Online hotel reservation company Agoda has published its 2009 list of Top 10 Eco-Friendly Asian resorts.
The list which recognizes resorts for their innovation in environmental policies and practices was devised in part to help travelers make informed decisions, the company said.
"Since we first launched the list two years ago, we have seen an increasing number of properties supporting sustainable tourism and travel," said Michael Kenny, CEO of Agoda.
"Agoda considers it the company's responsibility to recognize hotels and resorts for their efforts to reduce the tourism industry's impact on the environment," he said. "Not only does this provide valuable examples of eco-friendly policies for other resort operators, it also helps our customers do their bit to combat climate change and to conserve nature."
The Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui, Thailand
This resort near Chaweng Beach was pioneering sustainable policies long before the global trend caught on. When the resort’s late founder, Akorn Hoontrakul, designed the property in 1985 he ensured it accentuated the bay’s natural beauty without needing to fell a single tree. Akorn’s son now runs the property and continues his father's legacy with the resort's Green Project, a policy that outlines several initiatives including waste management, recycling and energy conservation. The Tongsai Bay works with the local community where it has built a low-carbon school and it is collaborating with other hotels on the island to ensure Koh Samui preserves its natural beauty for future generations.
Alila Ubud and Alila Manggis, Bali, Indonesia
These two Alila Group eco resorts featured in Agoda's Top 10 Eco-Friendly Asian Resorts for 2007. Alila Ubud was built in the style of an Indonesian hillside village while the Alila Manggis combines traditional Balinese architecture with contemporary design. Both resorts have policies to reduce their impact on the environment and each promotes Earth-friendly activities such as trekking, cycling and Balinese cooking lessons.
Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Cambodia
The Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort is the only hotel in Cambodia to win an Asean Energy Award, which it received in 2005, 2007 and 2009. For more than five years, Accor – Sofitel’s parent company – has partnered with Agrisud International, an NGO which runs a number of poverty reduction programs in Seam Reap. Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort also buys produce from local farmers, sources locally made products and employs staff from nearby communities — many of whom are trained at the Paul Dubrule Hotel School in Seam Reap (Paul Dubrule is Accor’s co-founder).
El Nido Resorts, Miniloc Island, Philippines
This resort, which has won several awards for its nature conservation activities, is passionate about protecting the local wilderness. Surrounded by forests and mangroves, El Nido Miniloc Island Resort minimizes its waste through recycling, operates an energy conservation policy and requires all staff to attend a five-day training seminar called ‘Be G.R.E.E.N.’ (Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido). The property also works with local organizations to conduct coastal clean-ups and monitor the Miniloc Island's ecosystem. A database of local plants and animals is featured on its website.
The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, Langkawi, Malaysia
This secluded resort is located on a 400-meter stretch of sand on Pantai Tengah Beach, southwest of Langkawi. Its various green programs are integrated to streamline and minimize the environmental impact of its daily operations. The resort helps conserve the local environment by reducing its consumption of resources, minimizing energy use, only using environmentally-friendly detergents and cleaning waste water through wetlands – a natural biological filter.
Banyan Tree, Bintan Island, Indonesia
The architects who designed this property took special care to avoid cutting down trees. A conservation lab was built to preserve the surrounding rainforest, where trees are aged from 50 to 100 years and include some rare species. To reduce its impact upon the fragile environment, Banyan Tree Bintan supports a local village and helps preserve indigenous traditions by employing a network of more than 40 village craftspeople and connecting them with project partners throughout the region.
Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia
Everything about this hotel says ‘luxury’, but in practice the Hotel de la Paix is an environmental workhorse. Its responsible tourism policy is realistic and sensitive to the local infrastructure and it sponsors many initiatives that benefit local communities, including a Sewing Training Center that provides skills training to disadvantaged Khmer women. The Hotel de la Paix’s sister hotel, Shinta Mani, runs the Shinta Mani Institute of Hospitality, an award-winning capacity building program that supports young Cambodians from high-risk areas. The hotel also offers guests the opportunity to sponsor students or donate bikes, wells and pigs to local families.
The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai, India
The Orchid Hotel was Asia’s first property to receive ECOTEL® certification and it has won more than 61 awards since opening 11 years ago. It boasts an environment officer who leads its 'green teams', organic rubbish is disposed of in nine ‘vermiculture’ bins (worm farms) and an onsite water treatment facility recycles waste water. Guests have the option of pressing the ‘Green Button’ which increases the room's temperature by 2oC incrementally over a two-hour timeframe, reducing the air conditioning system's power consumption. Coat hangers made from sawdust and herbal pesticides are other examples of the hotel’s sustainable policies.
Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, Maldives
Sustainability isn’t a buzzword for the award-winning Soneva Fushi, which is on the Agoda green list for a second time – it's wired into the resort's DNA. Its list of green initiatives is both long and impressive and includes tree-planting projects, campaigns to ban shark fishing and a carbon offset program to buy a wind turbine in India. Soneva Fushi also has an in-house marine biologist to educate guests and ensure dive trips do not damage the local environment. One of its guiding principles is 'Slow Life', an approach which emphasizes 'slow' pursuits such as nature walks, star-gazing and non-motorized water sports.
Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village, Fraser Island, Australia
Situated on the Unseco World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village is an eco-tourism veteran. Since opening in 1992, it has won several awards for its environmental practices, including the inaugural Steve Irwin Ecotourism Award. In partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast, the resort runs a research and education center that closely monitors the island's ecology, while guided eco tours cover everything from mangrove colonies to Aboriginal culture. Waste is sent to the worm farm where it is transformed into fertilizer and then used on the resort's herb garden.