The idea that luxury and sustainability can happily coexist is now fully ingrained into the hospitality psyche. Of course that doesn’t mean that it is happening enough yet, but luckily there are increasing numbers of pioneers, who are pushing the boundaries of environmental and community harmony for a sustainable future. “The best sustainability programmes mean nothing without the passion and vision of owners and managers,” says Stewart Moore, CEO of EC3, a company that helps certify those making a difference. “We are proud to work with industry leaders who are prepared to make a difference to the world, and we learn more from our clients than we could ever teach them. Our clients don’t take the easy pathways, they accept that responsibility for the environment starts with their own business plans.”
He says that the industry has progressed from reporting on potential impact to performance-based outcomes, especially when it comes to waste, water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions; community and social obligations are part and parcel of sustainable initiatives. No longer driven primarily in exchange for marketing advantages, hospitality businesses are starting to include sustainability as a driver of their core protocols, and as the market matures, partners, employees and customers continue to increase their pressure and expectation. “At the end of the day,” Moore adds, “this passion for action translates into committed and enthusiastic staff, responsive supply chains and generally happy customers, who want to be associated with responsible hospitality companies.”
SIX SENSES CON DAO, CON DAO ISLAND, VIETNAM
Con Dao Island, a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City, is set in a national and marine park and is part of an archipelago of the same name visited by Marco Polo in the 13th Century. Still very much an unspoilt masterpiece of nature, turtles breed on the island and the air is alive with bird song and the chatter of monkeys. Its footprint of just ten per cent of the island takes inspiration from the community’s fishing traditions, while the Six Senses Spa’s peace comes from the surrounding mangrove wetlands. Creating the 50-seaview-villa resort, designers exceeded Green Globe 21 certification standards, in part by minimising construction disturbances to the natural environment, as well as by using local artisans, experts in age-old craftsmanship, who worked with Indochinese hardwood sourced from managed forests and Con Dao granite. In the design of the villas, butterfly roofs help maximise natural ventilation and reduce the need for air-conditioning through shade. Throughout the resort, grey water is used for landscaping, and water from an underground well is treated on-site. The resort has a secluded less-is-more feel, which translates into a tranquil luxury that pushes nature to centre stage.