TRACKING THE FUTURE OF CITIES
An exclusive Green Times survey of 5 superlative hotels and resorts around the world that are setting the new green standard for hotels (and travel) everywhere.
So why did we pick these hotels, among the hundreds around the world that claim to be sustainable? One word: energy. These hotels are prolific savers of it, and each of them uses solar, wind or geo-thermal energy to produce at least some of their power needs. With a host of other green initiatives you’ll read about below, the extra mile each of these hotels went, and the extra expense each of them took to become more sustainable makes them deserving of our patronage (at least in our book!).
1. Ecocamp Patagonia
Set inconspicuously inside a national park in Chilean Patagonia 370km from the nearest city, Ecocamp is perfect for those who love the idea of camping out in the true wild but hate the idea of roughing it. While hiking and tours of the spectacular scenery are the order of the day, relax the evenings away in a cozy, luxuriously appointed, and sustainably built, “dome” and feast on tempting, locally sourced Chilean and Patagonian cuisine in a community atmosphere.
At this unconventional hotel-lodge, designed and built by two Chilean engineers according to strict environmental considerations (the hotel is the first in Chile to be a certified environmental management system) , micro-hydro (using a nearby stream) and solar energy provide for its electricity needs, while the domes are heated by burning dead wood from the forest in ultra-efficient stoves.
We love: The forest friendly design, carbon neutrality and that it’s run entirely on renewable energy. Plus plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, and hairdryers are banned!
2. Hotel Carlton San Francisco
Located on one of this historic city’s original “seven hills”, the affluent and leafy Nob Hill neighbourhood is also home to one of the city’s most environmentally progressive hotels. After a hectic day of sightseeing, relax in this boutique hotel’s hip, eclectically designed rooms and public spaces that reflect San Francisco’s rich multicultural heritage. In the evening, sample organic Yemeni and Californian cuisine in the on-site restaurant, Saha.
In addition to comfort and design, this hotel sells on its serious green credentials: it is the only hotel in the city run partially on solar power. 105 solar panels cover the hotel’s roof, reducing their electricity usage by 12% and saving 33,000 pounds of carbon emissions into the environment. The hotel is also a participant of Carbonfund.org, making the Carlton completely carbon-neutral. This, in addition to many other green initiatives, has made the hotel the recipient of no less than six prestigious awards and certifications.
We love: Fusion style combined with commitment to reducing the hotel’s environmental impact, plus the hotel’s proximity to public transport.
3. Bangkok Treehouse
Were it not for the smog and sounds of teeming river skiffs, you might swear you were in the middle of dense jungle at this eco-lovers resort, and not in the middle of one of South-East Asia’s most overwhelming capitals. Take a break from all the chaos and return to the Bangkok of times long past at this amazon-inspired boutique inn located in “the green lungs of Bangkok”, Bang Krachao. Surrounded by mangroves and palm trees on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the automobile-inaccessible Treehouse is only a hopscotch and brief boat ride away from the city’s Skytrain network. Well-appointed and tech-friendly “nests”, some featuring open-air bedrooms and showers, are built from bamboo, reclaimed wood and recycled metal.
Aside from easy access to one of the world’s most fascinating cities, the hotel has eco-credentials to boot. Solar panels and a wind turbine generate enough power for the restaurant and outdoor lighting, while organic produce for the restaurant is grown on the rooftops and other ingredients are sourced from local markets.
We love: The fireflies and song-birds, the vegan food, zero tolerance for fumigation or plastic bottles, and staff efforts to clean up the river.
4. Grand Hyatt Dubai
While we normally associate eco-friendly hotels with small, family run establishments, one of the world’s most recognized chains is trying not to be left behind in the race to go sustainable. Set in this Arabian mecca of ostentation and consumerism, the vast resort features 674 luxurious rooms and suites, 14 bars and restaurants and a sprawling outdoor pool area.
Charateristically larger-than-life establishments, Hyatt decided to go green in a big way here as well. Installing what it calls one of the largest commercial solar-power facilities in the world, the hotel’s solar-panel covered roof now produces between 800 and 1000 kilowatts of energy per hour, vastly reducing the hotel’s reliance on traditional energy sources. The hotel is also a massive recycler of “grey water” and sewage effluent which is purified and reused for the cooling towers, reducing the hotel’s water use by a massive 800,000 gallons a week.
While obviously not an eco-paradise, this resort proves that tourism on a grand scale can be done more responsibly, and to the delight of its owners, both environmentally and financially more sustainable!
5. Eden Lodge Madagascar
The winner of numerous awards and acclaimed for the excellent service afforded to guests and its prized location on a remote secluded beach accessible only by boat, Eden Lodge in Madagascar is a paradise of calm and unblemished nature where tropical plants, animals and birds live among the swaying palms that line the Eden’s trim grounds.
It’s also one of the only hotels in the world to be run entirely on solar energy, providing around the clock electricity for every guest – not that there’s much to turn on here. Private lodges are designed to be comfortable and luxuriously simple without distracting from the beauty of what’s outside, while public areas, where guests come together to socialize or to feast on meals made of ultra-fresh ingredients like exotic fruit grown on site, organic produce from the garden and fish and seafood from local fisherman, make creative use of limited night-lighting.
We love: The total nature-immersion and their commitment to offering guests an amazing vacation experience while not compromising at all on their environmental values.