From the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, these green beach getaways throughout Asia give families a great way to give back to the environment while having fun.
Going eco-friendly means more than just purchasing green dÃ©cor for the lobby or adding a few plants here and there in the guest rooms. These family hotels and resorts, some new and some renovated to be made more energy-efficient, really “get it” when it comes to cutting down on their carbon footprints, minimizing their own and their guests’ impact, and sustaining the beautiful scenery around them.
Those interested in a family beach vacation will find Asia’s resorts to be among the world’s most eco-friendly. Here’s a look at my five favorite eco-friendly, family-friendly vacation resorts.
Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa
Jalan Teluk Baru Pantai Tengah,
Mukim Kedawang 07100
Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
011 60 4 952 0000 (USA)
All-inclusive room rates per night: $-$$
This Malaysian resort was the winner of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award in Environmental Education Program category, but it didn’t come easy for the island hotel. Only by implementing numerous carbon-reducing methods such as solar energy, a water treatment plant, and energy efficient light globes was the facility able to secure such a prestigious award.
Family activities in and around the resort also leave very little to no carbon footprint, with such fun opportunities as kayaking, snorkeling and island tours, to name just a few. Kids will love walking through island caves, including the Bat Cave and the Cave of Legends.
For the adults, the resort also offers an 18-hole golf course and a relaxing outdoor Jacuzzi. Swimming pools reflect tall, leaning palm trees, while the entire resort itself gazes out on the beautiful expanse of the sea and the island’s tropical gardens.
For makan, or eating, the hotel’s Mentari Grill provides a blend of tastes in Chinese, Malay, Indian, Nonya and Thai cuisine. All of these amenities plus their efforts to help protect the island’s wildlife and vegetation make for a luxurious, yet guilt-free, eco-friendly family vacation.
Heritance Ahungalla Hotel
Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
011 94 9 1 5555 0000 (USA)
All-inclusive room rates per night: $$-$$$
A family beach getaway with this much to offer looks too good to be true when it comes to eco-hotels, yet the Heritance Ahungalla Hotel has shown serious advances in going green with its solar power hot water systems, waste water recycling facility, and energy-saving CFL bulbs. Perhaps the neatest facet of the hotel’s green technology is the design of the facility itself. The architecture of the hotel allows in as much natural light as possible, making it so no lights are required at all during the daytime.
If you’re still not convinced, take a stroll down to the turtle hatchery of Kosgado. Here, the resort assists in protecting the habitat of five species of endangered marine turtles. Also under protection, over 3,360 species of fungi, flowering plants, butterflies, birds and fish occupy the island, coexisting harmoniously with the resort and its guests.
In addition to provided mountain bikes and cycling routes around the hotel, the facility offers every recreational event imaginable, including badminton, volleyball, tennis and more.
Guests can enjoy themselves in the spa with Swedish, Asian and aromatherapy massages, or they can explore the island on boat and safari rides through the Mangrove and Madu Ganga rivers. A favorite for the whole family will be elephant rides along the beach, sure to make lifelong memories.
Shergarh Tented Camp, Kanha Tiger Reserve
Post Kareli, Tehsil Baihar, District Balaghat
Madhya Pradesh 481111, India
011 91 972 637 4261
All-inclusive room rates per night: $$-$$$
This family getaway has no fancy swimming pools, no five-star restaurants or high balconies with ocean views. What it does have, however, is a truly down-to-earth facility offering a unique cultural experience for the adventure-seeking family.
While the owners strongly encourage guests to conserve water and pick up any litter they might see – guides will often stop tours to do so – the camp is minimalist in its use of eco-unfriendly items to say the least. Visitors will find that plastic items are first on the list of taboo materials.
Large tents under tiled roofs make for cozy living quarters, including a large veranda in the front. At the Main House, the chef prepares locally grown food for a delicious combination of Indian and continental recipes.
In addition to accommodations, the family-run camp provides two game drives per day, elephant rides to see tigers in their natural habitat, nature walks and nearby village excursions.
For kids, the staff has recently developed a kids entertainment pack, full of exciting short stories, quizzes, puzzles, and fun facts to immerse them in Indian culture. Free tiger T-shirts are also given to those who complete the pack during their stay. For adults, babysitters are available to watch over young ones as they sleep, while parents can have the chance to relax and dine at the Main House.
The temperate weather brings out the lush, green landscape of Kanha, but families should still remember to bring plenty of layers. In addition to respecting a modest dress code, families are encouraged and assisted by the camp’s staff to learn a few basic words of the local language, to interact more easily with the Kanha citizens.
Malaria shots are advised for India-bound travelers and currency exchange prior to staying at the camp is required, as there are no services on the reserve. Be sure to check out the camp’s website for more information and advice when planning your stay at Shergarh.
Sumba Nihiwatu Resort
Kuta PoLeng Complex Block C/2
011 62 361 757 149
All-inclusive room rates per night: $$$$-$$$$$
A winner of the 2008 PATA Gold Award in the category of Environment, Nihiwatu Resort on beautiful Bali takes the term “eco-hotel” to the next level. The facility recycles all waste, recycling food scraps and burning cardboard, the ash from which is used in the resort’s organic garden. Wastewater is also treated at the hotel’s plant, and in turn used to water the grass and gardens.
Interestingly, biodiesel is used to power the resort and comes from coconuts from the island itself. Each month, hundreds of bars of soap are made from a by-product, commonly known as glycerin, of that biodiesel. The soap bars are then distributed free of charge throughout the local communities on the island.
An impressive undertaking of the resort has been the five-year program to plant a total of 160,000 trees near the Pededewatu Market. While 64,000 teak trees have already been planted in the effort, the inhabitants of these trees – including the indigenous hornbill and buttonquail – receive protection at the resort’s aviary.
The hotel itself offers a spectacular ocean view with plenty of activities to keep the family busy – or relaxed. Take a dip in the hotel’s swimming pools, lose yourself in a private or group yoga session or indulge in a body scrub at the Hilltop Spa. For adrenaline-pumping activities, mountain biking, horse riding, overland jeep tours and more will keep families active all throughout the day.
Diverse dining services offer a blend of Asian and Western dishes and coffee, tea and cakes are available any time, anywhere. Walking along the beach after an exquisite dining experience, you’ll hardly leave a footprint.
Soneva Fushi by Six Senses Resort Spa & Accommodations
Kunfunadhoo Island, Baa Atoll
Republic of Maldives
011 960 660 0304
All-inclusive room rates per night: $$$$$
If you were to zoom in on this tiny island on the Google terrain map, you would notice the entire landmass is coated in green. For the unfortunate color-blind viewer, it doesn’t take long to realize this speck on the map is filled with tropical vegetation of all kinds.
Having won Virtuoso’s ‘Most Environmentally Friendly Resort Award’ in 2007, Soneva Fushi has maintained its image as an eco-friendly destination with an unending list of implemented carbon-reducing practices.
Some of these practices include energy-saving light bulbs, a reverse-osmosis desalination plant (in understandable terms, a plant that converts sea water into fresh water), restricted use of timber from sustainably managed and certified sources, and natural ventilation.
Guests can also play a role in cutting down pollution by forgoing having their linens and towels washed everyday as well as drinking from reusable glass water bottles provided by the hotel.
The resort’s swimming pools use filtered seawater, which, along with all other wastewater, is recycled to be used for the irrigation of the resort’s organic gardens. In addition to a resident marine biologist to teach kids the importance of conservation and wildlife protection, the resort’s gift shops now no longer carry shells, coral or any other animal products in an effort to preserve the island’s wildlife habitats.
Accommodations at the hotel feature luxury villas with outstanding seaside views. During the daytime, guests can participate in snorkeling or a number of other recreational activities, while at night, stargazers can make their way to the observatory in the resort’s organic gardens.
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