Green Stars: 5 Luxury Eco-Hotels and B&Bs
With the summer months fast approaching, many of us are starting to plan vacations with family or friends. But wait! Before you book that five-star hotel room, did you know that hotels contribute more than 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually? U.S. hotels spend over $7.5 billion on energy and generate 1.9 billions pounds of waste each year. Thankfully, there are some amazing alternative lodging options for the more environmentally concerned. And they don't require you to sacrifice that five-star, luxury ambiance. Best of all, they are located in vibrant locations, surrounded by tons of eco-activities.
Hidden in the beautiful Napa Valley, Bardessono is truly an eco-friendly treasure. One of only three hotels to receive LEED Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, this 62-room escape boost a high standard of green luxury and elegance. The 940 solar panels positioned on the rooftop have nearly reduced all offsite energy for the property. Wood from salvaged trees, non-toxic/nonallergic construction materials, 200 square feet of glass windows in each room for natural light, doors opening to private patios for natural ventilation, paints and finishes with low VOCs, and low-flow bathroom fixtures, are literally only a few of the unique features of this planet friendly oasis. Sleep easy with organic linen and wake up to a breakfast made from organic and local grown produce. You can even find an on-site garden that the hotel's restaurant uses for produce. And don't bother renting a car or a bicycle, because the hotel provides carbon-fiber bikes for their guests.
Nestled only four blocks from one of North America's most beautiful beaches, Venice Beach Cottages offer guests a cozy, chic, and green alternative to mainstream hotels. There are three solar-powered urban eco-cottages available, each with its own unique and vibrant personality. Each cottage was creatively restored using organic and repurposed materials; completed with EnergyStar appliances, organic linen and mattresses, and paint and finishes with no/low VOCs. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, VBEC donates a portion of all its profits to charity. Visit Venice Beach Eco Cottages to book your stay in the cottage of your choice.
Looking for a quiet eco-friendly escape where you, your family, and black bears can vacation in harmony? Well The Inn at Ellis River may be your perfect destination! Partners with The Clean World program and the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program, this beautifully located mountain lodge has invested in low-water flow appliances, solar lighting, and a drip water system for landscaping. In addition to these energy and water conservation efforts, the inn is in the perfect location to ensure guests the opportunity to explore nature in rich and vibrant New England. Because the inn is perfectly sited at the edge of the 75,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, the recreational activities are endless. From hiking to horseback riding, rock climbing to kayaking, you are sure to stay busy. And don't be surprised if you see a mama black bear walking with her cubs through the hotel's mountainside garden. They love this cozy, scenic inn just as much as you will.
Just because it's big doesn't mean it isn't Earth friendly! This 147-room luxury hotel in the small, quaint town of Greensboro, NC, boasts a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. And it is safe to say that they deserve it -- 60 percent of the heat for hot water comes from their rooftop solar panels; most of the furnishings were designed by t he Proximity Team and made locally; and the art for each room was made by an artist-in-residence (thus requiring no shipping or packaging). Low-VOC paint was used in design, 87 percent of waste was recycled during construction, and salvaged trees were used for wood fixtures. These are only a few of the ways this establishment is far different most other AAA Diamond-certified hotels. And if you decide at some point in your vacation to venture beyond this eco-friendly oasis, bikes are provided by the on-site fitness center.
Hoping to cross a country border this summer? You might want to head north to Victoria, Canada. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, this beautiful and historic city is home to one of the leading eco-friendly hotels in North America. Equipped with rooftop gardens that assist in building insulation, a three-story glass and green roof atrium, and an on-site garden that produces strawberries, apples, lavender, and parsley, this bay-side escape aims to give guest an outside ambiance, indoors.
images courtesy of VBEC, Bardessono and Proximity Hotel
Brittany Johnson is an editorial intern at Sierra. Her interests include social and environmental justice specifically among underrepresented and disadvantaged communities. She majored in Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, taught English in Tanzania and answered phones in various offices before joining the Sierra family.