Travel Choices & Sustainability


In honor of Earth Day this past week, let’s focus on travel and its impact on climate change. 

One of Virtuoso’s most enviable aspects is its leadership in sustainable travel. I truly value that. On my recent trip to Italy, the effects of climate change were everywhere, from the warm temperatures in Rome in early March to the flooding in Venice.

Virtuoso’s Sustainability Mission is: “To make sustainability a greater factor in consumer choice when planning travel, so that achievements in sustainable tourism best practices also translate to business success.”

As a leading global travel network, Virtuoso knows it must lead the way toward a more sustainable future for the travel and tourism industry. It defines sustainability as more than simply protecting the planet’s environment. Virtuoso also understands the necessity of preserving local cultural heritage and supporting local economies. 

They do this in various ways:

  • Educating travel professionals like me with educational sessions, professional development resources, and researched white papers, such as the 2023 Virtuoso Sustainable Practices Study, which measures the network’s collective positive impact at a global and local level.
  • Partnering with the World Travel and Tourism Council to support their sustainability agendas. 
  • Cultivating the Virtuoso Sustainability Community, which brings together over 250 Preferred Partners and 1200+ travel advisors with a shared passion for sustainable travel.
  • Evolving recognition and awards for travel suppliers and member agencies

I’m proud to be affiliated with Virtuoso through my host agency, Embark Beyond – particularly because of Virtuoso’s leadership in this area. We all vote with our choices and our money. So here are seven special travel properties prioritizing the Earth. I hope you’ll consider them for your future travels. And book through us!

The Brando — French Polynesia

Le Brando, located in French Polynesia, is a paradise gem embodying luxury and exclusivity. Nestled on the private island of Tetiaroa, this resort offers an unparalleled experience of serenity and tropical elegance. Once Marlon Brando’s private retreat, the island has been transformed into a sanctuary where visitors can relax in a pristine and lush setting.

Le Brando’s commitment to environmental and cultural sustainability makes it so special. The resort was designed to minimize its ecological footprint while celebrating the rich history and culture of Tetiaroa and its indigenous inhabitants. The Brando was the first hotel to achieve the Platinum Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Activities such as scuba diving, kayaking excursions, and local wildlife tours allow guests to experience this preserved environment’s natural beauty and diversity.

With its sumptuous villas, top-notch services, and dedication to environmental preservation, Le Brando is more than just a luxury vacation destination—it’s an immersive experience in the splendor of French Polynesia.

Sustainability Highlights

  • Not only does this resort offer some of the most beautiful views in French Polynesia but it is also committed to bettering the Earth with a goal of zero carbon emissions. 
  • In partnership with the Tetiʻaroa  Society, The Brando showcases conservation efforts on the Tetiʻaroa atoll. 
  • Over 4,700 solar panels on its airstrip meet the resort’s energy needs, with excess stored in recyclable lithium batteries for night use.
  • With LEED Platinum Certification, The Brando meets rigorous sustainability standards across all its structures. Its design minimizes resource use and waste while maximizing guest comfort, blending luxury with environmental responsibility.

Singita Camps — Africa

Singita offers an exceptional safari experience with 16 lodges across Africa, each dedicated to sustainability and environmental protection. Singita Camps represent a pinnacle of luxury safari experiences intertwined with a profound commitment to sustainability. Singita offers guests an unparalleled immersion into the African bush, spread across various pristine wilderness areas in South Africa in Kruger National Park and in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, as well as in Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Singita is holistic in its approach to conservation and community development. Through the Singita Grumeti Fund and other initiatives, the company actively protects and restores wildlife habitats, supports local communities, and promotes sustainable tourism practices.

Singita’s lodges and camps are meticulously designed to blend seamlessly with their surroundings while minimizing environmental impact. They prioritize renewable energy, water conservation, waste management, and eco-friendly construction methods.

Moreover, Singita provides guests with educational experiences focused on wildlife conservation and local cultures, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Africa’s natural heritage. By choosing Singita, guests indulge in luxury and contribute to preserving Africa’s wilderness for future generations.

Sustainability Highlight:

  • Since opening its first lodge in 1993, Singita has been committed to preserving Africa’s wilderness and empowering local communities. Their lodges and camps are known for their award-winning design and are inspired by a deep respect for nature as they aim to create meaningful experiences for travelers. Singita’s sustainability efforts are rooted in their vision of a world where people coexist harmoniously with nature, leaving ample space for wildlife. They continuously work to reduce their ecological footprint and enhance the well-being of their staff and neighboring communities.
  • Singita embraces Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework, with its One Planet Action Plan recognized for its leadership in sustainable practices. 
  • Singita offers an unforgettable safari adventure that combines luxury with a strong commitment to environmental stewardship.

Kisawa Sanctuary — Mozambique

Located in the Bazaruto Archipelago on Benguerra Island, Kisawa Sanctuary in Mozambique stands as a beacon of luxury and sustainability, redefining the concept of eco-friendly hospitality. Set on a pristine stretch of coastline, this sanctuary offers guests an exclusive retreat amidst the breathtaking natural beauty of forests, beaches, and sand dunes.

What makes Kisawa Sanctuary truly special is its innovative approach to design and construction. Utilizing advanced 3D sand-printing technology, the resort has been meticulously crafted using sustainable materials such as sand and seawater, minimizing its environmental footprint while maximizing comfort and luxury.

Beyond its architectural marvels, Kisawa Sanctuary is dedicated to conservation and community empowerment. The sanctuary works closely with local stakeholders to protect marine ecosystems, support sustainable fishing practices, and promote eco-tourism initiatives that benefit the environment and the surrounding communities.

Guests at Kisawa Sanctuary are treated to unparalleled luxury and hospitality and have the opportunity to contribute to positive environmental and social change, making their stay a truly transformative experience.

Sustainability Highlights

  • Kisawa was the first resort to open its own marine research center, BCSS, highlighting its unique approach to hospitality. BCSS is supported by Kisawa guests, enabling continuous research and 3D seabed mapping technology. The synergy between luxury and marine research is a hallmark of Kisawa’s vision.
  • Moreover, Kisawa prioritizes environmental stewardship, with initiatives like reducing its environmental footprint by 18% and repurposing organic waste for composting and animal feed. 
  • Their Dive Center allows guests to engage with scientific expertise and explore research-verified dive locations.

Pikaia Lodge — Galapagos

Pikaia Lodge, nestled on the highlands of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos archipelago, offers a unique blend of luxury and eco-consciousness. Surrounded by lush vegetation and commanding panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the lodge provides a serene retreat in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.

What sets Pikaia Lodge apart is its dedication to sustainable tourism and conservation efforts. The lodge has a minimal ecological footprint, employing renewable energy sources, water conservation practices, and eco-friendly construction materials. Additionally, Pikaia Lodge offers guests immersive experiences focused on exploring the Galapagos’ unique ecosystems and wildlife while fostering a deeper understanding of conservation issues.

Through guided excursions to nearby islands, snorkeling adventures, and educational programs led by expert naturalists, guests can witness firsthand the Galapagos’ remarkable biodiversity and learn about ongoing efforts to protect this fragile ecosystem. Pikaia Lodge thus provides a luxurious retreat and a meaningful journey into the heart of conservation in the Galapagos.

Sustainability highlight: 

  • Developed over 40 years ago, eco-tourism has helped preserve the Galapagos’ biodiversity. 
  • The shift to land-based tourism supports local jobs and businesses, benefiting both the community and the environment.
  • Pikaia Lodge contributes to its community by creating jobs for Santa Cruz Island residents and boosting the local economy, showcasing a sustainable island preservation model.

Como Hotels — Global

COMO Hotels and Resorts operates 18 distinct properties worldwide. COMO Hotels is a renowned luxury hospitality brand synonymous with wellness, sustainability, and exceptional service. With properties spanning the globe in destinations like Bali, Bhutan, the Maldives, and Miami Beach, COMO Hotels offers guests diverse experiences, from tranquil beach retreats to cultural immersions in vibrant cities.

COMO Hotels embraces a holistic approach to well-being, integrating health-focused amenities and experiences into each property. From world-class spas offering holistic treatments to yoga and wellness programs led by expert instructors, COMO Hotels prioritizes its guests’ physical and mental wellness.

Moreover, COMO Hotels is committed to sustainability, implementing eco-friendly practices such as energy conservation, waste reduction, and community engagement across its properties. Combining luxury, wellness, and sustainability, COMO Hotels provides guests with unforgettable experiences that nourish the body, mind, and soul while positively impacting the planet.

Sustainability highlight:

  • They actively reduce natural resource use through efficient equipment and fixtures, such as low-thermal emissivity glass at COMO Point Yamu in Phuket. 
  • Employee training and guest education, like reusing towels and conserving energy, are key to their sustainability efforts.
  • COMO prioritizes local sourcing to support sustainable economic development and partners with local communities in health, education, and income sustainability. 
  • They also preserve natural habitats, such as helping set up Bhutan’s first prayer flag printer and shop at COMO Uma Paro, sourcing local food at COMO The Treasury in Perth, and fostering biodiversity at COMO Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos.

Tierra Hotels — Chile 

Tierra Hotels are situated in Chile’s stunning regions of the Atacama Desert, Chiloé Island, and Patagonia’s Torres del Paine. They offer a collection of boutique luxury properties nestled in some of the country’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. With locations in iconic destinations like the Atacama Desert, the Patagonian wilderness, and Chiloé Island, Tierra Hotels provides guests with immersive experiences that showcase Chile’s diverse geography and rich cultural heritage.

Tierra Hotels is committed to sustainability and responsible tourism. Each property is designed to harmonize with its surroundings, employing eco-friendly practices such as renewable energy sources, water conservation, and locally sourced materials. Moreover, Tierra Hotels prioritizes community engagement, supporting local artisans, and offering authentic cultural experiences highlighting Chilean traditions.

Guests at Tierra Hotels are treated to personalized service, luxurious accommodations, and a wide range of outdoor adventures, from hiking and horseback riding to stargazing and wildlife encounters. By blending luxury with sustainability and cultural immersion, Tierra Hotels offers a truly unforgettable journey through the heart of Chile’s natural wonders.

Sustainability Highlight: 

  • Their eco-friendly architecture, energy conservation, and waste reduction reflect their dedication to sustainability. 
  • Tierra Atacama showcases its sustainable initiatives, leading the renewable energy movement in South American tourism.
  • At Atacama, they harness solar energy and value water conservation, using it to irrigate gardens on recovered terrain. These gardens attract local wildlife, enriching the hotel’s environment. 
  • Guests can explore Andean astronomy, local villages on horseback, and the town of San Pedro de Atacama to understand Atacameño culture.

Six Senses — Global

Six Senses is a renowned luxury hospitality brand celebrated for its commitment to wellness, sustainability, and immersive experiences. With properties scattered across exotic destinations like the Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand, and Portugal, Six Senses offers guests the opportunity to reconnect with themselves and nature in stunning surroundings. Their first urban location in Rome just garnered the LEED certification, too! 

Six Senses incorporates well-being into each guest’s stay through innovative spa treatments, fitness programs, and mindfulness activities. From yoga and meditation to nutritional cuisine and sleep optimization, Six Senses prioritizes its guests’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

Furthermore, Six Senses is dedicated to sustainability, implementing eco-friendly practices such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, and community engagement across its properties. By fostering a deep connection with nature and local cultures while promoting personal wellness and environmental stewardship, Six Senses provides guests with transformative experiences that impact both body and soul.

Sustainability Highlight:

  • They’re on a mission to eliminate unnecessary plastic, focusing on their “18 most unwanted items.”Their efforts span banning single-use plastics and plastic straws to utilizing smart land use and renewable resources, such as building materials, to create vibrant, toxin-free spaces.
  • Local sourcing is key for them, as they aim to support communities and protect the environment. They contribute to the community through their sustainability fund, which allocates 0.5% of revenues, 100% of soft toy sales, and half of the house-bottled water sales to local social and environmental projects.
  • Each property features an organic garden supplying fresh produce for their kitchens, spas, and Alchemy Bars. Guests are encouraged to engage with nature, forage for clean food, and experience Six Senses’ commitment to sustainable living firsthand.


Here's where you'll find inspiration and insights on travel & wellness — usually, both at the same time! Linger here a while, and let's chat soon.

hi, i'm cassandra

Pre-Departure Checklist

Packing mishaps range from inconvenient (heading to the Bahamas without a swimsuit) to disastrous (leaving something in your fridge that'll turn into a science experiment before you get back), but most are preventable. We've created this ultimate packing list to help you pack well, every time.


Be awed by escapades you didn’t even know were possible. And savor an impeccable holiday that makes you feel like a star before, during, and after your trip.