VolunTourist – Anywhere

VolunTourism Trips

“Looking for a unique approach to searching for VolunTourism Options around the world? Want to hear a Founder’s voice talking about why s/he started her/his company or NGO? Then you have come to the right place.

Beginning in August 2007, VolunTourism.org Founder, David Clemmons, launched The VolunTourist Webcast. This weekly call-in show features guests from across the globe, the majority of whom are voluntourism trip providers. In this section you will find interviews with Founders, Directors, Program Managers, and more.

In addition, since March 2005 The VolunTourist Newsletter has featured voluntourism providers in the Supply Chain column. In each issue, an article describes an entity’s background, philosophy, unique service & travel activities, and offers a sample itinerary.” VolunTourism


The Brando Hotel – Tahiti

“We are committed to preserving and protecting the natural splendor and precious biodiversity of Tetiaroa; respecting and supporting Polynesian culture, hospitality and traditions; and achieving a negligible carbon footprint.

We will support research, education and outreach aimed at increasing the knowledge of and appreciation for the natural and cultural heritage of tropical islands and their people. And we will use, encourage and support innovation to address local and global environmental and sustainability issues.

As stewards of Tetiaroa, we are committed to preserving and protecting the atoll and being a responsible member of both our local and global communities. We will deal fairly and honestly with our staff and suppliers in an atmosphere of mutual trust, accountability and reward.

We will strive to be a model for the rest of the world. We will leave Tetiaroa a better place than when we came and continually seek to enhance the lives of all those who visit.” The Brando Hotel


“Renewable Energy

At the Brando we have implemented a number of innovative programs and new technologies to help us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality:

  • Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) harnesses the cold of the ocean depths to provide low-energy, highly efficient cooling for all the buildings, reducing energy demands by almost 70%.
  • Solar energy produced from photovoltaic solar panels along the airstrip provide over half of the resort’s remaining energy needs (showing how to make typically unused space like this productive) and solar heating provides all of the resort’s hot water.
  • A coconut oil (biofuel) power station provide the other half of the resort’s energy needs. Fueled by locally produced coconut oil, this renewable power source will also support the local economy.
  • Flow-batteries for storage of energy generated from solar power are made primarily from recyclable materials and have a service life of thousands of deep discharge cycles.” The Brando Hotel

More information:

Sustainable Tourism: From Trend to Transformative Movement


Vivood – Spain

“From wooden houses to a sustainable hotel in nature. This is the journey that Daniel Mayo Pardo, architect and founder of VIVOOD, has embarked on over the last five years. In 2013, he began an entrepreneurial project based on the design of sustainable, self-sufficient homes. After this stage, in 2015 together with a team architects, designers and tourism experts ,he made the leap to the hotel sector when he decided to design, build and manage VIVOOD, the first Landscape Hotel in Spain”

“VIVOOD represents nature and sustainability, as well as lifestyle, exclusivity and architecture. It is a place where the traveller who is looking for new sensations can unwind, escaping their routine and getting in touch with nature. A space where we truly care about improving people’s wellbeing.” Vivood Hotel

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Hotel Rio do Prado – Portugal

“Rio do Prado is more than a new touristic resort in Óbidos. The hotel is strongly rooted in sustainability and how its context is positioned both nationally and internationally. The difference is in the concept and how it is integrated amongst dozens of diverse ecological ways, that our guests can take part in and observe – an ecological center constantly innovating within a strong educational and cultural vision.”

“Energy efficient rating on all accommodation units A+;
Solar water heating of bathwater, dishwashers and washing machines, aided by an energy efficient COP 4,2 heat pump;
All accommodation units and restaurant have double low emission glass window treatments;

The walls of the Eco Lab are thermally insulated by straw on the south/west side;
The walls of the Auditorium/Spa are made of thermally insulated prefabricated laminated concrete beams;
The concrete walls have an elevated percentage of ashes originating from an electric thermal power plant;
Recycled eucalyptus wood shades to keep out the sun and heat; [….]

Energy production through photovoltaic solar panels;
Double piping system (sewer and water line);
A sewer plant on the grounds for treating wastewater from the washbasins and baths;
Solar energy harvested in the restrooms and service areas;
Reclaimed water used in the toilet’s cisterns and recycled for non-potable usage;
Rain water is harvested along with all other water sources for maximum water recovery and stored in reservoirs to use in the sustainable landscaping irrigation system;
Stimulating biodiversity of flora and fauna with the creation of several wetlands (lakes); […]

The rugs in the majority of the suites made from leftover fabric;
End tables and suite’s décor made from oak wood;
Óbidos Lagoon frames made from old wooden crates used by local farmers;
End tables and reception desk built from old wooden crates lined with waste timber from the construction site;
The grocery store is decorated with boxes and different merchandise from local farms;
“Maria Batata’s” restaurant tables built from residual wood; […]

Use of green fertilizers and vermicompost in the garden and certified biological orchard;
Door pulls in the suites made from recycled rope;
Doormats made from recycled eucalyptus wood…”

“The suites themselves helped to build the surrounding landscape, which is set within its natural environment. A symbiosis of environments that represent the true mark of our concept by developing, transforming the present and the absent. Plants overlay the covers and at the entrance a tree crosses the structure.”

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Soneva Kiri – Thailand

“As the custodians of pristine locations, Soneva is built on the foundation that a business must exist for a greater purpose than shareholder returns. We believe in a natural excellence in everything we do, whether it is delivering the ultimate guest experiences or providing energy to the rural poor in Myanmar through the Soneva Foundation.

We work at a community level to bring tangible change to people’s lives while simultaneously working with global leaders to shape policy and encourage public discourse. We teach Maldivian children to swim safely in the ocean while simultaneously providing an environmental education.

We create our own cooking charcoal using the resources available to us on the island while providing 230,000 people in Darfur and Myanmar with fuel-efficient stoves that reduce deforestation and deathly indoor air pollution.

We filter, mineralise and bottle our own drinking water while using the proceeds to provide 750,000 people around the world with clean and safe water. We do not import any single-use plastics to our resorts while upcycling any discarded plastic into colourful and useful objects using our Maker Space facility.

We run the SLOW LIFE Symposia to encourage environmental and social collaboration within our local communities while hosting an annual SLOW LIFE Symposium to bring together the greatest academic, political and business minds to partner on the world’s most pressing problems.”


  • Carbon neutral including indirect emissions such as guest air travel
  • 230,000 people benefitted from fuel-efficient stoves
  • 488,587 tonnes of CO2 mitigated
  • 511,920 trees planted in Thailand
  • $14 million in social value
  • $7 million raised for the Soneva Foundation”

Watch the video: https://www.soneva.com/about-us/our-purpose/

Tree Hotel – Sweden

“Treehotel is built on the genuine experience of nature, so it’s a given that sustainability and ecological values are two pillars of our hotel operation.

We build our treerooms in the natural forest while hardly affecting the surroundings. We choose material and construction techniques that make as little environmental impact as possible. We build on live trees without destroying the tree and we do not chop down any trees or damage nature while building. Mostly we use local construction companies.

We have chosen an eco outdoor wood floor, which doesn´t contain any chemical substances. The wood is heated to over 200 degrees, which triggers their intrinsic resistance to protect against destruction.

The treerooms all have good insulation and are warmed up by underfloor heating. The electricity is supplied locally from green hydroelectric power. And the lighting consists of low-energy LED-systems.

Daily operations have minimal impact on nature as well. The treerooms have no sewage system and when cleaning, we always use eco-friendly products.

Each room has a modern, environmentally friendly combustion toilet where everything is incinerated at 600 °C. The toilets are completely odourless and powered by electricity. The Mirrorcube, on the other hand, has a freezing-toilet, also electrically powered and completely odourless. In winter, it also contributes to heating.

Bathrooms have water-efficient sinks with running water sufficient for washing hands, face and brushing teeth. All wastewater is collected in a container that is emptied daily. Showers are located in a separate building.

We do hope that you, as our guest, appreciate our sustainability work, even if it does make your accommodation a bit simpler. While we want to have our hotel in the middle of nature, we want to do it on nature’s terms.” Tree Hotel


Chole Mjini – Tanzania

“Part of the Mafia archipelago that lies south of Zanzibar, Chole is a tiny tropical island located in the largest marine park in East Africa, a few clicks off the Tanzanian coast.

Set sail for its mangrove-lined shores, and as the first treehouses hove into view, the last vestiges of the 21st century recede: no roads, no cars, no electricity… Just a star-spangled sky, flickering candles, superb food, great company, and the timeless luxuries of space, immersion in nature, privacy, and utter peace.”

“Almost twenty years ago the then leaders of the Mafia District Council offered us land on Chole Island to build a hotel and the first thing we did was to consult with the Chole village elders and then with a broad cross-section of the entire population in order to establish their priorities for development and to discuss the impact of our proposed hotel and other interventions. These consultations became the basis for agreements between the Chole Mjini Conservation and Development Co. (Chole Mjini CDCo) and Chole village that were documented in the minutes of village council meetings and assembly meetings of the entire village in 1993 and 1994.

Our motivation in building the lodge was to find out if one could use a profit-making tourism business as a mechanism to provide recurrent funding, continuity, administrative and other support (the “glue”) to help self-run village development projects meet their long-term goals. Our vision was to help two generations of Chole children through formal education to go as far as they could and in this way empower the people of Chole to better engage with the national economy so that the future prospects of all the people of the island would irreversibly change and their need for assistance would then be radically decreased. We believed that giving kids a real shot at an education in an environment where anemic babies are born to anemic mothers would also require an approach that simultaneously addressed primary health-care issues.

Happily, the priorities of the majority of the people of Chole and our own vision turned out to coincide and the goals of our joint development venture were thus easy to define as being to improve health-care and education for all the people of Chole.”

“Each tree house took from six months to a year to complete because they were built completely by hand, using traditional tools and utilizing materials sourced only from traders living on Chole. Time slipped away, to bureaucracy, to malaria and hepatitis and the universal building plague. Like builders the world over, the Chole fundis constantly had other (usually boat building) jobs to be dealt with on the side and there were the many arguments about money and whose fault it was when the building materials weren’t at hand when needed. We only bought poles and wood that were accompanied by a valid license from the appropriate authority, which slowly excluded many suppliers, and in the end most of the poles and wood came from the nearby Rufiji River delta and one man who has become a very dear friend. Abdullah Mzee is a human dynamo, a mover and shaker who has saved our butts on more than one occasion over the years. Each tree for poles and planks was cut by hand, sawn into planks by hand in a saw pit and transported to Chole by dhow, cured by us for at least twelve months and then ripped and planed by hand. I’m happy that his efforts on our behalf paid for him to go on the Hajj, the greatest wish of this remarkable man, and the only man on Chole to have done so.” Chole Mjini

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Ion Hotel – Island

“Inspired by the environmental surroundings, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel incorporates innovative materials, sustainable practices, and the natural features of Iceland into its design and practices. Ion is surrounded by hot springs, which provide geothermal hot water and energy to the hotel´s natural hot pool. The prefabricated, panelized building system exceeds environmentally safe building standards that merge with the lava and moss covered ground. Lava, and reused wood, Icelandic wool and other natural materials are used extensively in furniture throughout the hotel. The organic room amenities are made from Icelandic herbs. Everything from bed linen to the restaurant´s food is organic and fair trade purchase. Tables and chairs are built from recycled materials. Lights made of lava and found-wood. Hand sinks are made from recycled tires and hand made Icelandic wool sweaters are sold in the hotel´s gift store. The abandoned building was acquired in 2011 and — with the assistance of Santa Monica-based design studio Minarc — renovated, with a new wing also added. The new elements of the structure were built using a prefabricated panelized building system, which exceeds environmentally safe building standards. Natural light is taken advantage of through floor-to-ceiling windows, which also offer panoramic views augmented by the hotel’s position atop a series of pillars that dramatically jut out of the slopes of Mount Hengill. The concrete and black lava exterior successfully merges with the volcanic landscape, creating a mood of integration, not interruption. Innovative materials, sustainable practices and natural features: these are the hallmarks of design at ION. Bolstering the hotel’s mood of a secluded retreat are driftwood and other natural materials, found in the surrounding area and seamlessly incorporated into the interiors. Fairtrade organic linens and wooden flooring are found in all accommodations, where the sustainable ethos of the hotel is also realized via water-saving shower systems, and beds and chairs made from recycled materials. Throughout the hotel, including public spaces, natural components are used extensively in furniture; for example, lighting constructed using lava and found wood. Each ION private room boasts fair-trade organic linens, and incredible views. Each private bath is environmentally responsible with water saving shower systems. The beds are king-size, hypo allergenic and supremely comfortable. Guests will notice a modern; natural and warm aesthetic that immediately makes them feel at-home with luxury attention to detail. Icelandic wool throws, Icelandic art, and flower vases, hand-blown by local artisans, guests will enjoy a new take on rural hospitality.” Ion Hotel

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