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Plastic-free paradises: the best eco-luxury resorts

By Mairead Finlay   Last Updated: 22 March 2023

Sustainability and luxury needn't be mutually exclusive, and these eco-luxe pioneers go above and beyond to demonstrate that. From plastic-free, carbon-neutral private islands to on-site glass-blowing studios that turn empty champagne bottles into mind-blowing works of art, these resorts are pinch-perfect idylls to begin or end a yacht charter with good conscience.

Soneva Fushi

Location: Maldives

Sustainability features include: being a 100% carbon neutral resort, extensive coral rehabilitation projects, organic gardens, on-site glass studio, recycles 90% of its waste.

Soneva fushi MaldivesA guest relaxing at the Soneva fushi resort in the Maldives
Breakfast at Soneva Fushi

Its scenery is an island laptop screensaver sprung to life: a jungle of green where rabbits roam in the herb garden and clouds smudge into skies blue as agapanthus

The sun-kissed and beautiful are lulled by Soneva Fushi, cloaked in the kind of magic only a Maldivian isle could emanate. Its scenery is an island laptop screensaver sprung into life: a jungle of green where rabbits roam in the herb garden and clouds smudge into skies blue as agapanthus. Where sunrises bloom into the color of a ripened peach, and waters are so wildly turquoise no amount of gushing about them in ink ever quite manages the art of translating their true beauty.

Sepia-toned yet utterly elevated, each palatial retreat has its own personal butler (known as Mr or Mrs. Friday) taking care of every whim. Shoes are handed over upon arrival, and instead, toes slink into cashmere-soft sands whilst being served Michelin-starred platters under raffia-shaded terraces. Children frolic under staff's watchful eye, whilst parents secretly scarf cardamom chocolate truffles at the complimentary chocolate shop, open 24 hours a day. Feeling guilty? Take the kids to the resort's ice-cream parlor afterward, it's also open from dawn to dusk.

Villa at Soneva Fushi

The island itself feels like a home away from home for many of our returning guests, and our hosts feel like their extended family, Sasha, spokesperson at Soneva Fushi

"The island itself feels like a home away from home for many of our returning guests, and our hosts feel like their extended family. They often have a favorite villa that they like to stay in, and they know other guests who return year after year and they meet up while on holiday"  Sasha, a spokesperson at Soneva Fushi told us. 

A home away from home if your residing abode is Eden perhaps, because this is what Soneva Fushi resembles. Disconnecting from the wider world here is made truly a breeze: from sitting in catamaran nets at the open-air cinema sipping ice-cold passion fruit margaritas at sunset, to wooshing into the mirror clear waters and marveling the floating carpets of the Indian Ocean, the manta ray, it's bliss.

Image credits: @discoversoneva

Related: 4 of the Best Atolls to Cruise to in the Maldives

Petit St Vincent

Location: The Grenadines, Caribbean

Sustainability features include water bottling plant, energy-efficient diesel generator for electricity, extensive recycling facilities, chef garden, reef restoration project, a scholarship fund for local community.

Petit st vincent al fresco dining

Over 60% of our annual guests are repeat bookings. Many come annually, even twice yearly - Matt Semark, general manager at Petit St Vincent

If barely seeing another soul all day in the lap of luxury is what you desire, then Petit St Vincent is just the ticket. A hilly sliver of an islet populated by just 22 thatched cottages, it feels yours alone to roam. And as a matter of fact, it could be, as it's possible to rent out the entire private island.

Phones, televisions, and wifi are absent here. Instead, a gloriously simple driftwood flagpole system replaces all modern forms of communication. Hoist the yellow flag and pop a note in the flagpole for any requests: from deliveries of banana leaf fried lobster to dine on your veranda to being whisked away on a mini moke for a candlelit dégustation feast in the hills. Seeking undisturbed solitude? Raise that red flag up.

"Over 60% of our annual guests are repeat bookings, this allows our team to get to know them very well and to provide a unique personalized experience. Most of our repeat guests come annually, some even come twice a year.”

It's not hard to see why. Days drift by dipping into twinkling waters and floating alongside resident sea turtles, or diving through towering coral, ending in an almost euphoric high with a Balinese massage. 

Petit st vincent villas
Petit st vincent turtles
Landscape petit st vincent

As for Petit St Vincent's sustainable initiatives, it abounds in them, but the coral nursery is the one they are most proud of, Matt Semark, the resort's general manager told us. "We have trained a number of our resort team as PADI scuba divers, and along with our on-island Jean-Michel Cousteau diving team, have trained them to nurture critically endangered elkhorn and staghorn coral. We've outplanted more than 2500 developed coral structures in four years to help repopulate nearby reefs."

Image credits: @petitstvincent

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel

Location: Costa Rica

Sustainability features include: solar energy, all organic ingredients grown at its homestead, organic and biodynamic wines and hybrid electric cars to rent.

Set in a lush amphitheater of earthly drama, Cala Luna Boutique taps into the area's local bounty with aplomb — low carbon footprints rarely come in such a chic package as this. Paths trickle through a canopy of palms and serenading parakeets to tiki-style villas, each encircled by tropical blooms — it all feels deliciously remote.

romantic dining set up underneath the stars, costa rica
Costa ricaMonkeys in costa rica

Cala Luna is a wonderful antidote to the frenetic pace of daily life. Begin the morning with sun salutations at the open-air yoga studio. Then, return to glimpse howler monkeys trapeze from tree to tree whilst enjoying a piña colada by your pool, curled up in a cloud-like cabana. After a balmy mid-afternoon snooze, catch turtles flap tiny legs with wild abandon to reach the surf at dusk on Playa Langosta, only a cork-popping distance away from Cala Luna. 

Culinary wizardry takes place in the evening, where the hum of the outside world is muffled by whispering leaves and flickering lanterns. Produce is organic, sustainable and plucked from either its homestead or grown by its staff, and accompanying tipples are of the organic and bio-dynamic variety, naturally.

glimpse howler monkeys trapeze from tree to tree whilst sipping a piña colada by your pool

Entrance of cala luna boutique hotel
cala luna hotel boutique garden

Image credits: @calalunahotel

Related: 8 Day Costa Rica Yacht Charter Itinerary

The Brando Resort

Location: French Polynesia

Sustainability features include: being a carbon-neutral resort, pioneering deep seawater air conditioning system to reduce energy, organic garden,  conservation projects, robust recycling program, uses solar energy.

Beach the brando

"Returning guests to The Brando often speak of “coming home”, of the spirit or “mana” of the place, as we say in Tahitian" Richard Bailey, CEO of the resort told YachtCharterFleet. "I believe this is a way of expressing the kind of alchemy one can sometimes be fortunate to find in travelling, where the beauty and serenity of the place combine with the sincerity of the people and their culture into a magical mixture."

Indeed, The Brando casts a spell that takes guests out of every day and leaves them yearning long after departure.

It's a private wonderland with a story as bewitching as the isle itself — and yes, it does involve a certain film star called Marlon, as its name might suggest. Originally a summer sanctuary for Tahitian royalty, it became a beloved escape of the iconic star after filming here. He subsequently bought the island to craft his own model of idyllic sustainability, and now, The Brando is the spot where presidents (such as Mr Obama) and the like decamp for downtime.

The brando resort tetiaroa
the brando resort french polynesia

"By using SWAC as well as some of the other technologies at The Brando, guests actually reverse their planetary carbon footprint during their stay"- Richard Bailey, CEO of The Brando

Villas — undeniably plush and unsurprisingly extensive — are set between gargantuan palms. When imbibing mai tais in your plunge pool starts to lose its lustre, simply wander a few metres barefoot to the sprawling beach, empty (save for a few scurrying hermit crabs) where kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling all await. After something a little less conventional? Give deep-sea fishing or ukelele lessons a whirl.

An eco teacher's pet, The Brando ticks all the boxes, from using solar energy to heat water, to eliminating single-use plastics and even using coconut oil for energy. But the initiative the resort is most proud of? Being the world leader in seawater air conditioning, a revolutionary solution. "By using SWAC as well as some of the other technologies at The Brando, guests actually reverse their planetary carbon footprint during their stay" says Richard Bailey.

Image credits: @thebrandoresort

Six Senses Fiji

Location: Fiji

Sustainability features include: conserves energy and rainwater, onsite organic gardens, one of the largest off-grid solar installations in the Southern Hemisphere, Iguana conservation projects, community development initiatives.

Six Senses Fiji is somewhere to idle dolce-vita style, where the soundtrack of the bula maleya, (the island's enchanting welcome song which you will be greeted with) will lull you into a full sense of wellbeing. And all just steps away from biscuity sands that curl into a blinding flash of turquoise.

fiji six senses villas
Six senses fiji hotel sunsetpineapples fiji

The resort is also a thrilling sensory feast. Alongside the usual snorkel and scuba affairs one would expect of a retreat of this caliber, there's everything from twilight paddleboarding to paragliding over hilltops, to helicopter getaways to uninhabited isles. If you fancy it, there are even wood-carving workshops to ponder.

Whatever woos you, be sure to visit the spa during your time here: think gold-lead facials, hot lava shell massages and total, utter rejuvenation. Come out feeling sufficiently detoxed to indulge in the famous Malolo sunset at the beach bar— sugar cubes bathed in saffron bitters and topped with bubbles. Scoff a freshly oven-baked Napolitana at the romantically lit pizzeria afterwards. 

Image credits: @sixsensesfiji

Related: Six Reasons to Visit Fiji on a Yacht Charter

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