Sustainable options to stay in Portugal and discover the country from north to south
When we travel it is always important to be aware of the impact we will have on the visited place and to minimize it’s crucial, among many other things, to make conscious choices about where to stay. It is important to choose a lodging that fits our preferences and vacation style of course, but, also, that can be sustainable whether it is at an environmental, economic, or social stage. Now, more than ever, we must support local businesses and the ones also concerned with environmental issues, so more businesses can start appearing focused on these values.
Before I take you on a journey through Portugal I just want to share with you some ideas on how to find sustainable accommodation:
- See their social media: by seeing their social media and analyzing their photographs and way of talking we can understand very well the values of the hotel and how it works, since, normally, these platforms are used to show and share more “behind-the-scenes” and to have closer contact with the guests, showing things that you will not find on their websites or agencies.
- Read the accommodation values: any sustainable accommodation will have a part of their website dedicated to sustainability and the more importance they give to it, the more sustainable the lodging normally is! So this is a great way to understand what the business gives value and how it works according to their values. If the place you choose has a page dedicated to this theme or their values, projects, or even has its sustainability report available for the public, you’re on a good way to find a great place! Sometimes the important is not the number of sustainable actions the place has, but the value and effort they give to make their values happen.
- See photos of the property on websites like TripAdvisor (this one is good because guests can also upload their photos) or Booking and you will be able to understand, among many other things, the type of materials the place uses. You can understand, for example, if the restaurant uses alternative materials to plastic or not.
- Read comments: the comments are one of the best ways to understand how accommodation works and normally people always talk about the positive points of it, so you will be able to understand if the lodging fits your vacation plans.
Now that you have some tools to search for sustainable hotels, let us see some options you can find in Portugal. Since the country has so many beautiful areas to explore I will try to include hotels from several regions of the country and with different price ranges. Regarding the prices, it’s important to note that some sustainable hotels have higher prices due to their sustainable actions like building with different materials or buying only biological food, things that are normally more expensive and will reflect on the room’s prices. Important to note as well that many of the options below support a lot of their local economies, so these higher prices are a way to grow the local economy as well. The prices I will give below are estimated for a stay of 3 nights in August, I will leave you all the accommodations websites so you can see prices for the dates you prefer.
I will show you several hotels and why I consider them sustainable. All of them are already working with the certification “Clean & Safe”.
On this post I will take from north to south so you can explore Portugal and all its beauty!
Norht of Portugal
Hotel: Six Senses Douro Valley
Category: Resort, 5 stars
Six Senses is an international hotel chain and once you open their official website you will see right at the top a page dedicated only to sustainability, which is a first great sign especially since we are talking about a chain and not all can achieve to apply sustainability measures in all their hotels! This chain already received several sustainability-related awards and their ideals go through different areas of sustainability, since achieving 0% plastic use by 2022, by how they built the hotels or even by having funds to support the communities where they are! This seems a great start! So let’s explore the Six Senses Douro Valley.
Located in Lamego and considered the best resort in Europe, this hotel promises a lot of comfort, breathtaking views, and a lot of luxury! All of these aligned with the best region’s nature, wine tastings, luxury spa treatments, and a lot of outdoor activities! Besides the rooms, you also have an amazing pool facing the Douro River, a spa, and a very interesting restaurant!
And here is why I consider this one of the most sustainable hotels:
- They support financially projects like the APEGA Donkey Refuge, where the last 200 specimens of the Mirandeses donkey breed are being taken care of.
- They “adopted” the part of the river that flows through their property intending to take care of it and protect all its flora and fauna.
- 0,5% of the hotel receipts are used to support local projects that help children and families in need. Right now they are helping 300 families!
- The property has 4 hectares of a natural area which they protect and take good care of
- They have an area where they plant and collect a major part of the food that is used in their restaurant
- If you saw their social media you will be able to understand the importance they give to sustainability
Value per night: starting from 560€/night/room
Center of Portugal
Hotel Areias do Seixo
Location: Torres Vedras
Category: 5 stars
This is a hotel where you feel the importance given to nature right from the moment you open their website. Here the outdoor experiences stand out, since making campfires by night, exercising in nature, or collecting food from their gardens to your meal! They have rooms or villas with a lot of contact with nature and you can expect a perfect place to relax and bring up all your energy! On the website, you also find the sustainability page, so let’s see what this hotel does:
- The garden: a place where they plant a lot of what is consumed in the hotel and the guests can also join and participate in the garden activities.
- The building: the way the structure was built also took into account its environmental impact, so they reused the ruins of the previous construction of the place and adapted the shape of the building to the outside area one.
- The acclimatization of the hotel is made by a geothermal system (a way to collect energy from the interior of the ground to acclimatize the areas and warm the water) and they also use solar panels. This combination has already helped the hotel saving 18 tons of carbon dioxide!
- Its pool: it is warmed with the excess from the geothermal system.
- They use cork to isolate the areas
- They use an automation system that allows more efficient use of the energies according to different variables (for example: turning off the lights at a specific time or turn off lights from certain areas when there are fewer guests)
- Use of LED illumination
- All the electric equipment’s (including the spa ones) are only turned on when necessary
- Water control: they have systems to reduce water in sanitary discharges and to reuse waters, among others
- The hotel makes its purchases in bulk and with returnable packaging
- The hotel separates all its trash and the guest’s ones, making also the composting of the organic residues, which they use later in their garden
- Awareness and learning: the hotel has several experiences to create awareness on good practices for their guests (nature tours, tours about the hotel functioning, participation of the guests in the garden work, among others)
- They prefer to hire local employees
- Support for social projects: the food that cannot be used by the restaurant or clothes that the hotel will not use anymore are always donated to local charities
- They use local suppliers
To those of you more interested in this hotel, I leave you here their sustainability report.
Value per night: starting from 322€/night/room
Hotel: Hotel Inspira Santa Marta
Location: Lisbon downtown
Category: 4 stars
The Inspira Santa Marta hotel, located at a few walking minutes from Avenida da Liberdade is one of the most sustainable hotels in the city’s downtown. It already won the award for the best Eco/Green Luxury Hotel by the World Luxury Award two years in a row and this is also the first hotel in Lisbon prepared and trained to receive guests with diverse allergies.
This is a boutique hotel where sustainability is aligned with luxury and it also has some meeting rooms and an amazing spa!
Here are some reasons why this is a sustainable hotel:
- To avoid inequalities, 56% of their staff is composed of women
- Their parking space has places for electric/hybrid vehicles
- The hotel helps financially the Pump Aid project, which places water pumps in developing countries. Each sale of the hotel watered bottle co-sponsors water pumps in African countries.
- The restaurant menus are seasonal, so seasonal food can be used
- The food is bought to local suppliers
- The restaurant donates its food/meals that they cannot reuse to families in need
- Some rooms are isolated with cork
- They have lighting sensors to avoid waste of energy
- They use solar panels to warm the sanitary waters
- All of the employees have occasional formations regarding sustainability and the guests also have information about this matter in several hotel areas.
- They have several mechanisms to reduce water waste (like taps with sensors, among others)
- All the trash is properly separated and the organic residues are composting
- The hotel supports several national projects in diverse ways (with fundraisings or campaigns to deliver goods, for example)
This hotel has one of the most completes sustainability report which shows how serious they deal with these matters.
Value per night: starting from 76€/night/room
South of Portugal
Hotel: Imani Country House
Category: Rural Tourism
This accommodation has already been considered the best rural tourism in the country and you can expect maximum relaxation and a lot of contact with nature! The property has 11 hectares of native flora, where you can see animals like donkeys walking around. Besides the rooms, you can enjoy 2 pools and a restaurant with typical regional dishes.
The sustainability of the hotel is seen by the following actions:
- The hot water is made with the use of solar panels
- The wood for their firewood comes from forest cleanings
- They don’t use chemicals on their fields
Values per night: Since 225€/night/room
Hotel: Craveiral FarmHouse
Category: Rural Tourism
Located between the countryside and the ocean, this is an accommodation that can give you some luxury days where you can return to your origins and reconnect with nature.
Besides the rooms, the guests can participate in several experiences and outdoor activities; enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools, massage services, and much more!
These are the reasons why I consider this a sustainable lodging:
- Local social projects: in partnership with a local association the hotel employs young people with cognitive impairment in their pizzeria.
- All the restaurant ingredients are locals and some are even from their garden
- All of the art displayed at the hotel is made by Portuguese artists
Value per night: Since 285€/night/room
Hotel: Cocoon Design Eco Lodges
Category: 4 stars
Located in the middle of nature, this accommodation has already been rewarded by its sustainability, and it even won 4 times the award of best Eco-Tourism by the Portugal Trade Awards! Here you can expect a lot of contact with nature a different style of vacation!
This is why this is a sustainable lodging:
- The structures: not to have a major impact on the area, all the structures are removable
- The lodging helps to replant native species from the area
- Their trash is properly separated and the organic waste is used to composting
- They only use woods with an environmental certificate on their structures
- The pool water is treated without the use of chemicals
- They also have a garden where they produce and use organic vegetables and fruits
- The energy and water are controlled and they use solar panel
Value per night: starting from 220€/night/lodge
Hotel: Casa Vale da Lama Ecoresort
This is an accommodation located on 43-hectare propriety and it is surrounded by nature. Here all the details were thought to offer maximum relaxation to the guests! The hotel has only 9 apartment’s com private patios and all of them are surrounded by nature, having glasses from the floor to the ceiling to offer maximum contact with the outside. There is Wi-Fi, but only in the common areas, as the rooms were designed as a peace refugee. For those who are vegan or vegetarian, this is the best option, since here only vegetarian and vegan food is served!
Here it’s why I believe this is a sustainable accommodation:
- Local community support: they have funds to support the local community and, as an example, they give agriculture formation to local people
- Food: all the food served is 100% vegetarian or vegan
- The food used is only local and the menus are based on seasonal aliments
- Part of the ingredients used in their food comes from their garden
Values per night: since 160€/night/2 floor apartment with private patio
As you could see above the accommodations mentioned above approach sustainability in many different ways since this is something that can be seen from different fronts. Ones are focused on specific points, while others do a more general approach. Here the important is to choose a place that already reflects on this matter and that shows they are ready to act and embrace change!
These were only some examples, as there are many more places. These were the ones I considered more sustainable due to all the reasons I stated above. All of the photographies were taken from the hotels’ official websites.
I hope you enjoyed it and, if you visit any of these places or any other sustainable place this year, let me know about your experience so I can share it!
I wish you a great week and keep travelling to the green!