Can luxury and environmentally-friendly design go hand in hand? Hotel bathrooms often waste energy and water, while so-called eco-friendly bathrooms are saddled with dismal water pressure. But, in this month’s Luxe Lavs, Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno have found some eco-conscious hotel bathroom designs that balance functionality with sustainability.
What we’ve found are some jaw-dropping hotel bathrooms situated in locations where interior design and architecture respect the environment without being visibly invasive. These places put to rest the myth that eco-friendly isn’t sexy.
Twenty years ago, Costa Rica went on a campaign to save the little remaining rainforest it had left to try and nurture the re-growth of areas where 500-year-old trees once stood. The policies that emerged from this decision created new national parks and revolutionized Costa Rican tourism—producing an eco-tourism business model for other countries to follow. One such project was the birth of Rancho Pacifico, whose owners built the resort with the strictest adherence to environmental common sense. The resort limited the cutting of trees, so each of the 11 buildings was placed in the trees. There is also a 250-acre private rainforest preserve—teeming with wildlife, birds, reptiles, waterfalls, and thousands of plants species. Our favorite bathroom is in the Treehaus, with its zen modern design, unmatched ocean and jungle views, natural stone bathrooms, cotton and bamboo fiber linens, and glass double sinks. What takes the cake however are those luscious his and hers over-sized rain showers with step-out gardens and decks. This adult-exclusive retreat is definitely eco-paradise…hearing monkeys rather than air conditioning compressors is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.
In St. Lucia, the Ladera is situated on an old cocoa plantation. The rooms are distinctively designed with an “open wall” concept. The west side of all 32 suites is left open to expose the breathtaking views of the Piton Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. The eco-lodge architecture flows from the outside into the suites, where all the furniture is built on the property grounds by a local St. Lucian craftsman. Even the bathrooms have local art. The walk-in shower has exquisite tile work that creates an ocean life tapestry by renowned tile layer Mervin Edgar. The shower has a rainfall shower head and views of the flora and fauna outdoors, so guests feel part of the tableau. Molton Brown products and Kohler bath fixtures accent the experience. There are dual sinks in the vanity made from local mahogany and red cedar, carved with skilled hands into subtle flower and leaf designs. As the warm tropical breezes waft into the guest rooms, there might be a hint of Caribbean cuisine from the onsite restaurant, Dasheene. To continue the eco theme, Chef Nigel Mitchel focuses on sustainable cooking sourced from locally harvested ingredients.
Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge offers only 22 rooms “cocooned in the clouds” of the protected rainforest of the Ecuadorian Andes. Opened in 2012, most of the contemporary designed, environmentally sound, and minimally invasive structure was pre-assembled in the historic Quito and transported to its site on the narrow spine of a hill whose topography determined its shape. Mostly glass and metal with simple man-made materials, the lodge is breathtaking and the minimalistic bathrooms are no exception. With visual contact of the cloud forest from all corners of the bathrooms, they don’t need much hoopla. Each bathroom has Philippe Starck-designed bathtubs, slate floors, and custom designed, leaf-shaped biodegradable amenities. Additionally, the hotel uses low-consuming bulbs—soon-to-be self-sustaining hydro-electricity— and treats all its waste water biologically, uses composting for organic waste, and recycling its solid waste. Less is more.
Solar energy innovation is the forefront of eco-design and we found a top luxury hotel on the big island of Hawaii that is gorgeous and solar-powered. Mauna Lani Bay generates more solar electric power that any other luxury hotel in the world. It was also awarded a “Green Golf Award,” and its green sea turtle program is an ecotourism world-renowned attraction. That should make guests feel extra good when they sink into the deep tub in their room to enjoy a relaxing bath with views of their private lava rock terrace. Generous organic bath products and soft organic cotton robes are provided for a sensuous bathing experience. For the nature lover, an outdoor shower is just steps away from the tub. There is a complete vanity with soft lighting and lotion for apres-bath. Suites have private pools with views of the golf course and the deep blue ocean. It’s hard to choose which water to immerse oneself in, but luckily this resort isn’t a place guests come for a quick trip. There will be many opportunities to rejuvenate, shower outdoors, swim with turtles, and soak in a tub. If guests are there during a full moon, they can take advantage of the unique and romantic “Twilight at Kalahuipua’s,” filled with storytelling and moonlight dance.
Looking for other cool hotel bathroom amenities? Check out the complete Luxe Lavs archives.
By Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno for PeterGreenberg.com