Green Retreats

by Matthew Link

Where: Queensland, Australia

The pitch: Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef spend so much time facedown in the ocean that they often forget to look inland. Take a gander at Queensland's coastal rain forest, some 100 million years older than the Amazon. There you'll find the 30-acre Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, with modern tree-house bungalows on stilts above the canopy floor, an elevated boardwalk, and an outdoor spa that's shielded from view by a waterfall.

Green factor: The 15 villas are designed to stay cool without air-conditioning, and the lights turn off when you leave the room (the fridge stays on, though). Water comes from a natural spring, and wastewater is recycled for irrigation. The local KuKu Yalanji people work on the staff and have input in future plans for the lodge.

Creature comforts: Canopy beds, en-suite bathrooms, TVs, CD players, and the five "spa villas" have hot tubs overlooking the forest. The spa has a state-of-the-art Vichy shower and uses ginger, ocher, and mud in treatments.

Eco-activities: Guests can take Aboriginal dot-painting classes or join smoking ceremonies with tribal elders. Otherwise, options include searches for crocs on night river cruises or jungle hikes where snacks include live green ants (high in vitamin C).

Green rule of thumb: Owners Terry and Cathy Maloney believe that the best eco-lodges should give guests the chance to "learn by living," by offering chances to experience cultures firsthand.

Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa
Tel: 800 441 6880
Doubles from $450, including breakfast

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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