Your Stay at One of These Incredible Eco-Friendly Hotels Could Help Save the Earth
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Tourism accounts for 8% of carbon emissions worldwide. While a large portion of that percentage is due to air travel, hotels also account for some of it, too. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to book a stay at a sustainable or eco-friendly property. These hotels and resorts may incorporate more efficient cooling, lighting and heating systems, or feature recycled and sustainable materials, and may also help give back to the community by employing local workers and services. When thinking about ways to travel with purpose, understanding your impact on the places you visit is a great first step.
According to a 2018 study by Booking.com, 87% of travelers said they want to travel sustainably, but only 39% often or always manage to do so. Of those surveyed, 32% of travelers who want to travel more sustainably cited a lack of information as the reason they haven’t yet booked a sustainable trip. But there’s good news. Here at TPG, we’ve highlighted a handful of our favorite eco-friendly and sustainable properties, as well as tips for determining if your eco-resort is indeed eco-friendly. After all, staying at a sustainable hotel is about more than reducing your carbon footprint. It’s a meaningful way to give back to the planet during your travels — and local communities — and committing to a great cause not just when it’s convenient.
Tips For Booking a Sustainable Hotel
- Read the hotel website. Usually, you can find information about why the hotel considers itself eco-friendly. If you can’t seem to source those details, eco-friendly may just be a term for rustic or no-frills.
- Check review sites. TripAdvisor, for example, uses the GreenLeader To be accepted, hotels must apply. If accepted, you can see the status of the hotel on TripAdvisor, ascending from Bronze to Silver, Gold or Platinum, depending on the hotel’s green practices. Look for the GreenLeaders badge on each hotel’s page and click to see its sustainable practices. Booking.com is also working on a collaboration with Green Key that will help travelers search and select hotels based on its level of sustainability.
- Look for certifications. Eco-friendly hotels often have Green Globe or LEED certifications.
- Stay at locally-owned properties. Though hotel brands are generally improving their sustainability practices, many of the eco-friendly properties on this list are independent. Plus, staying at a family-run property tends to support the local economy even more than a massive chain. (All of the money you spend there stays in the community.) So don’t be discouraged from staying there just because you can’t use your points.
- Ask around. Checking with friends and family for recommendations is an easy way to find a great sustainable property.
During her stay at the Hobbitenango Hotel in the rolling hills of Antigua, Guatemala, for example, Jessica Rovniak, TPG‘s video director, was impressed with the property’s “sheer creativity: cottage walls built with Coca Cola bottles filled with litter, egg cartons and sustainable wood from a local farm.” After her stay, she raved to friends and colleagues about the cottages, which are warmed by fireplaces that also heat the steam room. And the entire property runs on solar and wind energy. “The newest buildings have a green roof, planted with grass and hillside flowers. The Hobbitenango also gives back to the local community by hiring local staff — the employment rate in the area has strengthened because of this — and they even offer scholarship programs.”
Travelers don’t have to fly to Guatemala to experience a truly sustainable property, of course. For the almost 90% of travelers who want to minimize their impact on the planet during their travels, there are hotels all around the world that fit the parameters outlined above. Here are a few great hotels for travelers who want to feel spoiled — without spoiling the planet.
Central and South America
Tierra Patagonia in Chile
Framed by Chilean Patagonia’s striking snowcapped peaks and sweeping valleys, upscale and exclusive Tierra Patagonia is adorned with burnished wood. During the hotel’s construction, all on-site vegetation was temporarily moved to a greenhouse before replanting once the hotel was complete. In addition to using LED lighting and thermal heating to reduce energy costs, the hotel participates in reforestation projects around Chile. All-inclusive rates for a three-night stay (including excursions, meals and transport) start at $2,500 for two.
Jicaro Island Lodge in Nicaragua
Find these treehouse-style huts on a small islet in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. The resort blends harmoniously with the environment, its buildings carefully avoiding natural features and the island’s flora. To build the luxury casitas, all wood was sourced from trees already fallen during Hurricane Felix. Guests can participate in activities that benefit the surrounding areas, too, such as packing and delivering supplies to local schools. Amanda Donnelly-Rankin, a developer at TPG, recalled Jicaro’s “rainwater showers and the food, which was made with locally-sourced ingredients.” Room rates start at $350 per night.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives
During the construction of the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, protecting the native fauna and flora was a main concern. In fact, the first step was to build twin jetties to protect the surrounding reef from damage while shipping and moving materials. As a result, the reef was preserved, and remains a home for sharks, turtles, barracuda, a dizzying number of tropical fish species and, of course, coral. The hotel’s on-site marine biologist tests water temperatures and monitors the reef daily, and there’s also a waste management plan and rainwater harvesting system in place. The Park Hyatt has also replaced plastic straws with recyclable paper ones, and ditched plastic bottles for glass. They even use biodegradable coffee capsules. Room rates start at about $500 per night (overwater villas run closer to $1,000) or 25,000 Hyatt points.
Misool Eco Resort in Indonesia
The resort and dive center, located on an island in Raja Ampat, is flanked by one of the most pristine and impressive reefs on Earth. While many of Indonesia’s hotels are known for being sustainable, Misool goes a step further with their Responsible Tourism policy. The surrounding hotel waters and reef are strict no-take zones (read: don’t touch anything). The hotel’s recycling efforts process of over a ton of waste per day, all organic waste is composted, almost all water is collected rainfall and very little plastic is allowed at the resort. All-inclusive, double occupancy rates start at $2,825 for eight nights. Dives rates start at $64 for a single dive.
Akyra TAS Sukhumvit in Thailand
This Bangkok luxury boutique hotel just opened in the spring of 2018, and it’s the first single-use plastic-free hotel in Asia. The Akyra TAS Sukhumvit uses biodegradable plastic, rice and bamboo as eco-friendly alternatives. The hotel provides guests with stainless steel water bottles that can be refilled from water banks across the property. Bath amenities are made of organic products and housed in pottery containers. Guests can even use borrowed totes when shopping around Bangkok as an alternative to plastic bags. Room rates start at $100 per night.
One Aldwych in England
One Aldwych has been hailed as one of the most sustainable hotels in the UK thanks to its no-bleach policy, which bans the harsh chemical from the property. In the kitchen, chefs work with local, seasonal and organic ingredients, and the swimming pool is chlorine-free, using a mineral-based cleaning system instead. One Aldwych also uses LED lighting whenever possible, recycles all paper, cardboard, glass, most plastics, batteries, light bulbs and cooking oil and even has a special vacuum drainage system that uses 80% less water than most flushing systems. The hotel is undergoing a renovation (no doubt, a sustainable one) and will be closed from Jan. 8 until the spring of 2019. Post-renovation rates start around $700 per night.
Conscious Vondelpark in the Netherlands
Hip Conscious Vondelpark wants travelers to know that although the property is eco-conscious (as the name suggests) you won’t be “wrested to the ground and force-fed lentils for using aerosol hairspray” and shouldn’t expect artworks featuring “sad-looking pandas.” What the Amsterdam hotel does have, however, is furniture made from recycled yogurt pots and coffee cups; an eco-roof with a bee hive; a living plant wall in the lobby; bike rental options; and locally sourced, organic breakfast served daily. Room rates start at $75.
Svart Hotel in Norway
In the future, travelers could stay at a hotel that produces more energy than it consumes — and plans are in the works to open this energy-positive hotel in Norway’s arctic circle. The Svart Hotel’s design team, Snøhetta, has taken the delicate arctic environment into consideration and will use solar panels to produce energy, while lowering typical consumption rates by 85%. By carefully mapping sun and weather patterns, solar panels are strategically placed in specific spots to maximize their energy absorption.
Verde Hotel in Tanzania
Besides having regenerative elevators and a special heating and cooling system to reduce energy use, Verde Hotel in Zanzibar takes its sustainability to the next level, actually rewarding guests for participating in sustainable tourism. Guests can earn verdinos, the hotel’s own so-called currency for actions such has taking the stairs instead of the elevator, reusing towels and sheets for more than a day, correctly sorting waste in the room and, coming soon, for using power-generating equipment in the gym. Verdinos can then be redeemed for savings on your final bill or for coffee and food in the hotel’s restaurants. Room rates start at $168.
The Majlis in Kenya
This resort, set on a small island within the Lamu Archipelago off Kenya’s northern coast, runs entirely on alternative energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines. The pool is filled with saltwater, and there are no cars or motorbikes on the island. Instead, Majlis uses boats for transport, powered by more efficient (and less noisy) two-stroke engines. Also, Majlis doesn’t use chemical insect repellants. Instead, the resort creates a liquid solution from neem tree leaves. The all-natural compound is sprayed onto the ground, rendering sand flies sterile. Now, the resort is over 90% sand fly and mosquito free. Room rates start at $200.
Habitat Suites in Texas
A green oasis near downtown Austin, travelers should book a hypoallergenic Habitat Suites room nestled in the property’s organic gardens. Instead of using pesticides to keep things fresh, the hotel relies on ladybugs to keep their gardens in good shape. Furthermore, each room has living plants to keep the air clean. Solar panels are present on every building, and the hotel offers electric car charging for guests onsite. Room rates start at $110 per night.
Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas in Nevada
When the building was first constructed as a Mandarin Oriental, it was built with 85% recycled material and used natural light to reduce electrical costs. The hotel façade was made to specifically block heat. Now, as a Waldorf Astoria, this LEED Gold-certified property uses the LightStay program (as do most Hilton properties) to reduce waste and focus on energy and water efficiency. Room rates start at $209, or 62,000 Hilton points per night.
Natural light, as opposed to electrical, floods the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of Resort Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas)
The Purpose Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee
Though it has yet to open, a stay at the forthcoming Purpose Hotel could really help travelers feel like they’re having a meaningful impact during their travels. After all, it’s a property built with charity and philanthropy as its number one endeavor, and the hotel’s slogan is “change the world in your sleep.” Even the blankets on the beds are sewn by survivors of human trafficking. With ethically sourced coffee beans, furniture made of recycled plastic and a focus on general conservation and philanthropy, the Purpose Hotel could change everything we know about giving back through hotel stays.
Eco-Friendly Hotel Brands
While many hotel chains are beginning to take responsibility for their impact on the planet, some TPG favorites have already enacted brand-wide initiatives. Best of all, you can feel good about using and earn points for stays at these properties, too.
Element by Westin
Element hotels are specifically dedicated to sustainability initiatives, from clothing donation bins in the hotel lobby to reduced plastic in the hotel public spaces and guest rooms. Many of the hotels have electric vehicle chargers, and a few properties have started experimenting with special solar canopies, where guests can relax while simultaneously charging their devices.
Le Accor Hotels
The Le Accor’s Planet 21 program tackles a variety of initiatives across its large portfolio of hotels including Fairmont, Sofitel, Raffles and Pullman properties. From banning endangered seafood species from their menus to making beds with pillows and bedspreads fabricated with recycled plastics, Le Accor Hotels is a hotel chain dedicated to increasing its conservation efforts every year.
The Kimpton Cares program is dedicated to “environmental and community stewardship.” Kimpton hotels are known for offering organic wines during happy hour and using non-toxic cleaning supplies, and the hotel brand encourages both employees and guests to take ownership of their footprints. Efforts include recycling soap and hygiene products in partnership with Clean the World; helping members of the LGBTQ community (book here and the hotel will donate to the Trevor project) and giving back to No Kid Hungry.
All prices accurate at time of publication.
Featured photo of Hobbitenango, Guatemala by Isabelle Raphael
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