It’s hard to imagine a prettier spot. On the edge of Lake Garda in Italy, the country’s largest lake, Lefay Resort & Spa is a haven of health and haute cuisine. As it sits in a national park, surrounded by olive trees and rolling hills, visitors immediately feel peaceful when they step onto the grounds. While Lefay has earned five stars in service and has a reputation that other resorts envy, its management team takes environmental impact just as seriously. Working to keep its impact as low as possible, the resort was rewarded last year with Italy’s Ecocert award for its organic and ecological spa.

“Sustainable tourism is essential to protect the environment for future generations, says Managing Director Alcide Leali. “We believe that a luxurious experience can also be sustainable, and in creating Lefay, we were investing in the present and the future. Everything in our resort has been designed to provide the maximum in comfort whilst respecting the environment. We offer a holiday experience that is a blend of luxury, comfort, wellness and nature in one place.”

Breakfast anyone? Photo courtesy of Lefay Resort and Spa

The hotel is a lesson in how to do eco-luxe and do it well. It has its own biomass system fuelled by wood chips, which takes care of the heating and hot water. Rainwater is collected to water the gardens. Solar panel and micro turbines provide electricity, and any extra needed is purchased from a grid with a Renewable Energy Certificate System (RECS). Last year the resort reduced its CO2 emissions to practically nothing, all the while providing a stellar spa and sunbathing experience that many say is hard to beat.

“Personal wellness should never overlook environmental wellness, particularly today since the impact of man on nature and its effects can no longer be ignored.” explains Leali. “We wanted to create a truly sustainable resort with a luxurious Italian vibe.”

It’s not just the mechanics of the resort that make it so special. Every aspect of the design, from the architecture to the spa’s amenities have been geared toward protecting the environment and supporting the local community on the lake shore.

Photo courtesy of Lefay Resort and Spa

“The interior design of our resort uses only local, natural materials, with olive wood from the Garda area used for parquet flooring, Italian walnut for furniture, and red Verona marble used on the floor of the hotel reception and bathrooms,” says Leali. “Natural untreated cotton has been used for all the fabrics, including bed sheets and chemical-free water-based paint has been used on the walls. Locally produced olive oil and homegrown herbs and lemons are important ingredients in many of our spa’s treatments and we are planning an organic vegetable garden to supply the kitchen.”

The local environment also inspired the resort’s design: it’s modelled on traditional lemon houses, but built into the hillside to reduce heat and energy loss. When you look at it from afar, it almost disappears, as the roofs are covered in native vegetation.

Photo courtesy of Lefay Resort and Spa

As much as it’s important to take care of the land, Lefay is very aware of its own social responsibility as well.

“We believe that eco-sustainability means making a contribution towards the social and economic development of the local communities. We are passionate about recruiting from the local area and we are committed to giving employment to local people. We sponsor local events and source food as much as we can from local suppliers.”

Staff members become like family here, where they’re often taken on at a young age. Unlike other hotels, it’s attitude, not experience that counts. “We have recruited a team with a great attitude and then invested in training to develop them,” said Leali “This is not the easy way, but it is successful and innovative.”

Photo courtesy of Lefay Resort and Spa

At Lefay, luxury has been redefined. Rather than golden faucets, wasteful processes and over-engineered design, here luxury means something much more innocent and natural.

“Our aim was to create a new concept of luxury, which would go beyond the realm of opulence and mere aesthetics, but that would integrate with ethical values such as respect for the environment, enhancement of the landscape and maintaining traditions.”

It appears they have succeeded.


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