Ecotourism is gaining global popularity with a new generation of environmentally aware travelers. Ecotourists not only want to go out and experience new places and cultures, but they want to have a lasting, positive impact on the communities they visit.
According to Deloitte, the number of travelers who are willing to spend more on environmentally friendly travel options has increased by a third over the last decade. Ecotourism stems from a variety of concerns, from climate change, to over-tourism, to a desire to drive the economy. Read on to learn about four unforgettable Asian ecotourism resorts and the unique, eco-conscious experiences they offer.
1. Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
Located on the Laamu Atoll in the southern Maldives, this private island paradise focuses on sustainability. The resort’s thoughtfully crafted villas are constructed from natural materials, perfectly complementing the surroundings.
Engulfed by an array of marine life, the region draws divers and naturalists from all across the globe. Resort guests can attend marine conservation presentations or participate in turtle hatching and marine biology excursions. Alternatively, the hotel presents organic garden tours led by the resident chef.
The following are just some of the sustainability and conservation efforts at Six Senses Laamu:
- Half of all restaurant water sales are reinvested in local communities to provide residents with clean drinking water.
- By adopting reusable glass bottles for its desalinated seawater, the resort has so far eliminated the need for 20,000 plastic bottles.
- Partnering with the Manta Trust UK, the resort’s manta ray conservation efforts have helped identify and protect 125 manta rays and 400 sea turtles inhabiting nearby reefs.
- The resort has implemented a stringent waste management program, installing segregation bins, implementing on-site recycling, and banning single-use plastics.
- All organic waste generated by the resort is recycled and either used for mulching or converted into organic garden soil.
2. Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi
Langkawi is a 99-island archipelago located just off Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. Set to look like a traditional Malay village, the Four Seasons is a 91-room resort influenced by Balinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern architecture and design.
Each luxury beachfront villa features its own private plunge pool and spa room. The resort presents an extensive spa menu, incorporating a variety of different treatments including Ayurvedic therapies, Malay massage, and private yoga classes.
Nestled within a UNESCO World Geopark, the Four Seasons is an excellent base for exploring the winding rivers, mangrove forests, and ancient sea stacks nearby. As the resort’s senior naturalist Aidi Abdullah explains, few tourists realize the extent of the beauty lying beyond the atoll’s beaches, but once they venture into the magical Geoparks and observe the colorful crabs, magical mangroves, and soaring eagles, local legends come alive.
3. Bambu Indah, Indonesia
Bambu Indah combines luxury service with local hospitality to create an unforgettable experience. Guests are immersed in the sights and sounds of the jungle, participating in yoga classes at the majestic Minang house or simply enjoying candlelit dinners looking out across the river valley.
Bambu Indah presents a variety of experiences for visitors keen to explore the region and learn more about Indonesian culture. Guests are invited to take a tour of Green School, where students learn about alternative energy sources, inspiring the next generation of green leaders.
At the River Warung cafe, Bambu Indah guests enjoy traditional cuisine semi al fresco beneath a canopy of hand-folded copper shingles supported by vast, bamboo arches spread out in a lofty, intricate fan. In the emerald green Ayung River valley, guests are invited to sample homemade delicacies like bubur Bali, a traditional Balinese savory rice porridge breakfast dish consisting of green beans, shallots, peanuts, and a subtle blend of Balinese spices.
4. Gal Oya Lodge, Sri Lanka
Nestled beneath the forest canopy of Gal Oya National Park in southeastern Sri Lanka, Gal Oya Lodge is a calming oasis for visitors to the island. It provides the perfect base from which to enjoy walks, take jeep and boat safaris, or simply relax by the pool.
Set against a striking mountain backdrop, Gal Oya is one of Sri Lanka’s quietest, most untouched national parks. Encompassing a diverse mix of terrain, including jungle forests and lakes, the park is home to several herds of Sri Lankan elephant.
A subspecies of the Asian elephant, experts believe that the Sri Lankan elephant evolved relatively recently, with males increasingly becoming tuskless. While female elephants of all species only ever grow small stumps or no tusks at all, today in Sri Lanka, approximately 90 percent of bull elephants are also tuskless.
Some scientists suspect that rampant poaching may have triggered an evolutionary change, culminating in a new generation of tuskless Sri Lankan bull elephants. In Gal Oya National Park, the elephant population has also developed an intriguing capability, adapting to the aqueous habitat to become fantastic swimmers. Guests enjoying boat safaris are sometimes fortunate enough to witness these majestic creatures swimming gracefully from island to island.
Other species that can be spotted in Gal Oya National Park include leopards, water buffalo, and sloth bears.