In the age of global warming, traveling accounts for a good chunk of our carbon footprint. But that doesn’t mean that you should stop visiting far-flung locales altogether. Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle means being conscious of your travel accommodations, and fortunately, there are a number of eco-friendly hotels and retreats popping up across the region that are committed to protecting the land and upholding sustainable practices. Industry efforts towards reducing the impact on the environment are growing, whether through the building materials used or planting gardens with fresh produce, which means you can catch a flight with a clear conscious. Below, some of the best eco-friendly retreats and lodges in the Middle East and North Africa that prove that sustainability doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury.
Adrere Amellal: Desert Ecolodge, Egypt
Everything about this eco-lodge is sustainable. Each one of the rooms in this Siwa hideaway is hand-built using local materials such as kershef, sandstone, and palm fronds. Doors and furniture are made from olivewood, and as there is no electricity, each room is lit with beeswax candles, lanterns, and the desert sky. All the fruit and vegetables come from its own pesticide-free gardens, meat and poultry are sourced from local farmers, and all the bread and cakes are home-baked. Even the swimming pool is totally eco-friendly, flowing out of a natural spring.
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
Situated on Oman’s breathtaking, rugged cliffs approximately 6,500 feet above sea level, the resort promotes sustainability and strives to protect the surrounding environment. The hotel is detail-oriented when it comes to its eco-friendly mission: Each room has its own refillable glass water bottles, while all food waste produced by the hotel is composted back to the hotel’s organic farm that the restaurant’s entire menu is built around. Additionally, the property incorporates solar panels that provide up to 60% of the energy required for hot water supply and energy saving lighting and thermal control systems, and has also signed a waste management contract with Oman Recycling Services LLC., to minimize waste.
Habitas AlUla, Saudi Arabia
From using ethically-sourced organic materials for construction to its keycards made out of bamboo, Habitas AlUla strives to be sustainable through-and-through. The boutique resort, that offers 96 guest rooms that span three tiers, was built in a way that does no harm to the environment. Meanwhile, the on-site restaurant Tama uses only sustainable agricultural methods and fresh ingredients sourced from local farms in its culinary experiences.
Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resorts, UAE
This striking property located off the coast of Abu Dhabi on the Sir Bani Yas Island has a strong conservation mandate. Its 64 rooms and suites and 60 luxury villas are surrounded by a 4,100-hectare wildlife park, which is home to over 13,000 free-roaming animals, including gazelles, Arabian oryx, giraffes, ostriches, and cheetahs. Guests can get up-close-and-personal with the animals by way of wildlife drives with conservationist guides and participate in fun and eco-conscious activities like pearl diving and mangrove planting.
Discovery Bedu, Jordan
Preserving nature and supporting the local culture is the priority of this luxe desert camp. Situated in Wadi Rum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, each luxurious tented suite is built on adjustable and removable platforms designed to reduce environmental impact. Solar systems are used to generate hot water and electricity, and all activities and guided expeditions are performed by local bedouins. In an effort to minimize food waste, all left-overs are either consumed by the onsite team or delivered to local villagers who are in need.
Terra Cabins, UAE
Owned and operated by JA Hatta Fort Hotel, this newly-opened resort is set among the rugged mountains of the eastern UAE. Each cabins were built in a low-impact, environmentally-friendly fashion using a combination of natural pine wood treated with dusk-grey wash so that they can blend in with the surrounding Al Hajar mountains. The cabins’ infrastructure also allows for the regulation of air conditioning temperature control, while an insulation layer underneath the roof helps to maintain the indoor climate. During your visit to the eco-lodge, enjoy soaking up the natural beauty that surrounds you by trekking in the mountains, kayaking across the Hatta Dam, and partaking in archery or gun-shooting.
La Pause, Morocco
Located in an oasis of the Agafay Desert – 30 kms away from Marrakech — La Pause is like something out of a movie. Developed by Frederic Alaime, the desert Berber retreat, is designed to take you back to the basics so you can completely disconnect in nature. There is no wifi or electricity. Instead, guests are encouraged to connect with the local environment and culture through discovering the surrounding oasis, riding a camel across the Agafay sand dunes, lounging by one of the two pools, hiking in the Atlas mountains, and enjoying traditional food at the onsite restaurant set in a genuine Berber tent made from durable dark brown goat’s hair.