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The concept of eco-friendly tourism is growing in India. Don't think that eco resorts in India aren't luxurious--they are! Not only do these places offer a refreshing approach to tourism, but they're also situated in some of the most picturesque parts of India, and many of them offer unique local activities that you won't find elsewhere. It's a fabulous way to experience India at its natural best!
Coconut Lagoon, Kerala Backwaters
One of the top resorts on the Kerala backwaters in Kumarakom, Coconut Lagoon is a CGH Earth property. This hotel group is renowned for the importance it places on the environment, nature, heritage conservation, and local communities. Water and history are the defining elements at Coconut Lagoon. The beauty of the property is that it's only accessible by boat, making it a rare escape from the world. The stately resort beautifully captures the Kerala of old, with traditional wood buildings that have been transported and restored. Guests can enjoy sunset cruises, backwater cruises, and an Ayurvedic spa. CGH Earth also has another outstanding eco resort in Thekkady near Periyar National Park called Spice Village.
- Price: Expect to pay 15,000 rupees or more per night for a double. Substantial discounts are possible during the monsoon season.
- Eco Features: Conversion of waste into fuel, chemical-free zone, use of vermiculture and composting, organic farming, and use of cows to eat the grass.
Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad, Kerala
Asia's largest "Earth" resort, Banasura is predominantly constructed from mud known as rammed earth. Its 31 rooms are nestled on a 35-acre eco-friendly farm in Vellamunda in Kerala's lush Wayanad district. Guests can enjoy hiking through the countryside to visit waterfalls, caves, and a tribal village. The resort also has a rejuvenating Ayurvedic spa.
- Price: Rates start from 8,000 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast.
- Eco Features: Constructed from mud and recycled wood. Maximum use of natural light. CFL lamps minimize energy consumption. A bio-gas plant recycles organic waste and fires the resort's kitchens.
Evolve Back, Kabini, Karnataka
One of India's best wildlife and jungle lodges, Evolve Back (formerly Orange County Kabini) has the distinction of being named one of the 25 world's best eco lodges by National Geographic Traveler. It sits on the edge of Nagahole National Park, surrounded by the Kabini River. The philosophy is simple: provide an exquisite vacation and wildlife experience while preserving the nature and culture of the land. Guests are accommodated in 28 spacious huts, with the design inspired by local tribal villages. All have either a private plunge pool or private outdoor Jacuzzi. Activities include safaris, boat rides, nature walks, and night trails. The Ayurvedic spa provides massages and therapeutic treatments.
- Price: Expect to pay 33,000 rupees or more per night, including tax, all meals, and some activities. Discounts are available for stays of two nights or more.
- Eco Features: Reverse osmosis water filtering in every room to eliminate reliance on plastic bottled water. State-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant to reduce effluent impact on nature. Use of windmills to generate electricity.
Kanha Earth Lodge, Madhya Pradesh
Another award-winning eco lodge, Kanha Earth Lodge is situated near Kanha National Park on 16 acres of forest in a small tribal hamlet bordering the buffer zone. Without any neighboring properties and being away from major roads, it offers a wilderness experience quite unlike any other. The isolated setting is ideal for nature walks, birding and cycling trips. Of course, jeep safaris into the national park are offered too, and they're carried out by Pugdundee Safaris who also manages the property. Guests are accommodated in 12 luxury cottages with large porches, made in local Gond tribal style. There's also a dreamy infinity swimming pool that's set under the mahua trees and merges into the forest.
- Price: 18,000 rupees per night, including tax and all meals. Packages including safaris and activities are offered.
- Eco Features: All construction has been carried out using locally available materials such as stone and recycled waste wood. Local villagers grow organic vegetables and fruits for the lodge on its land. Villagers also make up 75 percent of the property's staff. The eco shop contributes 25 percent of its proceeds towards conservation activities. Energy saving lights and solar lanterns are used, garbage is segregated and composted, water filtration eliminates the need for plastic water bottles, and rainwater is harvested.
The Tamara, Coorg, Karnataka
The Tamara (Tamil for "lotus") is one of the best resorts in Coorg for nature lovers. This remote, scenic hideaway opened in 2012 and is spread over a 170-acre estate that produces coffee, cardamom, pepper, and honey. The resort has 30 luxury cottages made almost entirely out of wood. They're all elevated on stilts (to minimize cutting of trees) and offer expansive views of the plantation and waterfalls. The focus is on championing a sustainable form of luxurious living through everything from ecological awareness to wholesome food. Guests can go on guided plantation walks and treks, take yoga and meditation classes, and get massages at the Ayurvedic spa. Intimate dining experiences, such as candlelit dinners by the waterfall, are also offered. Perfect for romance! (Do note that the resort is not child-friendly and children under 12 years of age aren't permitted).
- Price: From 21,000 rupees per night, including tax and all meals. Substantial discounts are offered for bookings made more than 60 days in advance.
- Eco Features: The resort has been carefully constructed in a manner to minimize damage to the environment. The swimming pool is free from chlorine. Almost all ingredients used in cooking are sourced locally, including from the resort's organic vegetable garden.
Alila Diwa, Goa
For an eco-friendly stay near the beach in Goa, look no further than Alila Diwa. This luxurious property is one of the best hotels in Goa, and it's surrounded by 12 acres of lush, green paddy fields in south Goa. Gonsua beach in Majorda is a 10-minute walk away (and a free shuttle bus is provided for guests). The company was named Alila as it means "surprise" in Sanskrit, and the brand aims to provide guests with an unexpected and innovative experience. Conservation and community are considered to be essential to long-term commercial success. Goan architecture features in the resort's contemporary yet traditional design. It has just over 150 rooms spread over two levels and two wings. Facilities include four restaurants and a bar, a library, a health spa, two swimming pools, and an open-air Jacuzzi.
- Price: From about 7,000 rupees per night for a double, including tax, during the monsoon season. Expect to pay 13,000 rupees or more per night in December.
- Eco Features: All building materials were sourced locally. The company is committed to sustainable operating standards, and the resort has been certified by EarthCheck. Guests can donate to local causes through the "Gift-to-Share" program. The resort also actively supports the local community.
Wildernest Nature Resort, Goa
Wildernest is a delightfully serene eco resort, set on over 450 acres of forest land at Chorla Ghat near the Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka state borders. Tranquility is in abundance there. The property has 16 eco-friendly cottages (with either a forest or valley view), built in simple rustic style with wood paneling and tiled floors inside. Guests can enjoy nature walks, bonfires, folk dances, and village excursions, or simply relax by the infinity swimming pool overlooking the mountains.
- Price: Rates start from 5,500 rupees per night in the summer and monsoon seasons. All meals and activities are included.
- Eco Features: Constructed of eco-friendly materials, eco-friendly washing and hair products, no plastic, and operates conservation programs.
The Dune Eco Beach Resort and Spa, Pondicherry
The funky Dune is a very interesting concept indeed. One of the best places to stay near the beach in Pondicherry, it's situated on a sprawling 35-acre beachfront property just north of town. The resort has 30 villas and 20 rooms, all with unique designs by various artists and architects from around the world. It's quite amazing. Creative types will love it! The Dune is home to an Artists in Residence program as well. The property's Paradise Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation, and other alternative therapies. Free bicycles are provided to ride around the property.
- Price: Rates start from 5,500 rupees per night.
- Eco Features: Commitment to environmental issues and organic food are among the core values of the Dune group. Solar heated water, reclaimed timbers, wastewater treatment plant, and an organic farm all make the resort as green and as healthy as possible.