Eco-Friendly Hotels: Luxury with a Conscience

eco friendly hotels

Meg Massie

We all know that travel can have a negative impact on the environment, but does that mean it's your duty to Mother Nature to give up on seeing the world? Of course not! Do you have to go camping and live off the land for a true eco vacation? That's one way to do green travel, but it's not the only option. Eco-friendly hotels take the guilt out of a luxury vacation, and educational, family-friendly eco adventures offered at these destinations teach you about being green on vacation and at home. These five eco-friendly hotels do way more than just recycle their paper products; they're raising the bar for green travel.

B Ocean, Fort Lauderdale: B Sensitive to the Environment

eco friendly hotels

Courtesy of B Hotels & Resorts

B Ocean is a brand new oceanfront hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When B was built in 2010, they gutted the existing hotel building to replace everything with more modern, efficient electrical systems that are above and beyond current environmental standards. The hotel has a full recycling program, and they use recycled materials wherever possible. Visit between October and March to witness sea turtles nesting on the beach in front of the hotel. In fact, sea turtles are a passion point at B Ocean. Each guest room has a plush sea turtle available for adoption – when you take these adorable friends home (look for collector's edition designer plush sea turtles at the gift shop as well), a portion of the proceeds goes to the Sea Turtle Foundation. To see more unique Florida wildlife, B Ocean arranges eco tours of the Everglades, the Florida wetlands that hundreds of animal species call home. Don't forget your camera and keep an eye out for manatee, dolphins, alligators, Florida panthers, wood storks, great herons, ibises, and over 350 more bird species.

Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica

eco friendly hotels

Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall

Very few golf resorts can call themselves eco-friendly hotels, but the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica, has some of the greenest of greens. This resort was recently awarded Green Globe Certification for its continued environmental conservation efforts. Sustainable efforts at the Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall are overseen by The Ritz-Carlton Environmental Action Conservation Team (REACT), who educates all departments on environmental practices designed to minimize the hotel's carbon footprint. Green initiatives at the property include utilizing recycled products, increased energy efficiency throughout the resort, environmental education and community outreach, an on-site herb garden used by the culinary department, and environmental and nature programs for kids and families. The Dolphin Program is an excursion for guests to swim with dolphins and get up close with dolphins, stingrays, and sea turtles.

El Conquistador Resort, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

eco friendly hotels

Courtesy of El Conquistador

Just minutes away from Puerto Rico's El Yunque Rainforest, El Conquistador and its sister property, Las Casitas Village & Spa, have both competed a comprehensive green overhaul. The properties share an on-site waste water treatment facility, through which all water is filtered and treated. The water is then recycled and used in the lagoons on El Conquistador's Arthur Hills Golf Course, as well as to water the course's greens. As part of their energy conservation initiative, El Conquistador and Las Casitas both utilize natural lighting and solar energy throughout the property, with a/c and electric systems on automatic timers. Walking and hiking trails throughout El Yunque lead to breathtaking waterfalls and plant and animal photo-ops that you won't find anywhere else in the country. Be on the lookout for rare parrots and colorful tree frogs. Entrance to the forest is free, but the US Forest Service offers guided tours for $5 per person every half hour from 10:30 to 2:30, seven days a week.

Eventi - A Kimpton Hotel, New York, NY

eco friendly hotels

Courtesy of Eventi

The Big Apple isn't exactly a green apple, but some eco-friendly hotels like Eventi are doing their part to make the city more earth-conscious. Eventi is participating in Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants' EarthCare Week, running from April 15-22, 2011. During EarthCare week, Eventi will host a daily Lights Out Power Hour, a candlelit wine hour. Another EarthCare event perfect for Manhattan tourists is the National Eco Step Challenge. The hotel will provide pedometers to all guests, encouraging them to rack up steps to win prizes.

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii: Environmental Ambassadors

eco friendly hotels

Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

The second Ritz-Carlton property on our list of eco-friendly hotels, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua exemplifies dedication to the natural Hawaiian environment as well as the local culture in all of its operations. Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment programs at the hotel are designed to teach guests of all ages about environmentally friendly living through hands-on experiences with nature. It's impossible not to fall in love with nature when you come so close to the vibrant wildlife in the reef at Kapalua Bay and the Hawaiian rainforest. Sea turtles the size of small cars, sharks, urchins, and fish in every color of the rainbow live in the water just off the hotel's beach, and naturalists are on hand to teach all about safe and friendly coexistence with these wondrous creatures. Like the Rose Hall hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua has gardens onsite that provide many of the herbs and fruits used in the hotel's kitchen.
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