The other day my husband and I were daydreaming about taking a year off and travelling. It’s the part of our pre-parenting life that we miss the most – that and finishing a hot meal, having undisturbed sleep and time to read! Our kids weren’t enamoured with the idea particularly when I explained that we may end up in places with no wi-fi or pizza! So for now we’ll stick to our annual 2 week cultural immersion.
When I started this blog post I mentioned to my children that it was on the American continent, which includes the USA but other countries too. They didn’t believe me. In their mind American is the American continent, which is unsurprising but sad all the same. This is the side effect of them watching American dominated YouTube. I often wonder what we’d be like culturally if English wasn’t our main language.
My husband and I had a disastrous trip to South American in 2005. We started in Chile where our planned trip to Salar de Atacama got cancelled because it snowed in the driest place on earth! Then we moved onto Bolivia, where we got really bad altitude sickness and had stuff robbed on us. Next was Peru where there was a bus strike, which meant we couldn’t visit Machu Picchu because all of other forms of transport (of which there was very little) were booked out. So after 18 days of hard slog and set backs we travelled to Lima and decided to take a flight home two days early. We were beat!
So if that little anecdote hasn’t put you off travelling here are some options for sustainable accommodation on the American continent. And remember it’s more sustainable to stay longer so if you’re flying long distance make it count and stay as long as you can.
Shadow Lake Lodge in Canada runs on solar power, which they maximize with the use of energy-efficient light bulbs. Drinking water at the lake originates from an underground spring and they process grey water and disperse it into the ground soil. They also minimise packaging through the purchase of bulk foods, purchase no bottled water or soft drinks, use phosphate-free soaps and detergents and recycle all glass, metal, and plastics.
The Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, Canada use sensors and timers, LED & CFL bulbs, high-efficiency boilers, water saving shower heads and low-flow toilets. They have an electric car charging point. They have also eliminated paper guest receipts and plastic water bottles in guest rooms. They source local food and have been awarded Bronze Certified status by EarthCheck, an environmental management program for the travel and tourism industry and 4 Green Key ECOmmodation rating by the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC). They are also support a range of environmental and social initiatives and have a team dedicated to green initiatives in the hotel.
Hotel Le Crystal in Montreal have two regular electrical car chargers and two Tesla car chargers. All of their room keys are reusable and all hotel cleaning products are biodegradable and water-soluble. The pool and hot tub use salt water instead of chlorine and the hotel fundraises for charities.
Wickaninnish Lodge in British Columbia in Canada was constructed so as to minimise the impact on surrounding trees and reclaimed douglas fir was used to construct guest room furniture and the liners and trim at every door and window. They source their produce, seafood and meat locally from Vancouver Island and greater B.C and use organic products in their spa. They have an onsite wormery for food waste and use high-efficiency Viessmann boilers. They also have one standard and one Tesla electric car chargers. They organise beach clean ups and an annual golf tournament they ran raised over $120,000.00 for the local high school’s athletics programs. They also contribute funds and time to operate various not-for-profit festivals in Tofino.
Lake O’Hara Lodge in Canada conserve water through the use of vacuum toilets, operate an advanced membrane bioreactor tertiary wastewater treatment facility and an efficient hot water pre-warming system utilizing waste heat from their generators. They use native plants and shrubs to reclaim disturbed areas, avoid phosphorus based soaps, purchase seasonal produce from local producers, have an extensive in-house recycling program for paper, glass, tin and plastic products, support local charities and contribute financial and in-kind support for ongoing environmental research activities.
Here’s a blog post on 10 spots in Vancover for vegan and ethical fashion lovers
Fogo Island Inn (see image above) in Newfoundland is filled with of folk crafts made by a guild of local craftswomen and serves cuisine made with locally grown ingredients, some of which is foraged. According to the hotel’s website locally sourced, sustainable building materials were chosen for the hotel whenever possible. Harvesting of rainwater is used to serve the toilets, laundry, and kitchen appliances, and wood-fired boilers and solar panels are used for hot water and underfloor heating. The hotel is effectively owned by the community with all profits funding local micro-lending projects and the hotel’s Shorefast Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the tradition of boat building in the area.
Two Bunch Palms in California is a resort built around the natural hot desert springs. It uses only locally grown food in its restaurant, irrigates with recycled water, only uses biodegradable cleaning and treatment products, and generates its electricity from renewable sources, making it the first carbon-neutral resort in America.
Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque in the US use fluorescent and LED lighting throughout the building, use motion sensors to turn on/off lighting, generate hot water on-site from solar panels, use dual-flush toilets, oxygen-assisted shower-heads, low-flow fixtures, and employee training to reduce water waste, irrigate indoor and outdoor landscape using on-site captured rainwater, reduce storm water runoff to help protect natural hydrology, minimize heat island effect by using high reflective roofing materials, recycle all cardboard, paper, plastics, metal, and compost all food waste, provide on-site bike racks and showers, etc to encourage bike use, use environmentally friendly cleaning products and housekeeping standards, use refillable containers for toiletries, have bedroom furniture made from bamboo or rubberwood and make 70% of their energy from renewable sources. And on and on and on. This is one of the most committed green hotels I’ve come across yet!
The blog Eco Traveller has a post on the best Eco Resorts in Mexico
Lapa Rios is a luxury eco-resort in Costa Rico that uses renewable materials for sustainable and low-impact construction, composts its waste, promotes use of locally-sourced biodegradable products and organic foods, employ exclusively local staff, educate staff, their local community, and guests about sustainability, cultural and environmental matters. They use solar water heaters, biodegradable cleaning products, grow organic food and have banned all single-use plastics.
Chaa Creek in Belize gives 10% of all revenue to environmental and community projects under our Chaa Creek Cares™ initiative. The resort only uses environmentally safe products in reduced or bulk packaging, provide water refilling stations, filter their own drinking water, use only energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps combined with automatic timers, motion detectors and photo-voltaic switches, maximise the use of natural lighting to reduce energy consumption, run their Macal River Camp facility completely on solar power, compost kitchen waste and other organic materials and use it on their Maya Organic Farm, give restaurant leftovers to a local farmer as pig feed, return packaging where possible and recycle all others, use recycled paper and our commercial printing is done on recycled paper, use low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads and harvest rainwater to supplement water consumption.
Hotel Belmar in Costa Rica uses air drying facilities, solar panels, skylights to reduce energy consumption. They also use Energy saving light bulbs, presence-detecting lights, and photo-voltaic lamps. Their shower heads use 65% less water than conventional shower heads, they harvest rainwater and use a biodigester to treat waste water and produce biogas for water heating. The cleaning products and toiletries are environmentally friendly and biodegradable and their lawns and gardens are chemical-free. The purchase locally produced, organic goods and minimise solid waste wherever possible.
Adults only resort Kura in Costa Rico have banned all single-use plastic, have an organic garden, minimise solid waste as much as possible, make furniture from sustainable local timber, use solar panels to heat water, use salt instead of chlorine in their pool, use waste water to irrigate their gardens, and uses 100% organic biodegradable products.
Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort in Aruba organise a beach clean once a month, offer reusable cups for cocktails, save water by using Aerators and Dual Flush Systems, use solar heaters, minimise waste generation, protect and minimise air quality, participate with NGO’s in conservation programs, protect laying turtles on a nearby beach.
Uxua in Brazil has been nominee for Virtuoso’s Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award for 3 years in a row. The resort in partnership with NGO Despertar has created MAMA TRANCOSO – Movimento Ambientalista Mukaú Aponem, an eco-education initiatives to education 10 people into becoming environmental activists over a year. In an effort to keep the tradition alive the hotel also supports the academy Capoeira Sul Da Bahia. It also supports local fishermen by loaning tools or providing wood for boat repairs and is a founding member of the Fishermen’s Association of Trancoso
Inkaterra has been offering ecotourism and sustainable development tours in Peru since 1975. They are committed to scientific research and conservation and help to fund the Inkaterra Asociación, a non-profit research organisation. Since 1978, Inkaterra Asociación has registered 903 bird species, 362 ant species, 313 butterfly species, 100 mammal species and 1266 vascular plant species.
Hulio Hulio in located in the middle of the Chilean Patagonian Rainforest, under the Andes Mountain range. Their website states that the hotel owners are committed to the conservation of nature and local culture but very little detail about this was given.
Here’s a relevant blog post on the best ethical fashion stores in Cusco, Lima and Peru by eco blogger Ecocult.
And if you’re heading to Columbia Ecocult have also written posts on the most sustainable restaurants in Medillin and sustainable and ethical shopping in Medellin and Bogota.
The same blogger has also done a piece on the most sustainable ethical fashion shops in Bueno Aires, Argentina.
Undiscovered Mountains is an mountain focused adventure holiday tour company that use small independent accommodations wherever possible and local guides and instructors so the money you spend on your holiday is ploughed straight back into the local economy. They also run an Eco-Challenge to raise money for Tourism Concern and operate a carbon offsetting program through a rewilding project with our partner Mossy Earth.
Responsible Travel allows you to search for sustainable holiday accommodation by country, date and type of holiday but it’s directory appears limited.
Green Tourism allows you to search for businesses that have won a Green Award by location. Green Tourism is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1997 with a mission to encourage and enable companies in the hospitality / tourism industry to make sustainable choices that reduce their impact on the planet. They have 2000 member in the UK and abroad. They claim to be one of the most rigorous certification programmes of its kind, stating that it is the only one independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). I have searched for eco-accomodation in Ireland using its website and I was surprised at the results. None of the destinations I listed in previous posts appeared, in fact the main result was for a Jury’s Inn, which wouldn’t strike me as a particularly ‘green’ hotel.
One Planet Rating appears to be a green version of Trip Advisor, where you can view hotels, restaurants and attractions based on their eco-rating. It seems to depend on the rating of the public and could be great if it works like Tripadvisor but so far the only hotel in Dublin that received a rating was the Radisson Blu, which I’d hardly rate as a particularly green hotel.
PS – This time in previous years I’ve posted Six Weeks Towards Zero Waste and Why I don’t like Biodegradable / Compostable Plastic