This hotel, billed as “Myanmar’s first true eco lodge,” is located in Rakhine State — which, yes, let’s address the elephant in the room — is one of the poorest parts of Myanmar. It’s also become a popular spot among eco-conscious visitors.
Arakan Nature Lodge was not just designed by locals, but it’s also run by a staff of locals who prioritize environmental concerns in their operations.
The back-to-basics lodge lets nature play the starring role, rather than getting all dressed up in fancy amenities or flashy extras.
Situated between the beach destinations of Ngwesaung and Ngapali, Arakan Nature Lodge is nestled among coconut trees on Zikhone beach — hundreds of miles away from the parts of Rakhine State where Myanmar security forces perpetrated the mass expulsion of Rohingya last year. (If the military’s crimes against humanity make you wonder whether you should visit Myanmar, read this.)
Though the natural surroundings are stunning — and the reason that Swiss owner Ueli Morgenthaler began planning the place in 2012, the accommodations might be too close to roughing it for some travelers. The resort’s nine huts have outdoor showers and composting toilets, lack glass windows, have no air conditioning, and don’t have fans, either.
However, “fans” of the resort (you see what we did there?) have reported loving the simplicity since the place opened late last year. They tend to spend their days on the beach: swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling, reading in a hammock, or hiking and exploring the nearby areas. They eat all meals communally since full board is included, and there are no restaurants in the village.
Visitors report that the food is a mainly pescetarian selection with a focus on fresh, healthy Burmese dishes. Bread is made daily using clay ovens, a process that guests are welcome to help with, if they wish to learn.
As far as supporting the environment, Arakan is impressively dedicated to that task. The resort runs completely on solar power — a must since the nearby village does not have electricity. It also uses dry composting toilets and a gray water system, where water runoff from showers and dishwashing is reused for purposes that don’t require pristine water.
They focus on preservation and conservation in all things, and use of local materials is a must. Guests report seeing no mass produced items anywhere, not even a plastic stool or plate.
As people arrive, they are greeted at an outdoor reception area beside the open air restaurant. The resort has a lush coconut grove on one side and a white sand beach on the other.
The nine huts are made of bamboo and recycled wood. The stiled versions have recycled ironwood for their bases. They all feature thatched roofs made of nipa palms. Each of the huts are slightly different and show off different styles and facets of Burmese design. Some of them allow guests to fold away the front wall entirely in order to fully enjoy the surroundings.
The resort is 280 kilometers from Yangon, a distance that takes about seven hours by car. It’s also possible to fly into Ngapali from Yangon and hire a driver to take you the remaining four hours by car.
In a move that seems in keeping with their ethos, Arakan does not book their huts over traditional booking websites. People need to come across them organically and send a message through their website.
Rooms start at USD75, which includes three meals per day, as well as use of sports equipment and one guided hike off the resort.
The resort is closed during the monsoon season and reopens on Oct. 1 of this year. To find out more or make a booking, visit their website.
Arakan Nature Lodge