Green Sophistication: The Rise of Luxury Eco-Resorts and Sustainable Glamping
At One Planet Journey, our vision for the future of sustainable tourism manifests itself through personalised, exclusive, and deluxe experiences. Travel needs to be less checklist and more meaningful interaction with people and the planet. Luxury is an area of the industry where a successful and harmonious union with sustainability is on the up. Eco-resorts and glamping are prime examples of where travellers indulge in both luxurious and responsible stays. I’ve loved every single experience I had at eco-lodges, for example, in the jungle in Rwanda surrounded by a mesmerising mix of wildlife. The proximity to nature adds a layer of responsibility that the accommodation has to consider, and this should be a trendsetter for the hospitality sector.
To understand the intricacies of satisfying both sustainable and luxurious criteria, we caught up with Authentic Luxury, the premier platform for luxury outdoor resorts like tented camps and eco-lodges. I had an insightful chat with Founder and CEO, Maja Dimnik, connecting over the joint belief that the true meaning of luxury is about having time for meaningful and impactful experiences.
Sustainable glamping and luxury eco-resorts. Sounds divine, but for those unfamiliar with the term glamping, what exactly is it?
This form of travel is all about active and meaningful connections with nature and destinations, delving into its history, culture, communities, wildlife, cuisine, and environment to create unforgettable experiences. It’s immersive travel at its finest, where travellers engage in purposeful activities, step off the beaten path, encounter authentic local experiences, and embark on extraordinary adventures.
While a common industry term, we prefer experiential travel to better encompass what our collection represents. Nevertheless, glamping, short for glamorous camping, captures the essence of our approach. It entails staying in outdoor standalone accommodations such as tented villas or treehouses, providing a luxurious camping experience. Guests enjoy the freedom of being in nature while also indulging in additional hotel services that go above and beyond, and a diverse range of activities.
In summary, our offering represents a fusion of the finest hospitality, immersive travel experiences, and the awe-inspiring beauty of nature, delivering unparalleled memories for those seeking extraordinary journeys.
You have seriously fabulous places on your platform, producing a “I have to stay there” – desire. What are the primary criteria for making the cut in terms of luxury?
Thank you for your kind words. Our goal has always been to create a collection of must-visit places, ones that evoke the feeling you described. We’ve carefully handpicked some of the world’s most stunning locations, driven by our passion and awe for their beauty. The idea took root when I had a truly unforgettable moment, gazing at these extraordinary places, and couldn’t help but exclaim, ‘Oh, wow! I would love to stay here!’ That inspired the birth of our platform – the ‘I have to stay there’ dream collection.
We select only the finest and most interesting experiential eco-resorts and lodges from around the world. They must be stylish and exclusive properties offering true luxury, beautiful landscape and architecture, world-class local dining, impeccable service and authentic experiences. Exclusivity comes by virtue of their remoteness, special architecture and intimate size. These independent properties, sustainable leaders striving to become low impact, provide a unique way to experience the greatness of nature, reconnecting travellers with the great outdoors in the utmost comfort and style.
We believe true luxury goes beyond material possessions and that rare experiences and profound connections carry more value. In essence, having the time and space to slow down, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beauty and richness of the world – uncommon in modern society. For us, luxury is not just about indulging in finer things – it’s about finding joy, meaning, and fulfilment in the activities that make life worth living. Despite our commitment to sustainable and responsible travel, the sophistication offered by our affiliated properties is above and beyond expectations. Joining our collection offers travellers an unmatched blend of luxury and nature, preserving the environment and creating unforgettable moments.
Talk us through the sustainability aspect of the exclusive Conscious Collection of eco-resorts.
The members in our Conscious Collection are sustainable tourism pioneers, setting the benchmark for responsible and eco-conscious hospitality. We select these exceptional properties for their remarkable dedication to the planet, contributing to a greener future and fostering a harmonious relationship between nature, community, and responsible tourism.
With a focus on nurturing the land, wildlife, and local communities, the properties make a tangible impact through effective sustainable management. They embrace our pillars of sustainability, and provide extraordinary guest experiences while fostering positive change in all these interconnected areas.
Our Conscious Collection seeks real pioneers, steering clear of greenwashing. These properties safeguard the planet by promoting sustainable practices and caring for the land in a responsible manner. They prioritise the well-being of local communities, staff, and guests, ensuring exceptional care for all, cherish and protect nature as well as culture through an unwavering commitment to comprehensive preservation initiatives. They emphasise effective sustainability management, with distinct goals and measurable actions.
Luxury and sustainability, often considered mutually exclusive concepts, go hand in hand based on your description. How do you manage it?
Luxury and sustainability may seem different, but when brought together, you create a harmonious and transformative experience. Today, luxury means more than just opulence and extravagance; it values ethical practices and has a genuine connection with the environment and local communities.
Sustainable luxury finds its essence in offering a heightened level of indulgence while embracing responsible and conscious choices. It goes beyond the material aspects to include the preservation of nature, cultural heritage, and social well-being. The beauty lies in finding a delicate balance where every aspect of a luxurious experience is thoughtfully curated to minimise environmental impact and support local welfare.
From eco-friendly architecture to locally sourced, organic cuisine, and from promoting renewable energy to empowering communities through employment and education, sustainable luxury strives to leave a positive legacy in every aspect it touches. This approach not only enhances the travel experience for the discerning traveller, but also ensures that the destinations thrive for generations ahead.
In the world of luxury and sustainability, a beautiful transformation takes place. Opulence and responsibility come together to create unforgettable journeys that leave a meaningful impact on our cherished Earth. As travellers embrace this new way of travel, they not only enjoy unparalleled indulgence but also become part of a global movement, working towards a brighter and more sustainable future for the planet and its people.
You have years of experience in the travel industry, and long-standing expertise in the eco resort space. How would you describe the changes the market has gone through since you started?
I have noticed a significant increase in the demand for the kind of travel and properties we feature in our collection. The popularity of this segment is on a fast rise, with more and more people seeking immersive and sustainable experiences.
I’ve been a conscious traveller from the beginning, even though the term didn’t have a following back then. It was in 2012, when I started working in eco resort space, you didn’t hear much about the terms like regenerative, immersive, authentic, and transformative travel. Protecting nature, communities, and cultures in property development hasn’t held the importance it does now.
Today, it’s all about safeguarding the environment and benefiting everyone involved, from guests to wildlife and local communities. This shift reflects a firm commitment to sustainability, preserving natural wonders while enriching the lives of travellers. It brings me great joy to see this positive change, which contributes to making the world a better place through conscious travel practices.
You’re based in Slovenia. What are your best tips for sustainable luxury stays in this breathtakingly beautiful country?
What an interesting question! I’d highly recommend embracing the beauty of nature and opting for small, boutique, or even family-owned accommodations in the countryside. These choices not only offer a touch of luxury but also allow you to connect more intimately with the environment while supporting eco-friendly and responsible practices.
You provide sustainable lodging management services – where in the world are you seeing the biggest demand for transitioning to sustainable luxury?
Through our Conscious collection, we take great pride in offering sustainability guidelines to our valued member affiliates. More than just recognition and marketing, our primary focus is on assisting properties in optimising resource utilisation to achieve cost savings in property management while also benefiting the environment.
It’s amazing to see the rising demand for sustainable luxury in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia at the forefront, developing destinations that fully embrace this philosophy. This shift towards reflects a strong dedication to preserving nature’s beauty and cultural heritage, offering extraordinary experiences for travellers who prioritise responsible and conscious choices.
Of course, we can’t let you go before asking about your favourite type of nature-based stay. And second, what is your most cherished travel memory?
As I reflect, Africa stands out as my favourite for its experiential and authentic environments. The vibrant communities, captivating wildlife encounters, and the warm and genuine hospitality of its people have left an indelible mark on my heart.
Among my top travel memories, the journey through South America and Africa holds a special place for me. One experience stands out like a shining jewel – meeting a thankful Bolivian girl who looked at me with pure gratitude when I shared a simple biscuit with her. This heartfelt moment taught me the significance of small acts of kindness and the deep connections we form while exploring the world. It left a lasting impression on my soul.
As I travelled through the stunning scenery, two incredible places stayed with me. The mesmerising Salar Uyuni, an endless salt lake, and the floating islands of Uros provided a surreal experience. Time seemed to slow down, and the community living there almost appeared unreal and dreamlike.
In the diverse and vibrant culture of Africa, I had the privilege of experiencing the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Masai community. As one of the first travellers welcomed into their village, I felt humbled to be invited home. In the village, the children gathered around me with curiosity and delight, asking to touch my hands. The innocent exploration of our differences and similarities spoke of the universal language of kindness and human connection. In that moment, barriers of nationality and background faded, replaced by a profound sense of unity. The experience was humbling and heartwarming, leaving an indelible impression on my soul. Deep connections formed with the local people during my travels are the most memorable and cherished experiences I could ever bring back home with me. These encounters, like stars guiding my wanderlust, remain the most cherished and unforgettable moments of my travels. Each memory serves as a reminder of the transformative power of exploration, where the paths we cross and the hearts we move become an intrinsic part of our journey’s essence.
Beautiful moments and memories. When I think back to my travel experiences, nature, coupled with chance encounters with fellow travellers or locals, comes to mind. It leaves imprints into your fibre of being, and fuels the desire to experience more. Maja, thank you for the peek into a world of sustainable indulgence, dreamy locations which allowed us to fantasise about our next trip, and for the confirmation that going green not only refers to money when discussing luxury travel.
Are you an experiential traveller? What is your favourite luxury eco-resort or sustainable glamping site? Tell us in the comment section! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter and benefit from travel tips, interviews, and inspirational examples of sustainable travel and tourism.