From collecting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificates to managing water resources wisely, and serving own-garden produce, hotels are balancing luxury with eco-responsibility. We journey across four continents to explore several luxury accommodations and learn more about how what makes them different from other luxury hotels and how they do their part in protecting the environment.
Baja California, Mexico
With a name that is Spanish for endemic, or native to a specific region or environment, this hotel was designed to highlight the isolation of the desert and thus single out the area’s indigenous qualities. Situated just one and a half hours from San Diego, Baja California is home to some of Mexico’s largest wineries and offers a blend of Mexican culture and artisanal activity.
The hotel has 20 chic and eco-friendly cabins arrayed on a hill overlooking the valley, interspersed by natural boulders, and raised off the ground to minimise impact on the landscape. Built with Corten steel and wood, the cabins are designed to weather over time and eventually blend seamlessly into valleys.
The cabins were created by Gracia Studio, a firm with a passion for creating economical architecture, with a particular interest in using modular and flexible buildings. Each cabin is furnished minimally with simple yet sleek furnishings, featuring a king-size bed, wireless Internet, and private terrace with a clay kiva. Concealed among the rocky slope is a pool, restaurant and bar, which all have views out over the seemingly infinite valley.
The 122-room Rocksresort and its immediate environment run on sustainable energy consisting of hydroelectricity, solar power and more. The resort, which takes its name and design identity from the surrounding landscape, is situated adjacent to the base station in Laax. The property is an environmentally sensitive and a bold architectural concept.
The rainy season in Negril sees Rockhouse Resort collecting rainwater in five catchment tanks placed across the property. The collected water irrigates the gardens in the property’s eight-acre grounds. These gardens are fertilised with compost made from the resort’s kitchen and bar wastes mixed with shredded garden refuse.
The property’s Environmental Management System (EMS) promotes sustainability and overall reduction of carbon footprint. The resort itself adapts environmentally friendly building material and design expressed in local wood, thatch and open-air restaurants. A preventive maintenance schedule ensures optimum performance of equipment, while a weekly haul of plastic, glass and cardboard waste is dispatched to the local recycling centre.
Guest rooms are fitted with low-flow showerheads and taps, and low-flush toilets, and equipped with recycle bins for plastic and glass bottles. They are also encouraged to reuse linen whenever possible.
HOTEL KITZHOF MOUNTAIN DESIGN
Guests at the 172-room mountain retreat, Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, savour the essence of Austrian alpine living while the establishment pursues soft environmental impact and community integration from spa to table. The building itself boasts a solar-heated pool while the spa program uses products from the organic line Just Pure. On its breakfast table is served milk from just six cows from a small, exclusive farm that processes its milk the old-fashioned way.
HUMBLE HOUSE TAIPEI
Located on the top floors of a LEED Diamond-rated Green Building, in the heart of Xinyi, Humble House Taipei is focused on giving back to society. Thoughtful design and actionable measures guide the management of the 235-room glass and aluminum skyscraper. Its water and energy conservation has implemented systems to cut down usage and bring guests on board with recycling and linen reuse programs. Its Sky Garden is a rare urban oasis planted with species that were chosen to encourage biodiversity and help reduce air impurities.
Located in Vienna’s historic 1st district is Hotel Topazz, a prime example of eco-friendly hospitality. Surrounded by the city’s most acclaimed attractions, the hotel pays tribute to Vienna’s artistic heritage. The remarkable façade is inspired by a cylindrical silver vase embellished with oval amber stones by artist Koloman Moser. The interiors also pay homage to iconic Austrian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The combination of design and low-energy initiatives is unique for a hotel in the centre of the Imperial City. Heating and cooling is secured by a groundwater well and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, and LED technology provides a near-natural light spectrum throughout the hotel. The green approach is manifested in daily hotel operations: the Topazz Salon serves organic products from Austrian producers, including their own range of eco-friendly award-winning wine.
From the time it was brought back to life, AnaYela has followed sustainable design. The five-room riad, a 300-year-old city palace in the heart of Marrakech, was restored by hand—absolutely no electric tools were employed—by over 100 Moroccan artisans.
Hotelier Andrea Kolb set out to create experiences “that truly touch the people” with the project, a mission that found expression in the support and preservation of traditional craftsmanship. In a bid to improve access to education through fair working wages, Kolb connected young international designers with local craftspeople, giving the latter global exposure and a successful sustainable model that saw 50 per cent of profits being reinvested into the community.
CROSBY STREET HOTEL
New York City, New York, USA
Kit Kemp’s signature style is reflected throughout the 11-floor, 86-bedroom and suite Crosby Street Hotel. The hotel is the first in New York to receive a Gold Certification under LEED. During construction, hazardous site material was disposed of and all demolished material was recycled. Besides energy-efficient lighting, green power, and water use reduction, it has an array of integrated green features, from an urban vegetable patch on the rooftop supplying the hotel with seasonal produce, to a woodland meadow with 50 varieties of native plants. Inside, the furniture, fabrics and finishes are largely American-made, sourced regionally from home-bred designers like Philadelphian artisans Galbraith & Paul.
This story first appeared in FORM Magazine.