Eco hotels in Central and South America are second to none.
With stunningly bio-diverse landscapes, it’s no surprise that there are many eco hotels in Central and South America. What may come as a surprise, however, is the large expanse of practices they’re using to maintain sustainability.
Some don’t have roads directly to the hotel, instead suggesting you arrive by white-water raft. Others use no concrete in their structure to ensure no footprint is left when they vacate. One has built a wildlife observation tower from old transmission towers.
The creativity is, quite frankly, outstanding. Yet so is the service. At these luxury eco hotels in Central and South America you’ll stay somewhere both sustainable and stylish.
Luxury eco hotels in Central and South America:
PACUARE LODGE: COSTA RICA
Have you ever arrived at your hotel via a white water rafting trip? No? Now’s your chance.
Carbon-neutral Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica is so remote that there are no roads to get you here.. Cue an arrival experience like never before. Splash your way down the Rio Pacuare via white-water raft, as you take in the stunning vistas of surrounding rainforest. This rainforest will become your home for the duration of your stay.
As luxury eco hotels in Central and South America go, Pacuare Lodge stands out, and not just for its unique arrival transportation. On arrival you’ll be greeted at the lodge, which uses every technique possible to ensure it maintains its carbon neutral output. Solar power heats the water. A nearby tank collects the water waste. Lanterns light your room. What little electricity is used on the property is generated by a purposefully built turbine. Local staff are employed, and donations are made to nearby communities. In-room amenities such as shampoo and conditioner are bio-degradable, and it should go without saying that all food is organic.
But that’s not the best of it.
Pacuare Lodge has purchased 840 acres of surrounding rainforest to ensure it won’t be sold for clearing. That’s an action we can get on board with.
Oh, and speaking of boarding – if you don’t fancy boarding a white water raft to arrive, the lodge can arrange a land-transfer too. You’ll just have to endure 6KM of rough off-roading as you approach for check-in.
ECO CAMP PATAGONIA: CHILE
If you want to talk about glamping, make sure EcoCamp Patagonia is in your repertoire of memories.
Set in the Chilean Patagonian mountains, this camp models its domed-design on the methods used by Chile’s indigenous, nomadic tribe, the Kaweskars.
Dome-shaped rooms blend into the local landscape, and EcoCamp Patagonia have built the domes to minimise the eco-footprint when they eventually leave. No concrete has been used in construction to ensure no physical disused hotel shell will remain. And with inter-connecting wooden walkways – no human footprints are trodden in to the natural flora and fauna.
EcoCamp Patagonia is very specific about its energy use, specifying that just under 5% of their energy comes from non-renewable sources. That means a huge 95% is provided by renewable energy sources, including water and solar power.
The hotel works with nearby communities. It uses locally grown organic foods to create sustainable meals and works with native crafters to sell their products on-site as souvenirs. It also supports a local school.
Bathrooms are a whole other matter altogether. Sustainable products are supplied to all guests for use in the shower and – well, compostable toilet practices are used for human waste.
GOOD HOTEL: GUATEMALA
Located in the heart of Antigua, Guatemala, just steps from the main square, Good Hotel offers guests understated luxury and maximum comfort.
More importantly, it also gives them the opportunity for their tourist dollars to make a difference. When guests book directly through the Good Hotel website, $5 (US) from every night’s stay is donated to the NGO Niños de Guatemala (NDG). NDH educates low-income children in Antigua and supports their social-emotional needs.
Good Hotel, also operates the Good Training program, which provides hospitality training to long-term unemployed locals. Trainees later work at Good Hotel, receiving on-the-job training and a full-time salary, until they are ready to move on to another local business.
Located in a former private mansion, the hotel has 20 rooms as well as a garden, common area and bar. All food, materials and labor are sourced locally. Good Hotel works only with partners that offer ‘a healthy work environment and fair salaries’.
The design aesthetic pairs white and other light-coloured fabrics with natural materials, and incorporates thoughtful touches of colour that celebrate the country’s rich culture.
Also, given that Antigua is a popular city for learning Spanish, Good Hotel has a partnership with the Cambio language school, so that guests can stay at the hotel while studying nearby. There are also plenty of sustainable activities in Guatemala that you can take part in while outside of the hotel in Guatemala.
– Words by Brianne Miers / A Traveling Life
TRANQUILO BAY: PANAMA
Here in the Panamanian jungle, your only neighbours are snoozing sloths and vibrant birds. Welcome to Tranquilo Bay. This is the perfect place to explore the wild side of Panama while retaining all the creature comforts from home.
Tranquilo Bay prides itself on being eco-friendly. It has a small eco footprint and takes action to preserve the natural resources that the region has to offer.
Founded by two families with a love of our environment, Tranquilo Bay has been designed to be as sustainable as possible. Rainfall is captured, filtered and sterilised for both drinking water and showering. Plastic use is minimal; packed lunches are provided in reusable containers and metal water bottles are provided to guests on arrival. A lot of the food used in the kitchen is grown on site, and other supplies are bought in on bi-weekly travel days, along with guests. Breads and desserts are all handmade on site, and are delicious!
During your time at Tranquilo Bay, a private guide will be on hand to help you explore the area. Whether you’re interested in wandering through the rainforest to spot sloths or want to kayak through the mangroves, there’s plenty of ways to immerse yourself in nature. One popular sunset activity is to watch pairs of green parrots coming home to roost from the observation tower. The tower itself is fashioned from obsolete cell phone towers in order to reduce the amount of resources required.
– Words by Laura / The Travelling Stomach
For 44 years, Inkaterra has been at the heart of sustainability in both Peru and South America’s tourism model.
The first Inkaterra hotel opened back in 1975, long before ‘being green’ was an established concept to follow. This shows a real passion and commitment on their part, not just a tick-box approach to sustainability.
They use scientific research to ensure all properties are built on the best spot of land. They ensure, among other things, that all hotels are situated in a location able to make the best use of natural resources. And this is before building even begins.
Once up-and-running, Inkaterra give back to local communities and help maintain biodiversity conservation by using sustainable water and energy practices. They all operate as a carbon-neutral organisation.
With 7 hotels across Peru – in Cusco, Tambopata, the Sacred Valley and yes, Machu Picchu – your choices are varied so you’ll likely find an option, or 3, on your itinerary route.
At Inkaterra hotels, sustainability comes with comfort and small touches make all the difference; the Andean slippers made from recycled materials, or the warming wood-burning fires – for example.