1 of 20Courtesy of Spice Island Beach Resort/Michael DeHoog
Spice Island Beach Resort
With its whitewashed walls and modern graphic-print fabrics, this 64-room beachfront resort isn't your typical Caribbean all-inclusive, though you'll still be able to order a rum punch without hauling out your wallet. You'll sip your cocktail with a clear conscience, knowing that the property's water is solar-heated, the bulbs are energy-saving compact fluorescents, and the pool is treated with salt instead of chlorine. Another point in the eco column: recycling is de rigueur, with food scraps composted and guest soaps ground for use as laundry detergent for hotel uniforms. Grand Anse Beach, St. George's; 473/444-4258; spicebeachresort.com; doubles from $805, including meals.
Most of its reef-rimmed islands rise fewer than three feet above the ocean, which makes the Maldives particularly vulnerable to climate change. No surprise, then, that Soneva Fushi, a collection of refined, castaway-style villas, has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by next year and achieve carbon neutrality by 2010. To meet this goal, it's capturing waste heat from power generators, encouraging guests to offset the emissions of their (long) flights, and transitioning to renewable energy sources. The big news this year: a deep-sea air-conditioning system that circulates cold water pumped up from 985 feet under the sea. Kunfunadhoo Island, Baa Atoll; 011-960/660-0304; sixsenses.com; doubles from $605.
Carpeted in vegetation and hugging the side of a jungle hill, Heritance Kandalama, when viewed from afar, resembles an ancient temple grown wild with disuse. In fact, the vegetation and location have nothing to do with neglect (note the handwoven tapestries and stunning floor-to-ceiling windows in each room) and everything to do with ensuring that rainwater flowing from the hills collects in the hotel's reservoir below. Such environmentally conscious touches made Kandalama a shoo-in for LEED certification. They also make the area a favorite for a multitude of monkeys (including toque macaques and purple-faced langurs) and 170 species of birds. Dambulla; 94-66/555-5000; heritancehotels.com; doubles from $114, including breakfast.
Flanking a sand dune near the border of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia, Voyages Longitude 131 is like no campground you've ever seen. The retreat's elevated canopy tents have solar-heated showers, a switch that lets guests control the floor-to-ceiling window blinds from the comfort of their king-size beds, and expansive views of Ayers Rock. Natural landscaping helps limit water consumption, while Aborigine-led tours to the 20,000-year-old rock paintings at Cave Hill help boost local development. Yulara, Northern Territory; 866/729-4329; longitude131.com.au; doubles from $1,980, including meals and activities.
This solar-powered 11-bungalow hideaway, set alongside a stretch of perfect alabaster sand on the largely undeveloped South Andros Island, uses less electricity per month than one average American household. It manages this feat with a host of ingenious touches, like wraparound porches that shield the cottages' colorful interiors from the sun, and a bank of small refrigerators instead of an energy-hungry walk-in. Other eco efforts include a ban on unsustainably harvested seafood (even local catches like conch) and a program to host visiting biologists. South Andros Island; 954/889-7076; tiamoresorts.com; doubles from $830, including meals.
Set in the Swiss Alps near Aigle, the nine Buckminster Fuller–inspired geodesic domes at Whitepod's camp (which doubles as a base for both winter skiing and summer hiking) may be electricity-free, but they keep things cozy with plush organic bedding, sheepskin throws, and fireplaces fueled with sustainably harvested wood. A few steps away lies the main lodge, complete with dining room and spa. Since no roads lead to the camp, guests must walk or ski to get here. The reward for this exertion: a private ski run, miles of hiking and snowshoe trails, and nothing but oil lamps to interrupt the stars. Les Cerniers; 41-24/471-3838; whitepod.com; doubles from $392, including some meals.
Across the American West, rising land prices and falling cattle profits are driving ranchers to sell their property to developers. Luckily, Devil's Thumb's current owners swooped in just in time to save its 5,000 acres. Instead of high-density (and -profit) single-family houses, they built only 16 airy timber cabins and a soon-to-open lodge—all of them heated and cooled entirely with fireplaces (the wood is harvested on the property, often from beetle-infested pine trees) and geothermal energy. Best yet, the owners have limited their development to only 1 percent of the land, leaving the rest free for guests—and elk, moose, bears, and beavers—to roam. Tabernash; 970/726-5632; devilsthumbranch.com; doubles from $195.
Surrounded by 123,000 acres of protected forests, jagged limestone cliffs, and hidden lagoons, travelers to sister resorts El Nido Lagen Island and El Nido Miniloc Island can take their pick of daily activities: bird-watching, kayaking, rock climbing, or simply watching fish swim below one of the guest-cottages-on-stilts, which are set above the crystalline ocean. The resorts are active in both reef and island conservation, helping to protect giant-clam gardens and supporting the reintroduction of endangered Philippine cockatoos. El Nido, Palawan; 63-2/894-5644; elnidoresorts.com; doubles from $210 (Miniloc Island) and $280 (Lagen Island).
In the 13 years since Chumbe Island Coral Park was designated Tanzania's first managed marine protected area, it has earned a reputation as one of Zanzibar's most diverse reefs. Thank the island's park rangers, who educate locals about marine ecology and prevent illegal fishing—and its sole resort, which helps to fund the ranger program. Chumbe's rooftop rainwater-collection system and solar-powered lights keep the resort in harmony with its surroundings, while its seven open-air bungalows, with their cavernous living rooms and African artwork, make it a favorite among honeymooners. 255-24/223-1040; chumbeisland.com; doubles from $440, including meals.
With walls built using rock salt and mud, doors and windows placed to catch the desert breeze, and oil lamps and candles lighting the corridors each night, the Adrère Amellal gives guests a taste of life in Siwa Oasis, a traditional Berber community in the Egyptian desert. But the hotel offers more than a romantic escape for travelers. As part of the Siwa Sustainable Development Initiative, it helps to fund and support numerous community projects. The gift shop carries jewelry handcrafted by local artisans. Meals, meanwhile, are prepared using organic ingredients purchased from farmers at fair market value—a measure designed to encourage sustainable farming. Siwa Oasis; 20-2/2736-7879; adrereamellal.net; doubles from $448, including meals.
The brainchild of an Italian expat with an economics degree, the Masai-owned Campi ya Kanzi is a brilliant model of how conservation can be a profitable local enterprise. Set on Masai land in southern Kenya, the lodge and its foundation employ 160 tribespeople and make a daily $40-per-guest donation to support new schools, merit scholarships, and compensation payments to Masai who've lost cattle to lions. Guests benefit, too. Not only do they get to stay in stylish solar-powered cottages, complete with oriental rugs and brass fixtures, but they can also take a walking safari with a Masai guide in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Chyulu Hills; 254-45/062-2516; maasai.com; doubles from $860, including meals.
Most guests heading to this charming jungle lodge pack hiking boots and swimsuits, anticipating the area's tropical forests and spectacular Pacific Coast beach. Many also bring Spanish-language textbooks to donate to one of five neighboring schools. Whether buying furniture (handcrafted by area artisans) or training employees (in plant identification and wildlife conservation), Morgan's Rock works in tandem with the local community. The resort also serves as a role model for the country's incipient ecotourism industry, by building a recycling plant and planting more than 1.5 million trees. Playa Ocotal, San Juan del Sur; 011-506/232-6449; morgansrock.com; doubles from $482, including meals.
Set on a hill between Port Antonio and the Blue Mountains, this welcoming 10-room inn has made some giant strides, despite its diminutive size. The hotel relies almost exclusively on local suppliers, such as the women's group that transforms discarded paper into stationery for guests. Water is collected in rain tanks, laundry is dried in the sun, and the resort's enough program raises money and supplies for island schools. Port Antonio; 876/993-7134; hotelmockingbirdhill.com; doubles from $165.
Part of Tuscany's Riserva Naturale Alto Merse, this 1,100-acre organic estate of managed forests, vegetable gardens, and hiking trails is dedicated to nothing less than preserving the region's cultural and agricultural legacy. Call it a kind of pastoral demonstration project: parts of the property are used to raise endangered breeds of livestock, while others yield sustainably harvested wood for heating. Rooms are tucked into original stone houses, restored with a rustic simplicity (wood-beamed ceilings, wrought-iron bed frames) that epitomizes the farm's philosophy. 39-0577/75211; spannocchia.com; doubles from $109, including breakfast.
The owners of Strattons have a passion for art, community, and the environment, a trio of obsessions that reveal themselves over and over again in this quirky country inn set among the dramatic Breckland heaths. Witness the recycled-iron stag statue on the lawn, the restaurant menu that pays homage to the kitchen's favorite local suppliers, and the owners' zeal for waste reduction. (Between 2001 and 2006, Strattons managed to cut its garbage in half.) Upstairs, the energy-efficient guest rooms range in theme from the clean-lined Linen Room to the romantic Red Room. Swaffham; 44-1760/723-845; strattonshotel.com; doubles from $207.
With just four French Colonial villas strewn alongside a half-mile-long stretch of private sand, Cousine feels like one of the most exclusive spots on earth. But from the moment it was transformed from a rat-plagued coconut palm plantation to a private nature reserve, the property's real VIP's have been its hawksbill turtles, wedge-tailed shearwaters, sooty terns, and other assorted animals. In fact, the resort's entire raison d'être is to fund the island's conservation efforts—which means minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency is a priority. Rainwater is collected and treated for drinking, solar panels create energy for heating, and water meters in the rooms allow guests to monitor what they're consuming. Heady stuff for a haute holiday. Cousine Island; 248/713-420; cousineisland.com ; doubles from $1,910, including all meals and drinks.
Along with down duvets and soaker tubs in every room, this luxurious floating lodge (moored next to an old-growth forest in northern B.C.) has real political clout—it participated in the negotiations that won the Great Bear Rainforest protection from logging and development in 2006. Next, it's tackling its carbon footprint with a plan to offset guests' transportation emissions this year and to cut resort emissions by 50 percent in the next half decade. One initiative: working with the Gitga'at Nation to build a no-dam hydro plant behind the property, generating carbon-free electricity for the lodge and a new stream of income for the tribe. Princess Royal Island; 888/592-5464; kingpacificlodge.com; doubles from $8,528 for three nights, the minimum stay, including all meals, all beverages, round-trip flights from Vancouver, and most activities.
This tranquil colony of luxury bungalows isn't all sunset strolls and dinners on the beach. Since opening in 1980, the private-island resort has also established a regular medical and dental clinic and granted several no-interest loans to locals to open backpacking hotels. Perhaps the resort's highest-profile project is the Evason Learning Centre, which has allowed islanders to attend high school without having to move to the mainland. Guests are welcome to visit ELS and meet the local students before heading back to their vaulted-ceilinged bure to grab their snorkeling gear—or change for one of those sunset strolls. Turtle Island, Yasawa Islands; 800/255-4347; turtlefiji.com; doubles from $1632, including all meals and beverages.
Green is the theme of this jungle property, where dense thickets of gomier, galba, and cedar trees frame a network of wooden walkways, yoga studios, and cottages perched on posts among the trees. When it came time for construction, the owners hired farmers from the failing banana industry, some of whom they also trained to handcraft furniture for the guestrooms. Other initiatives include a fund that offers loans to entrepreneurs to develop resort services like organic produce and handicrafts, and a plan to someday power the lodge using only renewable energy, supplied courtesy of the wind and the sun. Roseau; 767/446-1789; junglebaydominica.com; doubles from $199, three-night minimum stay, including all meals and beverages.
The flagship property of the legendary safari company, CC Africa, Phinda is a shining example of the company mantra: "Care of the land, Care of the wildlife, Care of the people." To guests staying in one of the seven high-design lodges on-site, the 54,000-acre reserve's teeming wildlife—black rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, and over 380 species of birds—seems to have been there forever. But this biodiversity is the result of an intensive ecological restoration program that transformed scarred and misused farmland into one of southern Africa's most diverse game parks. In the process, CC Africa has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the local community, which culminated in its recent decision to redistribute over 9,000 acres of the reserve to the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi people as restitution for the land they were dispossessed of during Apartheid. KwaZulu-Natal; 888/882-3742; phinda.com; doubles from $842, including all meals and activities.