Planning the Trip of Your Eco-Dreams

  • losSuenos-costaRicaLos Suenos, Costa Rica
  • losSuenos-costaRicaLos Suenos, Costa Rica
  • fourSeasons-costaRicaFour Seasons, Costa Rica
  • fourSeasons-costaRicaFour Seasons, Costa Rica
  • fourSeasons-costaRicaFour Seasons, Costa Rica
  • westinAvonThe Westin in Avon, Colorado
  • broadMoor-coloradoSpringsThe Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
  • bigFive-kenyaBig Five Safari Tours, Kenya
  • bigFive-kenyaBig Five Safari Tours, Kenya
  • bigFive-kenya3Big Five Safari Tours, Kenya
  • bigFive-kenya3Big Five Safari Tours, Kenya
  • dubaiDubai

Many of you have seen those somewhat annoying little cards propped up in hotel bathrooms saying something like, “As part of our commitment to a clean environment, we offer you the choice of reusing your towels.” This perhaps is suggesting that if you have any concern whatsoever for the future of the planet, you will take this recommendation to heart!

This new trend emerging across the universe is commonly referred to as ecotourism. Basically, it is tourism that operates in such a way to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, with an annual growth rate of 20 to 30 percent. The popularity of this type of tourism is due in part to the increasing number of environmentally conscious consumers who have taken to ecotourism because it combines an exotic travel experience with the self-satisfying notion of being socially and environmentally responsible.

Many resorts and properties have jumped on the bandwagon to become environmentally friendly establishments and are touting their green credentials to consumers who really care.

Don’t be mistaken — eco friendly does not necessarily mean rustic.

There is plenty of pampering going around in these special eco-friendly resorts, and no one has to give up any luxurious little extras.

To be considered an eco-tourist-friendly destination, properties are chosen on sustainable practices such as least-toxic cleaners, energy and water savings, and recycling efforts. They have implemented a unique set of green initiatives designed to reduce a negative impact on our earth.

There is a growing number of travel-related entities that are now operating in such a way as to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Marriott Hotels

They have recently adopted a green philosophy and have received more Energy Star labels than any other hotel company.

Also their employees volunteer to do everything from career training to feeding the hungry and planting trees.

Celebrity Cruise Solstice

This is their new eco-friendly cruise ship. The ship is loaded with 216 solar panels that power all of the ship’s elevators and an aerodynamic design to increase fuel efficiency. I recently had a group on this ship that was awed by its magnificence.

Continental Airlines

They recently had a test flight of a 737 powered by biofuel derived from algae.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica especially has taken advantage of the ecotourism boom, and the number of tourists visiting Costa Rica has increased steadily for years. Although it’s a small country about the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has incredible biodiversity with scenic beaches, lush rain forest, impressive volcanoes and exotic wildlife.

Its proximity to the United States gives its tourist industry a clear advantage over the ecotourism adventures offered in Africa and Asia.

During a recent visit, I had the pleasure of staying at Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort. It is nestled between the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and 1,100 acres of tropical rainforest.

Another fabulous environmentally friendly resort is the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica. It creates an ambience of simple luxury in this pristine natural setting. With two unspoiled beaches, an indigenous spa, championship golf and the magic of the tropical rain forest, you will be enchanted!

Mountain Resorts

Closer to home, there are many eco-friendly resorts in the U.S. If there is one thing to look forward to this time of year once the holidays have passed, it’s skiing and snowboarding trips.

One of the top green ski hotels in the American West is the new Westin Riverfront Resort in Avon, Colo., located at the base of Beaver Creek. It has roof tiles made from recycled tires, and offers priority parking for hybrid cars.

Another luxurious ski property is The Sky Lodge in Park City, Utah.

It features the ultimate in stylish and indulgent details, including wet bars, flat-panel televisions, gas fireplaces, personal hot tubs overlooking the mountains and organic hot tea on the nightstand.

They use wind-generated electrical power and eco-friendly purveyor sourcing for all restaurant food purchases.

Finally, their amazing on-site Amatsu Spa utilizes organic ingredients in their many deluxe treatments. The Sky Lodge is an eco-dream come true!

At The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., being good stewards of the planet means recognizing the importance of proper recycling and the conservation of water and electricity.This Five-Star, FiveDiamond historic resort has taken its commitment to the environment a step beyond by hiring a Recycling Coordinator to work on green initiatives throughout their property and golf courses.

Africa

Another example of an eco-friendly worldwide destination is Big Five Tours & Expeditions, offering a safari in Kenya that will visit top game reserves and community-operated eco-lodges that are helping to protect natural habitats and rare wildlife, as well as empowering local villagers to be economically self-reliant.

Dubai

As if Dubai didn’t have enough cool things going on already, their newest building to be erected is one of the greenest architectural designs out there today.The building will host 80 floors, each of which can move independently from the rest of the building. It will allow guests to eat breakfast in front of the sunrise, and eat dinner in front of the sunset, without leaving the room.

At the risk of sounding like an Al Gore groupie, I think it is safe to say that as we enter 2009, we have the potential to do bigger, better and greener things. We can still travel in a luxurious manner, but in a more focused, responsible and sustainable fashion and always, always have fun!