The Roundup

A Sustainability Expert's Top Eco Experiences Around the World

by Juliet Kinsman
Arijiju Photo courtesy of Arijiju Retreat.

London-based journalist Juliet Kinsman, who long ago transitioned from celebrating boutique hotels to being a global expert in impact-focused hospitality, has steering us to sustainable stays through her journalism (as the sustainability editor for Conde Nast UK), her Instagram account (we're amazed how far she can go without getting on a plane), on podcasts (most recently in Funny Old World), and in print (read An Expert's Tips for Picking a Good — and Green — Hotel from The Green Edit). Her latest book, The Bucket List Eco Experiences: Traveling the World, Sustaining the Earth includes a thousand activities and addresses where your travels help support communities and conservation, from Albania to Zambia. These are among her favorites.

Kenya: Get Active in a Patch of Paradise

If you’re looking for a unique rental home offering staunch eco credentials, then Arijiju Retreat more than fulfills the brief. Set in the Kenyan highlands, it is perfectly located for you to explore the wilderness of the Borana Lewa Conservancy. Go by mountain bike, quad bike, or even on a run. Your stay goes toward funding black rhino and lion conservation as well as the maintenance of the conservancy’s elephant migration corridors.

Slovenia: Ride a Car Train

Catching a car train through the Julian Alps is a greener option than driving around the mountain. Drive aboard the cartlike carriage, then stay in your vehicle while being whisked along a railway line, zigzagging in and out of tunnels through rolling countryside. The Motorail trains run between Bohinjska Bistrica and Most na Soči in Nova Gorica via Podbrdo.

Greece: Taste Organic Farm Life

Stay in one of three characterful self-catering suites on a centuries-old, family-owned organic farm near Chania. Metohi Kindelis strives for an ecological and responsible take on Greek hospitality and slow living. Making simple meals from ingredients straight from the farm “lets food be thy medicine,” to borrow Hippocrates’ much-quoted words. The farm uses all-natural organic composting techniques.

Norway: Check into a Secluded Sustainable Hotel

Learn Norwegian baking on a traditional fjord farm at the foot of the Sunnmøre Alps before kicking back in front of the fire in a luxury log cabin with a living roof. Storfjord Hotel is a community-minded retreat that provides employment for almost all of the small businesses and artisans who call the island village of Glomset home.

Portugal: Relax in a Rustic-Deluxe Cabana

Greener sybarites are being lured to the thatched wooden bio-pool villas at Sublime Comporta, a hotel set on a 42-acre nature reserve amid undulating dunes and umbrella pines in an area renowned for staggeringly photogenic white sand beaches. Its standalone cabins are set over a biological pool treated with aquatic plants — step from the deck of one of these cabanas straight into the chemical-free, man-made pool.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Aguas Claras.

Costa Rica: Revel in Creativity

The charismatic Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo feels like your own boho, off-the- beaten-track secret with its wild, windswept, and undeveloped shoreline. Check into Hotel Aguas Claras, a boutique, eco beauty with under-celebrated, uncommercialized beaches at your feet — it’s the only stay of this kind in reach of the Talamanca Mountains. Stylish yet sustainable, it shows us eco can be chic thanks to the loving touch of its artist owner and her design-savvy daughter.

Morocco: Climb the Highest Atlas Peaks

Hike to the community-run lodge of Kasbah du Toubkal in the High Atlas, where the local Berber people host guests for remote, off-the-grid escapes. Toubkal is the highest point in North Africa and is beloved by hikers and bikers. The lodge was set up in 1995 in a hard-to-reach but beautiful hiking area.

Panama: Stay in a Sanctuary by Name and by Nature

Isla Palenque, a private, tropical-island resort, takes its name from the local language: Indigenous people called the island palenque (“sanctuary”) centuries ago. With 400 acres of primary forest and seven beaches at your toes, it definitely qualifies for that title. Join a back-of-house tour for the chance to peek into the kitchen, laundry, and maintenance. This may not sound like an exciting holiday activity, but when the sustainability manager, resident naturalist, or manager lifts the lid on the lengths they go to in order to become greener, it’s fascinating.

Ibiza: Detox or Retox by Xarraca Bay

Unwind at Six Senses Ibiza, which follows the principles of this eco-accented luxury spa resort chain and supports conservation through the Ibiza Preservation Foundation.

Indonesia: Stay in a Creative Balinese Resort

Desa Potato Head is a creative village that comes from the forward-thinking hosts of Bali’s most famous beach bar, Potato Head. Now the desa (village) is a showcase of sustainable living: a collection of music, art, design, and wellness with galleries, a music studio, and two design hotels. It’s the brainchild of Ronald Akili, whose first hotel, Katamama, broke the mold for Balinese boutique hotels. The second, bigger hotel next door extends to an eco-focused kids’ club, an innovative zero-waste restaurant, and zero-waste kits as amenities. This modern enclave is a lesson in iconoclastic upcycling.

Don't Stop There. Read the Whole Book

Buy The Bucket List Eco Experiences: Traveling the World, Sustaining the Earth from your preferred bookseller: or

Extracted with permission from The Bucket List Eco Experiences: Traveling the World, Sustaining the Earth by Juliet Kinsman (Universe /Rizzoli © 2022). All rights reserved.

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