5 sublime Eco Hotels in the Caribbean – words Alan Woods
Think of the Caribbean, what immediately comes to mind? Pirates? Rum? Palm trees? Paradise.
The idyllic islands in the Caribbean hold a chequered history. It once played a part in the slave trade, was subject to Colonialism, and of course, we have all heard of the infamous ‘pirates’ of the Caribbean.
Now, thankfully, the Caribbean is a far different place. A tranquil, idyllic and faultless location; home to exotic species, carnival colours and sunsets that are nothing less than perfection personified. The islands of the Caribbean have taken their shadowy past and turned it into a rich heritage of which they are proud.
Even though the islands are flanked by large resorts, society is tiring of bland holidays that are neatly packaged. However peaceful, there is no element of adventure in tiled pools, sun lounges and safe food choices. There is no denying the impact that these large chain resorts have had on the job opportunities and the economies of the Caribbean islands but for those of us who are looking for an ethical edge on our travels, find below a list of some of the Eco Hotels who are working to provide a great guest experience whilst also benefiting the local communities, preserving flora and fauna and taking care of the beautiful land.
Dominica, Rosalie Bay
Found in the foothills of the Morne Trois Pitons – a World Heritage Site, Rosalie Bay is no stranger to being hailed as a top Eco Caribbean resort, and has previously been reported as one of National Geographic’s, ‘Unique Lodges of the World’ due to its commitment to sustainability. Rosalie Bay has a bigger focus on wildlife than some of the other hotels listed; the islands regular visitors in particular – sea turtles.
The resort has close connections with WIDECAST and since its opening in 2011, have set up the Rosalie Sea Turtle Initiative, which offers both guests and residents to be a part of the recovery of sea turtles; including nesting, hatching and adopting endangered turtles as well as participating in conservation efforts on Rosalie Bay’s protected black sand beach.
Unsure about the importance of sea turtles? Don’t fear, let the World Wildlife Organisation explain, “Green turtles graze on seagrasses and algae, which maintains the seagrass beds and makes them more productive (much like mowing the lawn to keep it healthy). Seagrass consumed by green turtles is quickly digested and becomes available as recycled nutrients to the many species of plants and animals that live in the sea grass ecosystem. Seagrass beds also function as nurseries for several species of invertebrates and fish, many of which are of considerable value to commercial fisheries and therefore important to human food security.”
Not satisfied with their admirable contribution to native wildlife, Rosalie Bay also make a concerted effort to running the resort in a sustainable manner; each of the luxury suites is powered by wind and solar energy, and offers guests a chance to savour local dishes that have been created with ingredients from the organic, onsite garden.
Owners Bev and Oscar Deikel also work tirelessly with the locals; offering help to the islands homeless organisation, the local school literacy program and a group that works with abused youths. Is there no end to their selflessness?
St Lucia, Fond Doux
Looking to experience a vacation that includes, colonial charm, has eco credentials and is also a working plantation? Look no further.
The 250-year old building was waiting for its demolition date before being lovingly restored entirely by hand using colonial practices; to prevent the surrounding flora and fauna from being disturbed and to ensure that the building’s former glory was showcased. The finished result is 15 luxury intimate cottages, an organic spa and an array of swimming pools.
Comparable to the other resorts in this feature, Fond Doux exclusively offers local ingredients to be used in its onsite restaurants, which also offer guest cooking classes. It also has a number of nature trails for guests to explore, lined with native plants playing home to exotic birds and 30 organically grown species of fruit trees, vegetables and herbs and spices.
The plantation also offers guests the opportunity to take part in the production of chocolate. From the very start of the process; cocoa harvesting and drying, to coca dancing and grinding the beans, ended with of course, finally enjoying the product – guests are fully engaged throughout.
Angus Thirlwell, co-founder of Hotel Chocolat tells us why chocolate IS so engaging, “Cocoa is intensely addictive. The more you learn about it, the harder it becomes to throw any part of the bean away. As well as high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, it contains chemicals with the ability to boost your mood and make you feel fantastic, inside and out.”
Working with local plantations, Hotel Chocolat has helped to transform this once dying industry.
Thanks to their continued commitment to the local environment, the Fond Doux Plantation has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence and has also been named by The Guardian as the world’s 2nd best plantation retreat.
Grenada, Mount Cinnamon
If you had to sum up Mount Cinnamon in 3 words, they would have to be Intimate, understated and inspiring.
Found nestled on the hillside looking over the idyllic Grand Anse Beach, the Mount Cinnamon resort is fiercely protective of its paradisiacal surroundings and have drawn up its own comprehensive environmental and social sustainability policy.
The resorts sustainability mission is apparent throughout the entire location and the facilities they offer. The Cinnamon spa uses organically indigenous herbs and spices grown on the grounds such as cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary and thyme and the Beach Club on Grand Anse Bay only offers guests non-motorised water sports such as Kayaking, Sailing and Scuba/Reef diving.
Mount Cinnamon caters for all requirements and tastes when it comes to accommodation; poolside suites, private villas and even a castle. The unique offering at Mount Cinnamon includes a government real-estate initiative; Micha Rose Emmett, group Managing Director at CS Global Partners sheds some light, “The sale of real estate is part of a citizenship by investment programme. These programmes are designed to provide the local economy with a significant contribution. These contributions could also be used to create more businesses and spark further intriguing and diversified enterprises. In my mind, it is supremely important to give something tangible back to the local communities to help them to thrive long term.”
This initiative plays a significant role in the special consideration that Mount Cinnamon prides itself on; employing and empowering local employees.
St Kitts, Belle Mont Farm
Belle Mont Farm has a distinctive offering; not only because it’s an eco-hotel set amongst the glamour of the world’s most luxurious 5-star resorts, but because from its very beginning, it had a purpose -to build a community between visitors and locals.
You will find the relaxed, peaceful dwelling tucked into 400 acres of tropical rainforest and organic farmland; surroundings that Belle Mont lovingly describe as ‘an edible landscape.’
Belle Mont Farm has such adoration for their organic, home grown produce and they take great pride in delivering fresh fruit and vegetables directly to the doorsteps of the boutique rooms every morning. Just like Alice exploring wonderland, visitors who spend their days discovering the many landscapes around Belle Mont Farm are greeted with ‘pick me signs’ hanging from the fruit trees.
The farm is sustainable and anything that cannot be produced within the grounds, is sourced from surrounding local farms that are also committed to responsible methods of growing produce.
Of course, there are the luxurious elements too; the rooms host a number of gadgets that turn rooms into personal cinemas, claw footed baths can be found on the rooms private decks surrounded by candles and the pools come with a view difficult to rival.
5 sublime Eco Hotels in the Caribbean – words Alan Woods