As the world reopens, travelers are reconsidering what it means to travel responsibly. In a recent survey, nearly 50 percent of Leading Hotels' curious travelers said sustainability is an important differentiator to them when researching hotels. In fact, 20 percent stated they have booked a more expensive hotel because it had better sustainability practices. 

Those searching for a hotel that aligns with their values and beliefs in sustainability will have no problem finding that at Leading Hotels. Responsible travel has been deeply ingrained in the DNA of LHW, long before the term became so widely used. From Costa Rica to Portugal, many Leading Hotels have worked tirelessly to protect the environment, reduce their carbon footprint, and support their local communities, truly defining what leading with a purpose looks like in practice. 

 At LHW we are currently focused on elevating three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both as a collection and through member hotels’ individual commitments: #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, #12 Responsible Consumption and Production and #13 Climate Action. Additional hotel efforts support #14 Life Below Water and #15 Life on Land. Each Leading Hotel’s individual efforts add up to shepherd in a new standard of sustainability in this new age of travel. 

Meet some of our hotels who are leading with a purpose:

São Lourenço do Barrocal

Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The family-owned São Lourenço do Barrocal was a leader in sustainability far before the practice was even established. Since 1820, eight generations of the Uva family have tirelessly worked to preserve the 2,000 acres of farmland in the foothills of Monsaraz working closely with the surrounding local community. To this day, the property is run as a self-sustaining farming village that minimizes environmental impact on the land and employs those who live in their community. Eighty percent of the 100-plus person staff are hired locally, and the hotel offers employment opportunities to the staff’s decedents to ensure they can remain in the region with reassurance of consistent work. São Lourenço do Barrocal has also helped numerous shops sell local products to visitors. Their practice of the circular economy is put into action through recycling and upcycling, sourcing hyper-locally from the community and using their certified organic farm for the hotel’s and community’s produce. Their well-established and extensive program touches both people and the planet, earning the property LHW’s highest sustainable honor in 2021, the Sustainability Leader membership award.

Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa

Marbella, Spain

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Life Below Water

Marbella Club’s extensive list of green initiatives begins with their marine biodiversity conservation efforts. Alongside the Malaga-based Aula Del Mar foundation, the hotel has spearheaded a local marine biodiversity conservation project , which aims to rewild the Andalusian coast with seagrass meadows and reintroduce Spain´s two native species of seahorses to areas where their populations are dwindling — extremely important efforts to preserve the coastal marine ecosystem. The initiative is part of a much wider International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-backed project that aims to use seahorses as a flagship species to monitor global climate change. The seahorse breeding tanks are located in the hotel’s Kids Club, where a host of interactive games and family activities allow children to learn more about life and ocean conservation.

The Datai Langkawi

Langkawi, Malaysia

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Responsible Consumption and Production

The Datai Langkawi is located on an archipelago off the coast of Malaysia that is covered in rich landscapes and ecosystems — lush rainforests, marbled mountain ranges, and verdant paddy fields. The Datai Pledge was introduced on the premise of protecting this biodiversity and the livelihoods of the Langkawi community. One of their four pillars — “Pure For The Future” — has the ambitious goal of achieving zero waste to the landfill. And with new centers designed for recycling, upcycling, and education, The Datai Langkawi has been able to process up to ninety-three percent of waste at the resort. At the recycling center, crushed glass is transformed into drinking glasses and concrete bricks used for home construction projects. At the bottling plant, water is purified through reverse osmosis and transferred to recyclable glass bottles. And in the garden, waste has been used to produce 28 tons of valuable compost over a period of two years to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the resort. A critical aspect of The Datai Pledge is encouraging participation from guests, staff, and the local community through ongoing workshops, beach cleanups, and youth education programs. Within the first two years, these efforts saved 558,540 kilograms of waste from the landfill.

Nayara Tented Camp

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Climate Action

Nayara Tented Camp was designed to keep a light footprint on its pristine rainforest property. Each structure was built as a modular kit on stilts, using eco-conscious composite decking for the exteriors, energy-conserving lighting systems, and natural hot springs to feed the plunge pools. Tents are elevated and open — not only to immerse guests in the surroundings, but to maximize the effects of sunlight and ventilation to reduce air conditioning and heating. Ample space was left between tents to allow for trees to be planted, as reforestation is the most important action Nayara Tented Camp takes to protect the rainforest and its wildlife. Replanting reduces the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, but as those new trees grow, they also help rebuild endangered habitats. The area where the resort is located previously had all its trees cut down to create a pasture; today, Nayara Tented Camp has been committed to replanting native species in the forest and creating beautiful grounds that serve as a natural refuge for birds, monkeys, and sloths.

Thanda Safari

Hluhluwe, South Africa

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Life on Land

Landscape rehabilitation, alien vegetation clearing, fencing, water monitoring, managing all the complex dynamics of a Big Five game reserve (including translocating or introducing animals to ensure genetic diversity) — this is all part of everyday life of Thanda Safari’s conservation team. The land at Thanda Safari was first proclaimed a protected area in 1895 by the then-British colonial government of Natal, but de-proclaimed in 1907. In 2015, Thanda Safari was able to reclaim protected status for its entire 14,000-hectare property, as one of the first proclaimed nature reserves in South Africa. In addition, Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve engages in a range of ongoing research projects on the reserve to ensure that they contribute to leading-edge conservation strategies and methods. For example, they support Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the governmental organization overseeing wildlife and environmental conservation in KwaZulu-Natal, through environmental awareness initiatives, including fundraising and educational and sports programs.