The Middle East’s first eco-tourism resort has certainly lived up to its billing, from its impeccably sustainable construction programme to its investment in other environmental and community projects

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Winner: The Zighy Bay Six Senses Hideway Hotel, Oman

The Six Senses Hideaway hotel is unlike any other in the Gulf. It is not high-rise, does not make an imposing statement and has sacrificed majesty for humility. It is a sustainable project in every sense of the word, from design through construction to operation.

Built by Al Marsa Travel & Tourism, the $27m hotel is the Middle East’s first eco-tourism resort. Architect and co-owner Mahfouz Shuhaiber has used traditional materials such as wattle and sandstone to ensure that each of the development’s 82 cottages have low energy usage. Natural ventilation and passive shading counteract the intense heat, and the hotel’s dining areas were built using recycled timber.

Contractors were employed from surrounding villages, and carbon emissions and waste were measured and benchmarked. This would be for nothing if the hotel’s operator did not follow through on the example. But it has, whole-heartedly. It treats wastewater and uses it to irrigate surrounding greenery and to flush the hotel’s toilets. Plastic wrappings are banned and waste is recycled locally. The hotel’s food is sourced as far as possible from local producers, including fresh fish bought from neighbouring Omani fishing villages.

Six Senses invests 0.5% of the development’s revenue in social and environmental projects, such as helping underdeveloped communities near the hotel, replacing coal-fired power plants in India with wind turbines and forest conservation in Thailand.