Discover high style and low impact sustainable luxury in these green and gorgeous eco resorts in Thailand.
Gone are the days when eco-friendly travel meant staying in simple bamboo huts or camping under the stars in flimsy tents. Today some of the most desirable hotels and resorts are going green and clean, and we’re huge fans of this growing trend. A sustainable stay doesn’t mean scrimping on the fun, or indeed any of the creature comforts. The low impact lifestyle can be high on style, making the most of Mother Nature’s still abundant gifts and the best eco resorts in Thailand are setting the standards across Southeast Asia.
Eco friendly Resorts in Thailand are setting the environmental advocacy agenda too involving local communities in unique environmentally-focused initiatives. An eco-resort meaning covers a range of different aspirations for the responsible traveller from low impact energy use to high impact community engagement. Why just travel, when you can travel carbon light and protect the environment at the same time? We’ve handpicked these eight eco-resorts in Thailand for maximum points — both in sustainability and in style! Read on and go green on your next visit to Thailand.
1. The Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui
For a Thailand luxury eco resort which serves as an all-natural beach escape, you can’t do much better than the Tongsai Bay. This idyllic getaway lures us in with ocean views, outdoor bathtubs and a solid commitment to the environment that runs throughout the fabric of the resort.
Apart from the gorgeous villas and private beach, we love how no trees were cut in the building of the resort. Also, the lush 25-acre gardens and grounds are cultivated without insecticides and chemical fertilizers, so you can stroll, roll and run in nature, completely worry-free. It is just a 10-minute hop from the airport, yet you’d never think so. It sits as the only resort in a sheltered sandy bay between rocky headlands and lush hills behind, so guaranteed seclusion comes naturally.
The chalets and villas cascade down the hillside with many offering captivating ocean views from balconies or expansive patios. Guests get free use of kayaks, windsurfers, and stand up paddle boards to get active in the water, while yoga, Thai cooking and other cultural pursuits are offered in-resort. There is a gym, luxury spa and floodlit tennis court too.
2. 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
Who says opulence can’t be environmentally friendly? The highly photogenic 137 Pillars House is known for its iconic garden wall bordering its 25-meter lap pool. What impresses us most about 137 Pillars House is their sustainability efforts. This boutique eco resort teams up with WarmHeart Environment to create charcoal from its organic waste and it finds innovative, chemical-free ways to eliminate toxins from its rooms and gardens. This even extends to a non-toxic mosquito control program with its very own ‘mosquito detectives’ who continuously monitor every square inch of the property for potential mosquito breeding grounds.
There is a distinctive air of colonial era grandeur in this Chiang Mai eco resort with dark teak woods and gorgeous flowing drapes augmenting all the hotel public spaces – the attention to detail is highly impressive, while the manicured and tropical foliage adds to the magical sense of place. The Louis Leonowens Pool Suite is a stunning example of nostalgic period design with a sprinkling of sleek modern flair. The huge sunken bath, sultry four-poster bed and step-back-in-time lounge complete with round-the-clock butler service is definitely worth a one-time splurge. For a Chiang Mai Eco Lodge it’s hard to beat for old world glamour.
3. Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta
Derived from ancient Sanskrit, the name Pimalai translates into “a little patch of heaven”, which could not be more fitting for this visually stunning resort. Set atop a hill, Pimalai will thrill you with its luxurious spaces and panoramic views of Krabi’s land- and seascapes. The entire resort is built with a respect for nature. Most of the resort’s flora and fauna are indigenous to Thailand’s southern rainforest and are carefully maintained by the hotel. Sign up to join their scheduled beach cleanings, or have a chat with the resort’s boat attendants about best ecological and environmental practices.
It has an artful contemporary feel but there is an unmistakable Thai vibe. Expect lustrous teak floors, rattan curtains and plush daybeds to sink into. There is a slow, blissful ambience throughout the resort. It sits alone on stunning Kantiang Bay, and as such, attracts more than its fair share of honeymooners. It extends all the way to the top of the hill with lavish pool villas nestling above the expansive greenery filled with soothing lotus ponds. Four restaurants, bars, two gorgeous pools and tennis attests to its reputation as the most lavish, if not certainly the most romantic haven.
4. Kuraburi Greenview Resort, Phang-Nga
Give the beaches a miss and stay in a handsome rustic abode fully inspired by the surrounding nature. Tucked away within the tropical rainforests of Phang-Nga, the aptly named Kuraburi Greenview Resort is a comforting haven with plenty of pastoral character. We adore the way nature can be felt throughout the resort, from the bungalows which feature decorative wood trimmings and furniture made from reclaimed lumber, to the cobblestone walls which provide insulation. Nature lovers will feel right at home here, surrounded by the soothing sounds of the rainforest.
It really looks the part too. The reclaimed materials have been fashioned into smart dark teak fixtures presenting an authentic log cabin ambience. There are varied levels of pastoral style – the Clay House and Bamboo Cottage definitely hit the romantic sweet spot for countryside-loving couples. The large terraces of the detached chalets allow you to literally touch the rainforest. Chirping birdsong is the constant soundtrack of life at Kuraburi Greenview Resort, and all rooms look out over mountain or river views. Peace, seclusion and escapism guaranteed.
5. Amari Watergate, Bangkok
In the heart of lively Pratunam in downtown Bangkok, Amari Watergate is an ideal pit stop for those in Bangkok who are after a luxurious yet ethical abode for a night or two. Look for the inviting pool and hip rooftop lounge, both with stellar views of the buzzing city centre. This eco-friendly five-star hotel has constantly been developing its environmental policy to make better use (and re-use) of its natural resources, which is no easy feat in the heart of the bustling Big Mango.
This eco-friendly hotel in Bangkok features 569 rooms and makes full use of its exterior space with attractive palm gardens fringing the pool deck. The guest rooms are light and airy with sleek contemporary Asian décor illuminated with subtle low impact lighting. The views of the skyline through picture windows are a constant delight after night falls.
6. The Slate, Phuket
A feast for the eyes, this award-winning boutique resort successfully blends modern design with touches of Phuket’s colourful past. It’s a gorgeous getaway, yes, but The Slate, formerly Indigo Pearl, also encourages eco-friendly practices to all of its guests. The resort organises beach clean-ups and awareness workshops in the community, and even supports Sunshine Village, a foundation that sponsors orphans of the 2004 tsunami. It is definitely on our bucket list and any self-respecting design guru simply has to give it a try.
It’s a stunning modernist reimagining of the local landscape and the area’s tin mining heritage, which is perhaps best characterised in the lobby, which is awash with dazzling electric blue neon lights against a dark teak wood backdrop. There is a lot of substance to go with the style too. Verdant greenery envelops the resort grounds seamlessly and it transitions from an eye-catching world of whimsy to an elegant beachfront haven. It is one of those rare occasions where high art and eco-friendly living blends together gorgeously.
6. Trisara, Phuket
Trisara sits above a quiet bay of Phuket’s sophisticated north western coastline. We adore how peaceful the resort is and each of the swanky private residences is designed with rich interiors nestling almost surreptitiously within the lush forested hillside. That means great ocean view from almost every single vantage point. Trisara is also a member of the Keep Phuket Clean campaign. The resort catches rainwater for use in gardens and rooms, uses air-con energy to heat water in villas and avoids chemical treatments for its saltwater pools. So you can sit back guilt-free and enjoy the picturesque views and superb privacy.
What really stands out at Trisara is the sheer expanse of it all. Set over a wide area on the rambling hillside, most villas are detached and set well away from the nearest neighbour. You get upmost privacy and a large expanse of your very own private jungle frontage too. Along with the generous spaces – the private pool residences extend to an enormous seven bedrooms – there is rich interior detailing throughout. It’s a classy little corner of paradise in a rare quiet spot on Phuket.
7. Dusit Thani Laguna, Phuket
The Dusit Thani Laguna is one of our top picks when it comes to sustainable standouts. This enticing resort sits on acres of tropical garden on the dreamy shores of the Andaman Sea. Shaded by coconut palms and surrounded by unique neo-colonial architecture, this is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Phuket, and a proud holder of the EarthCheck certification. Sustainable travel never felt or looked so good.
It’s a lavish affair that ticks all the right boxes for the full resort experience. Expect a blissful luxury spa, Kids Club, tennis, fitness centre, swimming pools and a host of water sports and cultural pursuits. Despite this wealth of on-site distractions, the expanse of manicured greenery has a thoughtful layout with plenty of private shady nooks to find solace and sip a margarita in peace. Even though it is a real family favourite, the sense of quietude pervades every inch of this Thai eco resort haven. This is quite some achievement considering it is slap bang within Phuket’s huge and very popular Laguna integrated resort complex.
In Conclusion – Green is the new black
Today’s savvy global travellers expect exclusive and authentic local experiences and want much more than a Thailand eco-friendly hotel that merely recycles its paper or serves up free-range eggs for breakfast. Be it eco-luxe style or rustic simplicity, Thailand’s eco resorts have upped their game with creative initiatives designed to showcase the natural environment and their green credentials without compromising on style. The most successful resorts seamlessly incorporate their green from the ground up commitment without missing a beat, yet still offer sleek comforts putting guests right in the heart of the natural environment. Sleep soundly in the knowledge that your stay is less disruptive to the natural beauty of the Land of Smiles.
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Alexander Grootmeester is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.
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