What is an Eco-Lodge?
An Eco-lodge is a remote retreat with sustainable standards that offer guests the chance to have a genuine wilderness experience. Built in remote areas, they are far away from the hustle and bustle of modern society. Ultimately, they aim to provide an alternative to the traditional vacation, one where guests can experience nature in its purest form.
The term Eco-lodge is used loosely, but it refers to any accommodation that has been built in harmony with the natural environment around it. They can be anything from a treehouse to a luxury villa on stilts! Overall, the lodges aim to provide a sustainable travel experience. This type of getaway is perfect for guests who want to enjoy nature wholly unspoiled by the human touch.
Furthermore, these lodges often set minimum waste disposal, renewable energy, and conservation standards. These standards guide how the lodges are built, as well as how they interact with local people and wildlife. While keeping the environment pristine is their main priority, lodges often aim to preserve indigenous culture. For example, some eco-lodges provide social services to their surrounding communities, such as health care and education, either directly or through donations.
An Eco-lodge has a certain charm that you won’t find at other hotels. However, this is not to say that they forgo luxury. Guests can still expect amenities such as fine linens, spacious rooms, and even hot tubs. Eco-lodges care about the environment, but they also want to ensure that their guests have all the comforts they need during their stay. Because of their secluded location, guests may require specialty transportation. Helicopter travel is common. Additionally, accommodations at an Eco-lodge are limited. This practice further creates a private experience with your fellow travelers and nature.
Who Should Go to an Eco-Lodge?
There’s no better way to enjoy nature than by staying in nature. That’s why eco-lodges are a fantastic option for travelers who want to get off the beaten path and into the wild. Do you love the outdoors and have an interest in protecting the environment? Then an eco-lodge trip may be right for you!
If you’re looking for an adventure that’s more than just a hotel stay, here are a few eco-lodges on the cutting edge of sustainable and authentic travel. When you stay in one of these lodges, you’ll have many opportunities to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of a local area while minimizing your impact on the environment.
For more information on eco-tourism and sustainable travel, check out The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)
Sheldon Chalet Denali Park, Alaska
Famous for its rugged mountains and pristine natural beauty, Alaska’s wide range of ecosystems offers visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy nature and wildlife within the United States.
Located in Interior Alaska, Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest mountain, Denali (Mount McKinley). Tucked away in Denali’s wilderness is Sheldon Chalet Denali Park. First envisioned by Don Sheldon, who wished to share the magic of Denali with the world, his dream was eventually actualized by his children in 2018. Revolutionizing the Denali experience, this eco-lodge is the first of its kind, offering luxury previously unattainable amongst the vast unknown.
Open year-round, guests have the opportunity to explore any season they wish. Each season has something new to offer, from the depths of winter to endless days under the midnight sun. With exploration opportunities suitable for any level of physical fitness, Sheldon Chalet is ideal for every guest seeking adventure. While activities are subject to weather and glacier conditions, no previous mountaineering experience is required.
An exclusive all-inclusive experience, unlike any other, Sheldon Chalet is the ultimate bucket list destination. With a helicopter as the only transport option, guests will get a bird’s eye view of the glacier and mountains surrounding this extraordinary property. The all-inclusive experience additionally includes a sauna with picturesque views, all provisions prepared by a private chef, necessary apparel and gear, as well as guided exploration of the 35 square mile area. The 2,000 sqft, five-bedroom, 2.5 bath Chalet is available for up to 10 guests. Guests must stay a minimum of 3 nights.
El Silencio Eco-Lodge and Spa, Costa Rica
One of the most remarkable eco-lodges in the world is El Silencio Lodge and Spa, located in Costa Rica. Tucked away on a UNESCO heritage site, El Silencio’s luxury suites offer stunning views of the surrounding nature.
As the first Central American member of Relais & Châteaux, this retreat sets the standard for incredible Costa Rician luxury.
The twenty-four rooms at El Silencio are designed sustainably with locally sourced woods and feature gorgeous canopied ceilings. El Silencio’s rooms are perfectly designed with a tiered layout that allows panoramic views of the river, forest, and mountain to be seen from every suite. Additionally, floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a private deck and outdoor whirlpool, ideal for relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
A unique experience offered at the lodge is a tree-planting ceremony. Contribute to the area by aiding in the journey to return Quetzal birds to the region.
Notably, the lodge’s 5,000-square-foot organic greenhouse ensures year-round access to local produce, which the in-house restaurant then uses. These organic in-season ingredients are used to craft cuisine that showcases the flavors, culture, and culinary traditions of Costa Rica. Furthermore, free-range chickens provide morning-fresh eggs, while trout ponds allow a unique way for guests to catch their main course. This wholesome, back-to-roots experience enhances the primal connection to nature that eco-tourism revolves around.
As directed by the Responsible Business Alliance, El Silencio Lodge & Spa follows a detailed sustainability model. This model enriches their local community through employment opportunities, local purchasing, and a growing relationship with the Los Bajos del Toro community. They also hold the maximum Six-Leaf Rating granted by Costa Rica’s Certification of Sustainable Tourism.
Guests who book through Cultured Travel are eligible for added benefits, such as Spa Credit, a ‘Mini Coffee Tasting Experience’ for two, and resort credit, based on accommodation selection and length of stay!
Clayoquot Wilderness Eco-Lodge, Canada
A proud member of the Relais & Châteaux family since 2014, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is an ideal eco-retreat location. Accessible only by seaplane on the banks of Clayoquot Sound, the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge offers an escape to the tranquil beauty of Canada’s remote wilderness. As of 2000, Clayoquot Sound is a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve, home to creatures found nowhere else.
The twenty-five canvas tents that adorn the grounds offer a chance for guests to unwind and indulge in sustainable luxury. Curated pieces by local artisans are a staple throughout the lodge, creating a contemporary casual atmosphere. With refillable glass and stainless-steel vessels provided in guest tents, all aspects of the lodge have sustainability in mind. The Lodge is also a champion of sustainable cuisine, with an extensive kitchen garden and greenhouse. Their culinary program centers on locally grown greens, vegetables, herbs, and other products produced in the region.
With various activities, both scheduled and a la carte included, guests will find no lack of adventure in the Canadian wilderness. But, for a truly incredible experience, indulge in a bespoke helicopter experience tailored to your tastes.
Overall, the priority at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is offering guests an authentic wilderness experience paired with environmental action and education. In particular, the lodge focuses on all aspects relating to the protection and enhancement of wild salmon, the restoration of wildlife habitat, and staff/guest education. Additionally, the lodge has worked with the indigenous people to honor, celebrate, protect, and educate guests about the region’s natural and cultural heritage.
Recently acquired by The Baillie Lodges, the property is changing to align with the standards attributed to their other properties. The current plans include refurbishing the 25 luxury tents, Cookhouse, and guest facilities before the 2022 season.
Guests who book through Cultured Travel are eligible for added benefits, such as a $150 CAD Heli Flight credit to be utilized during stay, as well as upgrades* and early check-in* / late check-out*.
*subject to availability
Eco-Lodges: Final Thoughts
Many people travel to exotic places while on vacation, but they don’t always experience the environment around them. However, with an eco-lodge, you will be able to stay comfortable while enjoying all of the luxuries you love!
With more and more people discovering the wonders of nature, eco-lodges are emerging as an excellent choice for secluded luxury. Whether located in the middle of a jungle or on a private island, these lodges provide all the luxuries and amenities you could want without ruining the environment.
With the return to travel in 2022, sustainable tourism will be vital to minimizing and eliminating the adverse social and environmental impacts associated with tourism. In turn, experiences that offer an intimate look at local culture with minimal impact on the environment will be on the rise.
While this type of accommodation is not suitable for everybody, an eco-lodge may be the perfect choice for the adventurous traveler looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences.