Zoey Goto rounds up the best eco-friendly holiday destinations for families, both in the UK and overseas
Looking for eco-friendly holiday destinations that are perfect for your little ones, too? There’s a wealth of locations to choose from, both closer to home and around the world – take a look at our pick of the best, plus the eco-friendly holiday essentials you need to pack.
Safari holidays can be hugely enriching for kids, but they usually involve a long-haul flight. Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve in Kent offers the perfect alternative: a world-class safari park experience with luxe overnight lodges, many of which overlook the animal enclosures.
Starting life as a private collection of exotic animals, the reserve has become a leading pioneer in the fight against the extinction of endangered species, breeding rare black rhinos and releasing them back into the wild.
The conservation park is home to over 700 animals, including zebras, apes and lions, and dino-loving kids will enjoy taking a golf-buggy tour through the model dinosaur forest. On our private safari tour, my toddler hand-fed giraffes and scatter fed some gigantic silverbacked gorillas. The wilds of Africa had been brought to our doorstep!
As one of the most luxe eco-friendly holiday destinations in Europe, Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz boasts plush suites and enough designer boutiques to rival Knightsbridge. The entire hotel is heated by lake water – saving around 500,000 litres of heating oil every year – and is making a conscious effort to swap plastic amenities for eco-friendly alternatives.
Of seven exceptional dining options, little ones are best catered for by Le Restaurant’s kids’ menu. And your tots are in for a real treat this summer, as the hotel gives away free ice cream and popcorn to kids during their visit.
A wellness escape off the tourist-beaten track, you’ll find Lefay Resort & Spa carved into the mountainside above the small village of Gargagno overlooking Lake Garda. In the sublime spa there are pools, tubs and therapy rooms to use at your pleasure, even the kids can enjoy treatments.
Lefay has been ethically-conscious from day one and was built using biocompatible materials, recycled rainwater and generates two-thirds of its energy on site. Better yet, the delicious food is supplied by local farms and the hotel even produces its own olive oil.
Camping out under the stars is the stuff that childhood memories are made of. If it’s been a while since you’ve slept under canvas, then ease yourself back in with a visit to Home Farm Glamping, a rural idyll that’s reassuringly geared up for families.
As London’s nearest glamp-site, it’s easy to access via the tube and a short taxi ride. Once there, you’ll discover a cluster of bell tents and tipis in a wild meadow surrounded by picturesque lakes and forests. There’s a barn with a kitchen, on-site showers and toilets, plus plenty of handy baby equipment.
In the space of a weekend, my toddler became an expert at collecting firewood and toasting marshmallows over the campfire. As night fell, we bedded down under snug duvets, before rising to the sound of birdsong and a mug of hot cocoa in the morning.
If you’re brave enough to venture long-haul with your baby, a stay at Finohlu in the Maldives will make it worth your while. Not only is the resort an Instagrammer’s dream, but its also been dubbed the world’s first fully solar-powered one.
Lap up the island views from the comfort of your own villa either on the beach or over the water. Then head over to the Oak Beach Club, a vibrant hub compromising gamers’ arcades, pools and a super cool rooftop bar. Families are well looked after here, too, with a kids’ club and a varied children’s menus. What’s more, thanks to the Parely Oceans initiative, it’s also reducing the use of plastic across the resort.
Hop on a morning Eurostar train from London’s King’s Cross St Pancras station and you could be exploring Amsterdam’s canals by lunchtime. Creating a sizeable 90 per cent less CO2 than flying, the Eurostar is one of the greenest ways to travel. The four-hour outward journey is direct, whilst the return involves a change at Brussels, taking around five hours.
Recently voted one the most sustainable cities in the world, Amsterdam is a great choice for families, with bikes, parks, museums and pancakes a plenty. We stayed at Hotel Twenty Eight’s serviced apartments, situated in the up-and-coming Olympic Stadium area, just a short tram ride from the centre. The award-winning eco hotel manages to combine family-friendly –plenty of space, your own kitchen, cots and high chairs – with chic mid-century design.
Toddlers and farm animals are a winning combination, and Gladwins Farm in Suffolk offers an enchanting place for little ones to connect with nature. The farm has excellent green credentials, using both a wood chip boiler and solar energy.
The 10 tastefully decorated cottages are surrounded by woodland, perfect for walks and den building. There are also paddocks of pigs, goats, sheep and chickens for kids to feed, plus a heated indoor swimming pool with inflatables. Toddler highlights included spotting animals from the bedroom window, petting the cute miniature pony and collecting eggs from the coop each morning, all while singing a rousing rendition of Old MacDonald!
Surrounded by more than 200 acres of jungle, mangroves and cenotes, this luxe resort is one-stop holiday bliss. From swimming pools and spa treatments to tennis courts and high-end boutiques, you’ll find just about everything you could ever imagine here.
Babies are VIPs, so the resort will provide everything you need, including high chairs, cribs, strollers and more. This resort has won awards for its eco-friendly approach and you’ll see just how spotless and safe it keeps the beaches. The hotel also contributes to the Federal Sea Turtle Conservation Programme to protect local wildlife. Plus there’s an on-site water treatment facility for recycling water in the resort.
The world’s top eco-friendly holiday destinations don’t get any better than this; with more than two million plants populating its vibrant 116-acre park, this tropical paradise has made a mission out of preserving and enhancing the environment – so much so, only bikes and electric vehicles are permitted.
Start your day with a lazy breakfast of mouthwatering sliced meats, warm bread and pastries, followed by a trip to the spa for a cleansing sea-mud body wrap or honey and salt massage. For a mid-morning cool-down, dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, or bask in the tranquility of the hotel’s three spectacular pools.
This retreat in the market town of Grossarl will ensure baby’s first holiday is a breeze. Book the dedicated family package and you’ll have access to a range of facilities, including highchairs, buggies and cribs.
In search of eco-friendly holiday destinations that also offer babysitting? Childcare is available for babies as young as one month here, while the restaurant offers a special menu for tiny taste buds. For parents, a trip to the spa provides the perfect opportunity to relax, but little ones don’t have to miss out completely – Moar Gut even offers gentle massages for its smallest guests.
Looking like it’s fallen straight out of the pages of a fairytale book, Penfold cabin at Swallowtail Hill in Sussex is the place to get away from it all, cook over an open fire and let the kids run free in the fenced-in paddock.
Penfold cabin is electricity-free, whilst other lodges at the farm have en suite toilets and electricity, so choose according to how off-grid you fancy going. Penfold and Wood cabin also share the same paddock, so make a good option for holidaying with friends.
During our stay, we were serenaded to sleep by the sound of owls in the nearby forest, before waking to feed the animals on the farm, including a friendly pair of donkeys and a resplendent pig named Curly Sue, who has now become a legend in our family!
If your little one is so well behaved that even the prospect of a nine-hour flight doesn’t faze you, make the most of it and head to this extraordinary aqua-themed resort in the Bahamas.
Paradise Island is home to the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, where more than 50,000 species roam freely among lagoons, caves, coral formations and underwater ruins. While many of the on-site activities are better suited to adults, there’s still plenty on offer for parents with a tot in tow, including shallow water interactions with dolphins.
Eco-Friendly Family Travel Essentials
If you’re making the effort to hunt down eco-friendly holiday destinations for your next family trip, it only makes sense that your travel essentials are good for the planet, too! Here’s our roundup of the best…
- Fun Days out for all the Family to Enjoy
- Travel: Postcard from Neev Spencer
- Top tips for Travelling with Children