An early pioneer of ecotourism, Singita Lodges has always advocated a conservation-driven, nature-forward approach that shines through in every aspect. With two lodges, Lebombo and Sweni, that seamlessly blend into Kruger National Park’s rocky landscape, it is perfectly placed to lead the charge in what it means for a hotel to have low environmental impact, protect wilderness and wildlife, and benefit its surrounding communities.
Working closely with non-profit Bioregional, Singita Lodges has been setting ambitious goals for itself and consistently achieving them. A 92% recycling rate, well above the South African average of 54%, is the result of consistent training in waste management and segregation; the reduction of diesel use by 70% is thanks to the installation of extensive solar panels and Tesla battery storage; and the inclusion of more vegetarian options for both guests and staff has contributed to a considerable decrease in meat consumption.
So embedded are these elements into the overall philosophy that guests at the property might not even become aware of them during their stay – distracted as they’re likely to be by the rhinos, lions and elephants roaming outside their windows, or by the rough beauty of the state-of-the-art spa and swimming pool. Indeed, the hotel’s objective has always been to ‘touch the earth lightly’, so its connection to the surrounding pristine wilderness is second to none. The 15,000-hectare private concession it calls home even features four distinct ecological zones, with daily safaris and guided walks included in the stay.
At dinner time – when guests of the lodges gather al fresco – the ingredients grown at the on-site herb garden are featured in boma meals, a culinary tradition started by tribesmen in the 18th century. The well-curated African menus also exclusively feature seafood that is sourced ethically, traceable to its origins and not ‘red-listed’ as unsustainable by the WWF.
But Singita Lodges’ work goes well beyond the obvious to also include a community culinary school that trains local students, 95% of whom are later employed by the hotel, as well as funding equipment and resources for a pre-school that now serves more than 1,700 children. It has also become a South African pioneer in carbon offsetting: two projects, one that reduces cookstove emissions and another that protects vulnerable woodland, are the jewels in the crown for a property seriously dedicated to supporting wildlife and preventing climate change.
With a holistic sustainable ethos that encompasses aspects such as staff wellbeing, supporting local prosperity and fair trade, nurturing heritage, restoring land and promoting sustainable farming, Singita Lodges – Kruger National Park emerges as the deserving inaugural winner of the Flor de Caña Eco Hotel Award 2023.
The Eco Hotel Award is given to the hotel that achieves the highest environmental and social responsibility rating as determined by 50 Best’s audit partner, the Sustainable Restaurant Association. All venues on The World’s 50 Best Hotels list were invited to enter the award via self-nomination and each entry was assessed across three main pillars: environment, society and procurement.