From a California resort recycling glass bottles into sand for its golf course bunkers, to a private island in Fiji foraging sea greens with health benefits, these eco-focused hotels are leveraging a variety of sustainability measures to provide environmentally friendly stays for travelers around the world.
Ultimate Sustainable Private Island Dream Come True – The Brando (www.thebrando.com)
The Brando is an exquisite luxury resort on French Polynesia’s remote private atoll of Tetiaroa and a benchmark for sustainable tourism. A founding member of Beyond Green (a global portfolio of hotels, resorts, and lodges exemplifying sustainability leadership) this South Pacific paradise is comprised of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 miles north of Tahiti. The Brando was inspired by Marlon Brando’s vision to create a sustainable development that resonates with visitors and creates opportunities to get to know the place and people of French Polynesia. A pioneer in the hospitality industry since opening in 2014, The Brando is the first property in French Polynesia to obtain LEED Platinum Certification, the highest U.S. Green Building Council environmental certification for sustainable building design and operations. An on-site ecostation operated by the Tetiaroa Society provides education and research, along with valuable data and insight for other hotels to follow in its footsteps. As luxurious as the resort may be, sustainability lies in every detail at The Brando, where preservation, research and community are the pillars of its success. From waste and carbon footprint reduction to extreme care for the biodiversity of the atoll, everything is thought through meticulously and serves as an example for the hospitality industry worldwide, a core value for this Pacific Beachcomber property. The latest addition to the luxurious amenities the resort offers is their ice-cold deep-water bath that allows you to immerse yourself in seawater at 10°C (50˚F), drawn 920m (3,018 feet) from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, using a similar concept to the SWAC to provide cold water without any additional waste of energy or water. The water’s system allows it to circulate from the depths of the ocean and into the bath, keeping it cold while also assuring steady water levels.
Recycled Golf Course Bunkers, Tree Planting Initiatives, and Employee Composting – The Ranch at Laguna Beach (www.theranchlb.com)
The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a coastal ranch resort set on 87 acres in the iconic town of Laguna Beach. Sustainability sets the foundation for the 97-room resort, which features a half-acre organic farm, two Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants, a 3,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor spa, and the only golf course in Laguna Beach. The Ranch at Laguna Beach leverages a range of innovative and practical measures to reduce its carbon footprint, protect the natural environment, and eliminate plastic waste. The property recycles glass bottles into sand for its golf course bunkers, swapped plastic key cards with biodegradable bamboo room keys, operates a half-acre organic farm and compost program, and irrigates with reclaimed water – saving 20 million gallons annually. The Ranch at Laguna Beach is also a founding member of Beyond Green, a global portfolio of hotels, resorts, and lodges exemplifying sustainability leadership. Most recently, the resort launched the OC Tree Collective, a tree planting initiative designed to reduce carbon emissions, capture water resources, and cool local communities. In support of California’s new composting mandate, the resort launched Compost Crew, an employee-wide composting program designed for individuals to collect organic waste at home to be repurposed at Harvest Garden. This past December, The Ranch at Laguna Beach achieved the highest level of certification in California’s Green Lodging Program, an organization recognizing accommodation facilities that demonstrate leading standards of integrity and environmental ethics.
Sea Foraging, Organic Gardens, and Ecosystem Conservation at Kokomo Private Island – (www.kokomoislandfiji.com)
Located in the pristine Kadavu Islands, south of Fiji’s mainland, Kokomo Private Island is an all-inclusive island paradise encircled by rich marine life of the Great Astrolabe Reef. As sustainability sets the foundation for this private island oasis, the property sources sustainable building materials, utilizes saltwater desalination, operates a coral reef and mangrove restoration, and launched manta-ray conservation practices, all designed to create a positive environmental impact to help preserve the surrounding ecosystem. In addition, the property boasts a 5.5-acre farm and hydroponics garden, yielding an array of local vegetables, herbs, and exotic island fruits the culinary team utilizes to craft everchanging menus and seasonal specials. The farm also hosts a vanilla plantation to produce fresh vanilla beans, 16 beehives to generate rich resort honey, along with 170 free-range chickens producing the island’s eggs. Guests can dine at the island’s three restaurants for on-site locally sourced produce and caught-to-order seafood from its sustainable “Dock to Dish” fishing program, a wild seafood sourcing system focusing on seasonal availability instead of demand-based food. The resort has also incorporated a sea foraging project to identify seaweeds and sea greens with health benefits that can be used for consumption while reducing carbon emissions from food miles.
Kasiiya Papagayo is DNA Barcoding Costa Rica’s Biodiversity – (www.kasiiya.com)
This March Kasiiya Papagayo launched a DNA coding program to collect, identify and catalogue the species inhabiting the 123-acre eco-retreat located in one of the world’s last remaining tropical dry forests. Costa Rica, considered to be a biological hotspot, is home to just as many species found in all of North America. The Guanacaste region specifically, has 65% of Costa Rica's total biodiversity, approximately 2/3 of that found in North America. Thus, understanding the coastal biodiversity of Costa Rica is incredibly important for the future wellbeing of the ecosystem, both on the local and global scale. DNA coding aims to catalog this information and make it available to all, not just elite scientists, to encourage a more bio-literate society and better use of resources for future generations. Internationally acclaimed wildlife professor Daniel Janzen and his wife Winnie visited the property in Guanacaste to install the two malaise traps that will collect data from small tissue samples such as an insect leg, a wing, a feather, scale, etc. Once a week, Kasiiya’s trained employees will jar the samples and send them to the Centre for Biodiveristy Genomics (CBD) at the University of Guelph, Canada where the DNA barcoding takes place. With just a limited DNA sequence, scientists can discover new specifies and differentiate those within the same family. From there, data is stored in the Barcode of Life Datasystem (BOLD) available to the public domain. The three-year project is part of an NGO federal-government partnership with the Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) and the Costa Rican government. As a pioneer in the luxury eco-tourism sector, Kasiiya is the first hotel to undertake such a project.
Overwater Villas, Solar-Powered BioRock Coral Restoration, and an End to Plastic– InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (www.thalasso.intercontinental.com)
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa, a Pacific Beachcomber property, was the first property in the world to successfully implement a private air conditioning system using cold deep-sea water. The revolutionary Sea Water Air Conditioning – or SWAC – uses sustainable technology free from harmful hydrofluorocarbons that have been linked to global warming and reducing energy use by 90%. The spectacular island resort is powered by solar panels, irrigates with reclaimed rainwater, and follows strict recycling policies ensuring all waste is responsibly processed or composted. The resort also boasts French Polynesia’s first Thalasso Spa, which integrates deep-sea water nutrients into healing treatments. In addition, the resort boasts a lagoonarium, a space dedicated to the preservation and observation of Polynesian species, and solar power is harnessed for Biorock technology, which stimulates coral growth in our ongoing marine restoration projects. In an effort to completely ban single-use plastic by the end of 2022, on World Ocean’s Day (June 8), the property will launch a new in-house water bottling plant which will eradicate 30,000 plastic bottles per year by producing premium filtered still and sparkling water for guests in reusable glass bottles. This, along with their strict recycling policies, ensures their waste is properly processed. The resort will also debut an onsite organic garden that will grow herbs and produce to support the resort’s restaurant, Le Corail, in its goal to become the first zero-waste restaurant in French Polynesia. The vegetable garden uses compost and fertilizer from their on-site composting program, along with some made from recycled cardboard borrowed from its sister resort, the Intercontinental Resort in Tahiti which processes the materials. In a region where it’s illegal to import honey, beehives were brought to the resort to become self-sufficient, while also contributing to the bee ecosystem on the island. Green Tours, also known as botanical trails in the hotels, educate customers about the local flora and surrounding ecosystem. Lastly, a new partnership with Espace Bleu allows guests to participate in a coral cutting activity to help maintain the coral reefs of Bora Bora and preserve marine biodiversity.
Blueribbon Waterways at The Ranch at Rock Creek– (www.theranchatrockcreek.com)
Situated on 10 square miles of Montana wilderness, The Ranch at Rock Creek is the United States’ premier luxury guest ranch and the only Forbes Five Star Guest Ranch in Montana. The property features an array of rustic yet elegant accommodations, farm-to-table ranch-style gourmet dining, a full-service spa, event barn, and limitless outdoor activities from fly fishing to horseback riding and sporting clays. As the property has a long history of working as a cattle ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek has natural partnerships among neighbors and nearby ranches for meat, dairy, and produce that contribute to its goal of creating a closed-loop sustainability system. Among many partnerships, The Ranch at Rock Creek works with Trout Unlimited to improve fish habitats throughout the 52 miles of Rock Creek – a designated Blue Ribbon waterway recognized as recreational fisheries of notable high quality. There are only five states in the United States with such an achievement: Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin.