For those who crave luxury, travel has always been about enjoying the finest things in life, from the best design and architecture to the most mouthwatering food. But as savvy travelers look to the future, it’s clear that a focus on sustainability is the only way to ensure the world’s treasures are preserved for all to enjoy.
Luckily, supporting sustainable measures doesn’t mean you have to forgo exquisite experiences. With these sustainable luxury travel trends, you can make a positive impact while savoring the globe’s bountiful beauty.
Off-the-Beaten Path Destinations
As savvy luxury travelers are well aware, overtourism is wreaking havoc on some of the world’s most beautiful places. Barcelona and Venice have been sounding the alarm about being overrun by tourists for many years. And in 2018, the island of Boracay in the Philippines shut down for six months in order to correct environmental damage done by the influx of tourists.
As the travel industry recovers from the pandemic, a greater focus on greener destinations and more eco-friendly ways of travel is taking shape. Choosing off-the-beaten-path, sustainable destinations ensures that you’ll be contributing to the industry in positive ways, as well as savoring pristine, authentic areas that haven’t lost their special character.
Book a trip to Bhutan, known as the only carbon negative country in the world, where more than two-thirds of the country is covered in dense forest. Or skip the bustling beaches of Australia and instead give New Zealand a try, a country that’s recently made a major commitment toward achieving ambitious sustainability goals. Portugal, too, is a smart choice. The country has set goals to ensure 90 percent of tourism businesses would comply with sustainable mandates by 2027.
Trip Suggestion: Plan a trip around a visit Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a sacred Buddhist site and cultural icon constructed in 1692. Afterward, visit the National Museum of Bhutan. Closest airport: Paro International Airport
Eco-Friendly Boutique Hotels and Lodges
The world of luxury travel has come a long way toward considering the planet and local communities. A new class of hotels now cater to those with discerning tastes while staying true to commitments to conserve energy, recycle, and use sustainable materials. Opt for a five-star stay at a green lodge or eco-friendly hotel that supports the people and resources it takes to run it.
For example, Six Senses hotels are committed to preserving the environment and to sustainable operations; the hotel brand has even committed to eliminate single-use plastics from their operations by 2022. Properties make use of passive cooling and are cleaned using biodegradable cleaning products. Best of all, Six Senses properties are located in top destinations throughout the world.
Trip Suggestion: With dozens of awards and accolades from top publications, NIHI Sumba on remote Sumba Island in Indonesia is an eco-friendly beach paradise with rustic-chic vibes and direct access to the immaculate beachfront. It was named the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2017. With menus drawing on fresh produce from an on-site organic garden, an open-air spa, and a host of land and water activities, it’s easy to see why.
Closest airport: Umbu Mehang Kunda Airport
As exciting as it is to hop between cosmopolitan destinations in a race to tackle your bucket list, luxury travelers are beginning to realize that it’s not always the best way to truly get acquainted with a place.
Enter the concept of slow travel, which not only encourages globetrotters to stop and smell the roses, but also promotes taking break from commercialism and overconsumption. It’s about savoring all the little moments and giving yourself space to connect with the landscape and people, forming a deeper understanding of a place.
For some, this means picking only one or two destinations on a trip in an effort to cut back on flight transfers. For others, it might mean taking advantage of the new remote work visas introduced by countries such as Barbados, Dubai, and the Cayman Islands, which allow for longer stays than a traditional tourist visa. No matter how it’s done, slow travel allows vacationers to focus on quality over quantity and savor an abundance of the one thing there never seems to be enough of: time.
Trip Suggestion: Pick a breathtaking beachfront village in Antigua — such as St. John’s or Jolly Harbour — and settle in for a workation that allows you to support local industries just as a resident would. Spend your free time exploring one of the island’s many pristine beaches or kicking back at locally owned waterfront eateries serving island cuisine.
Closest airport: V.C. Bird International Airport
A Focus on the Finer Things – Sourced Locally
From the locavore culinary trend to a focus on locally made crafts and artwork, the luxury travel industry is discovering its preference for high-end goods and services sourced from the destinations they represent. Small boutique hotels are especially good at introducing guests to local treasures, from fresh, locally grown coffees to wines that highlight the uniqueness of the region. Doing so helps local industries and communities thrive, strengthening the economic power of those destinations.
For example, two new luxury hotels under construction in Oceanside, California — The Seabird and Mission Pacific — are filled with art curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art, helping give guests of those properties a true sense of place, not to mention boosting the profiles of local artists.
Planet 9 Private Air makes an effort to supply travelers with onboard catering using locally sourced ingredients. This not only ensures freshness, but also gives you an authentic taste of the ingredients available in that particular area.
Trip Suggestion: Stay amid gorgeous surroundings at Castello di Reschio in Italy, where cuisine incorporates fresh produce from the hotel’s own garden, not to mention olive oil from olive trees grown on-site. Browse locally produced wines in the on-site wine shop or stop for a drink in the Palm Court Bar with its chic, vintage look.
Closest airport: San Francesco d’Assisi Airport
High-End Plant-Based Gastronomy
As travelers become more aware of the role of food production in climate change, plant-based diets are stepping up to the plate as an alternative that’s better for the planet and for people. Without a doubt, the plant-based craze has taken hold in a big way, popping up everywhere from ever-popular destinations to under-the-radar places where you’d least expect to find it.
As the movement gains traction, it’s shedding its reputation as a restrictive diet and revealing its more refined side. In fact, ONA, a vegan restaurant in southwest France, recently became the first of its kind to receive Michelin-star status, proof that you don’t need meat or animal products to create a spectacular culinary experience.
Fly to Brussels to indulge in some vegan fine dining at Humus x Hortense, recently named the best vegan restaurant in the world. Then stick around to explore the Belgian’s city’s wide range of plant-based options, from Asian-inspired dishes to indulgent baked goods.
Closest airport: Brussels Airport
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