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Luxury Resorts Embrace Sustainable Practices, Authentic Experiences

With sustainability and eco-friendly practices as a mandate, more resorts offer authentic experiences for travelers hungry for connection with a culture, place or better yet, nature, while not giving up those revitalizing amenities of resort life. Variety runs down some top retreats.

Sleep under the stars in Utah
To fully experience the natural wonder of Zion National Park and Arches National Park in Utah while not forgoing creature comforts, Under Canvas offers furnished tents with cozy beds, baths and daily housekeeping.

This season, after $1 million in upgrades, Under Canvas Moab will add tents with skylights for in-bed stargazing. There’s a café on site for freshly prepared meals and a West Elm-furnished lobby lounge. Guided tours throughout Arches, hot-air ballooning and horseback riding can be arranged. The firm’s ethos promises an eco-aware approach: the Moab and Zion locations are solar-powered and conserve water, with zero-waste efforts, and are some of the environmentally sustainable programs. Under Canvas operates seven glampgrounds and has plans to expand to five more bucolic locations (Catalina Island and Yosemite included) this year.

Exploring Central America’s rainforests and reefs
Francis Ford Coppola’s trio of Central American properties is a launching point for exploring the region’s extraordinarily diverse ecosystems. The filmmaker and winemaker is behind the Coppola Family Hideaways, which include Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize’s rainforest; Turtle Inn, close to the country’s Caribbean barrier reef; and Guatemala’s 10-room La Lancha, near the fabled Mayan ruins of Tikal.

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Via a 10-day Central American safari, travelers can visit all three unique properties with transfers, some meals and
activities included.

The Coppola family was involved in every detail of each resort’s design; the food uses organic ingredients as much as possible. Blancaneaux has its own organic garden providing the resort’s vegetable and herbs.

Turtle Inn participates in Pack for a Purpose, a non-profit organization that coordinates between luxury resorts, guests and local schools and groups, listing specific items for travelers to bring and donate.

Observing threatened species in Africa

Singita is one of the leading eco-tourism operators in Africa with 15 lodges. Long-term habit conservation and a commitment to renewable energy are among the outfitter’s missions. Its newest location, Kwitonda Lodge in Rwanda, is on 178 acres on the border of Volcanoes National Park, close to the protected habit of the endangered mountain gorilla.
Guests (15 years and older) can participate in guided gorilla treks into the cloud forest, where access is tightly managed in order to protect the animals. The year-round destination incorporates East African design elements and locally sourced materials in its eight striking guest suites, which have indoor/outdoor fireplaces, views of the volcanoes and plunge pools. Farm-to-table meals are incorporated into the rates that start at $1,750/per person a night.

Digital detoxing in the California desert

At Two Bunch Palms’ grotto pool, in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, cellphone use is banned and conversation needs to be whisper soft for those who are soaking in the naturally hot and restorative mineral waters. The 72-acre resort, famous for its mud baths, offers a digital detox package, which allows guests to power down and stay in rooms without TVs. Guests can turn in their devices to the front desk for safekeeping.

Other boutique spas in Desert Hot Springs also promote tuning out: the eight-room Miracle Manor Boutique Hotel & Spa has no TVs at all and guests (who must be 21 or older) are greeted with incense sticks for energy cleansing and receive customized daily meditation prompts. Rooms are toxin-free, promises owner Angela Rutherford, while linens are made from organic materials and breakfast features organic and locally made items. The Spring Resort & Day Spa recently upgraded by adding patios outfitted with private mineral water soaking tubs to several rooms complementing the three soaking pools on the grounds. Book a juice cleanse along with a stay for a system reboot.

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