How to save the planet
Going on holiday is not just about what you can do, it’s about who you aspire to be and achieving a better version of yourself. Making a difference to the planet and communities through local conservation and philanthropy is top of the list for many luxury travellers.
Be an environmentalist
Far away, in the depths of Northern Sweden is the tiny village of Harads. It’s here that two locals have fully embraced their natural surroundings – the wondrous Nordic woodland. Owners Kent Lindvall and Britta Jonsson-Lindvall have imaginatively set up guesthouses that fully embrace and reflect (sometimes quite literally) the local environment. Wanting to stay close to their roots and create a livelihood in their home village, they partnered with Scandinavia’s leading architects to create some of the most unique buildings in the world.
Treehotel operates eight properties alongside its main guesthouse. Each one is inspired by different elements of nature and thus sustainability is at the core of every design and the operation of the hotel.
Every building has been erected in the forest with minimal impact to the peaceful backdrop of trees and animals. No trees were chopped down during the process – in fact, the rooms are actually built onto live trees without destroying them. The wooden floors of the rooms are free of chemical substances, electricity is supplied locally from green hydroelectric power, and lighting consists of low-energy LED-systems. Even the bathrooms make no impact: there’s no sewage system, instead environmentally-friendly combustion toilets have been installed.
While accommodation may be simpler than many hotels, guests lie in their beds safe with the knowledge that their carbon footprint is minimal. Not only do guests have the chance to sleep underneath the Northern Lights, but they can experience the magic of nature by day, too. Enjoy a family fishing trip and pick wild berries along the way, or hike across the earth to take in the smells, colours and textures. A stay at the Treehotel is purposeful in many ways – not only will you have minimal impact on the environment, trees and animals, but you can relax, unwind and escape those stresses of everyday life in a truly unique, one-of-kind property. Choose from a glass mirror cube, a camouflaged cabin or even a UFO.
Sir Richard Branson has always had philanthropy at the heart of every single one of his businesses and it’s no exception for his Moroccan retreat, Kasbah Tamadot, which forms part of the collection of Virgin Limited Edition escapes. The hotel works with the Eve Branson Foundation, a charity that provides longterm help to people through sustainable enterprises in local communities. One such initiative is a craft house in the neighbouring village of Tansghart, which guests can visit. There’s the chance to buy some wonderful artisanal products to preserve the memory of your visit, too.
Be an historian
History is at the heart of Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort in Santorini. The stunning property originates from a 400-year-old wine cellar and a 100-year-old mansion situated within the medieval village of Megalochori.
It’s no surprise then, that the hotel encourages guests to embark on a tour of the village in order to showcase its magnificent architecture and fascinating secrets. Each tour is conducted by the hotel’s Guest Relations team and reveals the unique Cycladic design that characterises the area, as well as the World War I monument.
But that’s not all. At the end, guests are invited to join an exchange with the local community to find out more.
Shrouded by dense Balinese rainforest is Capella Ubud, set on sloping terrain near the sacred Wos River and the Keliki Village. Arriving here, guests are immediately immersed in the magical landscape, tropical plants and the ethereal sounds of wildlife.
However, the best way to fully integrate yourselves with the local community is by meeting one of the young maestros of Keliki painting: I Wayan Gama. Beginning his career as a professional painter back in 2002, he, together with a few villagers, set up a painting school for children in order to keep traditional Keliki painting skills and culture alive.
Keliki-style paintings are mostly done on paper with Chinese ink and generally depict a romantic interpretation of daily life in the island’s rural villages, the beauty of the island’s flora and fauna, as well as Hindu myths and local folklore.
The style is famous for its rich gradations and extreme detail, both of which demand hours of prolonged concentration from the painter. Students as young as seven begin their journey as a painter under the tutelage of Wayan Gama and while staying at Capella Ubud, guests can join in too.
Not only does it give you a chance to explore your artistic talent, but it helps support these talented artisans.