It’s almost commonplace for hotels to boast a recycling program or some sort of water conservation effort around their properties now. And while we’re sure Mother Nature appreciates all the help, there should be added praise given to places that take the extra steps in ensuring we don’t leave such a harmful carbon footprint on things. What these following hotels demonstrate with their eco-conscious policies and practices is that, even on your next vacation or business trip, you can do your part to help the planet out without sacrificing any of the luxury.
The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, North Carolina
While shining a light on ecocentric concepts this time of year is expected, this contemporary North Carolina escape keeps it lit all the time. Well, technically, there are some restrictions with the electricity thanks to the hotel’s EVOLVE energy management system, a program that allows guests to regulate lights, temperature and entertainment through in-room tablets. But beyond that, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star also encourages the use of alternative cars by having an electric vehicle charging station; it donates old mattresses, used carpet and unopened soap to charitable organizations; and its Five-Star restaurant Herons partners with 14 area farmers for its fennel, turnips and other items on its seasonal menu.
As the son of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, it was inevitable that Jean-Michel would become a champion of the environment. But rather than just lobby for change in D.C. or only make Hollywood-style documentaries, Cousteau established this island getaway that flaunts an eye for style (thatched huts made from traditional timber; Italian-tiled baths) and a caring heart toward nature. The resort’s fruit trees and organic herb and vegetable gardens are irrigated with recycled water and use compost from green kitchen waste. On-site marine biologist Johnny Singh organizes daily outings with child-aged guests, introducing them to indigenous plant life and animals. And when it comes to the seafood prepared at the Asian-inspired restaurant overlooking Savusavu Bay, patrons can rest easy knowing that strict sustainable fishing standards prevent threatened marine species from entering the kitchen.
Bardessono Hotel and Spa, Yountville, California
As one of only three LEED Platinum hotels in America — Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel and Syracuse’s Hotel Skyler are the others — it shouldn’t surprise that this Napa Valley treasure’s favorite color is green. But if you’re expecting muted earth tones to define the Four-Star property, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the subtly chic uses of metal, glass and other materials around the place. That the visible exterior wood was milled from salvaged Monterey Cypress and stone was recycled from a 19th century wine cellar only gives the place more character. Of course, those are just the obvious nods to nature. It’s the understated practices (drought-tolerant plants to reduce water usage; a 200-kilowatt solar power system on the roof) that really have Bardessono standing out amongst its eco-friendly contemporaries.
Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
When you’re trying to relax, the last things you need to hear are engines and loud screeching noises. This stunning resort doesn’t use motorized vehicles on the premises, thus helping in the fight against noise pollution and reducing the spread of harmful emissions into the air; instead, staffers move about the property in golf carts and on bikes. And when it’s time for visitors to explore the nine miles of iguana- and monkey-filled canals threading around the property, electric boats are incorporated. In the event all of the adventures leave you in need of a massage, Sense, a Rosewood Spa proudly boasts treatments that either use products native to the area (agave, rosemary, eucalyptus) or services that directly reflect an ancestral connection (Mayan Equinox Ritual, complete with a blessing and full-body exfoliation).
ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Numbers are a big deal in Vegas. But while this Sin City gem takes as much pride in betting lines and poker hand odds as the next casino, the thing that separates it from the neon-lit crowd are figures like 50 — as in the millions of gallons of water that are saved every year because of efficiency initiatives such as low-flow technology around the LEED Gold property. And just to show that the 4,004-room Four-Star truly cares as much about nature as it does for renovated buffets and nightclubs, consider these numbers: 5 (the amount of Green Keys received from the esteemed Green Key Eco-Rating Program) and 30 (the count of compressed natural gas-powered limousines and SUVs in the resort’s fleet).
Photos Courtesy of Bardessono, Rosewood Hotels, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji and The Umstead Hotel And Spa