September 25, 2023   7:00pm

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Interested in going green while traveling?  Our “Travel” advisor Susan, provides some tips on selecting hotels and resorts that meet your interests …



Hotels’ first steps in becoming more ecological in their practices (and, saving some of their operating dollars at the same time, of course) were the now ubiquitous cards placed on your hotel bed and/or bathroom counter that ask you to consider reusing bed linens and towels. This was followed by some properties’ using bulk amenities – liquid soap, shampoo, etc. — which were placed in large containers in each room (don’t take these home!).  Then, there was the use of your room key card to activate the electrical system (so everything is turned off when you leave) and more ecological “behind the scene” practices in hotel operations.  Now, as new properties are built, greener buildings use tinted glass to reflect sun, more efficient energy and heating/cooling systems, ecological building products from insulation to the choice of woods for floors, etc.

So, whether traveling for business or pleasure, it is possible to select green hotels and resorts. And, in terms of the larger scale hotel chains, there is some very encouraging news:

Marriott is making a serious commitment to developing green properties, and as the largest hotel company in the world, its commitment to “green” — including the adoption of LEED’s (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green standards — is no small thing.

Starwood is launching a new high-end brand – “1” Hotels and Residences – which plans to combine luxury with sustainable architecture and green practices. These first two properties will be in Seattle and Paris. They are also launching a moderately priced new chain – Element, a division of their Westin group, – the first having opened in Lexington, Mass., with 20 more hotels planned by the end of 2009. All Element hotels are committed to attaining LEED certification. Meanwhile, Starwood’s aloft hotels, a division of their W brand, has started using bulk-packaged amenities at many of their properties (vs. those little plastic jars of shampoo you take home), and hybrid car drivers park for free in priority spaces at their hotels.

Fairmont has developed “Initiatives for Development of Sustainable, Green Tourism” – guidelines for their hotels that encompass everything from waste management, recycling, use of alternate energy, water conservation, and much more. Guests with hybrid cars also park free at their properties. Further, Fairmont has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund, in measuring and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Hilton is introducing carbon free electricity at many of its properties in the United Kingdom and Ireland and has developed a comprehensive green strategy that includes recycling, water efficiency, waste reduction, etc. They have set a target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2014.

Hyatt is initiating a company-wide environmental sustainability program, and it’s new Andaz brand is focused on being green with full biodegradable products and organic food.


Of course, there are varying shades of green – from those who are making some initial steps to those fully committed to being green. Here are some resources to help you find green properties with in-depth information about what being green really means at each of them:

Green Hotels: Lists hotels by state that are members of their “Green” Hotels Association, along with information about what being a green property means. Larger properties, parts of big hotels chains (some surprises) are on the list, along with many smaller properties.

Environmentally Friendly Hotels: Helps you find properties committed to the environment and being green, in a wide range of categories including bed and breakfasts, inns, motels, hotels and resorts. This site provides direct links, on their home page, to other sites including: the best green hotels and green lodging news among others. For instance, Environmentally Friendly Hotels gives kudos to Fairmont Mayakoba, on the Maya Riviera in the Yucatan, Mexico, at which I had a fabulous stay a year ago. From this site, I learned many green specifics about the property and also that their golf course is a wildlife habitat enrolled in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.

Eco Hotels of the World: As you can guess, this site lists eco-properties around the world, and rates them from 1 to 5 Green Stars. The focus is on hotels, inns, ranches, etc. in exotic locations from New Zealand to South Africa. The search process is a bit awkward, but with patience you’ll be rewarded by finding very interesting places to stay that are also green. I can vouch for Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica which appears on their site and where I had a wonderful stay in one of their bungalows set within a nature reserve adjacent to a tropical rain forest.

My next post will focus on “Going Green” — vacations you can take where you use your own power to get around whether by foot or by bicycle. In the meantime, share your list of “Green Hotels and Resorts” with us at


PS from SNOETY:  Thanks for the turtle photos from PlayViva ( a sustainable resort and residence community now being developed in Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.  The turtles are part of the, literally, hundreds of thousands that have been saved due to safe nesting habitats the resort has initiated.


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