Cover The Datai Langkawi

From the world’s first sustainable surf programme to repopulating unique wildlife, these resorts throughout Asia are going the extra mile to protect the life and beauty that surrounds them

The Datai Langkawi, Langkawi, Malaysia

The Datai Langkawi sits on Datai Bay which, according to National Geographic, is one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The hotel was built, and continues to be lovingly maintained, with utmost respect for its surroundings, thanks to its dedicated team of on-site naturalists and marine biologists.  

Set within a 10-million-year-old rainforest and sitting at the base of Southeast Asia’s oldest mountain, Machinchang in Langkawi's Unesco Global Geopark, The Datai Langkawi has been hailed one of the world’s most beautiful resorts for its mesmerising natural surroundings and visionary architecture by Kerry Hill. 

Ensuring the resort and the island are preserved for generations to come, the property conceived The Datai Pledge in 2018, which embraces the principles of interconnectedness and interdependence between community and ecosystems. The pledge encompasses four pillars: Pure for the Future, Fish for the Future, Wildlife for the Future and Youth for the Future, which focus on the resort's business operations and ethics in these areas. 

This includes protecting the environment and community, conserving coral reefs and marine life, promoting sustainable fishing, conserving Langkawi’s wildlife and regenerating the rainforest. The resort has banned single-use plastics, and from 2019 to 2020, five artificial reefs were deployed and 300 coral nubbins transplanted to the Datai Bay reef, one hornbill nesting box was installed and over 100 seeds were collected and planted in the property’s Native Tree Nursery. 

See Also: The Suite Spot: A Five-Star Private Villa in a 10-Million-Year-Old Rainforest

Nay Palad Hideaway, Siargao, The Philippines

When the owners of Nay Palad Hideaway first arrived to the site in Siargao, the Philippines, the lagoon had been severely damaged by years of dynamite fishing. They began working with the local government and building partnerships with local fisherman to reduce, and finally, put an end to dynamite fishing in the area.  

As she does when given the chance, nature healed and the area has since been restored to its natural glory. Today, the waters are clear and teeming with wildlife with over 106 species of fish and 54 species of seaweed.  

An ancient mangrove forest, which sits at the back of Nay Palad Hideaway, is also closely monitored and protected by the resort, as it plays a crucial role in preserving the biodiversity of the island. Crocodiles, monitor lizards, wild civet cats, the Philippine cockatoo and three species of endangered turtle are just some of the species that call this island home—and thanks to the resort's efforts, they can continue to do so for a long while yet.  

Soneva Jani, Maldives

The name Soneva needs no introduction in the realm of sustainable luxury. And the boutique resort brand is always finding new ways for guests to enjoy the achingly beautiful surroundings of its resorts.  

At Soneva Jani in the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, guests who are keen to ride the waves can sign up for the first sustainable surfing programme in the world. While many surfboards are commonly made from polyurethane, petroleum-based materials such as neoprene and toxic ingredients in surf wax, Soneva Jani uses equipment that is eco-friendly and made from recycled waste. 

Back on land, the resort recycles plastic and glass, creates its own cooking charcoal, limits waste, grows its own produce-fed compost from hotel waste, installs solar panels to save fossil fuel use and audits its supply chain for its environmental impact. 

And like its sister resorts in the Maldives and Thailand, Soneva Jani also charges a 2 per cent carbon levy to all visitors to offset both CO2 emissions across its operations, including guests’ flights. The Soneva Foundation uses this to fund projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact. 

Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Landa, Thailand

Pimalai Resort & Spa’s connection with the earth is ingrained in its very existence. The resort, which is the first property in Koh Lanta to receive Green Globe certification, is surrounded by 100 acres of tropical jungle and melts into 900 metres of white sand beach.  
It’s no surprise, then, that it goes the distance to protect its surrounding environment. Perhaps most notable is its clownfish release programme, which has amusing albeit alarming origins: the success of Pixar film, Finding Nemo. 

Nearby Koh Haa was a natural habitat for clownfish until 2004, when it was found that all clownfish had disappeared, as pet stores began selling the native species at 10 Baht per fish. After years of working with leading marine biologists on clownfish release and coral propagation, there’s now a thriving marine ecosystem, including plenty of clownfish, for divers to enjoy—from a distance, of course.  

Pimalai also has an on-site organic farm that provides fruits, vegetables and herbs to the hotel’s restaurants, and a lofty five-year plan that’s already in the works to reduce waste, electricity and water consumption and its carbon footprint, including a Biogas Plant that processes 200 kilograms of kitchen waste per day, which is then used to produce gas to power areas of the resort.  

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