As travel whirrs back into action, it’s time to put all those new travel resolutions we’ve been mulling over this last year into practice. Juliet Kinsman, author of The Green Edit (Ebury Press) and founder of eco-luxury resource Bouteco and Sustainability Editor at the Condé Nast Traveller magazine, tells us how we can travel better by booking hotels that walk the talk.
1. Book hotels that give back
“My mission with The Green Edit is really to encourage people to connect the dots of the socio-economic impact of each trip they make, from planning to the actual time we spend at the destination,” says Juliet. And that includes how you choose to offset the carbon footprint you leave by getting on a plane, like staying somewhere that gives back to the community or planet.
A tell-tale sign of how much or how little a hotel is doing is in the information they’ve chosen to share about the projects they are involved in on their website. “Independent hotels are your best bets here,” explains the sustainable luxury travel expert. “For instance, the Datai Langkawi in Malaysia is one of the hotels actually walking their talk, even if in this case it’s owned by the government, and you can tell how committed they are by looking at their site. It’s striving for zero waste and you can see it’s making a real investment.”
2. Use a reliable source for your research
A good place to start when you’re looking for a hotel to stay at is Juliet Kinsman’s tried and tested, and entirely independent Bouteco website. “As a customer, you decide whom you give your money to,” she explains.
With Bouteco, not only has she done the research for you, but the hotels are also destinations in their own right, setting new standards for luxury. Hop over to the website and have a look for yourself. Five stars is just scratching the surface for these trailblazing spots with soul that are setting new benchmarks in the travel industry.
From a desert camp in Namibia to a nature reserve in Indonesia or a farm on an Icelandic peninsula, these properties have the power to transform you and your vacation. After all, as Juliet highlights, “Why would you want to give your money to a hotel that’s detrimental to its surroundings and community when you can support a hotel that does the opposite?”
3. It all starts with women
“First, you need to decide what you care about and align your choice of hotel with your values. There isn’t just environmental sustainability – it’s important to remember that. There’s also social sustainability,” explains Juliet. “And if you don’t know where to start, start with places that support women in rural areas because that will help curb population growth, which is the biggest climate emergency.”
As Juliet Kinsman explains in her book, a better understanding of the supply chains as well as communities we visit and the culture of those communities, help us make more considered choices. “For instance I love the work Kasbah du Toubkal up in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, or Soneva in the Maldives, are doing to support women.”
4. Cut through the eco-certification labels
There are dozens of labels out there highlighting all sorts of promising initiatives and values, so how do you know which ones use an authentic measure? Earth Check is Juliet’s number-one reference. “There are so many labels that it’s hard to navigate the landscape, but we must. It’s our responsibility as consumers to challenge the storytelling behind these labels.”
5. Go behind the scenes
When you arrive at your hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for a tour of the property and to see their waste disposal system, staff quarters, kitchens and vegetable gardens, for instance. It feels surprisingly empowering to see what your money’s funding.
“If they’re really making that investment in the environment and the community around them, then showing you around will be a source of pride for them. It’s a great way of seeing how far their interest in giving back goes.” But also, taking an interest in how the hotel you’re giving your money to is run educates you about great initiatives you might want to look out for when booking hotels in other destinations for future trips. So get your wellies out!
The Green Edit (Ebury Press) is available now at most online stockists ($19.95).