Remember when eco-travel meant cold showers, scratchy towels and compost toilets. Luckily, such cruel sacrifices are a thing of the past – and one country, Australia, is leading the charge in eco-luxury travel. If you are heading Down Under, check out these eco-luxury hotels and resorts – where you can be pampered while leaving only a faint carbon footprint.
1. Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Extravagant? Oooh yes! Luxurious? Silly question. A carbon footprint feel-good factor while serving up spectacular jaw-dropping views? Most definitely. Set on Australia’s wild coastline, this is one of the country’s most exclusive eco luxury lodges. Outdoor activities include bush and nature guided walks, while inside the lodge, you feel serene and calm while enjoying the best in local food and wine. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows are mesmerising – and if you’re lucky you might see whales so close you can hear them breathe just 100m offshore.
2. Saffire Freycinet – Tasmania
Hugging Tasmania’s unspoilt north eastern shoreline, this boutique resort is strung in a wave-like design with jaw dropping views of the sea. Staff go above and beyond. (mention you like a particular cheese or recipe at dinner; you get a scroll with information as you leave the table). With only 20 stylish suites (2 staff to every guest) you feel utterly spoilt, with food and wine to match. It is no wonder the other guests say they are loving their life. There’s a lot here to love.
3. Intercontinental Sydney, NSW
Who would have thought a hotel smack bang in the city could also be environmentally friendly? With magnificent views of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, this hotel is a must for tourists, and also a splurge for locals. The guest list includes U.S. presidents and talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey as well as A-list Hollywood actors. On the eco front, the hotel’s long-time engineer is a committed green who has introduced a ever-growing list of environmentally initiatives for energy and water savings. It has Green Globe certification and has won a host of environmental awards.
4. Emirates Wolgan Valley, New South Wales
By Michelle Lollo and Ellen Connolly:
The first hotel in the world to achieve carbon neutral status, Wolgan Valley uses solar power for hot water, collects rainwater, and recycles all domestic water. Nestled between two national parks, and only three hours from Sydney, you can “go bush” and immerse yourself in nature – but in luxury. Sit on your balcony in your fluffy bathrobes while watching kangaroos dance across the countryside. There are no cars here and no mobile reception either.
5. Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Amazing marine life is at your doorstep at his luxury camp site. By day, swim with whale sharks, dolphins and dugongs, and by night – sleep under the stars in safari-style tents. Fluffy white bathrobes and solar heating make this barefoot chic at its best. The night sky is spectacular. And for me, the best bit was the amazing marine life a few steps into the water with coral and colourful fish right at the shore. Friendly staff take you snorkeling or on walks at nearby gorges, and the chef-prepared gourmet meals were delicious. It is also one of the few places in the world you can swim with huge whale sharks.
6. Bamurru Plains – Kakadu, Northern Territory
African safari meets the Aussie bush at this remote retreat in the heart of Australia. A dinky-di Down under eco experience. Set on the edge of Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, this remote luxury camp site is brimming with natural beauty and wildlife. Airboating along the floodplains is among the highlights, and gives you the chance to get up close and personal with buffalo, wild brumbies and crocodiles. The camp is open from February to October 31.
7. Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay, New South Wales
If you love the idea of getting back to nature but hate the thought of roughing it, then this is your kind of place. Stay in luxurious canvas tents, some with free-standing baths, and eat at the sophisticated restaurant in the treetops, where you can play spot the wildlife. Guilt free and glamorous, Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay, south of Sydney is a nature and beach lovers’ paradise, and also one of Australia’s earliest eco pioneers.
8. Eco Beach, Broome – Western Australia.
Set beachside in the remote Kimberley region, gorgeously furnished safari style tents and villas are linked by timber boardwalks. An ocean front bar with views across the infinity pool out to sea. The nearby Jacks Creek is brimming with marine life and mud crabs, while the flora and fauna of the landscape show you nature at its best.
9. Longitude 131, Ayers Rock – Northern Territory
With picture perfect views of the famous Uluru, this luxury white-tented retreat provides the ultimate glamping experience. Despite being in the desert, there’s no roughing it here, as guests enjoy three-course meals under the stars, take day tours to ancient rock paintings, and admire the mesmerizing vista of Ayer’s Rock. There are only 15 tents available, adding an air of exclusivity, as well as ensuring an environmentally friendly break. The resort has solar-heated showers, there is reverse heater-air conditioning units to reduce energy wastage, and natural landscaping to help reduce water consumption.
10. Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa, North Queensland
Tarzan and Jane watch out. Tucked into thick tropical rainforest, wake in your tree house villa to the squawking of jungle birdlife before a massage beside a natural waterfall. The local indigenous presence is keenly felt and respected and cultural tours are amazing. On a guided walk through the oldest living rainforest in the world, we spot an amethyst python that has just shed it’s skin, and a rare pigeon, nesting on two precious eggs. Here it really is about getting back to nature, while submitting to some serious pampering.
ABOUT MICHELLE AND ELLEN
Founders and directors, Michelle Lollo and Ellen Connolly met while working on a national newspaper. A weekend travel assignment to go “glamping” – five star camping – sealed the deal on their friendship. Wrapped in fluffy white bathrobes while waiting for their gourmet meal to be served by a bush creek, they realized that reducing their carbon footprint didn’t have to mean scrimping on life’s little luxuries.
For more glamorous getaways without the guilt go to www.caviarandmint.com