Swanky Hotels Worth the Green

What factors do you consider when you start planning a vacation? Be honest now…do you factor in amenities? Nearby activities? Price? Food? Exotic destination? Whether your intended destination has any green or environmentally-friendly aspects?

Well, I’m sure many people consider at least one, if not more, of those factors. Price is often at the top of everyone’s list. But whether you choose where you go based on price, green amenities or if you just want to escape from the everyday grind, here are a few swanky hotels that are definitely worth the green:

Heritance Kandalama Hotel Images by Steve Weaver

1) Heritance Kandalama Hotel: This 5-star hotel can be found tucked away amongst the foliage on a mountainside in Sri Lanka. Guests sometimes find themselves so close to nature that if they look up into the trees during a walk, they often find themselves face to face with some of the local monkeys. Rooftop gardens nestled amongst the woodlands are a given in this hideaway setting.

But the activities/amenities at the Heritance Kandalama go way beyond your standard pool or spa treatment (although even those are rumored to be top of the line). These activities consist of things such as bird watching, boat rides, safaris, mountain biking, horseback riding, elephant back trekking, cave exploration, jungle trekking and more. The Eco Park is also just a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

The hotel also boast a number of “green” features on-site including:

  • eco-toilets,
  • sewage treatment,
  • recycling anything from wet (food) waste to solid waste to water waste, etc.,
  • elephant dung paper (which you can watch being made at the hotel),
  • herbal gardens and more

In my opinion, a destination definitely worth the green! Do you think it’s worth adding to your vacation “to do” list?

Image courtesy of Joie de Vivre

2) This next hotels I heard about via my friends over at travelinggreener.com. They are part of the Joie de Vivre chain of hotels, which (as a side note) apparently has the largest number of green certified hotels in San Francisco.

However the offer that caught my attention from Joie de Vivre, was their “Sowing the Seeds of Love” package. They also have a Spring in Southern California special going on right now, but I’d have to admit, I’d probably choose the Seeds of Love package.

The offer, for you and your special someone, consists of:

  • A one night stay in one of their 35 California Hotels
  • A tree planted in California, on your behalf
  • A bottle of organic California wine and
  • An ecodisiac – which they describe as an aphrodisiac with a green twist (the ecodisiac varies from hotel to hotel).

As far as which hotel I’d probably choose, I’d have to go with the Hotel Los Gatos (pictured above). From its comparison to a private Mediterranean villa to its relaxing spa treatments to its certification as a Bay Area Green Business, the Hotel Los Gatos sounds like the way to go. It’s a great west coast weekend getaway that pairs comfort and green with style!

3) The next hotel is the British eco-hotel, The Scarlet. This relatively new hotel is heavy on the environmental side of things, while at the same time maintaining the style and class that many seasoned travelers have come to expect.

If you are the kind of person that could really use a “get-away” vacation, then this green hotel might be perfect for you. Just take a look through their photo gallery and tell me if there isn’t at least one photo that would make you want to go there.

It has a natural, chlorine-free outdoor pool, solar panels to heat the indoor pool, a bio-mass boiler to heat the hotel, a natural ventilation system, electricity supplied from a renewable energy source, a waste management program in place, rainwater harvesting and the hotel buys produce and other products from local growers/suppliers. The TimesOnline even suggested it might be the greenest hotel in Britain.

4) The next location brings us back to California to the Living Light Inn. Located on the Mendocino Coast in Fort Bragg, the Living Light Inn allows you to experience the beauty and luxury of the California coastline while still catering to your eco-conscious needs.

While the Living Light Inn many not necessarily have the same amenities as a larger swanky hotel, that doesn’t mean the quality suffers. This 1912 Craftsman-style mansion has been fully refurbished with the Inn’s history and the environment in mind. Each quaint and individually decorated room, as well as the Inn itself, are highlighted by the inn’s “green” practices including organic bedding, non-toxic cleaning materials, water filtration system, recycling, composting, energy conservation and more. The full environmental case study can be found at travelgreen.org.

Additionally, with the Inn so close to the coastline, outdoor activities such as hiking, tide pooling, kayaking, cycling, bird watching, whale watching, and horseback riding are all within minutes of the hotel.

Compared to the experience they claim to offer, the price tag definitely seems worth the green. Of course, for those of you on a green budget, you can always take advantage of their specials, such as the “Whale of a Special” currently being offered from now until April 22nd, 2010.

Image courtesy of Eco Hotels of the World

5) The last swanky hotel on my list is the Vigilius Mountain Resort, located about a mile up on a mountain-side in Lana, South Tyrol, Italy. But don’t think about driving there, because in order to help preserve the beauty, tranquility and fresh mountain air, this resort is completely car-free and can only be reached on foot or via cable-car.

Like most high-end hotels, the Vigilius does not disappoint on its amenities. However blending in with nature is a concentration of this hotel, from its grass-covered roof,  to its design meant to imitate a tree fallen in the forest, to its use of materials coming from renewable resources, to its organic spa treatments, to its wood-chip heating system, to the natural wood or clay walls, to its use of local resources and more.

They have even received many awards for their sustainable efforts including a five-star rating from Eco Hotels of the World.

Needless to say, the Vigilius has already been added to my vacation “to do” list. Do you know of any swanky hotels, big or small, that you consider to be worth the green?


  • Stephanie

    I really love traveling and when I dream about getting away without the kids, I definitely love staying green! 🙂

  • susan holaday

    You need to check out Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, ME!!

  • Olivia

    Check Taboga Ecoboutique at Emerald Coast in Veracruz, Mexico

    • Tara

      Thank you Stephanie, Susan and Olivia for taking the time to check out and comment on my blog post! 🙂

      Great suggestions Olivia and Susan – I added the links to both locations so my readers can check them out – thanks for sharing those! 🙂 Tara

  • Rick

    I especially appreciate it when the venue makes an effort to show that they really are “green”, by providing facilities and features that really promote green in some way, and not just calling themselves “green” to get on the bandwagon. I intend to take note of these and write about them in my travels, so people will know the places that are really “green” and not just in it for the marketing effort. Good stuff.

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