Earth Day, which will run from April 0th – 22nd 2021, is focusing on the theme ‘Restore Our Earth’. After more than a year of global devastation, it’s never been more important to reflect on to travel more sustainably in a post-pandemic world. We’ve rounded up some of the best environmentally conscious activities hosted by some of the world’s leading luxury sustainability brands.
Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is making waves in marine conservation with its pioneering coral regeneration programme and sustainability initiatives, from the Coralarium –a coral regeneration project in the form of an underwater art gallery – to the new Turtle Ranger programme.
The Turtle Ranger programme was designed to educate the next generation of eco-conscious travellers on the importance of caring for the underwater world. Join the marine biologist to monitor endangered turtles, plant coral and snorkel one of the most biodiverse reefs in the world. Patrol the beach in search of turtle nests and safely release the baby turtles into the ocean. As one of the most endangered turtles in the world, Fairmont Maldives track the migration patterns of Hawksbill Turtles to help protect them; guests can help collect vital ID data from the turtles that pass the reef – and, if a new turtle is discovered, guests are given the honour of naming them for formal certification.
Outside of the Turtle Ranger programme, Fairmont Maldives is dedicated to sustainability through banning single-use plastic, beach and reef cleaning initiatives, locally-sourced produce and on-site gardens, solar panel produced energy and water distillery to produce ready-to-drink water.
Perched on the tip of
Cape Yamu, overlooking the striking limestone karsts of UNESCO-protected Phang Nga Bay, COMO Point Yamu provides the perfect escape for those looking to immerse themselves in Thailand’s breath-taking backdrops. Uncover the lesser-known side of Phuket and embark on an excursion to the Gibbon Rehabilitation project, a centre dedicated to saving and rehabilitating the island’s endangered gibbons, helping them find mates and setting them back into protected wildlife areas. Visitors to the centre can learn more about the playful species, watch them interact with one another and explore the lush rainforests that the gibbons call home.
En route back to the resort, take a dip at the picturesque Bang Pae Waterfall before feasting on a picnic freshly prepared by COMO’s chefs in its mist. COMO Hotels and Resorts is dedicated to delivering unique experiences for guests while operating sustainably. COMO Point Yamu, for example, is designed with low thermal emissivity glass in all glass features to reduce the amount of heat transmitted into the building. COMO supports local producers, social enterprises and non-profit organisations, celebrates local cultures and supports the domestic economy and minimises impact on the environment through considered consumption.
Set on a cliff overlooking the stunning Sol D’en Serra Bay, Amante Ibiza is on a mission to connect conscious diners with their surroundings. Sourcing the majority of produce from its very own organic vegetable garden, with meat and fish dishes carefully selected from local fisherman and farmers, the restaurant operates on a zero-waste policy ensuring everything is disposable, 100% organic and made from renewable or recycled materials. Each dsh is prepared from the heart, incorporating local culinary traditions by blending modern Mediterranean dishes with nutritious, wholesome ingredients
Whether organic beetroot and avocdo tartar served with marinated turnip and aji dressing, or a sauteed ensemble of quinoa, mixed vegetables and goat cheese served over a bed of smoked aubergine – Amante Ibiza leads the way in sustainable dining on the White Isle. A daycation destination, the beachfront eatery expands its sense of wellness through morning yoga sessions, after which guests can re-nourish with a breakfast spread made up of locally grown fruits, freshly squeezed juices and wholegrain pastries.
Surrounded by a plethora of untouched reefs, COMO Maalifushi invites guests to explore the deep blue and practice marine conservation with their exclusive Coral Propagation and diving experiences. The luxury Maldivian resort offers a number of water-based adventures, coordinated by the resident Marine Biologist, with the aim of educating guests on the vast array of local marine life and encouraging coral to flourish. Continuously planting coral frames on the seafloor, the resort hopes to foster the growth of new reefs, allowing them to prosper in a bid to battle coral bleaching and its disastrous effects. Guests visiting the resort have the chance to sponsor a frame, whereby they will be sent bi-annual photographic updates to track its progress and receive complimentary dives every time they visit the resort to witness the coral’s growth in person.
I appreciate it may be too close to cover Velaa again, but in case of interest for any Earth Day articles you’re working on ahead of the 22nd April this year, I’d love to share that Velaa Private Island successfully planted 2,000 new corals in 2020 and is now seeing a surge in tropical fish and thriving marine life in the transplant areas. This year, Velaa offers eco-conscious guests the chance to shadow the ‘coral biologists’ by collecting research as they snorkel and plant new corals themselves, and take part in educational workshops to learn the importance of marine conservation first hand.
Learn about the Caribbean’s Local Wildlife and Conservation Efforts with The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Nestled on 483 pristine acres between the El Yunque National Forest and Espíritu Santo River State Preserve, The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is a natural haven and the Caribbean’s first and only certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary. With over 65% of the property preserved as green areas, sanctuaries and natural trails, it adheres to the highest standards of sustainability and conservation of nature.
To earn a Gold Audubon International Signature Sanctuary certification, the resort implemented a Natural Resource Management Plan that encompasses wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water quality monitoring, integrated pest management, water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste management. Additionally, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort created a plant nursery to supply reforestation of plants and trees to the premises. Occupying approximately 2.4 acres of land and equipped with state of the art technology that focuses on the production of native, naturalized and gardening plants, the nursery has generated more than 80% of the resort’s planted species.
The resort also has a group of professionals known as the “green team” composed of an ecologist, two agronomists, and a landscape architect, all led by Marcela Cañon, an on-staff Marine Biologist who has experience working with protected areas conservation, wetlands management, environmental education and outreach, ecological recovery, and project management. With Marcela, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort has created numerous programs to help maintain the natural environment including sea turtle and manatee conservation, energy and materials efficiency, and green building. The green team can lead guests on special nature tours, kayak trips, and hikes through the El Yunque National Forrest to uncover the surrounding ecology and learn about the local wildlife.
Vik Chile, the striking retreat, and the remarkable VIK Vineyard and Winery are the foundation for VIK which is situated on 11,000 acres in the gorgeous Millahue Valley. Sustainability and holism are integral parts of every element at VIK and were incorporated into the overall vision for the property from the design to the culinary offerings.
Vik Chile, the avant-garde retreat and wine-spa operates in an environmentally-conscious manner through its extensive use of water collection and recycling, innovative solar technologies, intelligent energy efficiency systems, and green architecture. Puro Vik, the newest accommodation category, is a collection of 7 individual glass houses floating just below Vik Chile, in the stunning nature and vineyard of Chile’s Millahue Valley. The roofs at Puro Vik are covered with wild grass or solar panels depending on each house’s exposure to minimize the need for energy by maximizing natural resources.
Working in tandem with Vik Chile is the VIK Winery, which was thoughtfully designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. Its primary architectural element is the uniquely transparent, stretched fabric roof, which allows for natural sunlight to permeate the winery, so it is able to operate without artificial lighting. The majority of the building is located underground to naturally cool the wine during the winemaking process using the natural thermal amplitude of the valley. VIK’s viticultural and winemaking management are inspired by its commitment to holism and caring for the environment. It prioritizes natural processes that are in harmony with nature and works in a personalized manner to efficiently optimize natural resources.
VIK also takes great care to mitigate, recover and improve the natural landscape and is a member of Chile’s Wine Climate Change and Biodiversity program, committed to conserving the native forest, flora, and fauna. Vik Chile also contributes to the natural environment through the property’s organic garden, where the team cultivates 250 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs throughout the year. Through the organic garden, they are able to preserve varieties of plants by reproducing them, harvesting the seeds, and sharing these seeds with other local growers and those interested in conservation. Visitors are invited to join the team in harvesting crops and cooking alongside them, and to indulge in the vibrant cuisine offered throughout the property.
Located amongst the inner granitic islands of Seychelles, North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles, is a fertile paradise. The Islands have been referred to as the “laboratories of evolution” and North Island’s biodiversity is living proof of this. The resort has an on-site Environmental Team that leads its Noah’s Ark conservation and island rehabilitation program.
In tandem with creating a world-class eco-tourism destination, the property has been working hard to restore North Island to its former glory. In becoming a completely plastic-free island, North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort banned single-use plastic straws and only uses eco-friendly compostable food containers for activities around the island. This is in addition to stringent waste management processes including extensive recycling, greywater systems, and the resort’s own sustainable water bottling plant.
In keeping North Island’s private beaches perfectly pristine, the property’s resident Environmentalists and eco-tourist volunteers set off on beach patrol each and every morning, collecting any debris carried by the trade winds while searching for nesting sea turtles. The resort is committed to removing these items and ensuring they enter the proper recycling routes, making sure they do not enter the oceans once more. North Island’s beach protection over the last two decades has safeguarded the nesting sites of critically endangered Hawksbills and endangered Green Turtles which has seen a remarkable increase in the number of turtles utilizing the island.
Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is set along the coastline of San José del Cabo, Mexico, in the coastal haven of Puerto Los Cabos. The Sprawling resort unfolds over a vast and beautiful 20-acre landscape, boasting panoramic views of the Sea of Cortes.
Zadún is one of just five properties in the Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio – a collection of resorts located in rare and exotic destinations; untouched stretches of paradise tucked away in the most exquisite corners of the world for the most discerning travelers seeking a personalized, meaningful escape. These sanctuaries offer elegant, relaxed and intimate settings that weave indigenous flavors with highly responsive, individualized service promising what is truly the journey of a lifetime. Sustainability is a key pillar of the Zadún experience.
Through Zadún’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, they focus on making a positive impact on both guests and the natural environment. Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment inspires guests to connect with the world around them in hopes that they will work towards preserving it for future generations. The program at Zadún highlight’s the natural habitats of Baja California Sur through immersive experiences designed for children, adults and families.
In further sustainability efforts, Zadún also uses cardboard water bottles in rooms, does not use any plastic bags in the guestroom, recently launched a composting program and much more. Envisioned as a celebration of Mexico’s vibrant culture and rich natural habitats, Zadún both celebrates and works to protect its stunning surroundings.
The Maldives is known for its abundance of colourful sea life and marine biodiversity, and Velaa Private Island has successfully contributed to this flourishing underwater world through its unique coral regeneration project which is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean. Since plantation just four years ago, Velaa has transplanted over 4,200 nursey grown corals increasing growth on the island by 3%, with 2000 corals transplanted in 2020 alone which now cover 450m² more of the house reef. There has been a surge in tropical fish throughout both the transplant areas and their surrounding endangered sites, and in 2020, the team of coral biologists living on Velaa Private Island increased the diversity of corals on the reef by implementing mini rope nurseries to grow sensitive species, such as Acropora branch corals, and increased their survival rate.
This project aims to raise awareness of destroyed coral reefs following the severe global bleaching in 1998 and 2016, which demolished 60% of the Maldives reefs. On one of the Maldives’ most secluded private islands, guests can witness first-hand the extraordinary rewards of restoration and help to create a diverse, self-sustaining ecosystem by adopting and attaching corals to the nurseries themselves, following an educational presentation with Velaa’s coral biologists. Those looking to immerse themselves into the marine world can also sign up to shadow the coral biologists for the day, collecting research as they snorkel or scuba dive through the blossoming underwater world. Velaa Private Island also offers awareness workshops to educate eco-conscious guests on topics such as sea turtle nesting and the shark population, aiming to inspire and inform current and future generations on ocean conservation.
With an average survival rate of 80% for transplanted corals and a capacity of nursing over 6,000 corals within the four nurseries of Velaa Private Island, the resort continues to create a thriving environment for the island’s spectacular marine life – including black and white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, manta rays, black-spotted stingrays, and the graceful eagle ray – and will continue their outstanding efforts on this project in 2021 and beyond.