Reduce, Reuse...Hotels worldwide are adopting sustainable practices including energy and water conservation, waste reduction and environmental-education programs for staff and guests. At Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo., guests can enjoy 5,000 acres of what the resort calls "Raw Colorado." The ranch itself, which consists of one main lodge and 16 cabins, sits on just 1% of the property, giving guests easy access to untouched forest, meadow and streams in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The Broad Axe Barn, the ranch's space for weddings and events, was built with beams from a Civil War-era barn in Indiana. And the property uses environmentally friendly geothermal heating and cooling systems. Doubles start at $245 a night. There's only one environmentally friendly way to dispose of used cooking oil in Juneau, Alaska: The Westmark Baranof Hotel. The hotel collects used cooking oil from area restaurants and mixes it with regular heating oil to heat the property. (Restaurants that don't send their leftover oil to the Baranof must ship it to the lower 48 states, a very expensive alternative.) Doubles start at $119 a night. All of the herbs and seasonings used to prepare the gourmet fare at Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada are grown on the resort property. This luxury resort takes its commitment to the environment seriously, using solar hot water heaters, maintaining a chlorine-free swimming pool and grinding up leftover guest soaps to use as laundry detergent for staff uniforms. Doubles start at $850 a night.
|The Heritance Kandalama was built in the Sri Lankan rainforest without cutting down any trees.|
...and RecycleSome hotel operators are taking green to a totally new level by offering rooms -- and entire hotels -- made of recycled or re-purposed materials. At DasPark Hotel in Austria, you can sleep in a drain pipe. Each "room" is equipped with electricity, a double bed, a skylight and a plug for Internet connection. (One drawback: Bathrooms are in the main building.) The price for this unique opportunity is flexible: The hotel asks guests to "pay as they wish." Payments typically range from 7 to 20 euros ($9 to $27), and some guests leave small gifts as well.
Finding Your Own Green LodgingTo find more eco-friendly options, talk to your travel agent or check out the following Web sites:
- "Green" Hotels Association lists member hotels worldwide.
- Environmentally Friendly Hotels rates hotels on a scale of one to seven green trees. The ratings are based on a number of green attributes including the use of alternative energy, the presence of guestroom recycling bins and options for eco-friendly or organic food.
- Eco Hotels of the World uses a green-star ratings system to evaluate a hotel's efforts in energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction, environmental action and production. To be evaluated by Eco Hotels, a hotel must first fulfill a series of criteria including ecological sustainability, a proven contribution to conservation, an economic and cultural commitment to the local community and the availability of environmental-education programs.