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Juliet Kinsman on Sustainable Luxury Travel After Lockdown

Sustainability might be a buzzword, but it’s a word we’d all do well to better understand if we want to take strides towards positive, impactful change. We spoke with Juliet Kinsman, the author of the must-read book, The Green Edit: Travel, to find out if luxury and sustainable travel can truly co-exist.

Source: SLH

In August 2021, the UN published the IPCC’s climate report warning that we are officially at ‘code red’, confirming human activity is the main cause of the climate collapse. One way to combat this while travelling? Choose hotels that are more planet-friendly, like those from SLH‘s Considerate Collection, a new, ethos-driven portfolio of actively sustainable luxury hotels.

Besides our hotel choices, it helps if we try and do better too as travellers. So, we sat down with Condé Nast Traveller’s sustainability editor Juliet Kinsman to get the lowdown on how to travel with more care and consideration in a post-pandemic world.

Best accommodation for a more sustainable holiday?

Sufasa (Source: SLH)

Personally, I have always preferred small, boutique, independently owned hotels because the experience feels more intimate and authentic. By choosing locally-owned properties, chances are you’ll be making a much better, more direct contribution to the local economy and supporting hoteliers who are likely to have more of a genuine, personal sense of responsibility for the land and culture they live and breathe.

Can we truly combine luxury travel with sustainability?

This depends on how you define luxury travel – for me, the word luxury means something that is rare, a less-typical experience and away from your everyday.

If you define luxury as excess and indulgence, you might struggle to have a truly sustainable experience. On the other hand, if your idea of luxury is beautiful, high-quality interior design, or enjoying the finest food and drink, then this is absolutely compatible with having a sustainable outlook on luxury.

Source: SLH

If, as a result of your trip, you are investing in a deprived area which will see significant socio-economic benefits from your visit, it’s vitally important that luxury travel exists to support wealth distribution. For example, if you are staying somewhere in Africa, choose a hotel which actively supports conservation. Somebody working in an African safari lodge might even be responsible for supporting up to 10 other people, which is where wealth distribution is key.

As we emerge out of the pandemic, which destinations would you recommend visiting?

When we can travel freely and responsibly again, I would highlight Costa Rica and Bhutan on the sustainable traveller’s map. Costa Rica is a leader for unadulterated nature, and a nation which has a deep respect for the environment. Bhutan will forever be one of the best places to go as an eco-traveller – thanks to strict visa regulations, the country successfully hosts tourism in an ideal way, which sees a low volume of visitors but with a higher spend.

Source: SLH

This strategic approach to tourism creates a manageable, low-traffic flow which in turn results in minimal disturbance to the environment, while also allowing the Bhutanese people to showcase their culture in a much more authentic, meaningful way compared with mass-tourism-courting destinations.

What are the best ways to keep things local when travelling internationally?

Sustainable tourism doesn’t have to mean vowing to never take another flight, and if you find yourself – understandably – craving a trip abroad, the very least you can do is to offset the carbon emissions from your flight. I have recently discovered a savvy Finnish app called Carbon Donut, which calculates your emissions for you and suggests straightforward solutions to reducing your output.

Source: SLH

Try and choose a hotel where you know that your money is actively supporting some sort of conservation project, or a social impact initiative which benefits the local community. And when you’re out and about, try to shop in independently-run, locally-owned businesses – whether it’s picking up your greens from the daily farmers’ market, purchasing handmade crafts from an indigenous artisan, or going on an off-the-beaten-track tour with a local guide.

And finally, keep reading, keep having conversations, and keep challenging businesses on what they’re doing and what more they could be doing.

The Green Edit: Travel (£9.99 Ebury Press) is available to purchase from your nearest independent bookshop, or downloadable via Amazon to your Kindle (please consider signing up to AmazonSmile where you elect to donate to a charity for every purchase).


The full version of this article first appeared on Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) and has been republished with permission on LUXE City Guides.

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