Envi Lodges, a UAE-based operator of luxury eco-pods, aims to appeal to eco-conscious travellers who want to enjoy a holiday getaway immersed in nature and meaningfully connect with local communities while minimising their environmental footprint.
The start-up’s co-founders, Noelle Homsy and Chris Nader, started the business in September 2021, when they realised that people’s travel habits changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead of escaping the mundane routine of daily life to stay at luxury hotels in exotic locations, or the usual tourist haunts, many are increasingly looking for new experiences and to learn about the countries they are visiting.
During her travels in South-East Asia as a graduate student, Ms Homsy saw how “eco-lodges are very well integrated in the communities and the environment, they aren’t just parachuted hotels in the middle of nature”.
“I felt we can have this solution where tourism and real communities can be blended nicely together, rather than the segregation between tourists spending money and the not-so-fortunate locals,” she says.
The co-founders’ goal was to fill a gap in the market for high-end accommodation that minimises the environmental impact of travellers’ trips.
This is based on the company’s seven pillars of sustainability, including conserving wildlife, using resources mindfully and supporting local communities, according to Ms Homsy.
Envi Lodges has also been certified by Beyond Green – an alliance of eco-friendly hotels, resorts, and lodges – that has vetted the brand’s sustainability practices.
Beyond Green vets members, which undergo an on-site evaluation every two years, based on more than 50 sustainability indicators, according to its website.
These include green practises at the property, protection of natural and cultural heritage and a commitment to the social and economic well-being of locals.
“Chris and I had a bigger purpose, which is to drive the hospitality and tourism industry in the Middle East in the right direction to become more sustainable and to encourage responsible tourism,” she says.
“Saudi Arabia is at forefront of regenerative tourism but, at the time, we saw there was this need and we wanted to be a part of it as individuals and as a company.”