Five Unforgettable Eco-Friendly Escapes

by Alana Cowan

We recently gave you a top 18 list for traveling green, and fortunately for travelers, it really is becoming easier to follow your eco-conscience even when you’re far from home. Now more than ever, hotels around the world have been selling themselves as green. And, as the color of hospitality changes, green hotels have moved beyond the natural, lush landscapes of uber-exotic locales and into the common landscape of everyday industrial cities.

With Summer fast approaching, eco18 has scouted some of the season’s top destinations for Green travel. So, whether you’re thinking of jetting off to Costa Rica’s white-sand beaches or simply looking to splurge on some California cool, these are five suggestions that will ensure a relaxed and renewed return.

Parador Resort & Spa

Punta Quepos, Costa Rica
A leader in sustainability, Parador Resort & Spa is a luxe, eco getaway perched high above the sweeping Central Pacific coastline. Renown for its white-sand beaches and home to the famed Manuel Antonio National Park, Punta Quepos is hailed as the country’s leading eco-tourism destination and an adventure sport hotspot. Set on 12 lush jungle acres, Parador Resort & Spa features European-inspired ambience, modern amenities and unparalleled service with 96 rooms and 33 suites, three restaurants, four bars, and three ocean view pools. As a recipient of HSMAI and National Geographic’s Platinum Level “Leader in Sustainable Tourism” Adrian Award, guests at the hotel are encouraged to participate in reforestation and beach clean-up programs, among other local projects. Recently, in celebration of Earth Day, Parador decided to turn their hotel into a magical wonderland, lit by thousands of candles. Guests participated by shutting off the lights and the a/c and enjoy a peaceful respite from modernity. 

Venice Beach Eco Cottages

Venice Beach, California
Inspired by actress Cynthia Foster and her environmental economist husband, Karel Samson created this cozy, healthy and green hotel, with the pledge to donate a percentage of their profits to local charities. With their unwavering commitment to sustainability, the three solar-powered bungalows are just a five-minute walk from the ocean and the trendy Venice Beach boutiques on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. For those in search of sublime comfort and a simply superb experience, the decor of each one-bedroom retreat includes standard eco-fare as well as delightful surprises using earth friendly, organic materials – from a flea market find bugle turned into a pot rack; to a vintage record cabinet turned into a bathroom vanity to a large bird cage turned into a cozy swivel chair.

The Orchard Hotel

San Francisco, California
Just because you’re traveling for business this Summer, doesn’t mean you can’t stay green! Conveniently located two blocks from Union Square, this stylish, 86-room boutique hotel in the heart of downtown San Francisco is the leading green hotel in the Bay Area. With a focus on natural light, all hotel products and design aspects are sustainable and organic-including carpets, bed linens and wall coverings.  Opened in 2007, The Orchard Hotel was the first hotel in San Francisco to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified – third in the United States. Located in the prime business center of San Francisco, near the Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, the hotel’s prime business location supplies an eco-friendly meeting destination voted “The Best Place to Work” by The San Francisco Business Times. Just steps from the Moscone and Civic Center, it is San Francisco’s most peaceful and dynamic workplaces, featuring a stylish executive boardroom. And, after you’re done getting down to business, you can dine at the hotel’s Daffodil Restaurant, which specializes in local, organic dishes.

Tiamo Resort

South Andros Island, The Bahamas
Known as one of the most beautiful islands of the Bahamas, this slice of paradise in the heart of the Caribbean is known for its incredible commitment to the environment. The solar-powered 11-bungalow hideaway, set alongside a stretch of turquoise waters of the South Andros Island, uses less electricity per month than one average American household, causing minimal impact to the surrounding environment. This luxury retreat manages to remain eco-friendly with a host of ingenious touches, with no TV’s or telephones, the hotel relies solely on the majestic sea-breeze to cool the hotel opposed to air conditioning. Other eco efforts include a ban on unsustainably harvested seafood and a hosts visitations for visiting biologists.

Tenuta di Spannocchia

Siena, Italy
If your Summer travels throughout Europe bring you to the scenic land of Northern Italy, enjoy a unique organic farm retreat in the heart of the Tuscan Countryside. The 1,100-acre organic farm features seven well-appointed rooms in this centuries-old estate with sweeping views of the Spannocchia property. Rooms are tucked into original stone houses, restored with a rustic simplicity, but with no access to modern technologies such as telephones or electronic devices. However, when guests taste delicious wines (and learn how it’s made), eat a meal fresh from the garden, and take a dip in the pool- their modern necessities will soon be forgotten. In addition to being a tranquil, relaxing place to stay, the retreat plays host to the Spannocchia Foundation, responsible for supporting and promoting conservation and sustainable farming. Dedicated to nothing less than preserving the region’s cultural and agricultural legacy, there is also an educational center located right on the property where visitors, guests and students can come to learn about sustainable farming and the culture and history of Tuscany.

Now tell us, which of these places will you  be hitting up this summer?

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