The environment will thank you for choosing to stay at these ecolodges.
As consumers contemplate the negative effects travel has on the environment, greener alternatives are steadily growing in popularity. This is especially evident in the hospitality industry, where ecolodges, or accommodations designed to have a minimal impact on their natural surroundings, are popping up across the world. Many ecolodges employ local workers, provide environmental education programs and give back to their local communities. While some ecolodges are located in remote destinations, there are also many eco-friendly resorts and hotels in urban areas. From New York City to Singapore, Amsterdam to Sydney, travelers from all around the globe can use this guide to make smarter lodging choices and in turn preserve the environment for travelers of the future.
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa: Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico, has a rich natural landscape, which is integrated into the design of the town's five-star ecolodge, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa. The hotel's infrastructure incorporates recycled water, plants, fish and rocks into a self-sustaining environment, which not only gives the resort a natural aesthetic but helps reclaim rain and wastewater. The guest rooms -- which start at $149 a night -- are built from stone and incorporate globally inspired designs with Egyptian, Balinese, Tibetan and Native American-inspired decor. Meanwhile, the spa utilizes organic products and treatments traditional to the native tribes in the area. Guests can also spend time in the hotel's biolariums, which are on-site greenhouses filled with vegetation and flowers.
Post Ranch Inn: Big Sur, California
The Post Ranch Inn perfectly melts into the cliffs and coastline of Big Sur, California. Constructed out of sustainable materials, guest rooms seem to balance over the Pacific Ocean and are equipped with indoor/outdoor space, glass walls and wood-burning fireplaces. The hotel grounds act as a habitat for the California red-legged frog, Smith's blue butterfly and other endangered species; the land also provides ingredients used in meals at the on-site restaurant. Guests can explore the area with guided hiking tours, educational bird-watching experiences and outdoor yoga classes, or they can take one of the hotel's hybrid Lexus vehicles to visit other nearby destinations. However, a stay here won't come cheap: Nightly room rates average more than $1,000.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach, California
At The Ranch at Laguna Beach, almost nothing is wasted: Empty glass bottles are turned into sand for the golf course, wastewater is reclaimed to fortify the hotel grass, excess food is donated to local food pantries and unused soap is given a second life at Clean the World, an organization that distributes soap and hygiene products to impoverished people. The hotel also sponsors an educational camping program for underprivileged youth. In addition to its multitude of sustainable initiatives, The Ranch at Laguna Beach also offers luxury suites, a boutique spa and top-notch restaurants all nestled into a canyon by the sea. Room rates start at around $300, but can climb to $1,000 in peak season.
The Stanford Inn by the Sea: Mendocino, California
When you arrive at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, you'll immediately feel welcomed into the Stanford family, who opened the ecolodge in 1980 to inspire and educate guests about themselves and their environment. The resort offers gardening lessons, meditation sessions, herbal medicine practices and cooking classes with a focus on vegetarian and vegan food. What's more, the property is speckled with organic gardens that supply the ingredients for the on-site eatery, Ravens Restaurant. With an on-site spa, biking trails, wildlife tours and miles of river to canoe, guests will have plenty of ways to keep busy at the Stanford Inn. Room rates start around $350.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge: New York City
A stay at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge will not only afford you sweeping views of the waterfront and Manhattan skyline, but it'll also give you peace of mind knowing you're keeping your carbon footprint small. Designed with nature in mind, the hotel offers fresh produce at its lobby farm stand and houses a multitude of plants in its common areas. Each guest room features pieces made from reclaimed wood and offers plenty of natural light, as well as organic sheets and timed shower heads to reduce water waste. Not to mention, the majority of the hotel's furniture and art is made by local artisans. Room rates can range from $400 to around $1,500 per night.
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection: Denver, Colorado
Sustainability is woven through every aspect of The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa experience: Guests pick up biodegradable key cards at the front desk, order from recycled menus at the restaurant and shower with locally produced soaps under low-flow shower heads. At the spa, treatments use honey made by the five bee colonies living on the hotel rooftop, and in the kitchen, meals are made with ingredients from the tower garden while leftovers are composted. Previous visitors not only compliment this hotel's eco-friendly nature but they also rave about the hotel's downtown Denver location, historic structure, elegant bars and afternoon tea offerings. Guest rooms start at $278 per night.
The Green House: Bournemouth, England
The Green House proves an eco-friendly stay doesn't have to be expensive. Situated on the southern coast of England, about 100 miles southwest of London, The Green House maintains strict sustainability standards, and its room rates start at just $117. Guests can rest easy in sustainable beds and enjoy fresh seafood and local ingredients from the surrounding town of Bournemouth. This 32-room hotel boasts upcycled furniture, locally woven carpets and wallpaper made from vegetable ink. What's more, the hotel features an on-site community vegetable garden and supports environmental initiatives at surrounding schools.
Eagles Palace: Halkidiki, Greece
Eagles Palace was built to preserve the lush wildlife, crystal-clear ocean and pristine beaches that surround it. Some of the luxury hotel's eco-friendly initiatives include the use of low-energy lightbulbs, filtered pool water and waste separation practices. However, Eagles Palace staff members also illustrate the property's dedication to the land through larger scale projects, including clean-up projects alongside local elementary schools and on-site olive oil production, which eliminates the carbon footprint that comes with shipping this highly sought-after ingredient. The hotel operates seasonally and room rates start around $175.
Conscious Hotel Vondelpark: Amsterdam
Conscious Hotel Vondelpark defines its sustainability efforts as "eco-sexy." From top -- the roof is a sanctuary for wildlife and honeybees -- to bottom, the hotel maintains a variety of eco-conscious practices. All energy is sourced from windmills, and water-saving faucets ensure the hotel uses up to 50% less water than traditional hotels. Guests can enjoy organic food on-site and the hotel offers bike rentals for seeing the city. The front desk also provides sustainable toothbrushes and reusable water bottles to guests in need. After a day exploring Amsterdam, lodgers can lounge on the hotel's repurposed furniture and sleep in the property's biodegradable beds. A stay at this ecolodge comes in at about $250 per night.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort: Oranjestad, Aruba
At first glance, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort seems like a typical luxury getaway with a spa, a pool, beach access and fine dining restaurants. However, upon closer examination, travelers will find this resort caters not only to its guests but also to its environment. A certified CarbonNeutral hotel and a member of the Green Globe program, the resort reduces its environmental impact by using solar energy for heat, reclaimed water for landscaping and eco-friendly paper for its marketing products. The hotel also has the lowest per-room electricity usage in the country. Not to mention, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort sponsors various animal welfare groups on the island. The nightly room rates, which start around $400, also include a locally sourced breakfast each morning.
Hermitage Bay: Antigua & Barbuda
Hermitage Bay is the ideal getaway for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the plethora of resources Antigua has to offer. The staff, most of whom are hired from the surrounding area to promote the island's economic growth, are trained in environmental responsibility. The hotel's hillside and beachfront suites are constructed from sustainably farmed wood and were built in such a way that the vegetation, particularly the coastal mangroves, remain untouched. Meanwhile, cooking classes, farm tours, fishing and scuba diving lessons engage visitors with the island's natural wonders. However, these perks come with a price tag: room rates start around $1,000 a night.
Pacuare Jungle Lodge: Turrialba, Costa Rica
Whether you're looking for an adventurous trip or a relaxing getaway in the jungle, the Pacuare Lodge, situated on the banks of the Pacuare River in central Costa Rica, is a great environmentally friendly option. Rather than cutting down any trees to build the lodge, the Pacuare team sourced wood from a local reforestation project to construct the bungalows; the roof of each bungalow was crafted in traditional style by local Indians. The lodge employs workers from the surrounding villages, uses local ingredients for meals and operates solely on turbine-generated electricity. Additionally, the team purchased reservation land to keep it from being cleared and consistently donates supplies to local elementary schools. While a stay costs upward of $900 per night, the revenue from bookings goes toward helping maintain sustainable practices.
Cristalino Lodge: Alta Floresta, Costa Rica
Due to its location on a reserve in the Amazon rainforest -- one of the most ecologically rich places on the planet -- the Cristalino Lodge puts special emphasis on conservation and environmental welfare. Designed as an ecotourism destination, the lodge offers tours and excursions for visitors to learn about the many birds, monkeys and other native animals. The lodge operates programs, such as the Amazon School, where students can visit to learn about the forest through immersion courses. Naturally ventilated accommodations, open fireplaces, Brazilian cuisine and a floating deck with hammocks add to the lodge's charm. On average, visitors can expect to pay $375 per person per night.
Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve: Cederberg, South Africa
A stay at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve brings visitors as close as possible to the unique wildlife of South Africa. Reptile education classes help guests learn about native species, while rock art tours teach participants about the ancient civilizations that once inhabited the area. Explore the surrounding land during one of the lodge's nature drives, quad bike adventures or hikes. And if you can't get enough of the fresh air and unspoiled nature, opt for an open-air suite, where you can fall asleep under the starry sky. The lodge recycles water wherever possible and operates on an eco-friendly hybrid energy system for which it earned a RCI Green Award. Nightly rates, which are calculated per person rather than per room, start around $200.
Chobe Bakwena Lodge: Botswana
The Chobe Bakwena Lodge is a group of luxurious chalets made from simple materials, such as sand, grass and sustainably sourced wood. The accommodations' circular shape help maintain comfortable temperatures without using energy; all electricity is solar powered. The lodge supports local businesses by featuring handmade decor and furniture throughout its interiors. Travelers will appreciate the lodge's location inside Chobe National Park and are sure to be awed by the presence of hippos and elephants who frequently roam near the lodge. Chobe Bakwena offers bike tours, village walks and other activities to help guests learn about their surroundings. Rates vary but travelers can contact the ecolodge directly to learn more.
Wildlife Retreat at Taronga: Sydney
Australia is known for its unique plants and animals, and the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga is the perfect place for travelers to see why. Located just 7 miles northeast of downtown Sydney, this eco retreat sits in the Taronga Zoo wildlife sanctuary and allows guests to interact with and learn about native species. Visitors can find peace in knowing the money from every stay goes to supporting animal conservation and education efforts throughout the country. Additionally, the posh hotel complies with sustainable building standards using tactics, such as recycled water, solar power and low-energy appliances. A one-night stay can cost around $200.
ParkRoyal on Pickering, Singapore: Singapore
ParkRoyal on Pickering, Singapore, has been setting sustainability standards for the hospitality industry since its opening in 2013. Built as a "hotel within a garden," this luxurious oasis in Singapore's city center is adorned in greenery both inside and outside. All of the gardens, plants and waterfalls combined would equate to more than double the hotel's land area. The hotel's open-air hallways cut down on energy usage and promote ventilation. Additionally, guest rooms -- which cost around $250 per night -- utilize water and lighting sensors to preserve energy, while the restaurants offer a "No Meat, No Problem" plant-based menu. These sustainable initiatives and more earned the ParkRoyal the World's Leading Green City Hotel 2019 award.
Six Senses Con Dao: Con Dao, Vietnam
The pristine private beach is undoubtedly the highlight of this Vietnamese island resort, not only because of its beauty but also because hotel guests and the native wildlife -- specifically the sea turtles -- can happily coexist there. Each year, the resort staff helps care for and safely release baby sea turtles into the wild, and invites guests to participate as well. To further protect the wildlife, the beaches and hotel grounds are kept plastic-free. To aid in this initiative, each guest receives a glass reusable water bottle upon arrival. Lodgers are also invited to participate in the hotel's weekly English classes where they can help local community members improve their language skills. Nightly rates start around $650.
Casa de las Olas: Tulum, Mexico
A LEED Platinum certified property near the picturesque town of Tulum, Casa de las Olas is thoughtfully designed. The property's location helps maximize coastal breezes for air circulation, and the rooms use solar power for energy. All food is sourced from local family farms, and any kitchen waste is composted on-site. The lodge sits near the entrance of a 1.3 million-acre biosphere reserve, making it ideal for anyone seeking a tranquil getaway filled with natural beauty. Not to mention, there are spa treatments and yoga classes available daily. Stays start around $300 per night.
Mas Salagros EcoResort: Vallromanes, Spain
Just more than 10 miles north of Barcelona sits Mas Salagros EcoResort, a luxury lodge built on the plot of a 15th-century farm. Because of the property's fruitful land and location on a nature reserve, the founders of Mas Salagros decided to make their hotel as sustainable as possible. Adhering to Europe's high standards of ecological building, they have achieved their goal by utilizing sustainable materials, energy-efficient power and advanced waste management processes to minimize the hotel's effect on the environment. Hiking, organic cooking classes with the on-site chef and eco-friendly thermal baths are just some of the activities visitors can enjoy at Mas Salagros. Not to mention, the hotel is affordable: Nightly room rates start around $130.
ION Adventure Hotel: Reykjavik, Iceland
Just a short drive from Reykjavik, the ION Adventure Hotel nearly blends into its volcanic surroundings. Built with sustainable materials and large windows that provide unobstructed views of the picturesque land and the northern lights, this hotel is ideal for anyone who wants to get in touch with nature. The neighboring Hengill volcano acts as a geothermal energy source to bring electricity and hot water to guests. Inside, furniture is made from rocks, reclaimed wood and recycled materials. (The sinks are even made of recycled tires.) Guests can enjoy local food, herbal bath amenities and access to tours with local guides who are experts on the land. Expect to pay $250 or more per night.
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