Ultra high-end luxury, wellness and sustainability don’t always go hand-in-hand but we have searched the globe and found some of the best eco wellness destinations that are must add-ons for your bucket list.
Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier and a glistening emerald lake, the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel is located in Alberta’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most famous eco wellness destinations worldwide.
Not only the setting is legendary. The Fairmont has been recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism. In the forefront of environmental activism within the hospitality sector, it is known for taking a leadership stance on issues affecting our planet. Their environmental protection and sustainability initiatives are guided by their own Sustainability Partnership Program, a company-wide stewardship program that strives to minimize the properties’ operational impact on the environment through resource conservation and best practices.
The Chateau is a highly desirable destination no matter what time of year. Visit in winter, and you can go ice skating, take horse-drawn sleigh rides, ski down Mount Victoria or try ross country skiing or trekking. Pick your favorite way to play in the snow! Come summer, you want to be outside as much as possible to enjoy the magnificent setting of the hotel. There are numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking, guests can enjoy a stroll along the lake or venture out for a day of canoeing or horseback riding.
Spring and fall are the seasons when the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise focuses on mindfulness retreats, meditation and yoga presented by renowned experts from the US and Canada. This is the time to tune inside, to connect with your inner wisdom, explore new ways of expressing your creative self and to fall in love again with yourself and life.
Gstaad, Switzerland’s iconic ski resort has long been a favourite with high society: back in the day it was Elizabeth Taylor, Bardot, Jackie O and Valentino taking to the slopes; today you’ll find some Agnellis and Rothschilds and European royals. With that many private jets, helicopter transfers and an excess of everything you wouldn’t expect much consideration for the environment but Alpina Gstaad has more to offer than glamorous luxury.
Locally sourced building materials, delicious vegan meal options, beds with Ecocert mattresses, and a swimming pool that is heated to 33 degrees with energy recycled from the heat of the hotel’s interior are among our favorite elements that convinced us to come back for more indulgence in eco-luxury.
Positioned amidst the largest lake in Central America, known to house the world’s only freshwater sharks, Jicaro Island Eco-Lodge is indeed unique. Voted one of the top 25 ecolodges in the world, by National Geographic Traveller, Jicaro is a haven.
Jicaro Lodge is one of Nicaragua’s best private island retreats. It features nine luxurious casitas in the most serene spot inside the lake, perfect for yoga retreaters wanting total calm and isolation. The tranquil hideaway is a full-on sensory experience, cocooned within nature.
The essence of meals here is ‘locally sourced, globally inspired.’ The entire islet places great emphasis on healthful reconnection. Built entirely from timber reclaimed from trees blown down by hurricane Felix, the buildings and furniture are made of tropical hardwoods, which provide a solid and beautiful environment in harmony with the natural setting. Great care was taken whilst building the ecolodge to maintain the existing character of the island and the lush vegetation. When building, the owners did not remove any of the large trees or boulders, and so the land dictated the form of the resort. Jicaro is a feat of architecture sympathetic to its exquisite surroundings.
A must visit for everyone who is looking for a luxurious detox retreat in a sustainable setting. The resort offers 120 luxuriously appointed villas, each one with their own swimming pool, all set in a secluded landscaped garden designed to relax and admire the unspoiled land that is Mayakoba.
16 private spa treatment pavilions feature an extensive range of luxurious massages, beauty and body therapies, such as the Rainforest Trail, a hydrothermal circuit offering a total of eight different therapy experiences from a gentle Rain Walk to a detoxifying Aroma Steam Chamber and much more, all of which will leave you feeling alert, purified and relaxed.
To help the planet, the Banyan Tree group gets actively involved in reforestation programs and launched an environmental initiative in 2007 that aims to target climate change. Called “Greening Communities”, the program challenges all the resorts to plant at least 2,000 new trees per year for the next 10 years. While the initiative will offset a small amount of the globally produced atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main goal is to drive greater awareness of climate change among communities, associates, and guests.
Six Senses properties are known for being some of the world’s fines eco wellness destinations, and this one in Yao Noi is no exception. Hilltop private villas are constructed from local materials, and each comes with its very own infinity pool, overlooking the pristine waters of Phang Nga Bay. Built on the site of a former rubber plantation, the hotel is dedicated to regenerating the surrounding tropical wildlife to its natural state, and is also reviving the nearby mangrove area, which guest can visit via a wooden walkway.
There’s much more to do here, too: enjoy local produce and fish in a glamourous beachside setting; go diving off the coast to marvel at the local fauna, soak up the rays on one of the cleanest beaches in the world, and of course, indulge in the Six Senses Spa, one of the world’s best.
Poets, writers, aristocrats and romantics have been visiting Italy’s Lake Garda for centuries. While there are plenty of lush villas lining the lake’s verdant shores, surprisingly, its first 5 star resort only opened its doors to the public in 2008. The Lefay Resort and Spa is the jewel in the crown of the Lefay Resorts Collection, and is also a partner of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Healing Hotels of the World, the Virtuoso and Kiwi Collection.
The design and construction of the hotel was carefully planned to minimise waste and use local materials as much as possible, as well as employing renewable and alternative energy sources. Over 90% of the hotel’s energy comes from green sources, and 60% of all electricity is generated on site at the hotel itself.
So sustainable and natural is this hotel in every aspect that the Lefay has won many awards for their eco-efforts, including the Good Green Design Award in 2013. Eco wellness destinations hardly ever come with more credentials than that.
The reason Stowe Mountain Lodge, the first new luxury resort to open in Vermont in more than 50 years, took 15 years to build was because the owners wanted to be sure this ski-in/ski-out four-season destination was 100 percent green.
Stowe Mountain Lodge is the only mountain resort in the U.S. with the Audubon International Sustainable Community Award. To earn such an honor, the lodge included such sustainable building principles as permanently protecting over 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat; purchasing furniture made from salvaged wood and granite mined from local quarries; utilizing low-flow shower heads and toilets and compact fluorescent lightbulbs in all guest rooms; making recycling bins available for guests use in rooms; as well as featuring eco-friendly cleaning products.
To top it all off, the Audubon-certified golf course was designed 37 different times to make sure it didn’t intrude on the bear habitat, and one lateral ski lift had to be moved so it wouldn’t interfere with a Peregrine Falcon’s nest. This and our love for East Coast skiing make Stow Mountain our favorite pick for eco wellness destinations in the US.