Virtuoso Life September 2018 6 Hotels Making a Huge (Sustainable) Difference

6 Hotels Making a Huge (Sustainable) Difference

Properties leading the industry in sustainability – and good times.
1
Oceans of Change in Bora-Bora
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa draws inspiration – and innovation – from the sea. The 80-room overwater resort pioneered the world’s first deep-seawater air-conditioning system, a 100 percent renewable, fossil-fuel-free, sustainable technology that’s also free of harmful hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals linked to global warming. Fittingly, it also opened French Polynesia’s first seawater therapy spa, where massages come with a complimentary view of reef sharks and stingrays swimming beneath a glass-bottomed treatment room.
2
Cape Town Floral Warriors
At The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, overlooking a wild stretch of the south Atlantic off Cape Town, guests can spot humpback and southern right whales on their seasonal migration (May through November) during morning tea and then set out on one of the hotel’s backyard trails leading to Table Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There, they’ll learn about the fynbos – a flowering shrubland found no place else on the planet – which the 70-room property is helping protect. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and most biodiverse of the world’s plant kingdoms.
Photo by Suretha Rous/Alamy
3
Healing Gardens in Italy 
About a two-hour drive east of Milan, Lefay Resort & Spa, on a hillside laced with olive groves beside Lake Garda, is a nature sanctuary, wellness retreat, and culinary haven. Guests recharge in therapeutic energetic gardens – hidden enclaves for contemplation amid ancient healing symbols in Lefay’s protected forest. The 93-room resort also produces most of its energy from renewable sources, collects rainwater for irrigation, and used eco-architecture principles to integrate the property into the natural landscape. Local farmers provide the ingredients for authentic dishes such as spelt-and-wheat pasta with asparagus and chanterelles.
Photo by Paul Spierenburg
4
Maine Points
Maine’s lobster fishery has long been recognized as a model for sustainability and is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council for its efforts. While most visitors to the state’s rocky coast indulge in the celebrated crustacean, guests at Inn by the Sea near Portland can delve deeper into the local lobstering culture by hopping on a boat with the lobstermen who haul traps in scenic Casco Bay, then enjoying their fresh catch onshore at Portland Lobster Company. The 61-room inn’s oceanfront restaurant specializes in sustainable seafood, in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
5
Mangrove Protectors in Thailand
Surrounded by limestone karst towers rising from Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, Six Senses Yao Noi is a Swiss Family Robinson-like hideaway of wooden walkways and thatched-roof villas that peek discreetly from the jungle’s edge. The 56-room resort is a leader in restoring the island’s mangrove forests, which serve as nature’s marine-life nursery for species such as grouper, as well as habitat for the endangered dugong (an elusive marine mammal related to the manatee). A trip through the surreal seascape of Pa Koh – “Forest of Islands” – on a traditional longtail boat allows travelers to experience these sparkling waters in local style, with plenty of time to stop and explore along the way.
6
Viva Green Vegas
While Las Vegas’ calling card is excess – Cher shows, Cirque du Soleil, high-rollers’ suites – the city isn’t exactly renowned for its environmental stewardship. One green exception among the glitz: the 4,004-room Aria Resort, part of CityCenter, the largest privately financed LEED Gold-certified construction in the world, with sustainable touches ranging from nontoxic paints to advanced technology for water and energy conservation. Pools and showers use recycled heat, cooking oil from Aria’s 16 restaurants is converted into biofuel, surplus food is donated to food banks, and leftovers are diverted from landfills to a local pig farm.

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