Your conscious-living travel guide for 2019.
A luxurious outpost in the middle of lush forest, Mashpi lies within the Metropolitan District of Quito. It was built using the latest techniques in sustainable construction, with much of the structure preassembled and designed to blend in perfectly with its natural environment, its glass walls making it virtually invisible at times.
The lodge’s open-air terrace provides a space to enjoy the sounds of the forest and views, as well as being a great vantage point for early morning birdwatching. Four hundred species of birds – of which 36 are endemic – are estimated to inhabit the forests of Mashpi.
By visiting Mashpi Lodge you are directly contributing to the conservation and deeper understanding of this unique and precious ecosystem and biogeographical region.
Approximately 100km northwest of Quito and 950 metres above sea level.
Bushmans Kloof, South Africa
Situated at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains 270km from Cape Town, Bushmans Kloof is built in the grand style of the finest wilderness lodges with an eclectic combination of ethnic and South African-colonial art and furnishings. A wilderness getaway to escape, restore and relax. Bushmans Kloof has four beautiful swimming pools, beautiful vistas and gardens. Here you can also discover the wonders of nature, choosing from a vast range of outdoor activities, spa treatments or do absolutely nothing and succumb to the peace, quiet and tranquility.
A South African Natural Heritage Site, Bushmans Kloof is home to many exceptional Bushman rock art sites. Its environmental and conservation projects include its Rock Art conservation programme.
La Gree Des Landes, France
Eco hotel Spa Yves Rocher at La Gree des Landes is a haven of nature created by Jacques Rocher in La Gacilly, Brittany that is certified ‘haute qualite environmentale and accredited by Green Globe. Unwind at the spa, eat organic cuisine and enjoy this special place that follows the rhythm of the seasons. The wildlife here is abundant and home to 48 bird species which are monitored by France’s Birds Protection League. Activities include swimming, yoga, spa therapies and forest bathing. Suites include the Treehouse which is nestled in the branches of a 100-year-old cypress tree.
Feynan Ecolodge, Jordan
This award-winning 26-room environmentally-friendly lodge is located at the South-Western edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. It is completely off the grid, generating most of its energy needs from the sun, and lit by candles and stars at night. The lodge was designed by the renowned architect Ammar Khammash and developed by its owner, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and designed to inspire the feeling of the ancient caravanserai.
Feynan Ecolodge’s ethos is based on harmony with its local environment: it is completely solar-powered, employees are 100 per cent from the local communities around the Dana Biosphere Reserve, and the lodge generates revenue that helps conservation efforts and the protection of endangered species around the reserve. Feynan is operated by EcoHotels, a private Jordanian company dedicated to responsible ecotourism that conserves nature and provides socio-economic benefits to local people. It offers guests the opportunity to stay in a remote part of Jordan and enjoy breath-taking scenery, local hospitality and exciting activities. All meals and refreshments are locally inspired and the food is vegetarian cooked and served by local employees. Activities include hiking, scrambling through dramatic slot canyons or exploring 11,000 year old ruins. Guests are also invited to learn about the local culture by spending a day with a local shepherd, learning Bedouin traditions or making traditional Arabic dishes. A schedule of guided activities is included in the price of a stay at Feynan.
Topas Eco Lodge, Vietnam
This hilltop eco lodge in the Sapa Valley had us at the infinity pool with its breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys! The journey to get there is an adventurous 45-minute bus ride from Sapa town. The bungalows have no TV or internet connection, enabling you to completely escape from everyday life and immerse with nature. The onsite spa specialises in traditional Red Dao herbal baths too.
Topas Ecolodge is based on sustainable principles to ensure minimum impact on the surrounding environment, and employs people from nearby villages and use local products and goods in order to bring economic benefits to the community.
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
An eco-luxe retreat of six islands across 300 hectares, Bawah Reserve is located in Indonesia’s remote Anambas Archipelago. A previously uninhabited marine conservation area inhabited with an abundance of marine life, it offers overwater and beach villas, surrounded by pristine turquoise waters, blue lagoons and coral reefs. It is also the only retreat in Asia to include unlimited spa treatments! Other things to do on the island(s) include kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, diving (not included in the package but available), hiking, outdoor cinema, sunset cruises, beautiful dining options.
The retreat’s eco-friendly approach extends across all operations, from permaculture to products: ocean-friendly sun cream, eco-friendly laundry detergent, and no plastic bottles. All waste is recycled; all paper is mulched; food waste is composted, and crushed glass is used in the water filtering process. The only land vehicles are electric buggies and two solar powered boats.
The Resort is part of the Bawah Anambas Foundation, created to channel funds back into the land, the sea and the local community.
Conservation and sustainability drives everything that takes place on the island. Rainwater is collected, treated and stored; water is heated by solar energy; and pesticides are banned. Due to the official marine conservation status of the Reserve, fishing, anchoring and collection of any marine life is forbidden; and so that the island does not suffer tourist trampling, only 35 suites have been built. Accessible via seaplane from Singapore (an 80 minute journey).
Suarga Padang Padang, Bali
Offering a different kind of luxury, Suarga Padang Padang invites travellers to experience modern comfort and indulgences at minimal expense to the surrounding environment. A majority of the resort’s structures are built on stilts in an effort to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna and to promote natural cooling air circulation. The resort is built from recuperated wood from abandoned ironwood pontoons in Borneo, broken down teak houses, old factories, other FSC-certified materials, and bamboo. It blends in harmoniously with its exclusive hillside position overlooking Padang Padang beach. Its Dugong restaurant overlooks the infinity pool and beyond, and serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine infused with Balinese flavours with most produce sourced from within a 48km radius. The resort is also plastic-free!
The Datai Lankawi, Malaysia
Recently reopened after a renovation, The Datai Langkawi blends into its natural surroundings. Situated on the island of Langkawi, Datai Bay is rated as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by National Geographic and together with the resort’s surrounding 750-hectare jungle, is host to a wealth of flora and fauna, some of which is endemic to the area.
In September 2017, The Datai Langkawi embarked on an extensive renovation, the most substantial enhancement since its opening in 1993.
To protect this unique natural habitat, sustainability is a key component to the resort’s strategy with a strong commitment to using less energy, water and single-use plastic. Recycling and upcycling plants and organic gardens have been created where guests can be a part of. Further programmes are also tailor made to protect the coral reef.
A new Datai Observatory deck includes a 15-metre-high canopy walk. Activities include nature trails, UNESCO Mangrove Cruise, birdwatching, kayak and swimming adventures.
Cuisine is centred around locally grown ingredients with a Malaysian and Asian flair. There are cooking classes, and you can also learn about permaculture gardening techniques.
Vomo Island, Fiji
An island in Fiji’s stunning Mamanuca Island group, Vomo Island offers a luxurious blend of Fijian culture, food and experiences. It is the only resort on the island and offers beachfront and hilltop villas as well as multi bedroom beachfront accommodation.
There’s lots to do on Vomo including visiting Vomo Lai Lai (meaning little/small) a nearby unspoilt island surrounded by crystal clear aqua waters with amazing snorkelling and diving.
Vomo is an expansive island haven for exercising – 255 acres of land and mountain, and 5km of white sandy beaches encircling the island.
Mt Vomo is a soaring peak on Vomo Island with sweeping views across the resort and Mamanuca Islands, sunrise atop Mt Vomo is breathtaking. You can ascend the Mt Vomo track whenever you like, however sunrise and sunset is particularly special, with spectacular views of the surrounding Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands.
Vomo Island values its pristine South Pacific environment and its latest initiative to help preserve this is the banning of plastic straws.
The island’s vegetable garden is free of sprays and pesticides (the Vomo nursery houses more than 50,000 plants all propagated on the island and used throughout the resort’s tropical gardens).
To further the preservation of the environment Vomo Island is a member of the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES), an organisation founded in 2001 to protect the pristine marine environment of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. To support this initiative guests are asked to donate FJD$5 per stay.
Vomo is a 15-minute helicopter ride from Nadi International Airport or a 75 minute boat ride from Denarau Marina.
Daintree Ecolodge, Australia
This tropical retreat is the only boutique accommodation in the World-Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest – 15 eco-friendly bayans in an awe-inspiring setting. Wake up to the sound of the birds in the canopy above, and discover the Ecolodge’s private and pristine waterfall on a leisurely walk through the rainforest.
The Ecolodge features a main lodge with a bar, a rainforest restaurant and dining area overlooking the onsite lagoon, wellness day spa, swimming pool, private and pristine onsite waterfall and swimming hole and a multitude of quiet areas amongst the lush tropical rainforest to relax and unwind. Fresh, clean water from the purest source combined with organic, healthy foods guarantee an uplifting and sustainable getaway. A 90-minute drive north of Cairns.
Tree Hotel, Sweden
Treehotel was inspired by the film ”The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsen. Its “treerooms” are suspended 4-6 meters above ground – all with spectacular views of the Lule River, and construction techniques have ensured as little environmental impact as possible. Daily operations have minimal impact on nature too.
The closest airport is Luleå Airport, approximately 70 minute drive from Harads.
Responsible travel operator Exodus Travels is offering some incredible experiences in 2019:
The Five Stans of the Silk Road, 23-days
The tour, as the name suggests, takes you to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Think vast deserts, rolling steppe, fertile valleys and majestic mountains which form the backdrop to the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Visit giant burning gas pit, tiled mosques, ruins along the old silk road, alpine lakes bordered by yurt camps, grand monuments, rural villages and colourful markets. The experience also includes two nights in a yurt.
Trek the Polish High Tatras, 6 days
Active travellers with a head for heights will love Exodus Travels ‘Trek the Polish High Tatras’. A guided walking and hiking tour that takes you through dramatic scenery and a network of footpaths through valleys, past lakes and over ridges before the final test, a tough ascent of Mt Rysy (2499m), Poland’s highest mountain. The walking will be hard but rewarding, the terrain tough but beautiful, and the mountain huts basic but friendly clean and hospitable.
G Adventures Wellness Tours
Wellness Tours with G Adventures for 2019. The perfect way to combine a holiday and reconnect with yourself.
G Adventures Wellness Tours offer the perfect balance of awe-inspiring destinations, rejuvenating activities, and healthy food experiences, helping you return home feeling even better than when you left.
Highlights include Costa Rica, Iceland, Columbia, Nepal and India.
Costa Rica, 8 days
Simply say “Costa Rica” and vivid images of paradise instantly flood the imagination. Learn to surf, treat your body with yoga sessions in idyllic locations as well as get amongst the local community.
Your spirits will be lifted with a visit to Mi Cafecito Community Coffee Plantation, a G for Good project supporting 200 local farmers, before carrying on to the outdoor utopia that is La Fortuna. There you’ll be treated to a world of wellness, with yoga sessions overlooking the Arenal Volcano, hiking, free time for meditation, and a rejuvenating trip to thermal hot springs. Continue on to remote Rincón de la Vieja for more yoga and a therapeutic mud bath before a final stop in Playa Carrillo – home to a beach devoid of buildings, hotels, and restaurants that will give your mind a sense of clarity you may have previously thought not possible.
Iceland, 7 days
Your soothing journey across Iceland’s southern coast starts with a hike up Öskjuhlíð Hill overlooking the mosaic-like architecture of Reykjavik. Private transportation offers you the luxury of time to see the iconic sights of the Golden Circle and Thingvellir National Park before heading to the stunning black sand beaches of Reynisfjara for a unique vinyasa yoga session. Explore some of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, including Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss and take time for inner reflection with a guided meditation session.
And, of course, a visit to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Blue Lagoon, a naturally-heated hotspot for travellers willing to go halfway around the world just to unwind.
Columbia, 8 days
Cartagena may be famous for past history of drug cartels but today it hums with a very different scene.
Let your body flow in Cartagena with a yoga session and your mouth water on an included street food tour. Spend a day by the crystal clear waters on the Rosario Islands and then journey to your property outside of Tayrona National Park. There you’ll treat both body and mind to a hike and a healing visit to a sacred pools of Aluna Springs.
Add in the option of daily yoga practices and you’ll soon find yourself reflecting on your Colombian adventure with complete clarity.
Nepal, 13 days
Seeking to attain inner peace? Mindful travellers come blissfully close on this 13-day tour of Nepal that envelops you in local culture and Buddhist history. Your adventure inward starts in Kathmandu with a calming visit to Boudhanath Stupa, one of the world’s largest Buddhist shrines. From there, dive deeper into self-reflection mode with a two-night monastery stay that includes the option of meditation sessions with long-practicing monks. Then bring your newfound zen-ness to Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini for an illuminating visit. Return to Kathmandu for one final night to reflect on everything you’ve learned about the country and yourself.
India, 11 days
Your soul will feel revitalised after uncovering the history of all things wellness in India. This tour covers some of the country’s most hallowed spiritual ground while also ensuring you catch the iconic sites of Northern India. Upon your arrival in Delhi, you’ll be introduced to the incredible diversity within India’s culture. Continue your discovery with a three-night stay at an ashram in Rishikesh where you’ll learn the history of yoga and meditation, before reaching Dharamshala, home of the Dalai Lama. As your eyes open on the final morning of your journey, you’ll see the world – and yourself – with a newfound warmth.
Eco Villa, Christchurch, New Zealand
This beautifully restored boutique villa in the heart of Christchurch is close to everything and yet you can feel a million miles away as you sit on the deck overlooking the edible garden, or soak in one of the private outdoor baths. It is also a place where you can be as private or as social as you like. The shared lounge and kitchen provides the perfect place to meet like-minded travellers, or you can relax in the comfort of your room complete with en suite. The keyless system allows you to come and go as you please. A self-service healthy organic breakfast is also included, and unlimited free wi-fi.
Blue Duck Station, Whakahoro, New Zealand
A weekend experience at this remote sheep and cattle station near the famed Bridge to Nowhere offers a welcome tech-free escape – there’s no mobile phone coverage here. Home to blue duck, kiwi and abounding birdlife, the core values are based on conservation of the birdlife and rivers. Activities include jet boating along the Whanganui River, bush walks, horse treks and a waterfall where you’d bound to see a blue duck. Owner Dan Steele and chef Jack Cashmore are in the process of building an off-grid sustainable restaurant and hilltop cabins high on a hill with the most spectacular views. Above the mist, you will be able to watch the sun rise over Mt Ruapehu and enjoy what is possibly the best coffee you can have in the world.
Donkey Bay Inn, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Luxury boutique hotel Donkey Bay Inn is a ‘positive building’ with sensational views, quirk factor and full of surprises. From the above it’s hard to spot as its 600sqm living roof blends into the native bush surrounds.
The hotel is fully energy efficient, producing all of its own electricity through solar panels on the hill, and pure spring water, which comes from a spring on the property, is on tap.
It’s easy to spend your first day here, from dawn to dusk, drinking in the view out over Waitata Bay (also known as Donkey Bay), as well as wine produced on the 24-hectare estate. The Inn has an honesty bar!
The Inn has just three guest suites in the building and sits on its own private peninsula. The Skyfall suite has 180-degree views of the sea and balcony. The Emperor’s Room is a grand, apartment-sized suite with private garden access. Tosca’s Room, has floor-to-ceiling walls of glass that open to a private grassed area with native bush and the sea beyond.
When it’s time for a swim, all you need to do is wander for 5-minutes down a path to Waitata Bay.
Donkey Bay Inn is a 2-minute drive from the town of Russell, and short ferry ride from Paihia.
The Rees Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand
It’s hard to beat a view like this on the shore of Lake Wakatipu! The Rees Hotel five-star hotel offers all the comforts including the comforting knowledge that it was recently awarded a global award for Sustainable Tourism at the Skal World Congress. One of its many environmental initiatives include an apiary operation on a vacant site near the hotel.
Northlanding River Bothy, New Zealand
An opportunity to unplug and enjoy a flavour of off-grid living with no wi-fi to distract you. This cute riverside cabin sits in a secluded spot surrounded by mature olive trees and overlooking the Oruaiti River. Cook in the outdoor kitchen, bathe under the stars in a hot tub and simply enjoy the view while being surrounded by nature.
Dipping delicious homemade bread into Shaken Down olive oil pressed from olives on the property, is another highlight and supplied by friendly hosts Maggie and Brooke.
Millar Road, Hastings, New Zealand
Overlooking organic Supernatural Wine Co vineyard and out to the ocean, this stunning hilltop luxury self-catering accommodation is so comfortable and the views expansive that you just won’t want to leave. Help yourself from the honesty bar by the pool and enjoy some of the stunning wines produced on the property. You also receive a bottle of organic estate wine and generous breakfast provisions on arrival. Free wi-fi.
Cordis Auckland, New Zealand
We love everything about this EarthCheck Platinum Certified 5-star hotel. It’s rooftop pool and onsite Chuan Spa offers the perfect place to relax. And, when it comes time to explore you can grab an e-bike if you want to. The hotel fully committed to the highest standards of sustainable business practice, environmental protection and community welfare. Its latest initiative is a soap-recycling programme.
Camp Glenorchy, New Zealand
Travel the length of Lake Wakatipu in the South Island and you will find the first camp site in the world to be built under the world’s toughest eco building standards, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) guidelines.
Nestled at the top of Lake Wakatipu at the base of Richardson and Humboldt mountains, Camp Glenorchy is one the most beautiful but also remote locations in New Zealand.
Accommodation options range from cosy cabins, deluxe rooms with an en suite, to bunk rooms for travellers on a budget, and plug-ins for motor homes.
Profits from Camp Glenorchy go to support the Glenorchy Community Trust, supporting projects in and around Glenorchy. A 40-minute drive from Queenstown.
Glamping, Kapiti Island, New Zealand
Kapiti Island is a bird and nature lovers paradise and home to around 1,400 little spotted kiwi, making it one of the densest population of kiwi to be found, and one of the easiest places to see them in the wild.
Kapiti Island Nature Tours also run the Lodge and glamping accommodation. The safari tent
shares bathroom facilities with the other lodge guests a short 40 metre walk from the tent, although each tent does have its own toilet.
Activities include bird and history tours, traditional harakeke-flax weaving, seal watching, seafood gathering, and an evening night kiwi-spotting walk with an experienced guide.