July 2, 2010 / 10:07 AM / 7 years ago

Travel Picks: 10 of the best eco-chic escapes

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - The buzz around eco travel has never been stronger but now you can combine sustainability with style, off-set your carbon footprint without sacrificing luxury, and enjoy a wilderness break without having to rough it.

Boutique hotel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) has come up with 10 green getaways from eco-smart designer dens to hotels with a heart. This list is not endorsed by Reuters:

1. Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Blue Mountains, Australia

Set in the Blue Mountains, less than three hours' drive from Sydney, the 40-suite Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa prides itself on being Australia's first conservation-based luxury resort, accredited by international group carboNZero. Pastoral fencing has been removed, 175,000 indigenous trees planted and native wildlife re-introduced. With access to over 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness, guests can go riding, mountain biking or wildlife spotting then return to private villas with in-room swimming pools and a world-class spa.

2. Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

On southern Bali's rugged Bukit Peninsula, Alila Villas Uluwatu is a cool, contemporary clifftop resort which delivers panoramic Indian Ocean views from 61 minimalist white pool villas. Using only locally sourced, recycled and sustainable materials, Singaporean architects WOHA harnessed open-plan lay-outs, flat lava rock roofs and bamboo ceilings to allow sea breezes to circulate naturally. Wood, stone, rattan and water features rule, but stir in personal butlers, a superb spa, fine dining and a hip lounge bar.

3. Masseria Torre Maizza, Puglia, Italy

The 16th-century Masseria Torre Maizza perched on the coast of Italy's shapely heel in Puglia is a 28-room boutique hotel where everything possible is recycled - including water for the golf course - and most of the food served at its restaurant Delle Palme is grown on site or sourced from regional producers according to a 'kilometer zero' policy.

4. Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The 77-room Anantara has magical views of the Mekong River, Myanmar and Laos, and funds an ethical elephant camp on its doorstep. Backed by conservation project the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, it resembles a traditional mahouts' village and is a safe haven for abused wild and domestic elephants as well as those that cannot work. Guests can enjoy elephant safaris and there's even an annual elephant polo match.

5. Hotel de la Paix, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap, home to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex, has 107 rooms, a ground-floor courtyard set around a Boddhi tree, Khmer cuisine and dining swings at in-house restaurant Meric, and a must-visit spa. Community projects support local people and you can visit a sewing training center, a local orphanage that teaches young students traditional dance or make donations toward rice, wells, school uniforms, pushbikes or even piglets.

6. Verana, Jalisco, Mexico

Off the beaten track with access only by boat then mule, Verana is a Yelapa boutique hotel on the shores of the Pacific. With just eight rooms, its thatched-palapa huts overlook the jungle and ocean boasting in-water massage pools, cotton-canopied beds open to the air and mouth-watering fresh Mex cuisine. The hotel eschews carbon-hungry electronic goods (no TVs, sounds systems etc) and uses candles over lights where possible.

7. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Combine a 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle farm with Pacific Ocean views, gourmet food, a golf course and a spa to produce the Farm at Cape Kidnappers on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. The hotel has been involved in reintroducing the endangered kiwi bird species, along with other native birds, to the peninsula.

8. Bay of Fires Lodge & Walk, Bay of Fires, Australia

Designed by environmental architect Ken Latona, this 10-room Bay of Fires Lodge harnesses solar-powered lighting, composting toilets, hand-pumped showers and natural 'air-conditioning.'

Cantilevering above a remote beach near the Bay of Fires on Tasmania's wild north-east coast, the lodge is reached after a two-day guided walk through pristine national park land, including a basic beach camp stay en route.

9. Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

As well as boasting the best Italian restaurant in the jungles of Belize, Blancaneaux Lodge, owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, offers unprecedented luxury on a wild and remote hillside. The lodge's 20 villas and cabanas are dotted along the Privasson River with waterfall pools for back-to-nature bathing. Powered by its own hydroelectric plant, the lodge sources its food from an organic garden and orchard.

10. Ace Hotel New York, New York, United States

Ace Hotel New York is one for the creatives, with turntables in rooms and scrawlable chalkboard walls with sister hotels in Palm Springs and Portland. The food from its restaurant, The Breslin, is all locally sourced and there's a recycling policy in place for wood, glass, metal and plastic.

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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