We’re seeing a different side to sustainability – the global trend continuing to gain traction in the luxury sector. With sustainability flowing through every space, in every industry, new-to-market luxury hotels are increasingly taking advantage of this purpose-driven trend, and existing companies know they must adapt to accommodate it, or be left behind. Today, sustainability is measured by so much more than energy efficiency ratings and refillable soap dispensers…

The United Nations declared 2017 the Year of Sustainability. National Geographic’s Annie Fitzsimmons writes on the UN “recognizing sustainable tourism as a key factor in helping communities develop around the world. The three pillars of sustainable tourism are economic (such as primarily hiring local staff), social (such as protecting rich cultural heritage), and environmental (such as recycling an using lake or ocean water to heat and cool properties).”

All pillars are key to the changing face of luxury. If we take a deeper look at the social pillar, truly integrating and respecting the cultural heritage of an area where a luxury hotel is located, then the possibilities of its application to the aesthetics and experiences created within the space are endless. This is key to authentic placemaking, here is a chance to offer a unique and considered stay that is exclusive only to that particular place. One that celebrates and highlights the beauty of the culture it is surrounded by through the subtle details of the design.

This is epitomized in Alila Yangshuo hotel by Vector Architects in China’s mountainous Country where old meets new. Once a working sugar mill, the resort integrates ‘indigenous nature, traditional culture and the local community’. Guests can experience a variety of bespoke cultural experiences of the Yangshou region across five themes –  Cultural Learning, Conscious Living, Active Spirits, Culinary Arts and Couple Celebration. With a laudable commitment to sustainability, an exploration of how contemporary construction has been designed to give continuity to place is explored in this article by designboom ; https://goo.gl/di4Bwf

More is expected from luxury, more than comfort, elegance and expense. There must be a strong emotional and sensational aspects present. Sustainable luxury is about meaningful experiences that are created and shared by guests, staff and community alike.

Read more by Annie Fitzsimmons on Sustainable Luxe here; https://goo.gl/2k1eHD

Madelyne Kelly
Design Intern, School of the Built Environment, UNSW
Image: dezeen.com