Pousada O Forte, Mangue Seco, Brazil
Mangue Seco was completely isolated until a telenovela by the same name made this a popular vacation in destination spot in northeast Brazil. A giant sand bar that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, Mangue Seco (“dry mangroves”) and its 300 residents are confronting a host of ecological challenges. But for eight years a French Brazilian family has embraced sustainability with the loving care of Pousada O Forte. The five acres of beach front property hosts 12 sustainably built bungalows constructed out of locally harvested woods. A rainwater capture system irrigates the plants and like the rest of the village, your only outdoor lighting at night are the stars above. Locally caught fish is on the menu and fresh coconuts from palms sprouting all over the property will hydrate you during the day. Meals are eaten outside under a canopy with the only air conditioning coming from the cool breezes drifting from the Atlantic Ocean. Nightlife is a church and a snack shop featuring ice cream made from fruit grown in the owner’s yard. Not that you will want to venture far, as the locally woven hammocks will lull you into long daytime, and evening, naps. Ives, the owner, regularly runs trash collection campaigns throughout Mangue Seco and pays his workers a high wage.
Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand
Soneva Kiri is a gateway to Thailand’s tropical rain forests, white sandy beaches and timeless Thai traditions with a keen focus to preserving the local environment. Koh Kood is Thailand’s fourth largest island and it is also one of Thailand’s least developed regions — and Soneva Kiri’s management works on keeping it that way. Green design features include ample use of daylighting to conserve electricity, passive cooling forces cooler air below to villas to flow the rooms, and green roofs help keep guests cool in Thailand’s tropical humidity. The resort’s guests have access to electric carts and bicycles to explore the 150 acres, and when the return for a meal after an excursion they dine on a cuisine based on organic and local ingredients. Best of all is the treetop dining pod: engineered out of woven rattan, this private dining room in the sky offers spectacular views of east Thailand’s finest beaches.
Hotel La Lancha, Tikal, Guatemala
Your 4:00 a.m. wake up call will be the roar of the howler monkeys that claim their turf. Evenings are spent staring at the stunning Lago Peten Itza. And 30 minutes away is Tikal, the most glorious collection of Mayan ruins in Central America. Tying all of this together is Hotel La Lancha, one of Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts. The ten individual casitas are built from local woods and are furnished with locally hand made Guatemalan crafts. The rooms are only cooled by ceiling fans, but the towering trees provide enough of a canopy to ward off the tropical heat. Dinner, a showcase of locally sourced ingredients, will be by candlelight. Forget about watching TV as the rooms do not have one, but kayaks and bicycles are available to explore the nearby villages and lake’s wildlife. And if you forgot your toiletries, the ones La Lancha provides are organic and made nearby.