Staying green on vacation doesn’t mean spotting a single fern in the hotel foyer or that the facilities are a long walk a way and lit by flashlights. Here are five of the best eco-resorts in the United States that are luxurious to their guests and to the planet.
“Gaia” means “Mother Earth” in Greek, so it’s fitting that this hotel was the world’s first building to be certified gold in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The United States Green Building Council awards LEED certification to buildings after judging them in six categories, including Gaia’s expertise: sustainability. In the 130 rooms, the tiles and carpets are made of recycled materials, and all the wood comes from managed forests. The lush, green lawns never feel fertilizer’s negative impact. Located in the heart of coastal California’s wine country, Gaia’s spa specializes in vinotherapy, a relaxing treatment made from local grape extracts. Rooms start at $89 a night.
Inn By the Sea, a luxury beach destination, overlooks Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. They invested in a multi-million dollar renovation in 2008, updating the 57 guest rooms and building a new bar, a glass-enclosed restaurant with ocean views, and a full-service spa–all environmentally conscious endeavors. The staff cleans each room with non-toxic solutions, the fitness room has recycled rubber floors, and solar panels heat the pool. The Sea Glass restaurant tries to only serve indigenous fare from the surrounding farms and sea, and the menu reflects their attempts, offering Maine-foraged mushroom tarts and steamed, wild Maine mussels. Double rooms start at $189 a night.
Ingenious architects refurbished and transformed one of the 4,000 oilrigs in the Gulf of Mexico into a luxury eco-resort and spa. Using all renewable power sources, they took an iconic source of dirty energy and created an eco-haven. A giant, vertical wind turbine and solar panels power the resort. The luxury spa offers all the usual services and takes advantage of being surrounded by water and offers boating, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving adventures. Other unique aspects include a glass lobby floor to see the ocean below, and every room’s windows boast endless views of the Gulf. In the central core of the former rig, a gigantic tube filled with water can be seen from every single room, and acts as a ballast for the entire rig. Entertainment shows, like Cirque du Soleil’s “O,” are scheduled to perform in the central core at this one-of-a-kind eco-resort.
The Lodge is not your ordinary dude ranch. Hidden in Cameron, Montana—the River Valley—genuine cowboys man this 26,000-acre expanse of property and tend to more than 1,500 head of cattle. The lodge has six rooms and two private cabins, all with breathtaking views of the mountains. Indulge in western adventures and ride horseback, fly-fish, and go on a hike or boat, all the while knowing that this resort goes the extra step to reduce its carbon footprint. Sun Ranch donated a ten-year lease to Trout Unlimited to guarantee the waters on the property remain free of irrigation. They also removed all barbed wire so wildlife can roam the grounds, and they used recyclable materials to renovate the main lodge. They consistently purchase their produce from local farmers for daily, fresh meals in the restaurant. Rates start at $1,400 a person for a three-night stay, including all meals and excursions.
Lova Lava Land is woman-owned and ran, three-acre, 100 percent off-grid, 100 percent solar-powered eco-resort on Hawaii’s Big Island. In every way possible, they tried to use green, sustainable, and recycled materials in constructing the resort construction. Accommodations range from a complete, round Yurt, to retro, renovated VW Camper Buses, all which feature composting toilets. Visitors can enjoy creative amenities like a lava-rock shower from rocks harvested from their own land, walking tours that highlight the local flora and fauna, and play coconut Bocce Ball. Rates start at $40 per night.
Escaping from your daily life on a relaxing getaway doesn’t have to mean taking a break from the green life. Visit the website of one of these eco-resorts to truly enjoy your vacation, guilt-free.