support local economy and training as part of the commitment of the conservation project not only ecological but also social.

Turtles in their spawning season frequently visit this 1 km beach long. In order to keep eggs away from predators they are collected and stored in a protected area and small turtles are reverted into the sea helping to improve the chance of recovery of an endangered species.

The hotel built into the jungle has 18 bungalows spread among vegetation. Solar panels generate electricity, to avoid the use of air conditioning compressors rooms have an ingenious and refreshing air recirculation system with zero emissions and very low energy consumption.

The last battle of Africa (Botswana)

Great Plains Conservation Foundation, chaired by Dereck Joubert, is committed to protecting endangered species and ecosystems in Africa through development projects of luxury tourist. 

A hundred percent of benefits are dedicated to the maintenance of the ecosystem. This project seeks to find a healthy balance between environmental preservation and species, involvement of local communities and generate a local economy. One of the greatest efforts is to convert land dedicated to hunting or livestock into conservation areas through tourism photographic safaris. 

Data is devastating, five elephants per hour die throughout Africa hunted by poachers. Only in South Africa, a rhinoceros dies every 9 hours and in the last 50 years, 95% of lion population has been lost. To avoid this, they protect large areas in Kenya, Botswana and soon Zimbabwe. They develop this concept exclusively by building camps with negative environmental impact, offering an experience of contact with extraordinary nature without giving up any comfort and generating a social economy in the area where local community can see that sustainable tourism generates an economy as profitable or more as livestock or even poaching.

Camps like Zarafa or Duba Plains, have been decorated with great detail and essence. The quality of the kitchen does not take second place to a good European restaurant. Every camp has a main tent where the living area is located as well as the dining area, terrace and gazebo. Each room is a fully equipped tent with all the comforts we could expect from a luxury hotel with exquisite attention to detail.
Upon being camps in private reserves, the only way to access is by plane or helicopter and there will be no more guests than tourists are throughout the reserve. For this very reason, it is possible to do safaris by foot with expert guides with close encounters with animals, or paddle canoes between canals and elephants, in addition to the classic 4×4 vehicle departures. These vehicles are equipped even with plugs to be able to charge cameras any time. The experience and contact with a truly wild nature is unique.

These are just three examples in Myanmar, Nicaragua and Botswana where tourism when managed with a conservation project behind, can have a positive result and impact on the environment, local community and reshape the standards of luxury between the remote, sustainable and experiential. Both, fully aware and well-chosen travels, we can guarantee that experiences and the impact that a trip has on us, is as much or more positive also for those who helped us make our trip a special experience.

Fotos: Varios – Elefant Travel /

Madrid – Barcelona – Bogotá