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In 2018, scientists found that tourism accounted for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, prompting an industry-wide call for hospitality businesses to take a stand on sustainability.
But the winners in our Travel & Leisure category have been ahead of the curve in driving change and disrupting the travel industry’s status quo for years, demonstrating just how important it is to preserve our planet for future explorers to come.
Here are the Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards Travel & Leisure winners…
Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards Food & Drinks winners
Best for Eco Travel
Winner: I Feel Slovenia
It’s no wonder that Slovenia was the first country to be declared a Green Destination of the World. The Slovenian Tourist Board puts sustainability at the heart of everything it does, having launched the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism in 2015 and grown it into a national certification programme celebrating the country’s best sustainable businesses and destinations.
Sustainability is also central to the country’s inimitable gastronomy. Placing a strong emphasis on a ‘garden to table’ ethos, Slovenian cuisine is based on ingredients that come straight from the earth. Just ask the six Slovenian chefs awarded a unique Michelin Sustainability Award.
With rigorous standards of sustainability across every industry – from outdoor pursuits to fine dining, Slovenia continues to forge a bold, green path into the future, and we can’t wait to see what possibilities await.
Highly commended: Intrepid Travel
Best Eco Travel Initiative – Independent
Winner: Green Apple
It’s no secret that the hospitality industry generates a vast amount of waste every day. But Green Apple, a socio-environmental initiative based in Colombia, is set to right that. Operating on a sustainable financial model similar to that of a social enterprise, the mission of Green Apple is simple but impactful: to take waste products of no value, like glass and food waste, repurpose them to products with value like souvenirs and compost, and provide jobs to those most in need in the process.
It might be a mere three years old, but Green Apple has already had a huge impact on both the planet and its people. From creating five full-time jobs and educating workers at 18 local businesses, to putting 10 women through an artisanal glass-working course and enabling six women to set up their own souvenirs-from-waste business, the non-profit demonstrates just how important people are in our journey towards a more sustainable planet.
“A lot can be learned from making the people at the heart of the business central to change,” says Ele Ward, Sustainability Awards judge and Head of Marketing and Growth at CoGo. “And a lot can be learned from their amazing work and commitment – [that’s] how businesses can transform communities and drive real change.”
Best Sustainable Hotel – Global Group
Sustainability probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a global group of luxury hotels, but Fairmont has been driving eco-innovation through its award-winning Sustainability Partnership for the past 30 years.
In fact, it was the world’s first luxury hotel brand to embrace environmental stewardship. Between vowing to eliminate any remaining single-use plastics in guest rooms, meeting areas and restaurants by the end of 2022, to joining Accor in committing to the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Fairmont was praised by Sustainability Awards judge and ecopreneur Valeria Hinojosa for its “great sustainable energy and water practices”.
Also a champion of responsible tourism, Fairmont comes out top for emphasising the importance of sustainability starting at home.
Best Sustainable Hotel – National Group
Winner: Sani Resort
Not only was Sani Resort Greece’s first carbon neutral resort, it was awarded World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort by the World Travel Awards in 2020. It isn’t hard to see why. Set in a breathtaking 1,000-acre ecological reserve, with 7km of Blue Flagged beaches, more than 20km of forest trails and 270 acres of wetlands, Sani Resort is a self-described “sustainable self-contained world”.
Its Sani Green programme is the driving force behind the sustainability performance, and has made remarkable progress in the past few years. Between achieving a 48% reduction in water use per guest since 2016, sourcing 60% of produce from within 100 miles of the resort, and being powered by 100% renewable electricity with guarantees of origin, the judges were hugely impressed by the hotel group’s long-term commitment to a greener future for the travel industry.
As Giles Gibbons, founder and CEO of Good Business and MC Sustainability Awards judge remarks, “They have obviously been committed right from the start to develop the resort with strong environmental credentials.”
Highly commended: Pellicano Hotels Group
Best Sustainable Hotel – Independent
Winner: Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel
Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel is living proof that premium hospitality and environmental conservation can coexist. Located in the dazzling surrounds of the Swiss Alps, nature is treated as luxury at this unique hotel, whose ecological mission is central to everything it does. From controlling energy and water use, to purchasing ingredients locally, Whitepod makes its environmental philosophy part of its distinct guest experience, and its unobtrusive eco pods are part of that.
Selected for their unique shape and minimal visual impact, despite appearing startlingly modern, each pod is remarkably robust, and can support significant winds and considerable snow – making them a popular choice for cosy winter breaks overlooking the snow-capped Alps.
Chosen as Best Sustainable Hotel in the independent category, Whitepod was praised by our judges for both form and function, with ecopreneur Valeria Hinojosa remarking, “[They are] very eco-responsible in terms of architecture, design and a few water and energy saving practices.”
Highly commended: Borgo Santo Pietro
Best Sustainable Spa
Winner: Titanic Spa
A spa that cares as much for the environment as it does the wellbeing of its guests gets a huge thumbs up in our book. Set amidst the rolling hills of the Pennines in a stunningly restored 20th-century textile mill, Titanic Spa set a new standard for eco builds following its redevelopment in 2005.
From renewable energy generation through solar-roof panels that convert light directly into electricity, to a natural water source found 100m below the building, this is one spa with some serious sustainable smarts.
“Titanic’s green building impressed me the most, setting new standards in eco builds from its solar photovoltaic roof panels to the low U-Value windows and energy efficient lighting,” says MC Features Editor and Sustainability Awards judge Jenny Proudfoot. “I was particularly impressed at its plans to become a fully carbon-neutral business.”
Highly commended: The Spa at South Lodge
Best Zero-waste Venue
Winner: IKOS Resorts – IKOS Dassia
Having witnessed the widespread issue of waste management on Corfu Island, the team at IKOS Dassia devised a solution in a three-fold, zero-waste programme. By vowing to find the best solution for reducing and recycling all materials produced at the resort, to manage and biodegrade organic waste, and to train all staff to work to a zero-waste brief, IKOS Dassia is ensuring long-term luxury by preserving its stunning natural surrounds.
Next up in the resort’s ongoing mission to become a zero-waste venue? Harnessing AI technology to reduce food waste, and working to become completely plastic-free both back and front of house. As Sustainability Awards judge Jenny Proudfoot remarks, “This is a travel venue that truly has zero waste at its core.”
Marie Claire UK have determined the award winners in accordance with the judging criteria and with the information provided by the entrants. All information provided by the winning brands are published in good faith.