TRACKING THE FUTURE OF CITIES
In the last edition of my sustainable hotels series we crossed four continents in search of perfect city or rural escapes that combine the most up-to-date sustainability credentials with creature-comforts to satisfy the most austerity-weary traveller.
Today we visit places a bit closer to home (if you happen to call Canada, the US or the UK home that is!), ending with a delightfully exotic detour to Bali which for obvious reasons might just have to relegate itself to mind-candy for the armchair traveller within all of us!
Yes they may look cookie-cutter and slightly brutalist on the outside, but this budding chain of ALTernative hotels is the world’s only to feature technologically advanced sustainability features (in each hotel) combined with stylish touches that lend a cozy, creative edge to rooms and common areas.
We like: The generously sized guest rooms with goose-down duvets, and all the stylish accoutrements, like mis-matched furniture and rocking chairs in the lobby, Italian-designed loungers, cool wall art, and bathrooms with windows.
Green features: All four of the hotels use renewable geothermal energy for the heating and cooling of water and air. Pumped out of the ground below each hotel and turned into electricity on-site through a process which emits an average of 122 kilograms (270 lb) of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MW·h) of electricity, a small fraction of the energy intensity of conventional fossil fuel plants, and requires only a tiny input of water when compared to other energy sources.
Huge thermal windows maximize natural light and minimize heat loss in winter while energy-efficient lighting is designed to make it easy for guests to minimize energy-use, like central light switches in rooms to turn multiple lights off remotely.
Where to find them: Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto Pearson Airport and Halifax Airport with a further three opening in 2014 and 2015 (Ottawa, Winnipeg & Montreal)
A historic boutique hotel built in 1939 and named to evoke the pride and artisanal beauty of Spanish Andalusia, the Andaluz features a stunning hacienda-style lobby with vaulted ceilings while guest rooms on the other hand are considerably more modern in design (with the exception of the suite below which retains some of the lobby’s charm).
We like: The restaurant kitchen takes local to a new level, preparing meals exclusively with fruit, vegetables and meat from the surrounding region. Cyclists get a break too with their own bike racks as well as lockers, showers and changing facilities!
Green features: The hotel has won numerous awards and accolades, both for its sustainability initiative and the level of service provided. Hotel Andaluz is one of only two historic GOLD Leed certified hotels in the U.S, and it calls itself “the nation’s only full-service GOLD Leed certified historic & eco-friendly hotel.” Deep breath.
Environmentally-speaking, this hotel has left no stone unturned. Everything has been combed over to ensure strict sustainability standards which helped them cut the hotel’s use of potable water in half.
Loads of sensors, high-tech windows, solar-panels (to heat water) and high-efficiency everything plus LED lighting everywhere means the hotel uses 21% less energy than similar traditional buildings.
For a full list of their green features, click here.
Think of this widely acclaimed small hotel as a cozy yet generously-sized B&B, with a spectacular setting within stone’s throw of a wide sandy beach (the hotel promises 60 seconds from bed to beach!) and views of the stunning Cornish cliffs. The Primrose gets good press (and heaps of awards) not only for doing what it does well, but also for going the extra mile in trying to be an amazing green business.
We like: All 11 spacious guest rooms and suites are individually designed and decorated – no bland, chain-hotel feeling here. The bar & lounge features some tempting local Cornish specialties to nibble on, plus real Illy espresso coffee and wine (from an ample wine list) served in Riedel glasses.
Green features: Among the eco-friendly features, the restaurant uses local and ethical ingredients (they follow guidelines from the Marine Conservation Society’s ethical purchasing policy) , electricity is sourced from a wind-energy supplier, and employees are supported in sustainability training. The hotel has won gold in the UK’s Green Tourism Business Scheme, and whether it be sustainable sourcing, reducing waste or encouraging green tourism, they’ve done their bit.
Never mind that flying here for many of us would require 3 years worth of carbon footprints, eliminating any benefit that staying here might accrue, but this architectural design-paradise set on a chunk of Bali’s south coast tries hard to leave a positive environmental legacy, having won silver certification by the Earthcheck organization for environmental practices and for building, planning and design standards. Kudos to them.
Both a luxury hotel and a message, meditation and nutrition spa, Alila Villas Uluwatu was designed by the award-winning, Singapore-based architectural firm WOHA. Using water as thread which weaves together the architectural elements of the hotel, the interiors are designed to be completely integrated with the architecture, which blends seemlessly into the surrounding natural environment. The result is pure bliss for the eyes.
We like: Who wouldn’t fall in love with the stunning setting and fit-for-a-magazine-spread landscape design? The big common table in the Warung restaurant is also a great way to rub shoulders with fellow travellers while dining on Balinese specialities.