CONSCIOUS TRAVEL – JUST A TREND OR HERE TO STAY?
Text & Images: Alexandra Rawlinson, Stylist and Bauwerk Travel Scout
Most of us already enjoyed the summer holiday, while some of us are still looking forward to it. Our Travel Scout, Alexandra Rawlinson, who is usually responsible for the stylings of our product shootings, was asked to travel on behalf of Bauwerk around the world to find out more about conscious travel: Is it just a trend or here to stay?
I have been fortunate in my profession as a hotel stylist to experience some of the most beautiful hotels around the world. I have a passion for sustainability and am interested in what hotels are doing today and in the future to give us, as guests, the chance to travel more consciously. Ethical options are available to us at every budget level and this is partly translated to us through hotel design and guest experience options. I have talked to some experts in the industry about this growing idea of eco conscious travel is changing the design of hotels and whether this will continue to have an effect on hotel design.
Cheaper, faster and easier than ever
The travel industry is expanding in new directions, driven by our desire for new experiences. It has never been cheaper, faster or easier to travel than today. The possibilities of visiting unusual locations have seemingly become endless and the accommodation choices beyond of what we could have imagined. I am curious to find out if, as a worldwide community, we have become more conscious – from an environmental point of view – about where we go, where we stay and what we do.
Travelers make the choices
We have to make choices about where we stay and what we want from that experience. There are options of hotels built from sustainable, locally-sourced or even recycled materials that use solar energy, recycle water, use new energy technology (such as solar) and reduce their plastic bottle output by simply replacing them with re-usable glass bottles. Many hotels now also provide organic spa and bathroom products made from local plants and are helping the local industry in doing so.
Food from surrounding origin
Food is another way hotels are incorporating sustainability into the overall experience. I love, for instance, hotel restaurants that offer organic produce, grown on site or sourced from surrounding farmers rather than transported halfway around the world. This is a wonderful example of how hotels are becoming more eco friendly.
Personalised environmental based experiences
Another way hotels are participating is by offering more personalized environmental based guest experiences. Many hotels have conservation programs in which guests can be involved in. At Shangrilas Villingilli Resort in the Maldives, for example, one can participate in turtle conservation and coral regeneration, while guests at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the golden Triangle are encouraged to participate in elephant conservation. As guests, we now have the chance to be aware of the nature around us and get involved.
Conscious hotels help nature and local communities
Hotels are expanding their ideas of what constitutes sustainability and an eco-conscious stay by helping both nature and local communities. By helping the communities, they are also often preserving the environment. This is one trend, I hope, will continue to grow.
Even though there is no clear answer to the question of whether conscious travel is just a trend or here to stay, the overall consensus appears to be that it is becoming a more important factor.
Whether the changes in hotel design and travel experiences offered by hotels, are caused because it creates good PR, or we (as guests) want to travel with a clearer conscious, or the hotels DO want to lower their environmental impact and protect the locations, the outcome can only be positive. No matter what the motivation, I see the future of hotel design and travel focusing more and more on sustainability through eco conscious design driven by guest awareness of the possible.
This makes me smile.
EXAMPLES OF CONSCIOUS HOTELS
Song Saa private Island Resort in Cambodia
This is a beautiful example of the eco conscious hotel put into practice from the ground up. The hotel is built based on the philosophy of sustainable materials. Melita Hunter, the designer herself would go out collecting driftwood from the local islands, beaches and sea to be used as building material and decor in the resort.
Song Saa’s maxim is «Create. Collaborate. Commit.» They do this through many initiatives and encourage not force their guests to get involved. The list of their environmental and sustainable efforts are endless, inspiring and, most of all, serious. It is a beautiful place of only 24 villas; all wrapped up in a beautiful bespoke private island resort that blends luxury and sustainability with an honest passion.
Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui
This gorgeous hotel is hidden away within the environment as it was designed around the natural environment rather than consuming it. Bill Bensley, the designer, explains the idea behind “MINIMAL INTERVENTION”: “The vision and effort it takes to construct a hotel where there were 856 coconut trees before the resort was built and the number remained the same post construction is incredible”. Bensley has a firm belief that we can all build without destroying our environment.