Friday, March 4, 2011

Green Getaways

Vacation.  The sound of it makes you vision a place far away, with crystal blue waters, tropical landscape, relaxation, activities, and the excitement of the unknown.  I am sure we could all use a little more vacation in our lives.  Americans inundate themselves deelpy into their work and rarely take the time to rejuvenate...to get away from it all and clear our heads so we can come back and be more productive than before.  That's why vacations are so important.  At a young age I was fortunate enough to have learned and become the recipient of my dad's philosophy to take two vacations per year...one with kids and one without.  Probably one of the most inspiring pieces of advice he ever did and gave to me.  And we took them!  Whether it was camping, cruising, Disneyland, road trips, international travel, I took one vacation per year with my family.  And my parents took the other.  

Whether it's traveling abroad or a quick getaway, make the time to vacation and explore the world around you.  It can be somewhere exotic, local, mountains, beach, snow, luxury or on a budget, and it can also be eco-friendly.  There are all sorts of ways to travel "green", whether it is somewhere near or far.  Sustainable tavel is all the craze and it's important to know how these resorts and hotels practice sustainability and give back to their comunities. 

If you have run out of room to think about how to or where to, check out my Top 10 Eco-Friendly Getaways, and decide which one suits you.

1. The Harmony Hotel:  Costa Rica's is a haven for the ecoconscious world traveler. The hotel uses a greywater wetland system, which recirculates shower water to irrigate the hotel's supply of banana trees, and the pool employs a salt based chlorine-free purification system. The hotel's restaurant produces dishes from its on-site garden, uses "green" dishware made of coconuts and reclaimed marble and worm-based composting.

2.  Proximity Hotel:  North Carolina's Proximity Hotel is the first hotel in the United States to be awarded Platinum LEED certification. This green hotel employs 100 solar panels to power its showers, restaurant refrigeration equipment runs on geothermal energy and energy-efficient operable windows help to illuminate the hotel.

3.  Gaia Napa Valley:  The Gaia Napa Valley Hotel is the first hotel in the world to be Gold LEED certified. The hotel boasts Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber and a forty percent reduction of water use compared to other accommodations in the area. Also, be sure to check out the nearby host of California wineries from HuffPost Green's Top Ten Eco-friendly Wineries.

4.  Gyreum Eco-Lodge:  The Gyreum Eco-Lodge, Ireland's initial EU Eco-label certified eco-lodge, sleeps forty five visitors in its dorm-room style lodgings. The main building was made from scrap timber and the roof was constructed from sheep's wool and fiberglass from an abandoned mushroom farm. The lodge's water system is heated by wind power and its secondary energy supply comes from a geothermal heat pump. 

5.  Chumbe Island Coral Park:  Composed of seven eco-bungalows, Chumbe Island Coral Park is located on Zanzibar, an island off of Tanzania. The eco-bungalows use rainwater filtered from its roof collection system, photovoltaic panels for energy, and composting toilets, which provide the greenest in eco-accomodations. Chumbe's park rangers offer guided walks of the island's virgin coral rag forest and snorkeling expeditions of the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary. The hotel's chefs prepare food inspired by Zanzibarian, Arabic, African and Indian cuisine.

6.  Paradise Bay Eco-Lodge:  Paradise Bay offers a unique blend of eco and luxury set in a brilliant contrast of sun-soaked beaches, crystal clear water and pristine untouched wilderness full of friendly local wildlife.  It’s the ultimate in romantic, environmentally friendly island getaways – your own piece of Paradise in the Whitsundays. Enjoy lazy days exploring the Whitsundays on the resort’s private sailing and expedition boats, feast on gourmet meals with superb wines to match, , relax, leave the service to our friendly team and enjoy the peace and quiet of this tranquil and stunningly beautiful location. 

7.  Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an:  The Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an is an ecolover's paradise in Tulum, Mexico. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located near Tulum's Mayan Ruins. CESiaK's lodgings(raised tent cabins and hotel rooms) uphold green building standards and situate guests along Tulum's beach coastline. Proceeds from the hotel maintain CESiaK's initiatives such as sea turtle protection, endemic plant nursery conservation, alternative energy generators and education programs.

8.  El Nido Resorts:  Miniloc Island and Lagen Island are home to the Philippines El Nido Resorts in Palawan, some of the finest in eco-luxury.  Each resort is on it's own island where this all-inclusive getaway will wither away any stress of daily life.  Eco-conscious of thier pristine environment, El Nido Resorts have won numerous international awards for sustainability and eco-tourism.  

9.  Hotel Mizpe Hayamim:  Hotel Mizpe Hayamim, surrounded by the Sea of Galilee, is an upscale forerunner in eco-conscious tourism. The hotel runs its own organic vegetable farm, which supplies the hotel's restaurants. Additionally, the milk produced by the cows at Mizpe Hayamim's animal farm is used to make yogurts and cheeses, while the hotel's free range chickens provide a daily supply of eggs. The hotel also boasts a vegetarian restaurant in addition to its main restaurant.

10.  Jungle Bay Resort, Dominica:  Jungle Bay resort is the ultimate in relaxation.  The resort features thirty-five tastefully furnished tropical hardwood cottages elevated on wooden posts, nestled beneath the undisturbed jungle of Dominica. Cottages are spacious and feature wood furnishings all "designed and built" at the resort.  Jungle Bay's Mission is to enhance the natural environment and improve the livelihood of surrounding communities so that the region is improved in a sustainable way, while providing quality, comfortable nature-based experiences for our guests.

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