Responsible TourismThese luxury eco-resorts in Malaysia marry sustainable living ethos with pampering perks.

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

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Gaya Island Resort resides within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Gaya Island Resort resides within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Photo Credit: Gaya Island Resort

Covid-19 has impacted how people travel, with a growing number of people seeking out sustainable travel experiences that not only rejuvenate personal wellbeing, but also minimise environmental impact and strengthen the local community.

Earlier this year, global travel network company Virtuoso, in its 2022 sustainability survey, found 82% of global travellers want to travel sustainably.

“Travellers are looking to make their holiday count – both in terms of their own well-being as well as contributing to the local economy of the destinations they visit,” explains Arnaud Girodon, general manager of the Datai Langkawi. Guests “draw satisfaction from knowing their holiday is contributing to support local culture, artisans, suppliers, and more.”

“Post-Covid, many travellers are looking to make that deeper connection with local community and the environment, for travel to have a deeper meaning than just ticking the boxes of a long sightseeing list,” concurs Cher Chua-Lassalvy, managing director of Batu Batu Resort.

In addition to the ubiquitous green architectural features and interior design, energy-saving fixtures, upcycling workshops, organic kitchen gardens, eco-tours and beach clean-ups, below are some unique ways in which luxury Malaysian resorts are driving responsible tourism.

The Datai Langkawi, Langkawi, Kedah

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

The Datai Langkawi upholds the Datai Pledge, a holistic Langkawi-centric sustainability and conservation project launched in 2019. Efforts include achieving 96% of its zero solid waste to landfill target as of December 2021, running an ongoing coral regeneration programme for Datai Bay, partnering with local NGOs to support conservation of hornbills and marine mammals, educating local fishermen on sustainable fishing practices, and adopting two schools in Kedah in partnership with WWF-Malaysia for environmental education.

Batu Batu Resort, Mersing, Johor

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

Batu Batu works closely with Tengah Island Conservation (TIC) on local biodiversity conservation and local community development. Efforts include employing full-time scientists for the protection of the area’s sea turtles and coral reef conservation, partnering with Sustainable Travel Mersing to enhance community welfare through job creation and employment, and collaborating on a multi-stakeholder environmental education programme for Mersing’s schools. TIC and Batu Batu won the WTM World Responsible Tourism Silver Award for the category Best for Wildlife and Nature Conservation in 2019.

The Banjaran Hot Springs, Ipoh, Perak

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

The Banjaran’s eight-hectare Sunway Organic Gardens was awarded the myOrganic certificate by the Malaysian Department of Agriculture for its organic farming practices. All the produce is chemical free and grown by local farmers. Any produce that is not used in The Banjaran’s restaurants is donated to disadvantaged communities. The resort also employs 90% locals and encourages its employees to actively take part in the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Mangala Resort & Spa, Kuantan, Pahang

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

Situated within a 162-hectare former mining land that underwent an extensive rehabilitation of the mining pools and revitalisation of the ecosystem, the Mangala is now home to over 100 bird species and is a rich breeding ground for other local flora and fauna, including a thriving wetlands.

Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Responsible travel is a first choice, not a last resort

Located within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Gaya Island focuses on turtle rescue, coral reef restoration, conservation through education, and operating a wildlife centre. The award-winning Spa Village honours traditional healing traditions of the local communities while treatments make use of locally-sourced ingredients.

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