The futuristic hotel is being built using a ‘360-degree, holistic circular approach.’ With a data-driven approach to next-level ecotourism, Svart’s goals include not only its guests’ relaxation, but education on environmental conservation, and changes in ‘attitude and behavior.’
As the world warms, the tourism industry — like many industries — is tackling the climate crisis from a variety of angles. Aviation is (slowly) developing technology to aid decarbonization, tour companies are actively funding environmental conservation efforts, and destinations are reassessing their previous visitation strategies.
Joining these efforts from the accommodations sector is Svart — the world’s first energy-positive, off-grid luxury resort — which is expected to open in late 2023.
Located in the Arctic Circle at the base of Norway’s Svartisen Glacier on the Helgeland coastline, Svart’s design, functionality and construction are intentionally integrated within its natural environment. Because of the building’s circular shape, rooftop solar panels will receive ample sunlight throughout the day — particularly during the summer, when the sun barely sets. Developers estimate the hotel will save 85 percent of its annual energy consumption while also harvesting energy using these panels, covering all hotel operation needs.
In an article published by SUNx Malta, Svart development director Ivaylo Lefterov asserted the property “will be fully off-grid, carbon-neutral, and zero waste within the first five years of operation.” The hotel does not intend to rely on any external infrastructure.
Svart is the first building to be designed and built according to the highest energy-efficiency standards in the Northern Hemisphere — and its environmental ethos is literally being built into all aspects of the property. Steel and concrete will be kept to a minimum, and solar panels are being produced using hydro-energy. Because it is being built on the water, guests can only access Svart via boats, which will also be powered by energy produced on the property.
Additional features include a sustainable fish farm, water- and waste-management systems, and heat recycling from data centers. Svart will also have an organic greenhouse farm, where it will grow its own fruit and vegetables — enabling a farm-to-table dining concept.
The luxury property will be able to fully embrace regenerative principles in large part because it’s been developed from inception based on four key pillars — environment, nature, sustainability and technology innovation — whereas other accommodations must backtrack and retrofit to adhere to these principles.
“For my experience at least, a lot of the mistakes that come from hotel developments are that many projects don’t consider all elements at the same time,” Lefterov said in an interview with Sleeper. “It’s often an afterthought, and then they have to adjust or adopt elements to make it work. In a way, this compromises the end result and doesn’t allow it to reach its full potential as something unique.”
This sustainable construction ethos is one that property developers hope to carry into the guest experience with what Lefterov described to The AfterTravel as a “360-degree holistic, circular approach.” As such, wellness and mindful wellbeing are essential components of a stay at Svart. In addition to its 99 rooms and four restaurants, the property will have a two-floor spa with three zones outfitted with locally sourced products.
But the wellness aspect of the guest experience isn’t just about getting a massage customized with local herbs or plants. Svart hopes to “inspire discerning travelers to care for the protection of nature, preservation, and the importance of the pristine polar region,” according to its website, with transparency about its conservation and preservation efforts in an education center. Additionally, guests will use customized wearable technology that goes beyond typical data collection. It will create awareness and help guests design their activities, spa program and food menu; but its sophistication goes one step further by enabling travelers to take action based on what they learn from this data.
“One of the failures of technology introduced in hotels is that they all offer data collection but it’s lacking the next stage — how to use the data and convert it into a benefit for the user,” Lefterov told AfterTravel. For example, he noted, if a person is in a room for a certain amount of time, their breath generates heat — which may be able to maintain a comfortable temperature within the space. The key of this interactive, informative approach, he said, is to help “change anybody’s attitude and behavior.”
Beyond being a fertile ground for guest education, Svart’s journey to becoming the world’s first energy-positive hotel will likely surface valuable lessons for accommodations specifically and the tourism industry at large. In his interview with AfterTravel, Lefterov noted Svart’s on-site design laboratory will be “an incubator for new technologies and new ideas,” such as different heating or food systems, which can then be incorporated into Svart’s ecosystem.
“The vision for Svart is so much bigger than the project itself; we are trying to use it as a showcase of what can be achieved in terms of sustainability and energy solutions,” Lefterov told Sleeper. “It’s demonstrating to the user what we can do, and the extent of what can be done, to really get people thinking about it.”