By: Kate Farr
We all know living in Hong Kong is fantastic, but there is no denying we need to get away with the family a few times a year to de-stress. For families committed to reducing their eco-impact, luxury resorts can seem like an ethical compromise. However these eco-chic destinations offer the perfect combination of thoughtful design, social awareness, great family activities … and a touch of tasteful luxury for the ultimate in guilt-free family downtime.
#1 Six Senses Con Dao, VIETNAM
Located on a small island off Vietnam’s southern coast, Six Senses Con Dao is surrounded by crystal-clear oceans that teem with native sea creatures. One such species is the dugong, a globally endangered sea mammal that the resort is determined to protect. Working in partnership with government organisations, Six Senses is striving to conserve beds of sea grass – the dugong’s main source of nutrition – growing in the resort’s bay, restoring their habitat for future generations. Young visitors can learn about this rare creature during their stay, as well as discovering how to make their own safe drinking water at the Crystal Water Plant, safely exploring sea turtle nesting areas and even making crafts using recycled paper.
Meanwhile, Con Dao’s all-villa accommodation is pure luxury, with each private house making the most of panoramic ocean views and its own private pool. Both the resort and the globally renowned Six Senses Spa aim at reducing their carbon and environmental footprint, making this a responsible indulgence.
For more information on Con Dao’s conservation programme and to book, visit sixsenses.com
#2 Soneva Kiri, THAILAND
Modern-day Robinson Crusoes can experience an island adventure unlike any other at Soneva Kiri, on the little-known Thai island of Koh Kood (or Ko Kut). Arrive by private plane or helicopter, then speedboat across pristine waters to reach the resort, which offers just twenty resort villas – some of the world’s largest. Committed to a Slow Life ethos (it’s an acronym that stands for “Sustainable Local Organic Wellness Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences”), Soneva takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously indeed, publishing an annual report highlighting the company’s environmental and charitable efforts, and setting targets for further improvements across the coming year.
Other than luxuriating in the villa’s private pool, families can hit The Den, a spectacular sculptural space in the form of a manta ray, crafted from bamboo and tucked into the lush tropical hillside. This is the ultimate kids’ club for children from 12 months to 13 years: cross the drawbridge into the cavernous structure to find a hidden world of eco-crafts, art and music, along with exciting excursions to explore the stunning island and its natural wonders. There’s also an outdoor cinema, where film-goers relax on beanbags as the sun goes down, plus the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon tea perched high above the dense surrounding forest in a treehouse, served by safety-harnessed waiters.
For more information on the Slow Life concept and to book, visit soneva.com
#3 Nihiwatu, INDONESIA
A luxurious resort that’s 100 percent philanthropic, Nihiwatu sits on the isolated Indonesian island of Sumba, 400km from Bali. Founded to protect this wild and rugged place and its people, the resort remarkably ploughs all of its profits back into the community through its private NGO, The Sumba Foundation. The charity has worked tirelessly since its inception to improve life on the island while supporting and protecting its unique indigenous culture, and has to date set up 15 primary schools, built nearly 50 wells to supply over 170 villages with safe water, and founded five medical centres, helping to reduce malaria infection by 85 percent in affected areas.
Visiting families can experience the foundation’s work first-hand by volunteering at one of the local village schools, or, for slightly younger children, by painting colourful murals to decorate the school’s walls. Of course, being based on an island, the resort offers a wealth of water activities, including sustainable spearfishing for visitors over 12 years, rock-pooling and snorkelling in the surrounding reef, as well as a junior pony club that teaches equestrian care. End your day on the veranda of your palatial private villa, crafted from natural materials and tastefully dotted with Sumbanese antiques and soft furnishings.
#4 Morukuru Ocean House, SOUTH AFRICA
Further afield, and overlooking the Indian Ocean on the rugged South African coastline, Morukuru Ocean House sits within the pristine De Hoop Nature Reserve, home to over 260 species of wild birds, not to mention some of the best whale-watching opportunities on the Western Cape. Aside from the stunning natural beauty and abundant fauna on the coast, travel a little way inland for a more typical safari experience, spotting zebras, baboons and even leopards if you’re lucky!
The palatial four-bedroom Ocean House sleeps eight and offers the reserve’s only five-star accommodation; however, the retreat wears its luxury lightly, with smart use of solar power and excellent insulation ensuring that the property runs entirely off-grid, minimising environmental impact to this pristine spot. With a private butler, chef and nanny on hand to ensure that you won’t lift a finger – other than to snap another shot of that view – this is the perfect once-in-a-lifetime escape to mark a special occasion with extended family.
For more information on South African safari and booking information, a2asafaris.com
Can we go to all of them? We love exploring Asia and beyond – and writing about it – check out where else we have been over on our Travel page!