Sin-free stays: The world’s finest ocean-friendly hotels

Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

It’s all well and good banishing plastic water bottles from your fridge and microbeads from your bathroom when you’re at home but, when you’re heading on vacation, how can you be sure that your chosen hotel is doing its bit to tackle the biggest threats to the world’s oceans? As discussions around plastic pollution and coral bleaching take up more and more of the global conversation, many hotels are embracing the cause and transforming into plastic-free, fish-friendly havens. Here’s our pick of the best…

Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

Due to the remoteness and logistical challenges of being an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, staying sustainable in the Maldives is no mean feat. One hotel leading the way is the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, the only resort in the Shiviyani Atoll which is home to a huge range of marine life including dolphins, manta rays and turtles. In order to preserve this pristine marine environment the Fairmont has undertaken a number of ocean preserving initiatives, including banning plastic straws, and is home to the Maldives' first coral regeneration project. This artificial reef is planted with underwater poplar trees and indigenous corals providing new habitats for undersea creatures affecting by coral bleaching. Alongside this, the Fairmont is also investing in its own water bottling plant and runs an Ocean Discovery programme for families featuring educational talks with marine biologists, turtle release events, the opportunity to plant coconut trees on the island and experience manta rays up close during a diving trip to the resort's manta ray cleaning station.

Alphonse Island, Seychelles

This private island resort in the Seychelles' Outer Islands has long been high on the eco-stays list thanks to its strict catch-and-return fly fishing policy, sustainable line fishing methods for guest meals, on-site arm of the Island Development Company which works to preserve the oceans and wildlife of the Seychelles and the fact 50% of the island is left untouched to support indigenous species. In autumn 2018, however, Alphonse took things one step further by announcing it had installed 2,200 solar panels on which it would be completely reliant for power thus eliminating the use of 268,000 litres of diesel usage per annum and reducing the island’s emissions by 718.24 tonnes each year.

Royalton Luxury Resorts

Not content with restricting in environmental efforts to one location, from October 1, 2018 Royalton Luxury Resorts will be rolling out two new sustainability initiatives across all 15 of its Caribbean and American locations. Firstly, all single-use plastic straws will be removed from the resorts marking a significant reduction in plastic waste. Secondly, Royalton has teamed up with One Link Global and Vero Water to introduce a water filtration system in its bars and restaurants. This system will remove impurities and chemicals from water allowing it to be decanted into glass bottles thus replacing over 2 million single-use water bottles currently used by the resorts. These initiatives are in addition to Royalton's existing sustainability programme which includes monthly beach cleans, reusable key guest bracelets in place of plastic key cards, a turtle and marine life preservation programme and use of solar powered energy.

Baros Maldives

Opened more than 40 years ago, the locally-owned Baros hotel is a Maldivian institution and home to the archipelago’s first dive centre which was founded in 1979. The hotel’s focus on all things aquatic also led to its own Reef Rehabilitation Programme in which guests can sponsor a coral frame to help increase the amount of coral growing in the area. Each frame is engraved with its sponsor's name and can be planted by them using fragments of broken coral collected from the seabed. Sponsors then receive bi-yearly updates so they can see how their cage is progressing while a programme of year-round activities also helps to educate guests about the plight of coral and raise money for Baros’ Coral Reef Rehabilitation Fund. To date around 200 coral frames have so far been planted around the resort.

Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic

After an initial partnership with Ethic Ocean to mark World Oceans Day 2018, the Eden Roc at Cap Cana has now rolled out a full list of measures to help make it a truly ocean-friendly hotel. Many of these revolve around the hotel’s restaurants, including the removal of all plastic straws throughout the resort, the implementation of Slow Food Monday featuring a variety of sustainable dishes, introducing ‘head to tail’ zero-waste menus and using only locally-sourced sustainable fish. In addition to this all the hotel’s staff will receive monthly updates on how to improve sustainability, plastic bottles will be replaced with glass for turndown, the hotel will work with the local government to ensure it recycles as many materials as possible and a reforestation programme will being in the hotel’s La Furnia grotto.

Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

Located on Thailand’s stunning Phang Nga Bay, the Six Senses Yao Noi boasts one of the most comprehensive sustainability policies in the country. Going far beyond merely swapping plastic straws for paper ones, Yao Noi’s ground-up thinking includes a water conservation and waste system that prevents harm to marine life from waste water and sees the hotel produce its own drinking water packaged in reusable glass bottles. There is also an on-site reservoir, organic chicken farm, organic garden, mushroom hut and beehives while the hotel's restaurants use as many locally-sourced products as possible so importing is kept to an absolute minimum.

Hemingways Watamu, Kenya

Kenya has been at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution and, with it now illegal to carry single-use plastic bags in the country, its hotels are following suit with a number of plastic-reducing measures. Among the most active is Hemingways Watamu, which in 2008 became a founding member of the Watamu Marine Association, thus committing itself to protecting the local natural ecosystem of coral reefs and diverse marine life.

For 2018 the hotel is taking things one step further by introducing a guest eco-awareness programme in partnership with local NGO EcoWorld Watamu, which employs underprivileged members of the local community to collect plastic debris from the beaches so it can be reused or recycled. For $72 for a full day or $30 for a half day, with all profits donated to EcoWorld, Hemingways Watamu guests can spend time learning about the Watamu Marine Association, joining the recycling process and learning about the devastating impact plastic pollution is having on our oceans.

Taj Exotica, Andamans

India’s Andaman islands have remained relatively undiscovered by tourists meaning its pristine white sand beaches have remained just so. The recently opened Taj Exotica, situated on Havelock Island’s Radnanagar Beach, aims to maintain this untouched feel by being the chain’s first zero-plastic resort. An on-site bottling plant eliminates single-use bottles while a waste disposal system converts wet waste to gas and compost thus reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint. The resort's 72 villas have also been built to a design inspired by the huts of the indigenous Jawara tribe and placed so that not a single tree was felled during the construction of the hotel. Taj Exotica also boasts an in-house naturalist who works with local NGOs to ensure the preservation of local marine life, which is abundant thanks to an absence of commercial fishing in the area.