Eco-Luxury: Noelle Homsy’s extraordinary vision

Noelle Homsy, co-founder of ENVI Lodges, is not your typical hospitality magnate. With a background in architecture and a stint in claims and contracts for construction projects, she embarked on an unconventional path to regenerative tourism. Today, with an emphasis on sustainability, she aims to change how we perceive travel, luxury, and our footprint on this planet.

Homsy’s journey into hospitality wasn’t immediate. “My background for the hospitality sector is a bit unconventional,” she admitted. Initially, Homsy delved into architecture which she believes “shaped a lot the way I look at things.” However, it was following her time pursuing an MBA at INSEAD, a global business school with a diverse batch of students, that she made her foray into the hospitality sector. “After my MBA… I landed on a role in development in Dubai, working for a hotel operator,” she recounted. Yet, she quickly realised that while she was in the right industry, she wasn’t exactly in the space she desired. This led her to create ENVI Lodges, blending her passion with global needs.

The ethos of ENVI Lodges revolves around minimising the environmental impact, particularly in the hospitality sector, which historically has a sizable carbon footprint. Homsy elaborated on this shift in perspective post-Covid: “People started realising that we have a huge carbon footprint on the environment… especially in the hospitality sector.” She noted the wasteful habits of many travellers – from leaving lights and AC on to the vast amount of food waste.

While her wish would be to implement fully sustainable systems and operations, Homsy highlights the importance of finding the right balance between guest comfort, economic viability, and leaving a positive impact on the environment and on local communities. “It’s crucial to realize that we cannot save the world, and we have to be honest about what we can and cannot achieve, rather than resort to greenwashing.” she adds.

Furthermore, she stressed the importance of adapting to the new generation of travellers, emphasising, ” The modern traveller seeks unique experiences. They desire novel adventures when they travel, emphasising the importance of experiential journeys. At the same time, they’re driven by a desire to leave a positive mark on the places they visit. This growing awareness shapes their travel choices.

“Marrying these two ideals results in a travel experience that’s both immersive and sustainable. That’s the essence of ENVI. We offer experiences in extraordinary, off-the-beaten-path destinations, focusing on remote, pristine locales. We believe in giving guests an authentic experience without harming the very ecosystems that attract them.

“After all, the beauty of these natural habitats is why people visit. Damaging these spaces would deprive future guests of these experiences. The inception of ENVI is rooted in this market demand, aligning with both my and my co- founder’s passion for positive industry impact.”

This provided a clear direction for ENVI Lodges, aiming for experiential, eco-conscious travel in remote and untouched locations.

Noelle Homsy
Noelle Homsy – co-founder – ENVI Lodges

The role of her co-founder, Chris, has been instrumental in realising this vision. Describing their partnership, Homsy said, “My co-founder Chris basically is everything. I wouldn’t have imagined doing this on my own.” Chris comes from a lineage of hoteliers and brings a deep understanding of hospitality from his family-run yacht club in Beirut to leading development efforts for Kempinski in the Middle East and Africa. Homsy spoke warmly of their complementary skills, emphasising, “It’s important for these skills to be different, so we approach challenges from different angles. We also keep learning from each other every day”

However, while ENVI Lodges places a high emphasis on sustainability, it does not compromise on luxury. Homsy stressed that although their accommodations might be tents, modular villas, or alternative pods, they offer an experience that many might find surprising (in a nice way): “Yes, we use tents in many of our projects… but they’re sometimes even more luxurious than a five-star hotel,” she stated. In distinguishing their brand, she highlighted that luxury is embedded in their experience. “It’s in knowing that your indulgences are not leaving a negative impact on the environment.”

One of their upcoming projects, ENVI Laguna Bay in King Abdullah Economic City, embodies their approach. Positioned just outside the city, surrounded by pristine beaches, mangroves, and lagoons, it promises to be an iconic addition to their portfolio. Homsy is particularly impassioned about this endeavour, saying, “This project was our inaugural announcement in the Kingdom, and we’re incredibly excited about it. We’re planning to build around 40 pods that will be strategically placed along the beach, complemented by a wellness centre, top-notch outlets, a kids club, an activities’ centre, and other experiential amenities, including private dining. This ensures guests have an exceptional beachfront experience.”

ENVI is also developing a farm eco-retreat in Al Ahsa, which promises a unique dates-driven agritourism experience nestled between palm trees.

In the quest to redefine luxury and sustainability, Noelle Homsy’s journey from architecture to the forefront of regenerative tourism offers a blueprint for a future where indulgence doesn’t have to come at the planet’s expense.