In Bali, the words permaculture and eco-architecture are dropped pretty loosely to describe contemporary villas or resorts that are built on the mantras of sustainability and environmentally responsible luxury. To properly adhere to each and every globally standardized eco building code would actually be counterproductive to the green building cause. Eco certified materials are not readily available on the island, and importing them would only increase the carbon footprint of the site, rather than reduce it.
Consequently, modern villas hoping to minimize their environmental impact adopt policies of practical responsibility. Light, spacious structures make the most of Bali’s ambient natural light and refreshing breezes in order to reduce energy consumption, and friendly notes discreetly remind guests to reuse towels at least once and opt out of daily sheet changes.
Eco villa living in Bali embraces environmental harmony, an interchangeable sense of space and privacy, and connection with the local community. The resort groups also support conservation efforts and charitable causes.
Here are our top picks for the best environmentally responsible luxury villas and resorts in Bali and beyond.
Eco-chic travel: RedDoor Bali, Canggu
RedDoor Bali is an intimate boutique villa that combines traditional Balinese architecture and stylish contemporary interiors. Set in the eclectic village of Canggu and flanked by the Pancaran River, it owes its environmentally responsible design to award winning architect George Gorrow, and its harmonious landscape greenery to garden guru John Pettigrew.
Exceptional attention to detail, small occupancy capacity, and immaculate, unobtrusive service set this property well above the rest. If it’s surreal beauty and endless serenity you’re after, Red Door is your answer.
Eco-chic travel: Nihiwatu, Sumba
Nihiwatu is a rustic, understated luxury resort on the island of Sumba. It’s an excellent destination for surfing, sport fishing and hiking through jungle trails and ancient villages.
The resort takes part in protecting and preserving Sumba’s unique culture and environment, even boasting 90% local Sumbanese staff.
The resort reopened in March 2014 after a 6-month renovation closure, including a new handcrafted outdoor activity area and a rebuilding of the restaurant’s deck that cantilevers over the ocean. Later this year, nine new villas will be added to the resort, hinting at a well deserved increase in demand. The group is currently collaborating with The Sumba Foundation to open a hotel school in Waikabubak in 2015 – stay tuned.
Eco-chic travel: Alila, Uluwatu
Alila is a barefoot luxury resort group driven by a strong passion for sustainable tourism. Of the four Alila properties in Bali, Alila Uluwatu is the most visually stunning, perched high above a cliff face with panoramic views of the ocean.
The resort embraces numerous green initiatives including water conservation and local community development. Boasting a long list of accolades and an unmatchable view, Alila is Uluwatu at its finest.
Eco-chic travel: Amanwana, Moyo Island, Sumbawa
When the sun sets on Moyo Island, an ethereal amber light washes the horizon in orange and copper hues. Slowly, the dreamy glowing sky gives way to a pitch-black blanket speckled with thousands of shimmering stars. Do we have your attention?
Amanwana is the only resort on this glorious private island of Sumbawa. Home to a protected deer sanctuary for the indigenous Rusa deer who come out to feed in the evenings near the Amanwana tents, the island is also home to wild boars, macaque monkeys, sea eagles and osprey. Amanwana is the ultimate castaway luxury island.
The elegant tents are from another world of travel, imparting a sense of expedition and exploration from another time. Getting to Amanwana is an adventure in itself; flying in a small seaplane from Bali to Moyo above the Gilies brings a deep appreciation for the archipelagoes inherent beauty.
Eco-chic travel: Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat
The Misool Eco Resort is an exclusive diving resort and conservation center located on Batbitim, a private island in the remote Raja Ampat archipelago. This is a great spot for divers who are deeply passionate about marine ecology.
The resort is the custodian of its very own Marine Protected Area and a shark and manta sanctuary, both fringing the resort. The group also supports conservation initiatives and sustainable employment opportunities, reflected in their staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1.
Getting to the resort is a 4 to 5 hour trek via speedboat from Sorong Harbour. There are no direct flights to Sorong from Bali, so it’s recommended to fly from Jakarta or fly via Surabaya on Lion Air. The speedboat departs at 9am daily from Sorong, so arrive at dawn or the night before.
Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat, S 02.24498, E 130.55635. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.