Green Travelling, Sustainability & Wellness

“The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth.”Marlee Matlin

Not so very long ago, being green was pretty low down on the people´s priority list. Lux­ury hotels were hiding their “green­ness” or lack of it, with the focus more on unbri­dled excess and unbounded pam­per­ing. Green was for granola-grazing hippies and less-is-more spartans…

Not so very long ago, being green was pretty low down on the people´s priority list. Lux­ury hotels were hiding their “green­ness” or lack of it, with the focus more on unbri­dled excess and unbounded pam­per­ing. Green was for granola-grazing hippies and less-is-more spartans…

At the dawn of the new decade, however, the world has realized that the world is in deep, deep trouble—the Inconvenient Truth, as it were. Not only are a new generation of travellers coming of age, but there is also mass awareness of climate change, and how every individual needs to be responsible for their own carbon footprint.

So, do we just stay at home and watch the depressing reality of human impact on the planet on TV? No. That would be too miserable. People need physical interaction, and with the world’s magnificent diversity of human and natural environments. So, travel we must, and travel we should. So, we go green.


Tourism will never be completely sustainable as every industry has impacts, but it can work towards becoming more sustainable. By its very nature, tourism values the things that are most precious in our world: stunning landscapes, wildlife, history, culture and people.

So, what should green travel really mean —beyond re-using bath towels and switching off the lights when you go? What is the state of the green travel segment today, and where is it heading?


Carbon offsetting has been around for years, but no one has paid much attention to it. However, traveling green means we will need to do everything we can to balance the negative impact of our trips with positives. This could mean donating money to renewable energy projects, using new ethical search engines, like for example Ecosia Travel to book hotels (it uses profits to plant trees), and choosing Positive Luxury – approved brands (look for the Butterfly Mark, which indicates a commitment to sustainability) such as The Evolved Traveler and Balance Holidays.

New and existing companies now offer advice and reviews on the best eco-friendly hotels in any location. TripAdvisor, for example, launched its GreenLeaders program in early 2013 to monitor the ‘green’ practices of hotels.


Thanks to Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the concept of flygskam, which translates as flight shame, will prompt responsible travellers to think more carefully about how often and where to fly to. As a consequence, the new decade will see many people turning to trains instead of planes or looking for short-haul alternatives to the trans – Atlantic destinations.


The more things change, the more they stay the same: in the end much comes down to personal responsibility. For your own green travel practices. For the travel choices you make. Your support of local green businesses and eco-friendly resorts. Your individual impact might be small but the cumulative impact is great.We know we won’t save the world by bringing our reusable cup or refusing a plastic straw, but the more people do it the sooner it becomes the norm.


Sustainability and wellness are linked very closely together, as people cannot be truly well if we have a planet that is not well. Also being healthier is, by definition, more sustainable. And for many, practicing more sustainable ways of living is an important part of a wellness lifestyle.

For example, more and more people are changing to a vegetarian/vegan diet. Is this driven by consumer interest in sustainability, wellness, or both? One factor is that a whole host of new meat alternatives are making vegetarianism an easier choice. Critics will argue that some of these alternatives are no healthier than their animal-based predecessors, but this fails to take into account the mental and spiritual wellbeing that consumers experience from eating more ethically produced foods.


Also, in the tourism industry sustainability and wellness initiatives tend to go hand in hand. As resorts and hotels move away from single-use plastics, this has led to other wellness-oriented offerings such as infused waters in glass jars and bottles. Restaurants and hotels are moving in directions that are both healthier and more sustainable, with less reliance on red meats and dairy products and more local sourcing, with some growing their own herbs and produce on site.


Healthy food and the “all you can eat buffets” used to be antonyms in the minds of many travellers, with holidays traditionally representing a chance to break one’s diet and indulge in forbidden treats. Today’s travellers know that delicious and nutritious are not exclusive concepts. Demand for excellent cuisine with a view to better nutrition is driving new tourism trends. The modern tourist wants to know that the food they are eating is as healthy as it is delicious. And this also happens to be a lot more sustainable…

According to the Vegan Society, if the whole world went meat-free by 2050, it would save eight million human lives and reduce greenhouse gases by two thirds. As increasing numbers of people choose to shun meat and animal products (a survey by Sainsbury’s in the summer of 2019 predicted that 25 per cent of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025), demand for hotels which offer alternative catering options is going to accelerate.

In Wellness travel the word “value” is of great importance – green holidays are healthier for you as well as the planet, and your well-being is, well, priceless.


So, what can SIS do to contribute towards a greener travel industry? To show you that we care and that we take it into consideration when forming partnerships, we have asked all our partnering hotels and retreats what green and sustainable policies they have in place. This information has been summarized and added to our website under the title ‘Green Policy’. You will also notice that in each hotel and program page every partner has been given a “green rating” according to the policies they adhere to and is reflected with a “score” of little leaves. In this way we hope to give you more transparency as to how sustainable each venue is, because we too, would like to see a greener future for the next generations!

If this is a topic that you are interested in we have also written a blog with 5 steps you can follow to live a greener life and we have compiled a top 10 list of the greenest venues!

Supporting the best in green travel, now and in the future—that’s where we hope you’ll go. We’ll see you there.

Love from your SISters in Wellness!

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We are Spa In Spain, a booking agency for inspirational Spa & Wellness breaks in Spain. We love Spa, we love Wellness and everything which has to do with the theme and we love to write about it!

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