These environmentally sensitive travel destinations are so dreamy, we can hardly believe they’re real. Some are real places you can book right now, some are under construction and others are destined to remain mere fantasies, but they’re all beautiful eco resorts powered by alternative energy, built with local materials and located on nature preserves or other stunning natural sites.
Magic Mountain Lodge
It doesn’t seem real, right? These pictures of a mountain covered in greenery, punctuated with storybook castle windows and streaming with little waterfalls look like they must either be Photoshopped or taken from the set of a film. But Magic Mountain on the private nature reserve of Huilo Huilo in Chile is absolutely real, and you can stay in any of its 13 magical rooms overlooking the jungle. There are even hot tubs made of gigantic tree trunks. Stroll in on the suspended rope bridge and take in the very Lord-of-the-Rings-esque sight. The lodge was made with local materials and labor, on land dedicated to preserving Patagonia’s biodiversity and fauna.
Soneva Kiri Eco Resort, Thailand
A nest-like restaurant dangles from the side of a tree at Soneva Kiri, an eco-friendly resort in Koh Kood, Thailand, and that’s just one of many cool mini structures made of local sustainable materials like bamboo that can be found within the 6-star destination. A cantilevered bamboo dome inspired by manta rays covers ‘The Den,’ a recreation area just off the Gulf of Thailand, where adults can watch movies and kids can climb around in play structures.
Wadi Rum Resort, Jordan
Designed by Oppenheim Architecture, the Wadi Rum resort is built right into the stone cliffs in the desert of Jordan, integrating with the natural landscape. The dreamed-but-not-yet-built lodge inserts hotel rooms and amenities into the natural niches within the stone, leaving most of the walls raw to emphasize the striking beauty of the site. We can only hope that someday, this place will be a reality.
Panchoran Retreat, Bali
An architect who spent her career creating tropical resorts around the world settled in a river gorge in Bali and dedicated herself to becoming an expert on bamboo, growing all sorts of strains of it on her 25-acre property. Soon, Linda Garland’s luxurious estate became a sort of architectural experiment, drawing in guests from all over the world – and now it’s open to the public as Panchoran Retreat. The most stunning feature of this gorgeous getaway is a lounge area hanging right over the river.
North Slope Ski Hotel Fantasy by Michael Jantzen
Here’s another intriguing concept for an eco resort that hasn’t been built (and, let’s be real, probably never will.) Michael Jantzen’s ski resort is powered by the wind and sun, and has a built-in 400-foot slope leading to the snowy hills straight from the peak of its roof. The windows of the 95 rooms look out onto Aspen, Colorado from high up on a mountain, and also help passively heat the structure.
Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Costa Rica
Relax in a private bungalow made of bamboo and sustainable wood at Costa Rica’s Lapa Rios Ecolodge, set on a private nature reserve among 1,000 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest. Each room is open-air with screens so you can experience all the sights, sounds and smells of the seaside environment, and features a private outdoor deck with a hammock and rain-style outdoor shower. Lapa Rios was the first hotel to receive five-leaf status from the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism.
Treehouse Point Eco Resort, Washington
Deep within the forests of Snoqualmie Valley outside of Seattle, the Treehouse Point resort offers five adorable cabins high up in the trees, complete with suspended bridges. Located adjacent to a river, the eco-friendly hotel functions as a nature conservancy and educational center as well as a beautiful place to stay. In addition to the unique rooms, the resort offers a main lodge with a library, dining facilities and other public areas. Creator and owner Pete Nelson also designs and builds custom tree houses around the country.
Songjiang Quarry Hotel, China
A formerly abandoned mining quarry descending 100 meters from the surface of the earth will soon house a sustainable resort known as the Songjiang Shimao Hotel, a 19-story complex complete with a massive waterfall. The pit will be turned into an artificial lake, the first two floors of the hotel submerged in the water, and the whole resort will get its energy from geothermal sources. Photos have shown construction in progress, but it’ll probably still be a year or two before it’s complete.
Himalayan Village, India
India’s Himalayan Village is an eco resort highlighting the traditional culture of the Pahari people, including stunning architectural techniques like stacking stone on stone without using any mortar. The location in the northern mountains make recreational activities like backpacking and rock climbing readily accessible, or you can just relax inside the cottages and enjoy the traditional Indian cuisine.