Can travel be luxurious and sustainable? Can you make a positive impact on your travels? We know you can and we celebrate innovators who have changed the travel industry with their forward-thinking practices.
Sustainable travel is not new. This week we celebrate Soneva, a hotel brand with properties in the Maldives and Thailand. They’ve been changing travel for over 20 years.
Travellers Can Make a Sustainable Difference
Luxury travel often gets hit for being unsustainable, due to the carbon emissions of flights and waste created at resorts. But never forget that tourism is 10% of global GDP. Travellers bring foreign currencies and jobs to places all over the world.
Travellers can also be conscious about their choices and support good, innovative practices. Soneva’s programs have been an inspiration for us.
Removing single use plastic from their Maldives islands
Plastic bottles and plastic straws have been a hot topic recently. Soneva eliminated plastic bottles from its Maldives islands over 20 years ago. Instead of importing bottles of water, they desalinate the water that’s all around them and bottle it in reusable glass bottles.
That saves 1.5 million plastic water bottles a year. This Soneva Water program is now extended to neighbouring islands, further reducing marine plastic pollution.
Effective waste recycling
What do you do with waste on a remote Indian Ocean island? There are no garbage trucks. That waste has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, many resorts funnel it to a few Maldives islands that are designated garbage dumps, islands tourists never see.
Soneva recycled 90% of its solid waste and this generated over $400,000 in revenue. For example, waste glass was turned into art pieces.
The group’s Soneva Namoona project provides funding and coordination to manage waste on local islands as well, places tourists never go.
A carbon levy
2% isn’t too much to pay. That’s the carbon levy Soneva put on their rooms. It funds the Soneva Foundation which supports projects across Asia. For example, Soneva provided 270,000 people with fuel-efficient stoves in Myanmar to reduce deforestation for firewood, and CO2 emissions from cooking. They’ve planted over half a million trees as well.
Eco-friendly construction and local artisans
Soneva only builds with sustainably sourced wood. You’ll find fast-growing acacia, casuarinas and bamboo to be dominant in all their properties. Fixtures and fittings are mostly made by local artisans, something especially visible in Soneva Kiri in Thailand.
Sustainable fine dining
You’re on holiday. You’ve paid a lot for your holiday. And you want to eat what you want. That’s normal. Except it’s not very sustainable to have imported food from every corner of the world.
Not all of Soneva’s menu is local. But they’ve reduced imports with simple ideas. For example, they have their own smoking machines, so you can have smoked locally caught sea bass rather than imported smoked salmon. They grow their own vegetables and produce their own cheese.
How do you power a luxury hotel on an isolated tropical island? The unfortunate answer is a lot of diesel, in big generators out of sight and out of earshot. But the sun shines a lot in Soneva locations. Solar energy is common sense.
At Soneva Fushi they used solar to reduce diesel consumption by almost 300,000 litres a year!
Experience Soneva for yourself in Maldives and Thailand
Ready to experience super luxury and sustainable travel?
”Soneva Fushi makes us feel like Robinson Crusoe – welcome to barefoot luxury”!
In Thailand, Soneva Kiri also balances sustainable construction and practices, with an almost unparalleled luxury. An unspoiled island, with fabulous beaches, and a stay that will make a difference.