While most hotels on Barbados now have rooftop solar panels for heating and hot water – in line with the government’s 2030 target – Mango Bay, an all-inclusive in Holetown, is about to go one step further and become the first on the island to fully embrace solar electricity, through a large-scale photovoltaic energy plant off-site due to be completed by the end of the year. Its owner, Peter Odle (a Bajan national, who also owns the Sands and Island Inn hotels nearby), has made a point of investing back into Barbados, rather than funnelling money offshore as per most of the island’s foreign-owned resorts; 75 per cent of his suppliers are locally based and a company-owned organic farm helps preserve the country’s agricultural practices.
No surprise, then, that the hotel’s recent renovation was conscious: HFC-free air conditioning units (regular ones emit harmful greenhouse gases) were installed; all cleaning products and in-room toiletries are now eco-friendly; and staff members lead weekly beach clean-ups.
Over in the hilly Scotland district, on the less-visited south-east coast, a 53-acre agro-forestry project from Indian filmmaker Mahmood Patel is fast becoming the benchmark for environmentally-led hospitality on Barbados. A farm-to-table restaurant, Mamu’s Café, sources fruits, eggs and vegetables from Coco Hill – Patel’s fruit forest, which uses permaculture, vertical and biodynamic farming methods to harness and sustain the area’s unique ecosystems – and even offers foraging trips to patrons as part of their meal.
Nearby Freights Bay is popular with newbie surfers, but guests – who tend to stay in one of the project’s 25 self-catering Ocean Spray apartments – go for the guided hikes and tours of lush Coco Hill; it’s the highest peak in the forest (sitting at 1,085ft) and has panoramic views of the rugged east coast.
Visitors to Bathsheba, Barbados’s surf capital on the east coast, tend to gravitate towards one place: ECO Lifestyle & Lodge. The only hotel in the Caribbean with a Snail Award for slow food, its restaurant is becoming almost prohibitively popular for its pescatarian and seasonal plant-based menus, as well as a lively Sunday brunch (book well in advance). It’s great for slow travel, too, with tourists bedding in for the long haul; when they’re not catching breaks on the water, you will see them running businesses from behind laptops in and around the property or drying off in the Cob Sauna (made from clay soil, sand, straw and stones heated on a wood-burner). The hotel has an independent vibe in part thanks to its staff, including founder Kyle Taylor, who these days also focuses his attention on a new venture – a compostable bottled water company that supplies luxury hotels across the island.