April 22, 2008
As recent green go-getters the Palazzo and Sofitel show, just because a hotel is big doesn’t mean it can’t be environmentally responsible. And just because you want to enjoy vacation’s little luxuries doesn’t mean you have to betray your recycling heart: at these eco-friendly accommodations—from big-city towers to beachside haciendas—you can have your plush in-room bathrobes and your low-flow showerheads.
1. Hotel Triton, San Francisco
This Union Square boutique hotel strives for sustainability without sacrificing style, as “each room is decorated by a different famous designer.” The one thing every room has in common? A designer recycling bin. Hotel Triton adheres to the policies of EarthCare, Kimpton’s ecological program that, among other things, donates used toiletry bottles to charity and uses low-flow water systems in bathrooms. A bonus tip from KOCO: “If you really are the rocker type, be sure to ask for the Red Hot Love Nest on the fifth floor, as this room has been decorated by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, using their gear cases as furniture.” Rock-and-roll recycling? Right on.
2. Hyatt Regency, Washington, D.C.
Just blocks from Capitol Hill, the Hyatt scores high marks from travelers for its “location, location, location” and “fabulous suites,” and from Green Seal for its high-efficiency lighting and water-saving showerheads. If you don’t feel like heading to the hotel’s “lively lobby bar” or restaurants, follow Laura’s advice and order “very good” room service, pretzel roll included.
3. Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
It’s hard to think of any ecological or social policy in which Morgan’s Rock isn’t a leader; from recycled material in rooms to turtle hatchings on the beach, this eco-resort lives up to its name. Bungalows are luxurious but accommodate their natural surroundings; ext212 reports that “howler monkeys woke us up in the middle of the night and Magpie Blue Jays and squirrels joined us for coffee in the mornings.” A playful midnight interlude is a small price to pay to “enjoy luxury without guilt.”
4. Stayokay Vondelpark, Amsterdam
The Stayokay hostel chain, already a perennial “friendly, clean, and convenient” budget favorite, is now also the first accommodation chain in Europe to be awarded the European Eco-label for environmentally friendly business practices. The Vondelpark location draws raves from visitors like AsianPersuasion, who says, “The location of this hostel was the best part. The trams were right out the front door, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum were down the street, and shopping was just a few minutes’ walk away.” If you’ve had enough walking, skip a gas-guzzling cab and rent a bike from the front desk.
5. Hilton Vancouver, Washington
This hotel on Ester Short Park holds the distinction of being the first LEED-certified Hilton in the world, with features like a heat-reflecting roof and sensor-controlled heating and air systems. Don’t think it compromises comfort, though; ensuring us that there are “extremely comfortable” Serenity beds and “Crabtree & Evelyn amenities,” ssullivan attests to that. The hotel’s commitment to the environment trickles down to its guests in other ways, including offering complimentary parking for hybrid vehicles.
6. Kandalama Hotel, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
According to Close to Home, the Kandalama sure looks environmentally friendly: “The entire hotel is built into a mountain so that many of the walls along the corridors are actual rock. The rooms continue with the natural theme and have big sliding-glass windows that look out onto the scenery.” Luckily, it also acts the part, snagging the position as Asia’s first Green Globe 21 Certified Hotel in 1999, and winning many other eco-accolades since.
7. Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hawaii
The Waikiki Marriott has taken pains to go green across the board, from energy-consumption to recycling to landscaping, and it’s paid off: the resort was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star seal of approval three times and received the Green Hotel Award from the state of Hawaii in 2007. In hospitality, too, it “surpassed expectations” of guests and has received the “We will stay here again” seal of approval from several IgoUgo members. From honeymoons to Thanksgiving dinners, this Marriott gets it right, responsibly.
8. Best Western Monopole Metropole, Strasbourg, France
Its attention to the environment earned this family-owned hotel European Eco-label certification, but its charm and extras win over travelers like Ed Hahn, who says: “The hotel has all the amenities you could want, including Wi-Fi, data ports, Internet access, and office services.” Offering the character of its 1919 heritage but with modern technology and environmental policies, this hotel boasts a winning combination.
9. Signal Mountain Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Signal Mountain Lodge enjoys enough green designations to seemingly fill Jackson Lake (of which the lodge enjoys a “magnificent view”). To start, it was the first Wyoming business to become a member of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program, with 15% of its electrical power being wind-generated. Even the lodge’s three restaurants have won environmental recognition, certified (in another Wyoming first) by the Green Restaurant Association. It makes sense that Signal would be so environmentally responsible, given the beautiful environment it sits in; callen60 says, “It was exactly what we were hoping for: a comfortable place to relax and watch the sun go down on the Tetons in the evening, and to watch it rise again the next morning.”
10. El Monte Sustainable Lodge, Mindo, Ecuador
At El Monte, green is in the details (and on the table): chefs don’t serve beef due to the area’s “inefficiency in beef production and the resulting destruction of tropical forests,” according to their website. Luckily, with their chefs’ creative cooking, you won’t even notice that anything is missing. IgoUgo member dawnlisette agrees, adding: “Among the efforts that El Monte makes to keep the lodge ecologically friendly are: an organic garden that provides most of the veggies served at mealtime, conservation activism locally and nationally, volunteer work at other eco-lodges in Ecuador, solar panels providing the only electricity in the lodge, and preservation of 44 hectares of cloud forest in the area.” With such a full plate of earth-watching, we’d enjoy anything this lodge cooked up.