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The Green Life: Green Hotels

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February 13, 2009

Green Hotels

Green hotel An article in my local paper caught my eye the other day, about an environmentally friendly hotel that recently replaced a Best Western in a scruffy but up-and-coming San Francisco neighborhood. At Good Hotel, bed headboards are made of locally reclaimed wood, bedspreads are made of recycled soda bottles, light fixtures are made of reused glass bottles, wallpaper is made of 80 percent post-consumer recycled materials, and the parking fee is waived for hybrids. And the room rates, starting at $89 on weekdays and $99 on weekends, aren't half bad.

This got me thinking: I've been hoping to take my family on our annual ski jaunt some upcoming long weekend… might there be eco-friendly hotel options up in the mountains? Turns out the answer is yes: At the new 968 Park Spa Resort in South Lake Tahoe, in a remodeled Days Inn, the furniture is made from recycled wood, molding for the mirrors was made from scrap wood from the old motel, and modern fireplaces burn zero-emission denatured alcohol. Even the mattresses are EPA-approved. Room rates, from $149, ain't exactly cheap, but hey, it's a resort, and a public bus or shuttle takes you to nearby ski areas.

As I dug in to research green lodging options, I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that the Green Hotels Association has existed for more than 15 years. Qualifying hotels listed on their site are "environmentally friendly properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy, and reduce solid waste -- while saving money -- to protect our one and only earth." The site features listings in 43 states, three Canadian provinces, and includes a smattering of options in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Other resources include Go Green Travel Green, which will help you find environmentally friendly hotels through various green accreditation directories on its site. It's a Green Green World offers a searchable database of eco-friendly lodgings, searchable by country and continent, as do Eco Hotels of the World and I Stay Green. Environmentally Friendly Hotels is an online service; just enter a hotel's name to find out how green it is.

Of course, your carbon footprint will still be substantial if you fly to a remote Polynesian Island to stay in an environmentally friendly hotel. But that's a topic for another post…

--Tom Valtin

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