Eco is a term that has been popping up everywhere over the past few years. As people become more conscious of their global footprint and opt for greener everyday living, they are also employing their environmental conscience when planning holidays. When it comes to accommodation, 'eco' is applied when hotels structure their business to minimise impact on natural environment, aiming to integrate seamlessly into their surrounds, often endeavouring to cultivate it further. Eco lodges are usually found nestled in rainforests, jungles, on pristine beaches or rugged hinterlands, presenting guests with more than just a room to spend the night.
For a holistic holiday experience embracing nature, local culture and inner wellness, check out these top five eco lodges around the world.
Tiger Mountain Lodge, Pokhara, Nepal
The Tiger Mountain Lodge has been a pioneer when it comes to tourism with a conscience, working to support the local Nepali community wherever possible. Perched on a hilltop high above the Pokhara Valley in the heart of Nepal, Tiger Mountain is blessed with spectacular views of snow-capped mountain peaks which glow amber pink at sunrise, tumbling down to forested hills and farmland. Some 18 cottage rooms are arranged in clusters to resemble a Nepali village. The focal point is a spacious main lodge with a generous fireplace for guests too cosy up to after a long day of trekking the Annapurna Circuit, or after enjoying the mix of adrenaline-fuelled and relaxing activities onsite. Hand-cut stone, handmade wood furniture and Tibetan rugs don the rooms, with private verandas designed to emphasise the majestic Himalayan views.
Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Where the ocean meets the rainforest close to the border of Costa Rica and Panama you will find Lapa Rios, eco-friendly right down to the last detail. The 16 bungalows are built using locally harvested materials, roofed with woven palms and decorated with bamboo furnishings, all the while managing to retain the luxuries you would expect from any leading hotel like Zen Shiatsu massage and Hatha Yoga. Lapa Rios has proved a winner with honeymooners, retirees, families and especially nature lovers. Lapa's namesake, the Scarlet Macaw, can be spotted soaring above the rainforest canopy, sometimes even dropping in to greet guests on their bungalow balconies. The ecolodge boasts a huge range of guided tours onsite from rainforest hikes ending with a cool-off under the waterfalls, to tree planting expeditions and 'starfish walks' along a tropical fjord.
Al Maha Desert Resort, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This verdant palm oasis nestled in the sand dunes is no mirage. Renowned as an epicentre of luxury and opulence, the Al Maha Desert Resort fits in nicely with the Emirati way of living. Around 50 minutes away from central Dubai, the resort gives way to sweeping views across the desert landscape and the ultimate feeling of seclusion. The resort is located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where Arabian oryx and gazelle roam free and plays an important role in maintaining the heritage of the land. The Bedouin-style suites are lavish to say the least with personalised dining experiences and temperature controlled pools. After a full day camel trekking, four-wheel driving on a desert safari or being pampered with an ancient Rasoul skin care ritual, treat yourself to organic fine dining under the Arabian sky.
Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives
Soneva Fushi would fit nicely under 'island paradise' in the dictionary. With textbook tropical beauty from powdery white sands to lazy swaying palms and sparkling blue waters, Soneva Fushi takes residence on the island of Kunfunadhoo in the Maldives' Baa Atoll. Soneva Fushi's 65 sustainably built villas are spacious and inviting, some with their own private seawater pools. Join the local marine biologist for a snorkel around the surrounding reef where you can swim with eels, rays, fish and turtles, or unwind with a Kurumbaa Kaashi coconut rub. A treat for the senses continues with restaurant menus based on locally grown produce and a well-stocked wine cellar to the delight of oenophiles. A fairytale touch to the resort includes a fleet of butlers called Mr or Ms Friday, named after the character from the castaway epic Robinson Crusoe.
Daintree Eco Lodge, Daintree, Australia
The multi award-winning Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa in Tropical North Queensland is set in the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park, about an hour and a half north of Cairns. Promising an unforgettable eco experience in the oldest living rainforest on earth, the lodge features 15 tree-house style bayans tucked beneath a lush natural canopy. The majority of banyans include a balcony jacuzzi so you can let go of your weekday worries and soak in the ambient sounds of the rainforest. If you're after deeper relaxation, the Daintree Wellness Spa offers a range of natural therapies such as a warm mud wrap and tropical exfoliation using raw native ingredients to treat your body and mind. The Eco Lodge places great importance on Aboriginal culture, working closely with the local Kuku Yalanji people and sharing their deep connection to the land.