Platinum List 2018: Best Hotel Innovators

Isla Palenque, Mashpi Lodge, 1 Hotel Central Park

September / October 2018

Environmentally focused design, solar-heated water and rich biodiversity—these luxury leaders define the cutting edge. 

1 Hotel Central Park

New York City, New York, United States

The 1 Hotel Central Park sprouts out of Midtown Manhattan like a blossoming plant. Lush green English ivy swallows the exterior, ornamental moss dangles from the lobby’s rafters and salvaged wood that lines the elevators’ walls gives the illusion of being inside a tree trunk.

“The design is inspired by nature, a return to it,” says 1 Hotel general manager Hans Schaepman. “The message comes through in the touch and feel and smell of the hotel.”

Small details that reduce this 229-room hotel’s footprint could easily go unnoticed by guests, such as sand hourglasses in every shower to keep people mindful of how much water they consume and clothes hangers made from recycled paper. And that’s the point: Hotels no longer have to jeopardize the luxury experience to commit to sustainability. 

Isla Palenque

Chiriqui, Panama

“It’s not easy being green,” says Hans Pfister, co-founder of the Cayuga Collection, which operates eight sustainable lodges throughout Central America. The newest is Isla Palenque, an eco-chic island resort in
the Gulf of Chiriquí in Panama that opened earlier this year. “Sustainability isn’t on anybody’s radar in Panama yet and we have to work with our staff to maintain the same level of sustainability found at all our properties.”

At Isla Palenque, water is solar-heated. Furniture is constructed from fallen wood in the forest. Produce is purchased at local farmers markets to limit packaging waste. Straws made of bamboo and papaya replace plastic. They’re even looking into sending organic waste to a neighboring pig farm. “There isn’t much of a sustainable culture here,” Pfister says, “but we’ll continue to educate others and show them our way.” —Jess Swanson


Mashpi Lodge

Mashpi, Ecuador

On a remote forest reserve in Ecuador, Mashpi Lodge embraces the rich biodiversity that surrounds its sleek glass and steel structure. The commitment to nature is unwavering. The resort uses biodegradable cleaning supplies, even though that means it must repaint often because of stubborn plants that try to creep inside. Rather than use harsh chemicals, the lodge offers a unique mosquito repellent without any deet. Produce is all locally sourced.

Mashpi Lodge also conducts cutting-edge scientific research, employing a team of investigators who collaborate with local universities and institutions. “We discovered a new species of frog,” says Beno Atan, Mashpi Lodge’s experience manager. “How amazing is that?” —Jess Swanson


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