As you may know I have been filming my new show, Caribbean Pirate Treasure premiering August on Travel Channel, for the past three months. Traveling all over the Caribbean Sea, I have been reminded of how much I love its tropical ambiance, sandy beaches and natural beauty. But many of the hotels and resorts here (and around the world) have a destructive impact on everything around them. For instance, while a hotel may advertise its pristine beach location, many of these hotels poison the reef with their waste, cut down the mangroves to provide guests with a better view, alter the coast line altogether to create a fake beach leading to massive erosion… and the list goes on and on.
If you love the Caribbean like I do and want to help, here are five amazing luxury resorts that put nature first while providing you with a super luxurious stay.
The Commonwealth of Dominica (pronounced DOM-i-NEE-ka) is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic. This truly tropical paradise is said to be the only Caribbean Island that Christopher Columbus would still recognized today, as Dominica is one of the only islands that still has its primary forest intact. Rosalie Bay is a labor of love for owner Bev Deikel and her partner Oscar who greet guests many nights with warm smiles at dinner. I spent about a week here during filming and loved every minute. The resort is powered by wind and solar and was built by hand by locals using sustainable and recyclable materials. They use LED lights, chairs made from recycled milk jugs and sustainably produced cotton sheets. They continue to be a major source of employment for local villagers and supporters of local businesses on Dominica. Rosalie Bay also lies on a major nesting site for many different species of endangered sea turtles and the resort invests heavily in the turtles’ protection. They educate guests and locals of the turtles’ plight to make sure these magnificent turtles will have a safe place to continuing nesting for generations to come.
Natura Cabana is an unspoiled, beachfront hideaway just 3 miles from the heart of action-packed Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Built and run by a Chilean couple who fell in love with the area on a camping trip and decided to move with their four daughters and make it their home. They used fallen trees on the property to make the buildings and palm fronds as thatched roofs. One guest house led to another and another and soon people were asking if they could stay. Now twelve cabanas complete the lodge along with a spa and restaurant, all co-existing with their lush surrounds as nature is the essence of Natura Cabana.
Francis Ford Coppola’s rainforest retreat is one of the top eco resorts in the world as well as one of the top luxury resorts. Set in the lush tropical canopy of Belize, this resort was purchased as a private get away for the Coppola family, only to be turned into a gorgeous retreat to share its beauty with all that can afford it. From the rooms to the restaurant to the spa, everything has been built with care and consciousness using local building products. They also have low irrigation landscaping and low impact design when it comes to their rooms. They actually need no air conditioning as they have been designed to maximize the natural winds and air flow. The Waterfall Spa is home to a hot pool heated solely by hydroelectricity and treatments that use locally sourced organic ingredients. This hotel is Rainforest Certified and supports local research initiatives like the Jaguar Research Project.
Almonds and Corals is a family owned resort nestled among the exuberant jungle of Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica. This unique resort offers three exclusive themes in one amazing location…it’s part Caribbean beach resort, part a safari camp and part eco-conscious boutique hotel. The owners are devoted to offering one-of-a-kind accommodations that await your arrival with a unique sensory experience that promotes harmony between inner and outer self.
The soul of Castara Retreats is the local people. Built with and by the community, this Tobago retreat was handcrafted by some 40 people from the village and they take pride in what they have accomplished. The resort is a collection of unique buildings with green roofs on wooden frames. They even installed a grey water system when they realized their run off was affecting the beach and marine life and they compost all scraps to fertilize their restaurant garden. This green ethos is contagious. In 2015, 30 local villagers established a non-profit with the sole goal of protecting their environment, which includes rainforest, beach and ocean.
Tourism is the greatest voluntary transfer of wealth from rich to poor in the history of humanity but it must be done right, with the sustainable long-term benefit of local people and nature as the driving principle.
That is true #ecoluxury.