Queenly retreats committed to sustainability
Climate change is a real, live issue we can no longer ignore, so cut through the greenwash and vote with your feet by choosing retreats that are genuinely committed to the sustainability of both people and planet. Here are just a few of our favourite retreats we have reviewed and recommend that are doing far more than asking you not to have your towels washed.
Mandali, Italy This retreat provides meditation, yoga and personal growth in a sensitively curated environment with a view to die for. From the architecture to the daily rituals, Mandali has been designed to be as low-impact and sustainable as possible. It was built with reclaimed wood and eco-friendly, local materials, the heating system is based on woodchip burners, and the kitchen, spa and swimming pool are run on solar panels. There was no plastic in evidence on our visit, and everything possible from food to paper napkins was being reused or recycled. Most of the key staff are local, and very much a respected part of the benign, communal environment. Explore.
Zen Rocks Mani, Greece
This yoga retreat in a stunning olive grove on the Peloponnese employs only local people and makes every effort to source only local food produce. Materials are outsourced from the local terrain wherever possible – the walls are made with stone that came from the land itself, and a local family of furniture makers are responsible for the beautiful hand carved stools, benches and bed heads. All organic waste is composted, everything is plastic free wherever humanly possible, and guests are invited to conserve water. Bathroom products are natural, the bed linen is organic cotton and the mattresses are made with coconut fibre too. Explore.
Ulpotha, Sri Lanka
This remote and enchanting eco-village for yoga holidays, ayurveda retreats and digital detoxing is an impressively sustainable organic farm that runs a free ayurvedic clinic for the local community. The day-to-day running of the whole estate is overseen by a committee of six villagers, who make all the decisions about staffing and supplies too. No plastic is used, and the owners are passionate about water conservation and traditional farming methods. The main staple – organic red rice – derives from almost forgotten varieties of heritage heirloom rices that the founders have collected from different parts of the island and propagated into sufficient amounts so as to share it with other farmers who are willing to grow it organically. Hugely impressive. Explore.
Silver Island Yoga, Greece
Yoga, Silver Island Yoga is a private Greek island that runs beautifully curated yoga weeks between April and October each year. It’s a working organic olive farm on which they pick and produce their own table olives and olive oil. Completely off grid with no access to mains water or electricity, it uses solar power to light up the island and heat water, collects rainwater in Winter which is then saved in huge covered tanks, and uses water from the bathrooms and kitchen to water the garden. Guests can expect 100% natural and biodegradable bathroom products, cotton slippers made with coconut fibre cut-offs, and a double walled reusable water bottle to take home. All waste is recycled, wet waste composted, and food grown on the island or sourced locally and organically wherever possible. Most of the furniture has been lovingly restored or creatively transformed too. Explore.
Sharpham Trust, England
This ethical trust runs mindfulness retreats in a barn, woodland or a hilltop mansion above the River Dart in Devon. Its vision is to build a more mindful, compassionate and environmentally-sustainable world, and sustainability is taken seriously. All of the hot water and heating at Sharpham House is produced by a state-of-the-art biomass woodchip boiler, and they have two large photo-voltaic solar panel arrays on barn rooftops. Heating and hot water in The Barn is run from a log furnace and solar thermal panels, the gardens are managed organically, and they source as much food as possible from them, and they also use bio-degradable cleaning products. As a registered charity, they also do good works and care deeply about the health and wellbeing of the world. Explore.
This retreat provides yoga, wild riverside bathing and hearty vegetarian feasts in the Scottish Highlands, and owners Nick and Rachel have created a space that reflects their passion for sustainable living. It’s off grid and powered by hydro electricity made by the local river, and the hot water is heated by solar thermal systems and hydro powered immersions. Most of the time the whole centre is running purely from electricity generated from the river that runs through it. All food waste is composted (or fed to the chickens), and as much other waste as possible is recycled, so very little waste is thrown away. All products are eco-friendly. Shower gels are made by Faith in Nature, and they also sell Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner and bamboo toothbrushes. Explore.
Lefay Resort and SPA Lago Di Gardo, Italy
This luxury spa resort with inspiring views over Lake Garda offers a five star experience with treatments and wellbeing programmes while staying true to its environmental values. Food is organic and locally sourced where possible, and the resort’s substantial energy requirements are almost entirely generated from an on-site energy plant with biomass processor and other clean energy sources such as photovoltaic panels. There’s an attention to water consumption, rain water is collected and recycled for the park, and there’s a clever way around using air con in the rooms. The spa is certified organic, and there’s not a plastic water bottle in sight, though on our recent visit spa knickers, hair nets and apple rings were all wrapped in single use plastics – we’re told they’re attending to this. Explore.