1. Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco
The Orchard Garden makes the green list for a very big reason--it's the only hotel built to the nationally accepted standards for green buildings put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In-room the hotel employs environmentally friendly policies like a key card energy control system, chemical-free cleaning products, recycling bins, soy-based inks and a strict no-smoking policy.
An added green bonus? During our stay there, one of the elevators smelled like something really green. Plus the hotel is still offering opening intro rates of $169 so it's also a bargain.
2. Alma Del Monte, Taos, New Mexico
The Alma del Monte, a five-bedroom luxury rental, makes the list for its top-to-bottom green design. The place uses solar panels, rainwater harvesting, has Pumice-crete adobe style walls, an addition made of recycled Styrofoam, low-volume toilets, and energy saving fluorescent light fixtures. The hotel also does composting, recycling, rainwater harvesting and cleaning with green products. Perhaps the best eco-friendly part of the place? The straw bale dog house (shown here) for your furry companions.
3. Gaia Napa Valley, American Canyon, Calif.
The Gaia opened to guests last fall and has a plethora of environmentally-friendly products, but the biggest, or the greenest thing about this hotel, is its green construction. Essentially, using more recycled materials and less energy to build the actual structure. The hotel "fuses natural light and recycled materials into a sustainable and environmentally sound motif" and inside everything is green (not the color) from recycled carpets to low-emissions paints. Even the animals placed in front are good for the environment. Fortunately, being so green doesn't mean rustic. The hotel has large TVs, spacious beds and high-spped wireless internet. This place strikes us as the kind of place Daryl Hannah would drive her vegetable oil fuelled car.
4. DoubleTree Suites Portland, Portland, Oregon
Doing business withe Nike or Intel in Oregon? This Doubletree, believe it or not, is the first lodging property in Oregon to win a Green Seal certification. The hotel says it has reduced overall waste disposal by 65% since 1996, brought down energy consumption by 32 percent, brought office paper purchasing down by 20 percent annually and has reduced water usage by 15 percent. Currently, the hotel has a property-wide recycling program, uses 35,000 kilowatt hours of wind power each year, and composts kitchen waste at an average of 14 tons per month. Most recently, the hotel partnered up with the Climate Trust to allow guests the chance to offset their carbon dioxide production during their stay at the hotel.
5. Compassion Flower Inn, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Does it get any greener than this, a hotel devoted to the marijuana plant? Here at the Compassion Flower Inn, those with medical marijuana licenses can smoke freely so long as it's outside on the patio. Aside from this green theme, the four room B&B serves an organic breakfast with fair trade coffee. Also interesting to note the last four digits of the B&B's phone number are 0420. 4/20, anyone?
UPDATE: Some sad news. The Compassion Flower Inn has closed. The owners apparently moved to Hawaii. Now, where are we going to smoke our medical MJ?
1. Maho Bay Camps, U.S. Virgin Islands
At the Maho Bay Camps you can pick your type of accommodations from tents to cottages that have all been built with protecting the environment in mind by using recycled building materials. Of course, the resort doesn't stop there. There's elevated walkways that prevent soil erosion and protect the beach and its fragile coral. Lots of recycled building materials, such as "plastic lumber" and recycled glass tiles, were used in construction that also minimized removal of native plants. Maho's self-sustaining "eco-tents" and cottages use passive solar design, photovoltaic panels, rain collection and roof scoops that circulate cooling breezes. But what wins green points from us? The resort also gets rid of your garbage in an eco-friendly way with their "Trash to Treasures" program, where artists take glass and aluminun from the trash and turn it into craft items and art.
2. Hotel Green, Nantucket, Mass.
With a name like Hotel Green, this little inn in Nantucket from shoe designer Vanessa Noel was bound to get on our best green hotels list. But it's actually green inside too with an organic restaurant, 10 rooms filled with some recycled furniture (think cardboard chairs), hemp towels, artwork with milk-based paints and all-natural cleaning products. Perhaps the piece de resistance here is the web site. The site say it's conserving energy by simply stating its phone number and email address with only a photo page to supplement it. Uh-oh, does this mean green HTML is going to be the next, next thing?
3. Airlie Conference Center, Warrington, Virginia
[Photo: Fraggle Red]
Any beltway environmental policy wonk worth their salt should be planning their conferences here. The Airlie center has 150 guest rooms on its 2,500 rural acred campus, which also includes a conference center. The Airlie Foundation supports a number of environmental programs like the Local Food Project where an organic culinary garden was created full of fresh, sustainable herbs, vegetables and flowers that supplies the food at Airlie. There's also the Wildlife and Habitat Preservation Project and the Petersen Butterfly Garden. It has an authentic Green Seal of approval and has been certified by the state of Virginia.
In the hotel part, there's the use of recycled content paper products, a compost program, non-toxic paints and cleaning products, energy efficient compact fluorescent & LED lighting throughout the property and an emphasis on nature in the recreational activities. Additionally, you can get a loaner bicycle to take you where you need to go within the Airlie campus.
4. The Woodstocker Inn, Woodstock, VT
Vermont has a bunch of green hotels perfect for Phish followers, but the Woodstocker Inn really stands out--this place has organic bedding. Aside from serving organic food, using recylced paper products, offering organic toiletries and a strict no-smoking policy, the place offers you a choice of buckwheat pillows and organic duvets. So much for goose feathers. It's also a part of The Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State association.
5. The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Little St. Simons Island is a small private island off the Georgia coast which has 10,000 "perfectly preserved" acres of nature to explore. Only 30 guests are allowed on the island at a time and the lodge has an "absence of technology" meaning only a house phone, no TVs and certainly no business center. Additionally, the hotel removes all solid waste from the island and organic waste is composted. Overall, the hotel employs a sustainable tourism operation. But what makes this place so green is the untouched nature and wildlife. There's no golf courses here. Backing their green policies up is a Green Globe benchmark, given out by the Green Globe organization to sustainable tourism properties.