It is a change to fulfill an ideal: to make tourism ecologically justifiable. In her new illustrated book Bon Voyage the french journalist Clara le Fort takes us to the most beautiful sustainable hotels in the world. They promote environmental and species protection as well as school education on site.
Indonesia’s most popular travel domicile is sinking in waste. On a daily basis countless lorries tip much in excess of 1’000 tons of waste onto the Balinese garbage mountain. The waste includes PET bottles, plastic bags, sanitary towels, polystyrene packaging. Most of it comes from hotels. It is the high price of the tourist swarms, as can be seen throughout the entire world: contaminated seas, polluted beaches, dying flora and fauna surrounded by mass tourism. Some areas are suffering to such a degree from the thriving travel sector that the authorities are forced to take drastic action such as access restrictions or total bans.
The antidote to the tourist swarms can be found in the South China Sea, where the Anambas archipelago, an Indonesian group of islands, is situated. Its water is glass clear and sapphire blue, the beaches seem to be untouched. Just a few years ago illegal dynamite fishing threatened to completely destroy the colorful underwater world of the archipelago. Now the Anambas islands are one of the first sea protection areas in Indonesia and the home of the Bawah Reserve. In collaboration with the Bawah Anambas Foundation, the luxury hotel is advocating for the preservation of biodiversity in the archipelago, educating the population with regard to the environment and is a role model for sustainability. For example, the perma-culture system is watered with waste water, there is sea-friendly sunscreen, environmentally-friendly detergent and no use of plastics. All waste is recycled, food is composted. Only electric buggies drive on land and the two boats used are solar-powered. The price for one of the Bamboo Bungalows runs to four figures, but you get something than has become difficult to find: Nature in perfect harmony.
The Bawah Reserve is one of over 50 resorts that made it into Clara le Forts’ Bon Voyage. The almost 300 page illustrated book is devoted to pioneering ecological resorts that are in the process of revolutionizing the travel branch. However, it addresses much more than solar cells and organic gardens, it is about environmental and species protection, as well as the need of the indigenous population for schools and education. According to studies, the tourism branch is responsible for eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. And an increasing number of people are reconsidering their lifestyle, which has become unacceptable for our nature. Without doubt, it is better for the environment not to get into an airplane at all, but if you do you can soothe your conscience with gentle tourism.
Soft tourism can also be found in South Africa. Namibia, with its nature reserves, now ranks as one of the forerunners worldwide for nature conservation. And here, not far from the capital Windhoek, in the middle of a 9’000 hectare nature reserve the Omaanda Lodge welcomes its guests. Omaanda means rhino in Oshiwambo and is a reference to the surrounding protection area for wild animals. In conjunction with the N/a’ankusê Foundation, which was founded in 2006, the luxury lodge is developing guidelines for the protection of its sensitive ecological system and campaigns for responsible tourism.
They also care for abandoned and injured wild animals and assume the medical and social care for the indigenous people of the San. In contrast to conventional wildlife safaris, guests can visit the San and get first hand impressions of animal protection in the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary. In the sanctuary rhinos and elephants that have been injured by poachers can recover before they return to the nature protection area.
Le Barn Hotel
You can find out how sound sustainability works on a farm in Le Barn, in the French Fôret de Rambouillet. Between oaks, elms and silver birch, surrounded by free-range hares, horses and deer, there is a refuse of joy nestled in idyllic countryside. The estate covers 200 hectares, an area where only nature has something to say. A former mill, several barns and a sheep pen have been converted into a modern hotel for relaxation, which operates both energy efficiently and sustainably. Its guests are free to go riding, hiking, cycling, pick mushrooms and most of all to switch off. Meals are served at the long wooden table under a glass roof. The ingredients for the dishes come from their own organic garden or from local producers.
Photos Copyrights: Le Barn, Leonardo Finotti, Peter Guenzel, Cyrielle Astaing / Rigotang, Eleven Experience, Micheal Turek, Günter Standl, Roman Cho, Bon Voyage, Bawah Reserve, Omaanda Lodge