On andBeyond Mnemba Island, a private island resort off the coast of Zanzibar, resident dive master Chris Barfoot is waiting for sea turtles to hatch. The 101 eggs, buried under some of the most pristine sand in the world, weren’t supposed to be ready for another few days. But Barfoot, boosted by both scientific knowledge and his own innate Spidey sense, is confident that the time is now – and he has enlisted me to help steer the hatchlings safely out to sea.
I wasn’t selected for my turtle-shepherding skills, though: andBeyond regularly pulls in guests to participate in its conservation initiatives, part of an ongoing effort to educate visitors about the environment and communities they’ve travelled to experience, while also providing them with an increasingly popular luxury – the opportunity to give back. It’s an ethos extended across all of andBeyond’s 29 lodges and camps, and several of them – like conservation-focused Bateleur Camp in Kenya and Vira Vira in the Chilean Lake District – fall under the umbrella of Beyond Green, a global portfolio of hotels, resorts, and lodges leading the charge in sustainability.
“Luxury is not just about turndown service and good linens anymore,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels Group, the parent company of Beyond Green. After the pandemic paralysed the travel industry – and forced many hospitality brands to reevaluate their social and environmental impact – Preferred acquired Beyond Green Travel, a sustainable travel-solutions leader launched by Costas Christ in 2005, and started Beyond Green, framing it as not just a new hotel collection, but “a trusted guide for travellers” looking to contribute to positive change. “We are increasingly seeing travellers wanting to go to hotels that open a door to a different way of life,” says Ueberroth. “Moving forward, the successful hotels will be the ones that really invite guests to actively be a part of something, and to be able to feel the impact that they’re having while they’re there.”
If a Relais & Châteaux hotel is measured by the quality of its spa and the prestige of its Michelin-starred restaurants, then a Beyond Green property can be judged by its carbon-emission benchmarks, hiring practices, and use of locally sourced materials. That’s why Beyond Green’s long-term goal is not growth for growth’s sake. The portfolio currently features 26 properties, an increase of just two since it launched last year; future expansion will prioritise geographical diversity while taking care to protect the integrity of the group. The company also seeks out hotels taking climate-change action, says Nina Boys, vice president of sustainability at Beyond Green Travel, with “ocean stewardship gaining an increasing amount of attention.”
Take The Brando, on the Tetiaroa Atoll in French Polynesia, a Beyond Green member. In addition to cosponsoring the island nation’s Blue Climate Summit, which took place earlier this year, the resort recently introduced Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) throughout the property, which harnesses the cold temperatures of deep-sea water to cool the air rather than relying on harmful greenhouse gases – no small feat considering that AC units are a major contributor to global emissions.