Staying in a resort while trying to remain eco-conscious can be a difficult task to fulfill. Those of us who are mindful of local culture, community, and sustainable practices can find booking accommodation tricky, especially so when it comes to resorts. Resorts are generally not known for their immersive cultural qualities or reduction of carbon footprint, and have something of a stigma for ignorance and wastefulness. However, things are changing and sustainable travel is on the increase, particularly within the resort industry. Take a look at how to be a responsible tourist when booking a resort.
Look for accreditation
If a resort is sustainable or eco-conscious, they’ll want to show it off. Take a look at their website for accreditation of eco-friendly management, which will be under a ‘sustainability practice’ page, if not on the home page. A LEED certification is a good sign, meaning they have met the requirements in at least six categories of the USGBC green building rating system, including water efficiency, sustainable site, and innovation in design, and can qualify as silver, gold, or platinum based on their efforts.
Of course, LEED isn’t the only accreditation a resort can acquire, and each country or region will have their own certifications. If in doubt, ask! Get in contact with the resort and ask them if they have any green certifications. But, in reality, if you have to go looking, it’s probably not there.
Sustainable resorts will be conscious of where they source food served to their guests. Meals that are made using local, seasonal ingredients from local farmers and cooked on site means a much lower carbon footprint of the food that ends up on your plate. A ‘farm-to-table’ approach, farmstay, or locally-focused attitude is a sign the resort cares where their guests’ food comes from. Local farmers and fisheries benefit rather than suffer, the distance the food is carried is reduced, and the overall quality is better.
Accommodations are known for providing guests with information on what local activities to get involved in, and in places of fragile ecosystems such as Cambodia, this is especially important. Resorts that practice responsible travel will only promote activities that focus on conservation of the local wildlife and environment. Working with local businesses, promoting local culture, and protecting or respecting the environment are key things to look out for. Do a little research on the activities promoted by the resort, such as a coral reef dive. Again, the companies the resort promotes should make any eco-friendly practices immediately obvious.
There are many wasteful practices within hotels and resorts, from single-use products to needless laundry. An eco-friendly resort will make obvious efforts to reduce such waste under their accreditation requirements. These can be practices like using bulk items like shampoo and soap rather than single use, a bring-your-own policy for toiletries, energy efficient light bulbs, significant waste and energy reduction, a good recycling program, solar panels, natural cleaning products, ‘dirty’ water recycling for outdoor use, food composting, and towel reuse.
Looks aren’t always everything, but when it comes to sustainable resorts, sometimes they are. An eco-friendly resort shouldn’t be an eyesore within its environment, but something that blends in. If it’s green in its practices, it should be green in appearance too! As part of sustainable development, plants and greenery are an integral part of a resort’s appearance, helping sustain the local flora and fauna and contributing to a more pleasant stay overall.
Be aware of greenwashing
Ultimately, it’s up to you the consumer to be the responsible tourist and book the right type of accommodation, and there is a lot out there to be aware of. Many resorts and hotels are guilty of greenwashing – pretending to be eco-friendly with buzzwords and low-impact practices while doing little to actually change. If the resort is using a lot of key terms with nothing to back it up, or bragging about their towel reuse program but not actually reducing water or energy usage, be wary. As long as you have done your research focusing on the above issues and reaching out to the resort to confirm, it should be obvious whether they are greenwashing or not.
Ecotourism in Cambodia
As a sustainable resort in Kampot, Cambodia, Amber Holdings take pride in their eco-friendly practices and protection of the local environment. Integrating luxury with minimalism, you can experience uninterrupted natural beauty without sacrificing comfort or ethical values. Follow us on Instagram to see our story so far and learn more about our sustainable resort and values.