Discover 3 of Africa’s Most Lavish Eco-Friendly Stays

From lodges on the banks of hippo-filled rivers to tropical island escapes and small-town hideaways set on the water’s edge, these opulent hotels provide guests with the pinnacle of relaxation while remaining eco-friendly and sustainably focused.

By Elise Kirsten
Batoka Zambezi Sands

The Turbine Hotel and Spa, South Africa

Set on the edge of the tranquil marina on Knysna’s Thesen Island, The Turbine Hotel and Spa is a boutique five-star sanctuary that’s not constrained by muted hues of beige and brown. This vibrant retreat for the discerning – which takes an intentionally sustainable approach – was transformed from a once disused power station to the luxury stay it is today.

Turbine Boutique Hotel

Among the 24 rooms are six feature balconies overlooking the Knysna Lagoon or Thesen Island, while two offer baths with scenic views of the island’s canals. Each room has a unique style that blends grandeur, artistic flair and a touch of industrial chic, creating a harmonious fusion of dynamic opulence.

Turbine Boutique Hotel

Solar panels have been strategically installed to significantly reduce electricity consumption and energy-efficient air conditioning and fridge-freezer systems, as well as appliance timers, have been integrated. The hotel serves water in recyclable glass bottles, and water-saving showerheads and faucet nozzles are standard in the rooms. In a bid to further optimise energy usage, monitors track electricity consumption. As a result, “the entire air-conditioning system has been revamped, ensuring efficiency without compromising on comfort,” explains general manager Kate Christie from a seat in the lounge overlooking the rim-flow pool above the marina.

Turbine Boutique Hotel

All these efforts run seamlessly in the background and don’t minimise the guests’ experience of luxury and relaxation, which includes access to an on-site spa as well as The Turbine Water Club’s boats and kayaks to explore the canals and lagoon.

The commitment to sustainability extends to the culinary experience too. Executive chef Greg Coleman, ensures that the hotel’s cuisine follows a farm-to-table or ocean-to-table philosophy. He explains, “We source our fish locally from two suppliers that are part of SASSI, our organic herbs and salads are supplied by local farmers, and our organic food waste goes to a local pig farmer.” Greg’s hobby is beekeeping and the hotel uses his local honey as much as possible.

In harmony with its surroundings, The Turbine Hotel and Spa marries luxury, sustainability and an immersive experience that respects both nature and discerning travellers.


Zambezi Sands River Lodge, Zimbabwe

The lavish Zambezi Sands River Lodge, which reopened to guests in June this year, has undergone a transformation under the guidance of acclaimed South African interior designer Yvonne O’Brien. Situated deep within the western end of the Zambezi National Park – about an hour from Victoria Falls – it comprises 10 Bedouin-style tents, each with a private plunge pool overlooking the banks of the Zambezi River. For families or pairs travelling together, there is also a two-bedroom suite available, complete with its own private swimming pool, comfortable lounge area, dining room and expansive deck.

Falling under the umbrella of the Batoka Hospitality Group, the lodge is the first Black female-owned five-star safari lodge in Africa, and has been thoughtfully integrated into the local environment and community to establish a harmonious ecosystem that benefits all.

Batoka Zambezi Sands

“People are at the centre of what we do. It’s not only our staff members and the guests we bring in but the communities that we’re in. It doesn’t make sense that you can build a five-star property and come back five years later and see really underdeveloped communities – see children not wearing clothes, or not wearing shoes because they simply can’t afford it. If we’re going to be in a community, we have to be part of uplifting that community,” said Vimbai Masiyiwa, executive director of Batoka Hospitality and daughter of billionaire businessman, Strive Masiyiwa.

In keeping with its sustainable approach, Zambezi Sands is entirely solar powered and its water purification system filters water from the Zambezi River. Guests receive reusable water bottles, and water conservation and greywater reuse are priorities. The lodge favours local produce as well as sourcing greens from its own garden, and eco-friendly and compostable food packaging is used.

Batoka Zambezi Sands

To empower local women, Batoka established the Shingani Women’s Embroidery Sewing Club. The club meets every Saturday to create reusable sanitary pads, curtains and bags, “supporting the girl child while generating income”. The Tesse Fund, financed by 10 percent of the revenue from each guest’s stay, was also established to enable staff members to initiate projects that benefit the local community. “We are empowering the African dream of success through eco-tourism and hospitality,” says Vimbai.


Waldorf Astoria Platte Island, Seychelles

Hilton’s renowned luxury brand will debut on the shores of the Seychelles with the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island, which is currently accepting bookings for April 2024. The virginal island, covered in palms and surrounded by crystal-clear waters, will have 59 beachfront villas with private pools.

Waldorf Astoria Platte Island, Seychelles

Sustainability is a priority in this paradisiacal oasis, in keeping with Hilton’s ‘Travel with a Purpose’ strategy to drive responsible travel and tourism. The hotel group’s excellence in economic, environmental and social responsibility is underscored by its six-year inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This property will ensure the brand’s global sustainability leadership.

Waldorf Astoria Platte Island, Seychelles

The island’s garden is anticipated to supply a significant portion of its fruits and vegetables to the kitchen, aiming to offer guests an eco-conscious farm-to-table culinary experience. Solar panels will provide renewable energy, and on top of dining, sunbathing, fly fishing and snorkelling, guests can engage in eco-awareness education.

Waldorf Astoria Platte Island, Seychelles

“In the two decades I have called remote tropical islands a home, I have never witnessed an island as pristine as Platte Island, nor one so teaming with wildlife, where it’s possible to glimpse endangered Hawksbill turtles laying eggs, eagle rays and reef sharks ribboning along the lagoon,” says Elias Pertoft, the new resort’s general manager.

When it comes to the epitome of luxurious sustainability, what more could you really ask for?


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