Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards 2021: Travel & Leisure Winners

sustainability awards 2021

In 2018, scientists found that tourism accounted for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, prompting an industry-wide call for hospitality businesses to take a stand on sustainability.

But the winners in our Travel & Leisure category have been ahead of the curve in driving change and disrupting the travel industry's status quo for years, demonstrating just how important it is to preserve our planet for future explorers to come.

Here are the Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards Travel & Leisure winners...

Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards Food & Drinks winners

Best for Eco Travel

Winner: I Feel Slovenia

Best Eco-Travel Initiative Winner: I FEEL SLOVENIA

It's no wonder that Slovenia was the first country to be declared a Green Destination of the World. The Slovenian Tourist Board puts sustainability at the heart of everything it does, having launched the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism in 2015 and grown it into a national certification programme celebrating the country's best sustainable businesses and destinations.

Sustainability is also central to the country's inimitable gastronomy. Placing a strong emphasis on a 'garden to table' ethos, Slovenian cuisine is based on ingredients that come straight from the earth. Just ask the six Slovenian chefs awarded a unique Michelin Sustainability Award.

With rigorous standards of sustainability across every industry – from outdoor pursuits to fine dining, Slovenia continues to forge a bold, green path into the future, and we can't wait to see what possibilities await.

Highly commended: Intrepid Travel

Best Eco Travel Initiative – Independent

Winner: Green Apple

Best Eco-Travel Initiative – Local Winner: Green Apple

It's no secret that the hospitality industry generates a vast amount of waste every day. But Green Apple, a socio-environmental initiative based in Colombia, is set to right that. Operating on a sustainable financial model similar to that of a social enterprise, the mission of Green Apple is simple but impactful: to take waste products of no value, like glass and food waste, repurpose them to products with value like souvenirs and compost, and provide jobs to those most in need in the process.

It might be a mere three years old, but Green Apple has already had a huge impact on both the planet and its people. From creating five full-time jobs and educating workers at 18 local businesses, to putting 10 women through an artisanal glass-working course and enabling six women to set up their own souvenirs-from-waste business, the non-profit demonstrates just how important people are in our journey towards a more sustainable planet.

"A lot can be learned from making the people at the heart of the business central to change," says Ele Ward, Sustainability Awards judge and Head of Marketing and Growth at CoGo. "And a lot can be learned from their amazing work and commitment – [that's] how businesses can transform communities and drive real change."

Best Sustainable Hotel – Global Group

Winner: Fairmont

Best Sustainable Hotel – Global Group Winner: Fairmont

Sustainability probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a global group of luxury hotels, but Fairmont has been driving eco-innovation through its award-winning Sustainability Partnership for the past 30 years.

In fact, it was the world's first luxury hotel brand to embrace environmental stewardship. Between vowing to eliminate any remaining single-use plastics in guest rooms, meeting areas and restaurants by the end of 2022, to joining Accor in committing to the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Fairmont was praised by Sustainability Awards judge and ecopreneur Valeria Hinojosa for its "great sustainable energy and water practices".

Also a champion of responsible tourism, Fairmont comes out top for emphasising the importance of sustainability starting at home.

Best Sustainable Hotel – National Group

Winner: Sani Resort

Best Sustainable Hotel – Small Group Winner: Sani Resort

Not only was Sani Resort Greece's first carbon neutral resort, it was awarded World's Leading Luxury Green Resort by the World Travel Awards in 2020. It isn't hard to see why. Set in a breathtaking 1,000-acre ecological reserve, with 7km of Blue Flagged beaches, more than 20km of forest trails and 270 acres of wetlands, Sani Resort is a self-described "sustainable self-contained world".

Its Sani Green programme is the driving force behind the sustainability performance, and has made remarkable progress in the past few years. Between achieving a 48% reduction in water use per guest since 2016, sourcing 60% of produce from within 100 miles of the resort, and being powered by 100% renewable electricity with guarantees of origin, the judges were hugely impressed by the hotel group's long-term commitment to a greener future for the travel industry.

As Giles Gibbons, founder and CEO of Good Business and MC Sustainability Awards judge remarks, "They have obviously been committed right from the start to develop the resort with strong environmental credentials."

Highly commended: Pellicano Hotels Group

Best Sustainable Hotel – Independent

Winner: Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel

Best Sustainable Hotel – Independent Winner: Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel

Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel is living proof that premium hospitality and environmental conservation can coexist. Located in the dazzling surrounds of the Swiss Alps, nature is treated as luxury at this unique hotel, whose ecological mission is central to everything it does. From controlling energy and water use, to purchasing ingredients locally, Whitepod makes its environmental philosophy part of its distinct guest experience, and its unobtrusive eco pods are part of that.

Selected for their unique shape and minimal visual impact, despite appearing startlingly modern, each pod is remarkably robust, and can support significant winds and considerable snow – making them a popular choice for cosy winter breaks overlooking the snow-capped Alps.

Chosen as Best Sustainable Hotel in the independent category, Whitepod was praised by our judges for both form and function, with ecopreneur Valeria Hinojosa remarking, "[They are] very eco-responsible in terms of architecture, design and a few water and energy saving practices."

Highly commended: Borgo Santo Pietro

Best Sustainable Spa

Winner: Titanic Spa

We are committed to providing our customers with Earth’s best home and personal care products. To comply with the Bower Standard our products must be sustainable, effective and look and feel good. Our products are either plastic-free or arrive in our refill packaging. Simply decant the product into one of our reusable dispensers or indeed use dispensers you already have in your home and return the packaging in your pre-paid envelope. Bower Collective is here to help you create a sustainable home with products that are good for you and good for the planet.

A spa that cares as much for the environment as it does the wellbeing of its guests gets a huge thumbs up in our book. Set amidst the rolling hills of the Pennines in a stunningly restored 20th-century textile mill, Titanic Spa set a new standard for eco builds following its redevelopment in 2005.

From renewable energy generation through solar-roof panels that convert light directly into electricity, to a natural water source found 100m below the building, this is one spa with some serious sustainable smarts.

"Titanic’s green building impressed me the most, setting new standards in eco builds from its solar photovoltaic roof panels to the low U-Value windows and energy efficient lighting," says MC Features Editor and Sustainability Awards judge Jenny Proudfoot. "I was particularly impressed at its plans to become a fully carbon-neutral business."

Highly commended: The Spa at South Lodge

Best Zero-waste Venue

Winner: IKOS Resorts – IKOS Dassia

Best Zero Waste Venue Winner: IKOS Resorts – IKOS Dassia

Having witnessed the widespread issue of waste management on Corfu Island, the team at IKOS Dassia devised a solution in a three-fold, zero-waste programme. By vowing to find the best solution for reducing and recycling all materials produced at the resort, to manage and biodegrade organic waste, and to train all staff to work to a zero-waste brief, IKOS Dassia is ensuring long-term luxury by preserving its stunning natural surrounds.

Next up in the resort's ongoing mission to become a zero-waste venue? Harnessing AI technology to reduce food waste, and working to become completely plastic-free both back and front of house. As Sustainability Awards judge Jenny Proudfoot remarks, "This is a travel venue that truly has zero waste at its core."

Marie Claire UK have determined the award winners in accordance with the judging criteria and with the information provided by the entrants. All information provided by the winning brands are published in good faith.

Kate McCusker

Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.