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The greenest hotels in South Africa

Caption: Hotel Verde in Capetown regenerated the surrounding wetlands to create a place for guests to jog in

However, the green travel industry in Africa is booming and these hotels in South Africa prove that you can have all the amenities and little luxuries of a ‘typical’ holiday, without damaging the earth.

When it comes to holidaying, finding a 'green' way of doing things can be really difficult. Hotels are historically places of luxury and luxury often necessitates excess – the enemy of green living. However, the green travel industry in Africa is booming and these hotels in South Africa prove that you can have all the amenities and little luxuries of a 'typical' holiday, without damaging the earth. It's wonderful being able to really spoil yourself on vacation, but it's even better having a clear conscience whilst you're doing it.

Sibaya Hotel & Casino, Durban

Caption: Although worms aren't glamorous, they're helping Sibaya Hotel & Casino to achieve their zero landfill goals / Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

The connection between hotel casinos and eco tourism isn't always obvious, but it's certainly a growing trend. Many gaming companies are embracing a more sustainable future, whether that's by remodelling their offices, encouraging recycling, or in the case of Sibaya, starting a wormery. Although this doesn't sound like the kind of glamour you'd usually associate with an upmarket resort, Sibaya Hotel & Casino just might have struck gold with this idea.

Sun International group are the owners of this hotel and they employ a strict and commendable sustainability policy throughout all of their hotels. The wormery came about as part of the answer to one of their goals 'to send zero waste to landfill by 2020'. Well, it's 2020 and the worms at Sibaya are happily munching their way through vegetable peelings and kitchen scraps and, in the process, creating compost which can be used to keep the garden happy and healthy. Creating cyclical waste management methods like this is simple, but incredibly effective.

Phantom Forest Eco Lodge, Knysna
One of the pioneers of the green hotel sector was Phantom Forest Eco Lodge. The lodge continues to lead the way and is perpetually the name that springs to mind when asked to think of a South African green retreat. The lodge itself is absolutely beautiful, particularly if you enjoy the getting back to nature vibe.

Bedrooms take the form of tree top suites, which not only feature double ended baths, twin basins and separate luxury shower rooms, they also make use of seriously eco friendly building practices. The rooms are constructed using alien vegetation, which would be damaging to the surrounding forest if left unchecked. The soft furnishings are made from entirely natural fabrics, which means that not only do they feel great against the skin and cause minimal damage during their creation, they're also entirely biodegradable at the end of their life. If waking up to the sounds of the forest in crisp linen sheets is your idea of heaven, then booking a stay here is a must.

Verde Hotel, Cape Town
It's so easy to say that all huge chains are careless when it comes to sustainability, but Verde Hotels absolutely destroy this notion in the most wonderful way possible. Their hotel by Cape Town airport looks, from the outside, much like any other newly built hotel, but the thought and care that has gone into creating this green business is remarkable. Energy and water consumption are the two areas where this hotel really succeeds. Three wind turbines and 220 photovoltaic panels provide the bulk of the hotel's electricity, whilst energy generating gym equipment and really cleverly designed elevators push for the rest.

Water consumption is reduced thanks to their pioneering grey water recycling system, whereby waste water from showers and baths is redirected to flush toilets and water gardens, saving some 6000 litres per day. Of the water that drains off the gardens, most is collected and re-used for irrigation or car washing. In a water scarce country, this kind of ingenuity is priceless.

Another brilliant scheme that the Verde Group have in place encourages customers to collect points by behaving sustainably. Acts such as using their power generating gym equipment, reusing towels, taking the stairs and correctly separating waste (as well as a whole host of others) all enable guests to collect points, which can be offset against their bill. Behaving with the environment in mind can actually save you money – now that's a brilliant idea!

Main photo by Kevin Ortiz on Unsplash