Sure, going on vacation is a chance to get away from everyday life — but how often do you actually manage to escape the clutches of modern living? There’s also been a renewed spotlight on sustainable travel for this year, so it makes even more sense to take the road less traveled.
Because after all, the only way to make sure that nobody bothers you on your vacation is to go somewhere where they’d never find you: both in-person and online. Have a look at these five new resorts opening this year that are both eco-friendly and wonderfully remote.
01 | Wake up at the top of the world at andBeyond’s Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Think of safaris and you might imagine the sprawling grasslands of South Africa — but hidden in Tanzania is a lodge perched on the rim of an ancient, million-year-old crater that shelters one of the most spectacular wildlife havens on earth. Here, you’ll get the chance to see male lions stalking the grasslands, giant-tusked elephants wandering the forests, and the endangered black rhinos grazing the plains.
The 30 suites are divided into three camps, each with its own lounge and dining areas that offer ever-changing views of the swirling mists below. The lodge can even arrange for a private expedition with the KopeLion conservation team, where you’ll get to check on camera traps, stop by Maasai villages, and meet the local lion guardians (the much-revered Ilchokuti), who can regale you with their tales about working with local communities and protecting the lions. It’s an insightful experience that gives one an appreciation of the complexities — and the rewards — of humans and animals coexisting together peacefully.
02 | Retreat to a villa in the sky with The Pavilions Himalayas
There are rooms with views, and then there’s the Pavilions Himalayas. Nestled in a natural paradise of a lush, forested valley, the property offers 8 new tented villas, all set against the backdrop of the majestic Himalayan mountain range. Each of the luxury tents boast hand-crafted furniture that’s made locally. When you’re done admiring the view, you can rent one of the resort’s brightly-coloured wooden boats for a paddle around the neighbouring, mirror-like Phewa lake, which also happens to be the kingdom’s second largest.
Electricity at The Pavilions Himalayas is taken care of through solar-power and other renewable sources. The resort also has its own organic farm, which provides fresh produce and dairy products for its guests each day – you can even visit the farm and try your hand at milking a bovine for yourself. Later, take your spoils and learn how to make traditional Nepalese comfort foods like buff curry, tomato chutney, and kheer pudding out on the picturesque terrace garden.
03 | Soak up the sun in Sicily’s gold-hued hills
The Mediterranean is famed for its leisurely pace of life, and nowhere is this more evident than on the Italian island of Sicily. Susafa is a 200-year-old farmhouse — now a boutique hotel — that’s a haven for any harried city dweller. The family-run estate aims to introduce a new generation of guests to what slow-living on a farm is like: from cherry harvesting, Sicilian wine tastings and learning to make your own raviolis, you’ll get to try your hand at a bevy of activities.
And since they’re committed to living off the land as much as possible, Susafa produces much of its energy through solar panels, and sources all their water from on-site wells. Take a walk through the hotel’s fragrant olive groves, from which they produce their own organic olive oil, and learn to make fresh focaccia bread with the wheat gathered from the nearby fields — or just take a stroll through the rippling verdant hills that surround the hotel.
04 | Immerse yourself in Khmer culture at the Angkor Village Hotel
Don’t let the resort’s unassuming name fool you: the Angkor Village Hotel is anything but plain. It certainly is quiet, though, even despite its central location: situated in the heart of Siem Reap and just minutes from UNESCO Heritage site Angkor Wat, this boutique resort is tucked away from the bustle of the city behind a wealth of greenery.
Sustainability is a big part of the resort’s identity. Single use plastics are verboten here, and you’ll also find locally-made arts and crafts peppered throughout the resort. Be sure to visit the L’Auberge des Temples, which is the property’s romantic pavilion restaurant — they serve up delicious Khmer favourites using ingredients from nearby farms.
05 | Recharge in the Spanish countryside at a historic boutique lodge
There’s something romantic about the notion of living in the country, what with its sun-baked towns, olive groves and terraced vineyards. Torre del Marques looks like a postcard come to life: this 15th century farmhouse has been restored into a boutique villa, and, located as it is in a remote corner of Spain’s Aragon region, remains blissfully untouched by tourist crowds and over-development.
And despite its age, the villa has certainly seen some updates in its time. Step inside and you’d be forgiven for forgetting just how historic it is. Taupes and greys come together in soft textiles and pale woods to create a serene, modern atmosphere, while solar panels and sustainable architecture seek to maximise the property’s energy efficiency.
The villa’s restaurant also prides itself on its organic, ‘zero-kilometre’ menus that utilise ingredients produced by the locals, which includes olive oil, black truffle, and honey. Aside from lounging in the pool and sauna that overlooks vistas of vineyards, you can also head out horse-riding through the Spanish countryside, and perhaps do a little farming of your own. Whatever it is you end up doing, you’ll find that a stay here doesn’t just provide you with pretty pictures to take home, but also a renewed appreciation for being able to disconnect every now and then.